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Android software development

android software development kit, android software development tools
Software development kit

The Nexus 4, part of the Google Nexus series, a line of "developer-friendly" devices

Android software development is the process by which new applications are created for the Android operating system Applications are usually developed in Java programming language using the Android SDK, but other development environments are also available


  • 1 Official development tools
    • 11 Android SDK
      • 111 Android Debug Bridge
      • 112 Fastboot
    • 12 Android NDK
    • 13 Android Open Accessory Development Kit
    • 14 Native Go support
  • 2 External hardware development
  • 3 Third-party development tools
    • 31 AIDE
    • 32 App Inventor for Android
    • 33 Basic4android
    • 34 Corona SDK
    • 35 Delphi
    • 36 HyperNext Android Creator
    • 37 Kivy
    • 38 Lazarus
    • 39 Processing
    • 310 Qt for Android
    • 311 RubyMotion
    • 312 SDL
    • 313 Visual Studio 2015
    • 314 Xamarin
  • 4 Android Developer Challenge
  • 5 Community-based firmware
  • 6 Java standards
  • 7 History / Market share
  • 8 See also
  • 9 References
  • 10 Bibliography
  • 11 External links

Official development tools

Android SDK

Android SDK
Initial releaseOctober 2009; 7 years ago 2009-10
Stable release2441 / October 2015; 1 year ago 2015-10
Written inJava
Operating systemCross-platform
Available inEnglish
Websitedeveloperandroidcom/tools/sdk/eclipse-adthtml, developerandroidcom/sdk/indexhtml

The Android software development kit SDK includes a comprehensive set of development tools These include a debugger, libraries, a handset emulator based on QEMU, documentation, sample code, and tutorials Currently supported development platforms include computers running Linux any modern desktop Linux distribution, Mac OS X 1058 or later, and Windows 7 previously XP or later As of March 2015, the SDK is not available on Android itself, but the software development is possible by using specialized Android applications

Until around the end of 2014, the officially supported integrated development environment IDE was Eclipse using the Android Development Tools ADT Plugin, though IntelliJ IDEA IDE all editions fully supports Android development out of the box, and NetBeans IDE also supports Android development via a plugin As of 2015, Android Studio, made by Google and powered by IntelliJ, is the official IDE; however, developers are free to use others Additionally, developers may use any text editor to edit Java and XML files, then use command line tools Java Development Kit and Apache Ant are required to create, build and debug Android applications as well as control attached Android devices eg, triggering a reboot, installing software packages remotely

Enhancements to Android's SDK go hand in hand with the overall Android platform development The SDK also supports older versions of the Android platform in case developers wish to target their applications at older devices Development tools are downloadable components, so after one has downloaded the latest version and platform, older platforms and tools can also be downloaded for compatibility testing

Android applications are packaged in apk format and stored under /data/app folder on the Android OS the folder is accessible only to the root user for security reasons APK package contains dex files compiled byte code files called Dalvik executables, resource files, etc

Android Debug Bridge

The Android Debug Bridge ADB is a toolkit included in the Android SDK package It consists of both client and server-side programs that communicate with one another The ADB is typically accessed through the command-line interface, although numerous graphical user interfaces exist to control ADB

The format for issuing commands through the ADB is typically:

adb<command>where -d is the option for specifying the USB-attached device,-e for indicating a running Android emulator on the computer,-s for specifying either one by its adb-assigned serial numberIf there is only one attached device or running emulator, these options are not necessary

For example, Android applications can be saved by the command backup to a file, whose name is backupab by default

In a security issue reported in March 2011, ADB was targeted as a vector to attempt to install a rootkit on connected phones using a "resource exhaustion attack"


"Fastboot" redirects here For the PC fast booting ability, see Instant-on

Fastboot is a diagnostic protocol included with the SDK package used primarily to modify the flash filesystem via a USB connection from host computer It requires that the device be started in a boot loader or Secondary Program Loader mode, in which only the most basic hardware initialization is performed After enabling the protocol on the device itself, it will accept a specific set of commands sent to it via USB using a command line Some of the most commonly used fastboot commands include:

  • flash –rewrites a partition with a binary image stored on the host computer
  • erase –erases a specific partition
  • reboot –reboots the device into either the main operating system, the system recovery partition or back into its boot loader
  • devices –displays a list of all devices with the serial number connected to the host computer
  • format –formats a specific partition; the file system of the partition must be recognized by the device

Android NDK

Android NDK
Initial releaseJune 2009; 7 years ago 2009-06
Stable release12b / June 2016; 6 months ago 2016-06
Written inC and C++
Operating system
  • Windows Vista and later
  • OS X 1085 through OS X 109 with Java SE 6
  • Linux with GNOME or KDE desktop
PlatformIA-32 or x86-64
Available inEnglish

