Is it hard to become an Android developer…?

My last post (Android Developer Income Report) caused a lot of questions about how to jump into Android apps development. It is very surprising for me as earnings I have presented are not even close to most of iPhone developers income. Anyway the future of Android developers is looking very bright and there is a lot of space for new applications ideas… So if you are still really interested in making Android development a serious source of your monthly income this post may be helpful as a starting point… Here are statements I have read before I started to develop for Android…

You should know Java perfectly … That is FALSE!

Most of very serious experts would say “You have to know Java language perfectly or you can not even dream about Android development!”. That is not so true… In my case I have been coding really well only in PHP. Java was one of languages I have always wanted to learn in my free time… But I almost have no free time so I knew only very basics… I have even bought “Thinking in Java” – unfortunately I have not even finished a third chapter… But I knew the basics of Java. That is all you need!

You should know your IDE (Eclipse or Netbeans) perfectly… That is FALSE!

Another thing that expert would say “You need to know¬† your IDE perfectly or you will be lost in it before learning a new language!”. It looks that I am not real expert as I have started learning my IDE (Eclipse) with Java Dalvik (language used for Android apps). So the truth is you just need to start using an IDE to learn it… And books written by experts about IDE are in most cases waste of time and money…

You need to have an Android based phone… That is (again) FALSE!

It is good to have and Android phone… I will say even more… it would be best to have a few phones with different Android versions and different add-ons (Android tablet may be useful too) to test if your app is working with all of them! But it still won’t help you to get rid of all problems that an app may cause on another devices. It is helpful to test your app with real touch screen but for most cases an Android phone emulator (that is included in Android SDK) is really enough.

So what do you really need…?

There are a few things you need to start a real Android development. Here are a points that in my honest opinion are really required:

Other things that are not necessary but are very helpful (in my case):

  • Android phone (my choice I am absolutely happy with is HTC Desire)
  • Good Android book to get to know the basics (I have bought two books that made me really comfortable with all the basics – “Beginning Android 3” and “Hello, Android“)

So if you really want to be an Android developer – don’t be scared by the “experts” – just try to learn it and you will be surprised how easy it may be!

73 Responses to “Is it hard to become an Android developer…?”


  • well said dude, I came from the same path.. I had basic Java knowledge from college, but I was primarily web developer (PHP), and I just jumped-in Android-Java programming, not so hard at all with Eclipse autocompletion (intelisense). :)))

    very good post, and excellent attitude on your side.
    keep up the good work,
    cheers from Serbia, Europe.
    dootzky

  • hmm. where did you get these questions? they seem to be stupid. really.

    • I have seen such statements in many articles for beginners… And yes it sounds stupid but many “experts” states that… Moreover these are questions I had in mind on very beginning so I decided to answer it for others.

  • Very good Post.

    Really appreciate you blogging your Android development journey. Hope to be starting my own journey, soon.

  • Perhaps you should measure time-to-market.

    I got from zero to my first app on the market in 3 months,
    BUT
    to make the app sell-able it has taken over 1 full year!

    Even that has only netted $50 total in 1.5 years.

  • Thanks for the post KreCi, just today I downloaded Eclipse and the Android SDK because I’m planning on getting started writing an app by the weekend.

    Your original post was what convinced me that it was time. I’ve been working on FSTR.net (a flash games library, also PHP) and in order to get it ‘to the next level’ there’s an app I need for marketing.

    I figured, why not write the tools myself for a mobile platform and go for it? :)

    Who knows? Maybe the App’ll be more popular than the site! (not too hard actually, the site gets very little love).

    I’m pretty excited, though no Java background to speak of… back when I was in Uni, we learned OO programming in Smalltalk (LOL)

  • And, what does it take to become an iPhone app developer?

  • You can write for Android without knowing any Java if you use a cross-platform SDK like Ansca Mobile’s Corona. It’s less flexible to be sure, but it works for specific types of projects, primarily 2D games and some utilities.

  • I disagree on the point about needing a device. The emulator is basically worthless.

  • I don’t like the way the the SDK is instaled, they need to simplify the instalation, they may build one .deb package that install everything you need to star the development :)

  • Coming from J2Me, it was a bit of a shock… the API is the same old massive java API I’d forgotten about.

    The “foundation” document on the google site is 22 pages… it’s worth reading too .. however, android shares in java that it’s fairly dry and the API is massive. Android reinvents everything, having it’s own gui etc…

    It doesn’t take long to start, but it does take longer to learn the concepts.

    Another problem is that a lot of the example code out there isn’t that great as it’s still a new platform.

