Developer Environment

It’s important to start with an IDE for Android programming.

The official IDE for Android development is Android Studio. Android Studio is the best overall IDE for getting started. The IDE download includes Google’s Android SDK, NDK, Java, and Kotlin support along with all the necessary Android SDK tools and emulators. Native Android applications can be written in either Java or Kotlin and Android Studio provides support for both languages.

Other IDEs to consider are Intellij IDEA or Eclipse.

Android Project/File Layout

Once you download, install, and configure your environment, you can create your first Android project. It’s important to understand the project structure of any Android app. The src folder contains all the source files. The assets folder contains raw images, strings, and xml layouts that get compiled into an .apk file. The res folder also contains similar objects as the assets folder but includes alternatives or subclasses of those resources to support screen orientations, different languages, or OS version. Each file in a res directory is a pre-compiled ID for quick access to these resources.

build.gradle is also another important project file. You'll typically see two build.gradle files in your Android project. One is for the project (Project: <project-name>) and the other one is your app module (Module: app). You'll mostly work with the app module's build.gradle file to configure how the Gradle tools behave and build your app

AndroidManifest.xml – The manifest file describes the fundamentals of the app and defines its components.

Android Visual Layout

Android UI elements are defined in XML and can be designed programmatically or setup visually using the Android Studio Layout Editor.

Build/Run/Test

Once you code and build your Android app, you can interact with the app through an Android Emulator or a physical Android device attached to your compute via USB. An Android emulator simulates an Android phone, tablet, or TV device on your computer. An emulator provides almost all the capabilities of a real Android device and you can configure them to emulate a specific manufacturer, OS, and tools to fit your needs. An Android emulator is no substitute for real devices and you should always test on real devices before shipping to testers and app store marketplace.

Distribute

As an open platform, Android developers have a few choices for distributing apps to users, customers, developers, and business associates. For publishing to an app marketplace to get the broadest audience, the most common and official Android app marketplace is the Google Play Store. In addition to the Google Play Store, another popular app marketplace for Android apps is the Amazon App Store. For beta testing and getting your pre-marketplace Android app published, you can utilize the Google Play Console to get your app in the hands of testers, or specific groups to provide valuable feedback.

Before submitting your app to the Google Play Store, you should understand a little about the Google Play Services and why it’s important when developing an android app. Google Play Services first appeared in 2012 and is a platform (provided by Google) that provides a way for developers to access the Google APIs such as Google Play Game Services, Google Maps, Location, Mobile Ads, and Google Wallet.

Learn more about developing Android native applications.

Visit the Android tutorial page
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