The ability to develop apps for Android 7.0 Nougat is an extremely hot skill to know right now. For the first time, it is starting to overtake Apple’s iOS as the most lucrative mobile platform to develop apps for. Given the expansion of the beautiful Materials Design framework in Marshmallow and Nougat, now is an excellent time to learn Android development.
In terms of market share, Android is absolutely clobbering iOS with a whopping 85% of the global market in 2014. This growth is also accelerating as more people globally plug into the Internet for the first time. A mind-boggling 1.3 million new Android devices are activated each day and the number of Android devices in the world now numbers in the billions.
With such astounding growth, there is naturally a shortage of capable Android developers. In the past 5 years, the majority of developers have favoured Apple’s iOS. This was because there was less fragmentation in the ecosystem and Apple users have traditionally spent much larger sums of money on apps.
Fortunately for Android app developers, Google has put enormous resources in the last year into improving the Android user experience (the new Materials Design introduced in Android 5 Lollipop rivals the slickness of iOS 8’s redesign) and improving the quality of the Google Play app and content marketplace.
The growth and mobile operating system dominance of Android will continue for the foreseeable future. Android app development is currently the #4 most sought-after digital skill on Indeed, which means there is plenty of opportunity for freelance Android app developers. The money is also very good, with an experienced Android app developer making an average salary of $100,000 a year in the US.
The fastest way to learn Android development is online. Preferably you already have some experience with computer programming languages like Java, C or C++. If not, the learning curve will be much steeper but learning Android development is do-able with a lot of focus and determination (although, you may want to take a more introductory computer science courses first to establish the fundamentals).
Android apps are written using the Java programming language. It is helpful to have a basic knowledge of Java programming before beginning the courses below but a few of the courses are specifically geared toward absolute beginners.
These are the most up-to-date resources that I have found for learning Android app development online. Updated for the latest version of Android 5 Lollipop.
- Building Mobile Applications with iOS, Android and HTML5 (Harvard University)
An excellent course on mobile development from Spring 2012 that covers iOS development, Android Development and 5 lectures on HTML5 mobile development. This course has assignments and video lectures that will help you build your first mobile apps for either Android or the iPhone or iPad.
You can take this course on the official website or through iTunes University. It’s a little dated but still relevant. Unfortunately, since Coursera took down their free courses there aren’t many good free options left.
Here’s how to get started:
Download and install the free Android SDK (Software Development Kit), Android’s open-source IDE (Integrated Development Environment) Eclipse and the Google-supported ADT Plugin is also recommended for Eclipse. The combination of these three tools will give you the full integrated development environment you require to start building Android apps.
Create your first “Hello World” app with this easy-to-follow tutorial for beginners from Google.
Take an Android development course online. The best way to learn is by diving in and hacking together some basic apps. This helps you get familiar with the Android API (Application Programming Interface) and the possibilities of Android app development.
You can access more Android development tools by signing up as an Android Developer on Google Play (there’s a one-time $25 registration fee).
Subscribe and follow the Google Android Developers blog to learn about new developments in the Android app ecosystem.
Another essential resource is Google’s Training Resources For Android App Developers. I also recommend reviewing their new introduction to creating apps with Material Design.
Google has created an Android Developer portal where you can get everything you need to start creating your first Android app. On this website, you can download the Android Software Development Kit (SDK), take Android video classes, read their blog and access extensive Android Development resources.