Category Archives: Android

The launcher is not the problem

Today, Daring Fireball posted a link to Kevin Fox’s analysis of how to fix the android Marketplace.

I disagree with both of them. I don’t believe the launcher needs to be killed. Let’s face it, a phone is no longer just a phone. It does 80% of the tasks that I used to do on a computer.

While using my mac I do not have a desktop (analogous to the home screen) shortcut to every single application that is installed. I have a few shortcuts on my desktop and dock and then use a ‘launcher’ to execute anything else that I might need.

Having every icon on my ‘home screen’ makes the same amount of sense on my phone as it does on my computer.

Now that being said, I do like Fox’s analysis of what Apple does to get users to open the app store and Android handset designers could learn from that.

Thoughts from a new Android developer

I’ve been interested in Android development for some time now. However, I never actually got around to setting up the development environment – until now. Before I give my impressions on the documentation that covers how to do all of this, I’d like to clarify that I’m not new to the development world at all – I’ve had a good few years experience – mostly with C++ and PHP and a few programming courses by now as well. I have not, however, had any experience with Java up until now. These are my immediate thoughts about developing on Android after spending some time (only a few hours so far, maybe 5 or 6) getting familiar with the SDK.

So far, I’ve been very pleased with how well the documentation is written. I followed the setup guide at the Android Developers website. My first step was to download and install Eclipse for my platform. I’m running Mac OS, and that’s the platform that my Android development experience has been on thus far. After getting Eclipse set up I then proceded to follow the instructions to get the latest (2.2 as of this writing) Android SDK and setup the SDK tools.

I also took the time to setup a virtual Android device (AVD) and test it for a few minutes (not as fast as my HTC Incredible!) Even though I did this here, the next guide walks you through the steps. I found them quite self explanatory and took the liberty to do it on my own.

Once finished setting up my development environment I dove right into the Hello, Android demo application. This tutorial shows how a very minimalistic is built and what components it needs. As with the previous tutorial, this one was written very well with a good mix of beginner tips and intermediate developer centric portions. There were few, if any, portions of the guide that left me lost or feeling unsure of what to do next. In addition, I felt comfortable exploring SDK documentation immediately after completing the Hello, Android program and started messing with other Views and Actions available from the SDK.

Whenever I got stuck or wasn’t exactly sure of how to do something (keep in mind that at this point I’ve only been using the SDK and Java for an hour or two now) the excellent Hello, Views tutorials helped set me on the right path.

After only reading those three tutorials and a few documentation pages I felt ready to begin work on my own application. What I have so far is an application that has two layers of tabbed menus with scrollable lists in each section. That’s all I can show you for now – more on that in a later post.

Overall, I’m extremely impressed with how easy it is to develop Android applications so far. It really is quite easy to go from not knowing a thing about Android programming to being ready to build your own application all within a single afternoon or maybe a couple of nights. I’m super excited to continue working on my application and hope that this article helps to alleviate any fears that others may have about getting started with Android development.