In this beginners guide for Android development I will explain some of the steps to take when you want to start learning to develop apps and games for Android devices.
The first thing you should look at is your development hardware. To create Android apps you will need to use the Android SDK and a development IDE. The current recommended IDE for Android development is Android studio. The development IDE and other development tools like the Android emulator require a fairly strong desktop computer or laptop, I would recommend to use at least a core i5 processor and 4 Gigabytes of memory, or you can expand that to 8 Gigabytes in the future. If your computer support Intel’s Virtualization this will greatly improve the performance of the Android emulator.
When you start to learn to developing on a new platform you will have to learn a the basics ins and outs and fundamentals of the platform. You can try to learn these basics from online tutorials and other online references, but it is much easier and really helpful to have this all in one place. You can use a good book on Android development as a reference that you can quickly look into and it is a good starting point to learn the basics for developing your apps. Android Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide (2nd Edition) is a very popular book among new Android developers and certainly a great place to start learning Android development.
Most of these books on Android development will assume that you have some basic knowledge of computer programming and object oriented programming languages. If you do not, you can look for a book that covers these topics or you can buy a separate book on computer programming and object oriented programming languages, most of the native Android applications are written in Java, so your best bet will be to buy a book for beginners for programming with Java code.
I Myself like to have a physical copy of a book in my bookcase, but if you think they are unnecessary heavy and that they take up too much room on your desk then I suggest that you take a look at the The Busy Coder’s Guide to Android Development from CommonsWare. This is a great online book that has all the information for developing your Android applications. You do need to know how to program in Java if you are using this book, so you may still want to buy a book or look for an online guide on Java programming if you are not familiar with it.
Now that you have your development computer ready and a book by your side you can start and install the necessary software to create your apps. The first thing you will need is to install the Java JDK. The Java JDK is a development kit for Java developing. You may already have a Java runtime installed on your computer, but if so you will still need to install the Java JDK next to it.
The next thing you will need to download and install a good development IDE. Android studio is the official Android development IDE and I recommend to start with that one. You will also need to download and install the Android SDK. Google has create an installation bundle to install both of them. Get the bundle here.
If you are running on a computer that has support for Intel’s Virtualization you will want to install the HAXM drivers. This will speed up the Android emulator on your computer. To do so open the SDK manager that has been installed with the Android SDK. Now scroll down to extras and look for an item called “Intel x86 emulator Accellarator (HAXM installer)” check the item and download the installer with the install package button. The SDK manager will not install the HAXM drivers, instead it will download the installer executable.
When the SDK manager has finished installing the package you can open your Windows explorer or other file manager and go to the Android SDK directory. This is normally located in the “Program Files (x86)” directory in a folder named “Android”. When you have located the Android SDK directory go to the “android-sdkextrasintel” subdirectory, there you will find a folder named “Hardware_Accelerated_Execution_Manager” this folder contains the HAXM drivers installer. For the HAXM drivers to work the XD (Execution bit) option and the VT (Virtualization) option need to be enabled in your bios, so you may want to check if these settings are set correctly.
Android development has a growing community on the internet in various sources. If you have any questions or if you are looking for feedback on your apps you can join these and get in touch with other developers.
Publishing your first app
When you have finished your first app you of course want to make it available to everyone around the world. So how do you do this? There are various app markets available for Android, the most well know is of course the Google Play store. If you want to publish your apps there you need to create a developers account, to do so you need to pay a one time registration fee of $ 25,-. Other stores may also charge you an one time fee or a yearly registration fee. There are also app markets that allow you to register as a developer for free. You will need to make the choose which app markets are a best fit for you.
Once you have your developers account registered you can upload your apps apk to the app market. The markets usually require you to upload a few screenshots of your app and a description of your app. You also need to choose whether you want to release your app for free or if you want to charge a fee for it. If you are going to sell your apps you will need to check your countries laws on what kind of rules are applied, for example you may need to pay income taxes or other taxes for the income you generate with your app sales.
I Hope this guide has been useful to you and pointed you into the right direction. Have fun creating your apps and make sure to share them with other Android developers on the Android communities.