“Our developers do not use Android Studio,” he said. “A hundred percent of the functionality offered by Android Studio is available to our developers using their choice of IDE, Xamarin Studio or Visual Studio.”
Tips for modern Android app development
Michael Crump, senior developer advocate at Progress
Consider team skills: “Before you decide to build an Android application, I would look at what current skill set we have as a team, and which approach we need to take based on the app we need to build. There are many types of apps, from one-screen apps to apps with 20 to 30 screens. You may have a Web team capable of getting the app completed and shipped in a shorter amount of time, or you may have a team with a Java background looking to create their line-of-business mobile app even faster. It depends upon the different types of teams you have, and the apps you’re looking to build.”
Joseph Hill, Xamarin cofounder and director of developer relations
Functional UI testing: “If you’re starting a new project, you should write your first UI test as soon as you complete your first screen. It doesn’t matter if the UI will change later—great solutions exist for refactoring code, and you should be prepared to refactor and improve tests in the same way you do your codebase. If you’re using an object-based testing framework like Calabash or Xamarin.UITest, you have the benefit of tests that evolve with your UI without too many changes. A functional test should be an acceptance criteria checklist item for every new piece of UI that you build or change. Craft your Android application to Google’s brand new design metaphors and guidelines to help you craft a beautiful app experience that your users will love.”
Android has proved extremely versatile, and Google has capitalized on its malleability to hook in Android to every emerging device type or platform on the market, from smartphones and tablets, to “Glassware” on Google Glass. Developers can create Android apps integrated with Google’s Chromecast streaming dongle, the Moto 360, and such brands as Android Wear, Android Auto, Android TV and even the company’s DIY virtual reality technology, Google Cardboard.
Altogether, these concerted pushes into new platforms make up Google’s Android Everywhere strategy: the pursuit of true OS and application ubiquity on every screen size.
“The commonality of Android across these markets is hugely attractive to developers,” said Intel’s McVeigh. “Android developers are looking to leverage their existing app investment to expand their market while comprehending the differences in the user interface.”
Xamarin’s Hill talked about the platforms and hardware developers are beginning to gravitate toward, enticed by new form factors and rich data API integrations. As an example, he talked about how the Google Fit API—which reads and pulls fitness data into Android applications tied directly into Android Wear—allows developers to set their app apart with a more unique, personalized experience.
“We do see experimentation in all directions,” said Hill. “Much of the excitement we’ve seen from Android developers lately has been around the opportunities that Android Wear and Google Cardboard provide to more deeply engage end users directly, but we’ve also seen a lot of excitement from our developers targeting the TV through Amazon Fire TV and by connecting to Google Chromecast. There are definitely new opportunities with these form factors to make apps stickier and to break out of crowded app stores. The most successful developers will be the ones with exceptional UX skills to craft seamless experiences in this landscape.”