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In this article we will discover the fundamentals of developing an Android application: the time required for this project, the prerequisites to learn, the programming languages to master and the specific Android environment.
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Android application development time
Developing an Android application can take, on average, 3 to 9 months. This depends on the complexity and structure of your project, but also on your knowledge of the programming language.
Each phase of the process takes more or less time, but the longest are:
- Writing specifications: 1 to 2 weeks
- Research and optimization of your ideas with developers: 4 to 5 weeks
- Conception: 6 to 12 weeks
- Development and prototyping: 6 to 12 weeks
- Distribution on the Google Play Store: between 2 days and 1 week
After these steps, you need to ensure continuous improvement of your app and ongoing maintenance.
If you want to easily develop your Android application, you need to do some back-planning that includes all these steps.
Know the components of an Android application
Among the fundamentals of Android application development we find the perfect mastery of the components of an app. These are elements that ensure the connection between the smartphone’s operating system and the application.
There are five different types of components, each with a distinct purpose:
These components are directly integrated into the user experience. As soon as a screen appears, it is an “activity”. For example, a messaging application may have a task that displays a list of new emails, another task to write them, another that reads them …
Activities interact to form a consistent user experience in the app. In summary, they are what allow the internet user to take full advantage of your app.
The services run in the background to perform long-running operations. They do not provide a user interface.
For example, a service can play music in the background while the user is in another application.
Thanks to content providers, the data you store in the file system, on the web or in a SQLite database can be queried or even modified. This component is also useful for writing and reading unshared and private data.
Broadcast receivers help the app communicate with the Android system. Most of them come from the system, and while they don’t show a front office interface, they can create a notification that alerts the user when an event occurs.
In general, they are a gateway to the other components and do minimal work.
Activation of components
As the name suggests, it is responsible for activating the components. A synchronous message called “intent” triggers services, activities, and broadcast receivers.
Intents also bind components at runtime, regardless of whether the component belongs to the application or not.
Use a programming language
Developing Android applications requires the use of a programming language. You have to choose a language tailored to your needs to create a powerful app that meets your goals.
You can use several programming languages including, among others:
Development of an Android application in Java
Before being replaced by Kotlin, Java was the official language for Android application development. It still remains very popular, many apps available on Google Play are built with Java.
The advantage of this language? In addition to getting help from Google, you can take advantage of a huge online community for help if you have any problems or questions.
However, Java is a complicated language for a beginner to use. Contains complex features like constructors, null pointer exceptions, concurrency, checked exceptions, etc.
Develop an Android application in Kotlin
Since 2019, Kotlin has become the official Android application development language. If you are used to working on the Java virtual machine, you will not be out of place! Especially since Kotlin removes unnecessary Java features like null pointer exceptions or the need to end each line with a semicolon.
For a beginner, this language is easier to master.
Development of an Android application in Python
Python is an easy to learn and understand language that allows you to develop an Android application. However, app development with Python will not be as efficient as with Java. In fact, if you select this language, you will then have to go through a tool that converts your app into Android packages. A conversion that can generate errors in the code and hinder the functionality of your product …
Development of an Android application in C ++
C ++ is considered to be one of the best programming languages for Android application development. The reason ? Its speed and the simplicity of its syntax.
This programming language is also used in other industries such as game development, machine learning, and office applications.
However, you can’t build an Android app entirely in C ++. Native Android Development Kit (NDK) is required.
Developing an Android application in C #
C # is similar to Java. It also implements a garbage collector, which reduces the chances of memory leaks. Also, C # has cleaner and simpler syntax than Java, which makes coding easier.
C # is about more classes and objects than functions or procedures. The advantage of this approach? There are no undefined values, which makes code debugging easier. Programmers have accurate information to easily find their mistakes.
Develop Android application in Dart
Dart is a new open source programming language that powers the Flutter framework. Much appreciated by developers, it stands out for its ability to deliver attractive, high-performance applications in a short time.
Dart primarily aims to simplify UI development through features such as hot reload. It allows developers to see changes in real time during application development, minimizing the risk of error and increasing productivity.
Become familiar with development tools or environments (IDEs)
If you’re new to Android app development, you need to be familiar with build tools and integrated development environments.
As the name suggests, App Builder helps you develop an Android app. These tools are aimed at beginners and experienced developers. In general, they offer an intuitive build interface, which works with the “drag and drop” option. You can easily organize and structure your application.
As soon as your project is finished, all you have to do is validate it. The App Builder turns it into an .APK file, ready to be uploaded to the Google Play Store.
Among the most popular App Builders we can mention Android Studio, Eclipse or DroidScript.
Do you want to develop a game for Android? You will need to use a game creator. These tools are specially designed to help you offer an interactive app to your customers and prospects.
Among the most famous Game Makers we find Unity, GameSalad or GDevelop.
Take into account the specifics of Android application development
Android is a fragmented market with many devices and OS versions. To develop a successful Android application that promotes the user experience, you will need to take this into account.
This involves choosing the right fonts, assets, and layouts to ensure the best experience on a variety of displays. You should also consider any sensors or UI feature sets supported by Android.
All Android apps have one or more activities and one or more snippets. To provide a nice and smooth user interface, always make sure the thread is never blocked.
Therefore, long operations must be performed asynchronously in the background, mainly on another thread of execution. When developing an Android app, consider:
- Performance and responsiveness: You should always respond to user input within five seconds, otherwise the operating system will send an ANR (application not responding), forcing the application to quit.
- Delay of more than 100ms, as they will be noticed by users.
- Wakelock: This is a mechanism that forces the phone to perform an operation despite the battery manager’s recommendation of standby. You should use them sparingly to preserve the battery of users’ smartphones.
Publish your app on Google Play
Once you’ve developed your Android app, all you need to do is publish it on the Google Play Store for users to access.
Here are the steps to follow:
- Create a developer account (costs $ 25).
- Upload the APK of your application.
- Fill in the product sheet with information about your product: make people want to download your app by highlighting its main features.
- Start an open test to detect any bugs or anomalies.
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