Libraries written in C, C++ and other languages can be compiled to ARM, MIPS or x86 native code and installed using the Android Native Development Kit NDK Native classes can be called from Java code running under the Dalvik VM using the SystemloadLibrary call, which is part of the standard Android Java classes

Complete applications can be compiled and installed using traditional development tools However, according to the Android documentation, NDK should not be used solely because the developer prefers to program in C/C++, as using NDK increases complexity while most applications would not benefit from using it

The ADB debugger gives a root shell under the Android Emulator which allows ARM, MIPS or x86 native code to be uploaded and executed Native code can be compiled using GCC or the Intel C++ Compiler on a standard PC Running native code is complicated by Android's use of a non-standard C library libc, known as Bionic The graphics library that Android uses to arbitrate and control access to this device is called the Skia Graphics Library SGL, and it has been released under an open source licence Skia has backends for both Win32 and Unix, allowing the development of cross-platform applications, and it is the graphics engine underlying the Google Chrome web browser

It is possible to use the Android Studio with Gradle to develop NDK projects Other third-party tools allow integrating the NDK into Eclipse and Visual Studio

Android Open Accessory Development Kit

The Android 31 platform also backported to Android 234 introduces Android Open Accessory support, which allows external USB hardware an Android USB accessory to interact an Android-powered device in a special "accessory" mode When an Android-powered device is in accessory mode, the connected accessory acts as the USB host powers the bus and enumerates devices and the Android-powered device acts as the USB device Android USB accessories are specifically designed to attach to Android-powered devices and adhere to a simple protocol Android accessory protocol that allows them to detect Android-powered devices that support accessory mode

Native Go support

Since version 14 of the Go programming language, writing applications for Android is supported without requiring any Java code, although with a restricted set of Android APIs

External hardware development

Development tools intended to help an Android device interact with external electronics include IOIO, Android Open Accessory Development Kit, Microbridge, Triggertrap, etc

Third-party development tools


  • AIDE Android application, An Android App that allows Android Apps development directly using the device It compiles and installs the created app in the device

App Inventor for Android

Main article:Google App Inventor

On July 12, 2010, Google announced the availability of App Inventor for Android, a Web-based visual development environment for novice programmers, based on MIT's Open Blocks Java library and providing access to Android devices' GPS, accelerometer and orientation data, phone functions, text messaging, speech-to-text conversion, contact data, persistent storage, and Web services, initially including Amazon and Twitter "We could only have done this because Android’s architecture is so open," said the project director, MIT's Hal Abelson Under development for over a year, the block-editing tool has been taught to non-majors in computer science at Harvard, MIT, Wellesley, Trinity College Hartford, and the University of San Francisco, where Professor David Wolber developed an introductory computer science course and tutorial book for non-computer science students based on App Inventor for Android

In the second half of 2011, Google released the source code, terminated its Web service, and provided funding for the creation of The MIT Center for Mobile Learning, led by the App Inventor creator Hal Abelson and fellow MIT professors Eric Klopfer and Mitchel Resnick Latest version created as the result of Google–MIT collaboration was released in February 2012, while the first version created solely by MIT was launched in March 2012 and upgraded to App Inventor 2 in December 2013 As of 2014, App inventor is now maintained by MIT


Basic4android is a commercial product similar to Simple It is inspired by Microsoft Visual Basic 6 and Microsoft Visual Studio It makes android programming much simpler for regular Visual Basic programmers who find coding in Java difficult Basic4android is very active, and there is a strong online community of Basic4android developers

Corona SDK

Corona SDK is a software development kit SDK created by Walter Luh, founder of Corona Labs Inc Corona SDK allows software programmers to build mobile applications for iPhone, iPad and Android devices

Corona lets developers build graphic applications by using its integrated Lua language, which is layered on top of C++/OpenGL The SDK does uses a subscription-based purchase model, without requiring any per-application royalties and imposing no branding requirements


Delphi can also be used for creating Android application in the Object Pascal language The latest release is Delphi 10 Seattle, developed by Embarcadero User interfaces are developed using the cross-platform GUI framework Firemonkey Additionally, non-visual components for interaction with the various sensors like Camera, Gyroscope, GPS and Bluetooth etc are available Other services, such as access to certain keyboard events, are available in a platform-independent manner as well; this is done using interfaces The compiler is based on the LLVM architecture, and debugging from IDE is possible The generated apps are based on the NDK, but in contrast to Xamarin, the runtime is compiled into the application itself

