The huge popularity of Android smartphones and tablets can be attributed to their huge repository of apps. Although Windows Mobile and Apple’s iOS offer a much cleaner operating system stack, Android’s biggest advantage is that it has far more native apps than both combined. As of 2013, there are 900,000 Android apps developed, with over 30 billion downloads by their users. This has been possible thanks to its adaptation of the open source philosophy, which allows developers to use the entire system stack to create applications.
Since the inception of the Android operating system, Google has provided developers with the ability to create their own apps using the Android Software Development Kit (SDK). Applications are developed using the Android API, which is based on the Java programming language. In fact, the syntax used to code the applications is loosely based on the Java specifications. This has made it possible for existing Java developers to migrate to the Android development environment and create applications.
The Android Development Kit provides many useful tools, such as the debugger, interface libraries, extensive documentation, tutorials, and sample code. However, the best feature of this SDK is the built-in emulator, which can be used to test the application. The emulator provides a sample mobile screen and keyboard-controlled operating capabilities.
The Android SDK can be downloaded from its official website and installed as an additional tool in the Eclipse IDE. Eclipse is one of the oldest and most widely used development environments for all Java-based programming languages. Additionally, applications can be built and deployed on all major desktop operating systems, including Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Apple Mac OS.
With the release of each new version of Android, the SDK is updated to support the latest features. The core system is developed and maintained by Google’s Android team, and provides simple wraparound interfaces to communicate with the latest sensor chips installed in devices to capture advanced inputs like location, air gestures, and more.
It is extremely easy to deploy the final version built on real smartphones and tablets for real testing. The final product is a file with the “.apk” extension, which can be installed on Android devices in just a few steps. Most app developers beta test their app on select devices before releasing it to the world on the Google Play Store. Google has its own set of guidelines that approves every app that is submitted to the app store.