According to Statista reports Google Play Store had more than 2 million apps for download in the third quarter of 2018. The trend of building mobile apps has accelerated in the past couple of years because people have realized that apps are a good way to connect with customers. With a mobile app, you are just a phone away from your customers, whatever the reason they want to connect with you.
This is so because apps enable you to:
- Build your brand
- Stay connected with your existing as well as potential customers
- Create a loyal customer base more easily
- Provide better customer support in terms of availability and ease of use
The most straightforward way of developing an Android mobile app is to download Android Studio. It is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that has the necessary packages (bundled under the name Android SDK) to help you create the app. The one thing to remember is that Android Studio is just an environment that supports mobile app development. You must have the programming knowledge to write the necessary codes for developing the app.
Java is the official Android app language that is supported by Google most extensively. Java is used to develop the backend whereas XML is used to design the layouts of any Android app. So ideally, you should know Java and XML to create an android app using Android Studio.
If you are more comfortable with C#, C++, C or even BASIC, you can use different SDKs (Software Development Kits) like Android Native Development Kit in combination with Android Studio.
Below are the best Android app development tools and frameworks you should know
The learning curve for Java is steep, so Kotlin has introduced as the second official Android language 2 years ago. It has an easier entry barrier in terms of coding skills as compared to Java. Being a new language, community support is very less, but growing at a fast rate.
The important point in favor of Kotlin is its interoperability with Java. As Kotlin also uses Java Virtual Machine, codes in Kotlin can easily be run as Java code. This is making Kotlin popular even among die-hard Java fans.
Even if Kotlin is better than Java in terms of lesser time and effort required to learn it, learning new programming languages is no joke. To help app enthusiasts develop Android mobile apps even if they do not know Java so well, many frameworks are available to enable faster development of Android mobile apps. The best part is that most of these frameworks work for other mobile operating systems as well.
One of the best Android app development frameworks which are already used by more than 1.5 million users globally, Xamarin is a godsend for C# enthusiasts who want to develop android apps without having to dive into Java. It provides mobile app developers with a complete set of C# codebase to develop native apps for not only Android but other mobile operating systems too. Xamarin for Visual Studio is also used extensively by Android mobile app developers to create native apps using .NET code base.
3) React Native
A free and open-source app development framework, Ionic is licensed under the MIT License. This gives an open indication that it will remain free always. Its website says that you can build “progressive web and native mobile apps” using the Ionic framework. The framework is completely cross-platform, so you can easily develop mobile apps for Android and then transfer it to other platforms when required. The one problem that new as well as experienced programmers face is poor documentation. Ionic proves to be an exception here by creating documentation with real-life examples.
The app is able to access native device APIs too, making it difficult to know if the app has been developed using native languages or not. Even though it is primarily designed for developing online apps, Apache Cordova provides support for offline scenarios as well. This makes it an excellent platform for developing desktop apps as well.
The team behind Apache Cordova have built another mobile app development platform Adobe PhoneGap. If you are an expert web developer, you can quickly transfer your skills to mobile app development using the Adobe PhoneGap framework. It is nothing but Cordova distribution with many more tools and plugins thrown in.
PhoneGap provides an intuitive desktop app that you use to build cross-platform apps with a single base code. Its popularity and ease of use have ensured an ever-growing support community and vice versa.
Titanium is an open-source mobile app development framework with a mobile-first approach at its core. It allows the users to create clean and visually appealing apps that are native in not just look and feel but functioning as well. Titanium includes API Builder with Hyperloop, all free for its users.
Unity is a Microsoft game engine that is used extensively by programmers to create 2D and 3D games. It can also be used for other cross-platform development. Combined with C#, it is perfect to start with mobile app development, as it has an IDE similar to Android Studio.
TheAppuilder is an online app building framework that boasts of helping clients create great looking Apps without any design knowledge. So, if you are a visually challenged person who cannot differentiate or cannot decide where each element of the app should go for better designing, this is the framework for you.
The apps built using app builder are highly interactive and synced almost immediately with all the devices on which a user is logged on. The in-depth analytics available to the app creators enable them to take strategic decisions like retaining features that are loved by the users while discarding those that are slowing down the app.
Whatever Android app development tools and frameworks you choose for mobile app development, you should first create a layout of your app with details like sections, features, and design elements. This will decrease the overall Android app development time, whatever the scale. Next, try to choose a framework where your existing programming skills will be put to maximum use. All the Android app development frameworks discussed above are free and have thriving community support, which you can use when stuck.