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How To Rapidly Learn Android App Development Online

How to become an Android app developer in your spare time. Learn to code apps using the latest version of Android 5.0 Lollipop.

The ability to develop apps for Android 5 Lollipop is an extremely hot skill to know right now. For the first time, it is starting to overtake Apple’s iOS as the most lucrative mobile platform to develop apps for. Given the beautiful new Materials Design framework in Lollipop, now is an excellent time to learn Android development.

In terms of marketshare, Android is absolutely clobbering iOS with a whopping 85% of the global market in 2014. This growth is also accelerating as more people globally plug into the Internet for the first time. A mind boggling 1.3 million new Android devices are activated each day and the number of Android devices in the world now numbers in the billions.

With such astounding growth, there is naturally a shortage of capable Android developers. In the past 5 years, the majority of developers have favoured Apple’s iOS. This was because there was less fragmentation in the ecosystem and Apple users have traditionally spent much larger sums of money on apps.

Fortunately for Android app developers, Google has put enormous resources in the last year into improving the Android user experience (the new Materials Design in Android 5 Lollipop rivals the slickness of iOS 8) and improving the quality of the Google Play app and content marketplace.

The growth and mobile operating system dominance of Android will continue for the foreseeable future. Android app development is currently the #4 most sought-after digital skill on Indeed, which means there are plenty of opportunity for freelance Android app developers. The money is also very good, with an experience Android app developers making an average salary of $100,000 a year in the US.

Android App Development Job Trends 2013

How To Start Learning Android Development Online:

The fastest way to learn Android development is online. Preferably you already you already have some experience with computer programming languages like Java, C or C++. If not, the learning curve will be much steeper but learning Android development is do-able with a lot of focus and determination (although, you may want to take a more introductory computer science courses first to establish the fundamentals).

Android apps are written using the Java programming language. It is helpful to have a basic knowledge of Java programming before beginning the courses below but a few of the courses are specifically geared toward absolute beginners.

Here’s how to get started:

1. Download and install the free Android SDK (Software Development Kit), Android’s open-source IDE (Integrated Development Environment) Eclipse and the Google-supported ADT Plugin is also recommended for Eclipse. The combination of these three tools will give you the full integrated development environment you require to start building Android apps.

2. Create your first “Hello World” app with this easy-to-follow tutorial for beginners from Google.

3. Take an Android development course online. The best way to learn is by diving in and hacking together some basic apps. This help you get familiar with the Android API (Application Programming Interface) and the possibilities of Android app development.

4. You can access more Android development tools by signing up as an Android Developer on Google Play (there’s a one-time $25 registration fee).

5. Subscribe and follow the Google Android Developers blog to learn about new developments in the Android app ecosystem.

6. Another essential resource is Google’s Training Resources For Android App Developers. I also recommend reviewing their new introduction to creating apps with Material Design.

Google has created an Android Developer portal where you can get everything you need to start creating your first Android app. On this website, you can download the Android Software Development Kit (SDK), take Android video classes, read their blog and access extensive Android Development resources.

Free Android Development Courses:

These are the most up-to-date resources that I have found for learning Android app development online. Updated for the latest version of Android 5 Lollipop.

1. Programming Mobile Applications for Android Handheld Systems (University of Maryland)

Part of a larger course on Mobile Cloud Computing with Android 4.4 KitKat. This course focuses on designing and building user-facing applications. The next part of this course will begin in June 2014 on Coursera so join this free course now. Free.

2. Building Mobile Applications with iOS, Android and HTML5 (Harvard University)

An excellent course on mobile development from Spring 2012 that covers iOS development, Android Development and 5 lectures on HTML5 mobile development. This course has assignments and video lectures that will help you build your first mobile apps for either Android or the iPhone or iPad. You can take this course on the official website or through iTunes University. It’s a little dated but still relevant. Free.

3. Creative, Serious and Playful Science of Android Apps (Coursera)

An introductory course directed at people with no previous programming experience. It teaches you fundamental computer science principles and how they apply to building Android smartphone and tablet apps. By the end of the course, you will have created your first Android app using Java and Google’s standard software development tools. Unfortunately, the next session of this 5-week long MOOC has yet to be announced. Free.

4. Android 4 Video Bootcamp (Merkana)

The full screencasts from a 5-day on Android Development for Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich). The course includes a good introductory slide presentation and 20 relatively easy-to-follow video tutorials.

