The statistics posted on various websites unanimously depict the massive worldwide market share of Android. At present, Android is much more popular than other mobile operating systems like iOS, Windows Phone and Blackberry. Also, Android, unlike other mobile operating systems, is both open source and free. Also, often developers find it easier for make Android apps available in Google Play Store. But the mobile app developers have to address many challenges while developing apps for Google’s mobile OS. It is also important for app developers to understand some of the key aspects of Android operating system.
10 Things Each App Developer should know about Android Operating System
1) Software Development Kit (SDK)
The developers can take advantage of development tools included in Android SDK to build robust mobile apps easily and rapidly. Google further releases a new version of SDK each time it updates Android. Each version of Android SDK includes the required libraries, documentation for Android APIs, sample source code, a debugger and an emulator. Also, it includes both sample source code and various tutorials for the Android OS.
2) Application Programming Interface (API)
The mobile app interacts with the underlying system through the framework API provided by Android platform. The API framework includes various packages, classes, XML elements and attributes, intents and permissions. The developers can always refer to the API value to know if the framework API supports specific versions of the mobile operating system. They also have option to boost the Android app’s functionality and performance by using a variety of third-party APIs.
3) Integrated Development Environments (IDEs)
The developers can take advantage of robust tools to build complex Android apps without putting extra time and effort. They also have option to use widely used integrated development environments (IDEs) like Android Studio and Eclipse. Android Studio is the official IDE for Android app development. However, the developers have to use it along with the latest versions of Java runtime environment (JRE) and Java Development Kit (JDK). Otherwise, the app developers can use Eclipse IDE along with Android SDK. However, they have to follow a number of steps to set up the environment for Android app development.
4) Option to write Apps in Multiple Languages
The developers have option to write Android apps in a number of programming languages including C, C++, Java and Go. But C and C++ make the Android app complex, and affect its performance negatively. Likewise, Go lacks the features required for developing robust and complex Android applications. Google recommends developers to build Android app exclusively in Java. Many programmers even find it easier to build new Android applications with Java programming language.
5) Key Components
The mobile developers have option to use a variety of loosely-coupled components as building block for Android applications. Each Android app has four major components, i.e., activities, services, content providers and broadcast receivers. In addition to dictating the user interface (UI) of the application, activities further handle user interaction to the screen of the Android device. At the same time, services handle the application’s background processing. Content providers handle all issues related to data and database management, while broadcast receivers handle communication between the mobile app and Android OS.
6) Pre-Built Widgets
The mobile app developers also have option to use a variety of pre-built widgets provided by Android OS. They can use button, checkbox, radio button, gallery, ListView, TextView, EditText, Spinner and similar pre-built widgets directly in the Android apps. Also, they can make changes to the pre-built widgets to customize its look and feel according to their specific needs. The programmers can easily customize these widgets simply by overriding its methods or creating a subclass of the widget or layout.
7) Event Management
Android OS further enables developers to gather information about user’s interaction with the application’s interactive components through events. The programmers can capture these events in their program, and manipulate them through event handlers. Android further supports three distinct concepts related to event management, i.e., event handlers, event listeners and event listeners registration.
8) OS Fragmentation
Google officially released Android 6.0 Marshmallow in October 2016. The current version of the OS comes with several new features and enhancements. But according to developer.android.com, the fragmentation in Android OS adaptation is huge; The current version of Android is less popular than Android 5.0 Lollipop, Android 4.4 KitKat, and Android 4.1x Jellybean. The usage statistics indicate the low penetration rate of the most recent version of Google’s OS. Also, it becomes essential for developers to build mobile app by keeping in mind the features of both current and older versions of Android.
9) Device Fragmentation
As noted earlier, the market share of different versions of Android vary. As Android is open source, it becomes easier for mobile device manufacturers to tweak it according to their needs. Also, Google does not have any control over the devices running on its mobile OS. The screen size, resolution, native features, and performance of individual Android devices differ. That is why; developers and testers have to target many models of smartphones, tablets and phablets while making or assessing Android apps.
10) Defects and Bugs in the Mobile OS
In addition to being open source, Android also supports a wide variety of mobile devices. Also, the hardware manufacturers can easily make changes to the standard version released by Google according to their needs. Often changes made by hardware manufacturers affect the overall security of Android platform, and create new bugs. Some of these bugs are specific to a particular version of Android, whereas others affect devices manufactured by a particular company. Hence, Google cannot repair all defects or bugs in its mobile OS quickly and efficiently. Hence, it becomes essential for app developers to understand the common bugs in each version of Android.
A number of studies have highlighted that Android apps are less profitable than iOS and Windows Phone apps. Hence, the developers have to allow users to download and access the Android apps for free. But they can always take advantage of several mobile app monetization techniques to get higher return.