Google’s new Android operating system is the new up-and-coming software that’s leading the push against the Apple monopoly. Up until now, the Mountain View, California based Google has remained quiet in the wake of the rampant success of the smart phone movement. Touch screen cellular phones have become so popular that hardly anyone can be seen without one; children, teenagers, and adults alike have become united in their love for the internet-based phone.
Of course, one of the best things about owning one of these phones is application functionality. All of the popular models of smart phones can be outfitted with applications (often called “apps”) to provide various functions to the end-user. These applications are often created by third-party sources, and gives the user the ability to customize his or her phone beyond the scope of a normal cell phone. Typical smart phone applications include the ability to see real-time weather information, stream music over the phone’s internet connection, watch online videos, and others. The Android operating system also allows a wide variety of applications, but with one major difference that sets it apart from its competitors: Android is open source. This allows developers to create applications for Android-based phones with astonishing freedom. Instead of the applications being carefully controlled by the smart phone manufacturer, developers are free to use their imaginations to provide the best possible applications to the user.
How does one go about creating applications for the Android operating system? Luckily for the active developer, Google has itself provided an SDK (software development kit) with various built-in modules that make application development a breeze. Included in this SDK are a series of core applications that can be used to build applications from the ground up. These include:
- An email client
- A text messaging client (SMS)
- Web browsing software
- Music player software
- Picture viewing software
While the above is not a comprehensive list, this should provide the fledgling developer the basic tools required to write just about any type of application. The SDK also comes with the functionality to debug and test applications that are currently under development, and includes an emulator to allow testing on your personal computer before installing the new application on the phone itself. For more experienced developers, the Android SDK allows the ability to interface with the phone’s essential functions. This includes the Wi-Fi interface, cellular service protocols, and core operating system kernel files. This level of development has not been previously seen with other smart phone manufacturers.
To get started with the Android SDK to create your own applications, you will need to download the SDK itself. This can be found at the following URL: http://developer.android.com/sdk/index.html. You will need to download the SDK package applicable to the operating system of the computer you will doing your development with. Once the main SDK download is complete, install the kit using the provided installer.
At this point, installing IDE (integrated development environment) software such as Eclipse is highly recommended for ease of development. This will allow a wide range of functions, such as debugging and testing. You will need to download the Android Development Tools (ADT) add-on for the Eclipse IDE as well, which can be downloaded from the above URL. Eclipse can itself be found at the following URL: http://www.eclipse.org/.
Once you have successfully downloaded and installed the Android SDK, the Eclipse development environment, and the required ADT add-on, you will be ready to start application development. For those unfamiliar with programming and/or the specific language and syntax used by the Android SDK, Google provides a handy tutorial to help get you started with ease. While this tutorial will not give you all of the information required to complete the more complex tasks, it provides an excellent starting point for beginners. More advanced techniques can be found by interacting with the more seasoned programmers in the Android community.