5. Creative Programming for Digital Media & Mobile Apps (Coursera)

Okay, I don’t think this online course focusing on Android Development specifically, but it looks really useful because it teaches beginners how to code your own creative projects. You also learn the technical skills to write software that uses sophisticated graphics and audio with the focus on creating mobile applications that run on smartphones and tablets.

Premium Android App Development Courses:

You can only go so far with free resources. The best way to learn a difficult technical skill like Android app development is to join an online coding bootcamp. This way you will learn the latest skillset for Android 5 Lollipop.

1. Learn Android 5.0 Lollipop Development 

If you’re serious about becoming a high-paid Android Developer, then this course is my #1 pick. The course instructor Tim Buchalka is a fun and entertaining Android geek and master teacher. He guides you through the learning process of building 14 different Android apps that will give you a strong programming foundation (and a strong digital portfolio) so you can get an entry-level job or internship after you finish the course.

Given that offline Android development boot camps cost upwards of $7000-$10000, this course is a bargain if you’re a self-directed learner.


Android Video Tutorials:

A collection of 35 (and counting) excellent videos that teaches you how to create Android Apps geared towards absolute beginners.

If you have no programming knowledge and you still want to try your hand at creating an Android app, then MIT’s App Inventor is designed for you.

The New Boston has a growing collection of 200+ well-structured Android development tutorial videos.

11 videos and over 11 hours of instruction from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology professor Dave Fisher on Android development.

The resources for a Android programming course taught at Stanford University (unfortunately the video lectures are not included).

Learn the basics of the Java programming language in an hour if you’re completely new to the programming language.

Excellent resources from experience Android developer, trainer and author Lars Vogel.

Mobile Development Frameworks:

There are 100s of Android development frameworks that can save you a huge chunk of time and make it easier to build basic Android apps.

Develop native Android apps using HTML5 and Javascript. This new cross-platform mobile development tool let you develop apps for both iOS and Android, without learning Objective-C or Java.

Create rich native iOS, Android, hybrid, and mobile web apps from a single JavaScript-based SDK while dramatically cutting down development time.

Create cross-platform mobile applications for iOS, Android, Blackberry, Windows Phone and Symbian using only HTML, CSS and Javascript.

Essential Android Development Resources:

1. Android Development Community – 45,000+ members on Google+ that covers the latest stuff for Android 4.4 KitKat and some for Android 5 Lollipop.

2. #AndroidDev Weekly – One curated e-mail each week for Android developers.

3. Android Development Cheatsheet – A compilation of the resources that Android Developer Ryan Park used to teach himself Java, Android and create his first published app in the Google Play Store.

4. The Busy Coder’s Guide to Android Development – One of the best Android development books.

5. Getting Started with Android 5.0 Lollipop – A good intro for developers to Android Lollipop’s changes.

I hope you’ve found these education resources for learning Android App Development useful. Good luck!

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Kyle Pearce

I created DIY Genius to help people develop digital skills and the entrepreneurial mindset to navigate the turbulence and opportunity of the 21st century. I also teach courses in mindfulness training that give people the tools they need to develop their focus, creativity and self-motivation.

7 Responses on How To Rapidly Learn Android App Development Online"

  1. Akhil Shah says:

    Excellent Information. I will try to use this information to explore my Integration Horizon using Java and eclipse. Hope I will able to create the create the apps that will interact with java web-services.

  2. Jen Stewart says:

    I strongly agree with the other commenters… this is a great article! You saved me hours in research time! Thank you for putting so much effort into this article :) You are helping so many people.

    Do you have any advice on a certain certification-type test, that we (new developers) should be shooting for? I am basically learning Android as a hobby, because it absolutely captivates me… I’ve never had so much interest in anything that was considered a “job” or “career.” LOL! I would love to have freelancing be a short-term goal… so thats where the certification question comes into play :) And can you really get a programmer job with online only training?

    • Profile photo of Kyle Pearce Kyle Pearce says:

      I don’t think certifications are very important for Android developers. What’s more important is your activity on platforms like Github and having a diverse portfolio of Android apps you have built (ideally with a few that are still in the App Store).

      I find that the best developers are self-taught hackers who learn online so the certification is secondary. It would be useful if you want to work for a big corporation with an HR department that probably favors prestigious Universities. I hope this helps, thanks for your comment!

  3. David from Belize says:

    Thanks for this post! It was very informative and I am sure it will help me as I dive into the mobile development field of work.

  4. Android App Development says:

    I learned a lot from this post. thanks for sharing such a great information about android app development. Keep sharing!!!

  5. Such an amazing and informative post about Android 4.4 Kit Kat which learn how can develop an 4.4 Android app online.

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