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How do I get started developing for Android?

Android is a popular OS, and developers who don't already know how to develop apps for this OS should learn. Matthew David explains the steps needed to get started right.

When getting started with developing for Android, a good first step is to get a Google Developer Account -- Google...

charges a one-time fee of $25 to create a developer account. Unlike Apple, which charges $99 per year, you will not have to pay for the developer account ever again.

Next, you can download Android Studio, Google's Android development tool. Android Studio has the tools to build applications for Android phones/tablets, Android Wear, Android TV and Android Auto.

Another important step is to learn Java. Android apps can be written with either C++ or Java, but many developers start with Java and never have to jump to another language.

The challenge with Android, unfortunately, is that it is a free OS that can be modified by phone manufactures and carriers to their format. Take for instance a Samsung phone. The version of Android on a Samsung phone comes loaded with Samsung proprietary tools and services. An extreme version is Amazon's Fire OS, a highly modified version of Android (Amazon doesn't even call it Android).

The key to success when developing for Android is to design for a responsive screen resolution and core Android functionality. Avoid tapping too much into custom APIs from phone manufacturers. This will lock development into a smaller, niche Android market.

The final stage in Android development is selling an app. The default App Store is Google's own Google Play app store. The Google Play Publish site provides tools to sell, manage, analyze and update all apps. With that said, Google Play is not the only Android app store. This is important because Google Play is not available in China. Other Android App stores include:

It is good to have choices. What you will want to watch out for is the time it takes to manage apps across many different stores.

The bottom line is this: Developing for Android is cheap and fun. You can be up and running very quickly and there is a massive community waiting to help you build your first Android app.

Next Steps

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This was last published in December 2015

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How did you get started developing apps for Android?
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I got started developing apps for Android because I was curious. I started with one of the tutorials by Android Developers that walked me through creating a simple little app. From there, I moved to Android Studio from the old Android SDK Eclipse plug-in, and just kept developing apps that did things I wanted to do on my mobile devices.
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If you don’t want to pay the $25 for a google developer account, you can start by following some of the free tutorials that are posted online, such as Getting Started (http://developer.android.com/training/index.html) or Building Your First App (http://developer.android.com/training/basics/firstapp/index.html), both by Andoird Developers.
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