The massive popularity of Android smartphones and tablets can be attributed to its huge repository of apps. Although Windows Mobile and Apple’s iOS provides a much cleaner operating system stack, Android’s biggest advantage is that it has a lot more native apps that both combined. As of 2013, there are 900,000 Android apps developed, with more than 30 billion downloads by its users. This has been made possible by its adaptation of the open-source philosophy, which lets developers utilize the entire system stack to create applications.
Ever since the inception of Android operating system, Google has provided developers with the facility to create their own apps using the Android Software Development Kit (SDK). The applications are developed using the Android API, which is built on top of the Java programming language. In fact, the syntax used for coding the apps 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 apps.
The Android development kit provides a lot of useful tools such as the debugger, interface libraries, exhaustive documentation, tutorials and sample code. However, the best feature of this SDK is the built-in emulator, which can be used to test out the application. The emulator provides a sample mobile screen and keyboard-controlled operational capabilities.
The Android SDK can be downloaded from its official website and installed as an add-on tool on the Eclipse IDE. Eclipse is one of the oldest and widely used development environments for all Java-based programming languages. Moreover, the apps can be created and deployed on all the major desktop operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, Linux and Apple Mac OS.
With the release of every new Android version, the SDK is upgraded to support the latest features. The core system is developed and maintained by the Google’s Android team, and it provides simple wrapper interfaces to communicate with the latest sensor chips installed on devices for capturing advanced inputs such as location, air gestures and many more.
It is extremely easy to deploy the final built version on actual 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 test the beta version of their app on select devices before releasing it to the world on Google Play Store. Google has its own set of guidelines that approves every app that is submitted on the app store.