Android development – one year on

Posted March 2012

For a year or so, with some large gaps, I’ve been exploring what it is to build (and redesign constantly) an Android app, with a real(ish) purpose rather than a My First App feel. It’s changed my thoughts on lots of things, including UI development in general, and to a lesser extent Java APIs; both for the better mainly.

As an overly-simplified bullet point summary, I find:

  • It’s well thought out
  • Good use of Generics (in places)
  • Most if not all UI and phone features are sub-classable
  • Excellent Eclipse integration.

Nothing’s perfect though

The learning curve has been fairly steep, there’s no doubt. What seems like a simple task (e.g. drop-down from a list of choices) can turn into a lot more classes and handlers than first expected, especially if you don’t want to build something like one of the tutorials.

The developer documentation has been helpful, but in places (some examples particularly) it’s really quite out of date, and with little or nothing to indicate this (until you find randomly ages later that xyz has been deprecated in version 2.2).

The application lifecycle definitely has taken (and still does) a lot of thought, even if it does make sense after a while.

New Android versions

This was all for 2.2, really. A lot of advances have come in 2.3, then 3.x too, I’m lead to believe. In fact I’m looking forward to version 4.0, aka Ice Cream Sandwich - though the rate of progress seems a little, well, manic. Hope they don’t end up going down the J2ME spiral…