HyperNext Android Creator

HyperNext Android Creator HAC is a software development system aimed at beginner programmers that can help them create their own Android apps without knowing Java and the Android SDK It is based on HyperCard that treated software as a stack of cards with only one card being visible at any one time and so is well suited to mobile phone applications that have only one window visible at a time HyperNext Android Creator's main programming language is simply called HyperNext and is loosely based on Hypercard's HyperTalk language HyperNext is an interpreted English-like language and has many features that allow creation of Android applications It supports a growing subset of the Android SDK including its own versions of the GUI control types and automatically runs its own background service so apps can continue to run and process information while in the background


Kivy is an open source Python library for developing multitouch application software with a natural user interface NUI for a wide selection of devices Kivy provides the possibility of maintaining a single application for numerous operating systems "code once, run everywhere" Kivy has a custom-built deployment tool for deploying mobile applications called Buildozer, which is available only for Linux Buildozer is currently alpha software, but is far less cumbersome than older Kivy deployment methods Applications programmed with Kivy can be submitted to any Android mobile application distribution platform


The Lazarus IDE may be used to develop Android applications using Object Pascal and other Pascal dialects, based on the Free Pascal compiler starting from version 271


The Processing environment, which also uses the Java language, has supported an Android mode since version 15; integration with device camera and sensors is possible using the Ketai library

Qt for Android

Qt for Android enables Qt 5 applications to run on devices with Android v233 API level 10 or later Qt is a cross-platform application framework which can target platforms such as Android, Linux, iOS, Sailfish OS and Windows Qt application development is done in standard C++ and QML, requiring both the Android NDK and SDK Qt Creator is the integrated development environment provided with the Qt Framework for multi-platform application development


RubyMotion is a toolchain to write native mobile apps in Ruby As of version 30, RubyMotion supports Android RubyMotion Android apps can call into the entire set of Java Android APIs from Ruby, can use 3rd-party Java libraries, and are statically compiled into machine code


The SDL library offers also a development possibility beside Java, allowing the development with C and the simple porting of existing SDL and native C applications By injection of a small Java shim and JNI the usage of native SDL code is possible, allowing Android ports like eg the Jagged Alliance 2 video game

Visual Studio 2015

Visual Studio 2015 supports cross-platform development, letting C++ developers create projects from templates for Android native-activity applications, or create high-performance shared libraries to include in other solutions Its features include platform-specific IntelliSense, breakpoints, device deployment and emulation


With a C# shared codebase, developers can use Xamarin to write native iOS, Android, and Windows apps with native user interfaces and share code across multiple platforms Over 1 million developers use Xamarin's products in more than 120 countries around the world as of May 2015

Android Developer Challenge

Main article:Android Developer Challenge

The Android Developer Challenge was a competition to find the most innovative application for Android Google offered prizes totaling 10 million US dollars, distributed between ADC I and ADC II ADC I accepted submissions from January 2 to April 14, 2008 The 50 most promising entries, announced on May 12, 2008, each received a $25,000 award to further development It ended in early September with the announcement of ten teams that received $275,000 each, and ten teams that received $100,000 each

ADC II was announced on May 27, 2009 The first round of the ADC II closed on October 6, 2009 The first-round winners of ADC II comprising the top 200 applications were announced on November 5, 2009 Voting for the second round also opened on the same day and ended on November 25 Google announced the top winners of ADC II on November 30, with SweetDreams, What the Doodle! and WaveSecure being nominated the overall winners of the challenge

Community-based firmware

See also:List of custom Android firmware

There is a community of open-source enthusiasts that build and share Android-based firmware with a number of customizations and additional features, such as FLAC lossless audio support and the ability to store downloaded applications on the microSD card This usually involves rooting the device Rooting allows users root access to the operating system, enabling full control of the phone Rooting has several disadvantages as well, including increased risk of hacking, high chances of bricking, losing warranty, increased virus attack risks, etc However, rooting allows custom firmwares to be installed, although the device's boot loader must also be unlocked Modified firmwares allow users of older phones to use applications available only on newer releases

Those firmware packages are updated frequently, incorporate elements of Android functionality that haven't yet been officially released within a carrier-sanctioned firmware, and tend to have fewer limitations CyanogenMod and OMFGB are examples of such firmware

On September 24, 2009, Google issued a cease and desist letter to the modder Cyanogen, citing issues with the re-distribution of Google's closed-source applications within the custom firmware Even though most of Android OS is open source, phones come packaged with closed-source Google applications for functionality such as the Google Play and GPS navigation Google has asserted that these applications can only be provided through approved distribution channels by licensed distributors Cyanogen has complied with Google's wishes and is continuing to distribute this mod without the proprietary software It has provided a method to back up licensed Google applications during the mod's install process and restore them when the process is complete