  • So where do you submit your app once you made it? Also, is the App compatible to all the andriod phones that are out there, if not , which andriod phone do you need to focus on?

    • I submit them to Android Market. In theory it is compatible with all Android devices. If I get complaints about error on specific device then I am adding fixes.

    • You can target screen sizes and which version of Android it is compatible with.

      The Emulator allows you to emulate different versions of Android and different screen sizes so you can check your app for those and also the docs have helpful advice about targeting different screen sizes.

      The doc also contains an up to date survey of which versions of Android are in use so this helps you decide which minimum version you want to support.

  • Great article,

    I too am trying to get in to the Android space. I’ve been a server side Java developer for several years but the mobile space now, and in particular Android seems any exciting area to be in. I disagree with a previous comment stating that the emulator is worthless. Although it’s fairly slow, especially in starting up it’s perfectly usable if you don’t have a real device to develop your app on. Hopefully though, as Android devices get cheaper and cheaper, buying a physical handset becomes a no brainer.

    Keep up the good articles!

  • Also time-to-market for a new app you are writing doesn’t have to take weeks at all. This weekend I wrote and released the first beta version of a new app in just 2 days.

    I am a big fan of early releases on the market. I learned from experience that if you release apps early and label them as BETA you will receive a lot of user feedback that will eventually improve your app.

    For those interested, I wrote a little blogpost on how and why I wrote/released my latest app in just two days. http://www.vbsteven.be/blog/how-and-why-i-wrote-bookmark-to-desktop-for-android-in-2-days/

  • Great article KreCi, and thanks also to Vbsteven for another. It’s good to know you guys are out here doing things the “experts” say can’t be done.

    Finding new paths around the “official” channels is the wave of the future (and the present)

  • I am a Java developer and normally a NetBeans user. In my (limited) experience of Android development it appears that Eclipse does seems to be the only serious choice right now. I tried to use NetBeans first but it isn’t really usable yet and just using Maven plugins in NetBeans is possible but will slow you down as compared to what you can achieve quickly in Eclipse.

    That said, I would say that you don’t need to be a Java developer to develop for Android – all you need in HTML/CSS and JavaScript and use PhoneGap (you can even access native interfaces, e.g. accelerometers etc.). As the PhoneGap browser supports HTML5 you can do some really nice animation using Canvas (see e.g. http://sebleedelisle.com/2010/11/javascript-2d-and-3d-particle-effects-at-full-frontal/).

    Incidentally, Angry Birds is written in Lua and doesn’t use Java!

  • Very nice article… I am planning to jump into Android development, basically I am in a technical support for Voice networking… I know basics of Java. I think this will help me to jump… your feedback would be much appreciated.. Thanks

  • Hello,

    How the updating Android to the latest version works on mobile ?
    Is there any possibility changing to latest the Andorid version on the mobile phone ?
    Which is the most recommended mobile phone from this point of view for an Android developer ?

    Sorry for the too many questions, thanks ahead.
    Chaba

  • Thanks a lot for your great advice. Ill get to knoow the bsics of Java and start off dsoon.
    Thnks a lot man..

  • thanx fr da info bro..:) it really helps a guy like me..:)

  • What if a person has absolutely no programming background but is intelligent and can give 6 hours in a day to learn android development. Can he be an android developer in 3 months ? Answers will be appreciated.

  • Thanx for providing such precious info about the android.i have also basic knowledge of java .and it will also incourage me to be android developer. plz try to suggest me how i can get the strong grip over java and android . and tell me the source from where i can get the free books of java and android basics.
    thank you again.

  • Hi,

    I am new to Android, I have some basic knowledge of programming language. Basically I do support & testing for VoIP products, I was impressed by Android and wanted to do some basic applications. Will it be very hard to learn? Do I need to really start from the scratch of OOPs concepts….? Please advice…

    Thanks,
    Krishnan.

  • i am just thinking of learning the Android Dev,,and i have heard that there is a lot of money in it.Thanks for your motivation about its difficulty and false assumptions….Well done..

    • Hi Tech (get it?)

      I would caution anyone who thinks that this is a “great way to make money”. The number of Android developers out there who know what they’re doing, and who get 4-5 stars for their apps are growing by the day. My advice would be to know only as much as you need to know to direct people with the skills to do it.

      If you are an ideas person, more in love with ideas than with coding, you’d be better off giving the coding work to the Phillipines or India. They love the work, and effectively make better money off it than you can. Its the quality of the app that makes it good. The intent (the thinking) behind it that really matters. I think some of you need to decide whether you’re a creator or a coder?

      Would love to hear feedback.

