Thursday, 2 January 2014

Making smarter, faster and more intuitive Android apps

Android OS dominates the smartphone industry today and Android apps have played an immense role in the popularity of the OS. Earlier this year, the Play Store finally surpassed iTunes in terms of the number of applications it holds. There are over 1 million android applications on the Play Store today, and thanks to the tools that Google offers to developers for Android app development, this number is only going to increase over the coming years.

When Google first launched its Android operating system, iPhone had already destabilised Blackberry, Nokia, and Microsoft to become the most popular smartphones in the world. The whole world was raving over the exceedingly simple to use interface of the device and the sleek and elegant body, which the iPhone came in. Google’s first smartphone in comparison was bulky and slow. Android was considered a second rate operating system and was ridiculed for its lack of quality mobile applications.

A New King Emerges
When Google launched Android, even they could not have predicted the success this operating system would achieve in just a few short years. Today, Android dominates the smartphone market and accounts for well over two-thirds of all smartphones sold in the world. With close to 80% of the world smartphones market controlled by Android, Google is not only a major player in this arena, it has the most successful and popular OS. Today the Play Store, Google’s application store, has over a million applications created by developers from every corner of the world. Android’s applications are its biggest advantage and offer users incredible features no other smartphone does.

Android App development challenges
Application development for the Android platform is not easy. Unlike the iPhone, Android devices are made by dozens of manufacturers and these manufacturers often reconfigure the OS to make it unique for their company. The differences between the various Android devices, even the ones running the same Android version, make Android App development a challenge. Developers have to make sure that their app works on as many devices as possible. 
Some key points that Android developers have to keep in mind are:
  • There are half a dozen flavours of Android that are in use today. Google launches a new version, or flavour, of Android each year, but not all old devices can support new updates, so they continue to run their stock Android version.
  • Android devices are made by over a dozen manufacturers, who use often different binaries and codec. Developers try to make their apps compatible with as many popular devices as possible
  • Even within the same manufacturer’s line of Android devices, variations are present in the form of screen size, processing power, RAM, storage space and graphic engine capabilities.
Since customers get to pick from a wide selection of products, the many variations in Android devices have actually helped the OS become more popular, but the differences have made Android application development a nightmare for the developers.

Java is the primary language used for Android app development, but app development frameworks can be used to create Android apps using several other languages, as well. With Android 4.1 and onwards, Google has incorporated a single design called HOLO and has asked developers to stick to it. This new policy has made developer’s job considerably easier, and Google has also incorporated stricter rules with manufacturers to ensure that there are no compatibility issues between different devices. Google also continues to update its Android SDK, which makes it simpler for developers to create Android apps.


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