Google’s Android operating system enjoys the largest share of the mobile device market. All the prominent mobile device manufacturers produce a variety of Android smartphones and tablets that appeal to consumers. Android smartphones and tablets are available in many sizes and are normally cheaper than Apple’s iPhone and iPad.
Android apps are developed with Java and the Google Android SDK. Eclipse is a popular IDE for Android app development and is available for free. Commercial IDEs such as Intellij IDEA from Jetbrains offer features that help the engineer in software development, unit testing and debugging apps.
Android apps can be tested on an Android smartphone or tablet without the developer registering with Google. When your app is ready to be listed in the Google Play store, you need to sign-up for an Android developer account by paying a one-time registration fee of $25.
The main advantages of developing apps for Android are:
- Android smartphones and tablets are popular in many countries and therefore, by developing for Android, your app can potentially be used by a number of users.
- Eclipse and other IDEs available for Android app development can run on either a PC or a Mac.
- When compared with Objective-C, Java is easier to learn and work with.
The main disadvantages of developing apps for Android are:
- Since Google does not control the hardware specification of Android smartphones and tablets, there is huge fragmentation of the form factor, processor power, memory, and storage space in a device. Developers need to acquire multiple devices to test their apps before releasing them on Google Play store.
- Piracy of Android apps is a major problem that Google has found hard to tackle. Although piracy exists with iOS apps, it is harder to pirate iOS apps since it requires jailbreaking an Apple device (Jailbreaking is the process of removing the limitation of running iOS apps distributed via the app store). An Android device is easier to jailbreak and therefore, piracy of Android apps is widespread.
- Although Eclipse is freely available, bug fixes and features are added to releases at a slower pace compared Apple’s Xcode and Microsoft’s Visual Studio.
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