      KreCi, awesome article, certainly got me thinking.

  • Hi,

    I have around 7 years experience in .Net technologies,Can I move to Android development?

    Thanks

    • You can move into anything. I think that’s what Kreci is getting at. Passion out-weighs ability. I tried learning 3D modelling CAD software and failed. I then smoke a joint and it all made sense, and I knew 3D modelling inside out 2 days later.

  • Hello every one!!!!

    i like the post. but i am also confused student i want to learn Android actually thinking of learning it. i am afraid because i am very young with no programming background i know a little bit of C and A little php… so what should i do plz guid me…..

  • Hi KreCi,
    Thanks for the article. What apps have you created so far? Do you have an opinion about what types of app sell better than others?
    Thanks..

  • thanks dude.. the article helped boost my moral.

  • Thanks.But how to start?

  • Thank you so much, Really you encouraged me very much

  • hey kreci thanks for true inspiration.. i have just started c and c++ and than i will move to java basic and than ill start to learn andorid.

    if any suggestion than pls mail me. ill be very much thankful to you.

  • thanks a lot for this valuable post..i am a fresh graduate of IT in islamabad Pakistan..i have learnt java basics and C#..now working as junior c# developer..but very keenly interested in Andriod development..i feared because many of my seniors told me that you should be an expert java developer…but from your post i have come to know ansewrs of very basic questions of mine..again thanks a lot…keep it up..

  • I am developing an Android app. I have strong skills in Java and Eclipse. My knowledge of the Android SDK is growing. I had a head start because its similar to ATG, which i have programmed in over the last 5 yrs. I want to know how to I publish the app up to Google for verification? Do I have to be a member of some kind of Google development org? How do i go about doing this? And how do i put the app on my Android phone for testing? Thanks and forgive me for any stupid question.

    Mario Williams

  • where can i learn the basics of java?

  • Not sure if you found the answer yet or not. However, to publish your app you are required to pay 25$ one time fee. As for testing on your android phone, you simply ‘run on device’ on Eclipse with your phone plugged in the USB with ‘Debugging mode’. If that did not work then you need to check if your driver is correctly installed.

    Cheers

  • Dear Sir,
    In the present scenario, which is better for a full time freelancer to go for….is it WordPress development or Android Development ? I know that both things are different but still need some suggestions as which is better keeping in mind the demand to supply ratio ?

    Redgards

    • It depends from idea for the business. If you have good unique idea for WordPress monetization – go for it! If you have more ideas for Android – you know what to do!

  • This is really a great article to take first step in Android.

    Thanks
    Tanveer

  • I am in the process of learning to becoming an android app developer. I seem to be getting lost alot so i was Wondering if anyone with experience could email me an maeybe

  • Hello there!!!
    thanks for all the information from your side. i really appreciate it. i am developing my commitment to become an android developer. i dont know any of the object oriented languages, but i know html only. but i think with dedication i can do it. thanks for positive attitude from you. i got inspired. thanks again

  • It is great to see a post like this. I have just started learning android development and it is a lot of fun. I have worked for amazing companies like Sun Microsystems and Adobe Systems but now had to move to US coz my husband got transfered here. Android development has kept me sane all this while as I am unemployed !

    Passion does beat everything. Keep writing great stuff like this. I hope to make some money soon. Any ideas how to start making money faster, apart from the answer – “make quality apps”?
    thanks!!

  • Hello,

    Thanks a lot because I was about to give up on android apps.

    I am working as php dev. I heard lot rumor about android. But your post encouraged me.

    Thanks again.

    Sunny,
    Canada

  • Just wanted to let you know I really enjoyed your post. I’m also just starting to get into android development. I know only a little bit of HTML so it’s going to be an interesting ride.

    Thanks for this encouraging read!

  • bro, this one post gave me a huge boost of confidence… thanks a ton!!!

  • Thanks, Alot for this great Artical. :D

  • Is it just me or are there just too many people in IT these days ! only 1 dollar for an APP ???? 1 years of work and you get 50 dollars !!! come on people my brother is a broker and he make 1000 to 2000 Dollars a day !

    IT Just overproduces and no jobs for everyone !

  • Thanks for this post, really. Im also into web-based programming, PHP and Python. I had downloaded Android tutorials, but was stalling it because I was not sure about the requirements. Thanks a lot for this post.

  • I don’t know even a single concept of programming language…..is it possible for me to become a android developer…if so,from where should I start my first step..please advice Kreci..

  • Hello :)
    i have a good experience with VB.NET and 0 with java :\
    can that help me to join android world ?
    and thanks for your article

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