Java standards

Obstacles to development include the fact that Android does not use established Java standards, that is, Java SE and ME This prevents compatibility between Java applications written for those platforms and those written for the Android platform Android only reuses the Java language syntax and semantics, but it does not provide the full class libraries and APIs bundled with Java SE or ME However, there are multiple tools in the market from companies such as Myriad Group and UpOnTek that provide Java ME to Android conversion services

History / Market share

The "Sooner" prototype phone, prior to "Dream"

Android was created by the Open Handset Alliance, which is led by Google The early feedback on developing applications for the Android platform was mixed Issues cited include bugs, lack of documentation, inadequate QA infrastructure, and no public issue-tracking system Google announced an issue tracker on January 18, 2008 In December 2007, MergeLab mobile startup founder Adam MacBeth stated, "Functionality is not there, is poorly documented or just doesn't work It's clearly not ready for prime time" Despite this, Android-targeted applications began to appear the week after the platform was announced The first publicly available application was the Snake game The Android Dev Phone is a SIM-unlocked and hardware-unlocked device that is designed for advanced developers While developers can use regular consumer devices purchased at retail to test and use their applications, some developers may choose not to use a retail device, preferring an unlocked or no-contract device

A preview release of the Android SDK was released on November 12, 2007 On July 15, 2008, the Android Developer Challenge Team accidentally sent an email to all entrants in the Android Developer Challenge announcing that a new release of the SDK was available in a "private" download area The email was intended for winners of the first round of the Android Developer Challenge The revelation that Google was supplying new SDK releases to some developers and not others and keeping this arrangement private led to widely reported frustration within the Android developer community at the time

On August 18, 2008, the Android 09 SDK beta was released This release provided an updated and extended API, improved development tools and an updated design for the home screen Detailed instructions for upgrading are available to those already working with an earlier release On September 23, 2008, the Android 10 SDK Release 1 was released According to the release notes, it included "mainly bug fixes, although some smaller features were added" It also included several API changes from the 09 version Multiple versions have been released since it was developed

As of July 2013, more than one million applications have been developed for Android, with over 25 billion downloads A June 2011 research indicated that over 67% of mobile developers used the platform, at the time of publication In Q2 2012, around 105 million units of Android smartphones were shipped which acquires a total share of 68% in overall smartphones sale till Q2 2012

See also

  • Android Studio
  • List of open source Android applications
  • Rooting Android OS


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  24. ^ Toker, Alp September 6, 2008 "Skia graphics library in Chrome:First impressions" Archived from the original on December 16, 2008 Retrieved December 13, 2008 
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  26. ^ "Using Eclipse for Android C/C++ Development" 
  27. ^ "Tutorial:Android Native Development with Visual Studio" 
  28. ^ "Accessory Development Kit | Android Developers" Developerandroidcom Retrieved October 2, 2012 
  29. ^ "Package app, which lets you write Apps for Android and eventually, iOS" Retrieved 2015-06-09 There are two ways to use Go in an Android App The first is as a library called from Java, the second is to use a restricted set of features but work entirely in Go An app can be written entirely in Go This results in a significantly simpler programming environment and eventually, portability to iOS, however only a very restricted set of Android APIs are available The provided interfaces are focused on games It is expected that the app will draw to the entire screen via OpenGL, see the gomobile/gl package, and that none of the platform's screen management infrastructure is exposed On Android, this means a native app is equivalent to a single Activity in particular a NativeActivity and on iOS, a single UIWindow Touch events will be accessible via this package When Android support is out of preview, all APIs supported by the Android NDK will be exposed via a Go package 
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  31. ^ Lohr, Steve July 11, 2010 "Google's Do-It-Yourself App Creation Software" New York Times Archived from the original on July 15, 2010 Retrieved July 12, 2010 
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  35. ^ Hardesty, Larry August 19, 2010 "The MIT roots of Google's new software" MIT News Office Retrieved October 1, 2015 
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  43. ^ "Simple DirectMedia Layer for Android" sdlorg August 12, 2012 Retrieved September 9, 2012 How the port works, - Android applications are Java-based, optionally with parts written in C, - As SDL apps are C-based, we use a small Java shim that uses JNI to talk to the SDL library, - This means that your application C code must be placed inside an android Java project, along with some C support code that communicates with Java, - This eventually produces a standard Android apk package 
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  • Ed, Burnette July 13, 2010 Hello, Android:Introducing Google's Mobile Development Platform 3rd ed Pragmatic Bookshelf ISBN 978-1-934356-56-2 
  • Ableson, Frank; Sen, Robi; King, Chris January 2011 Android in Action, Second Edition 2nd ed Manning ISBN 978-1-935182-72-6 
  • Conder, Shane; Darcey, Lauren July 24, 2012 Android Wireless Application Development Volume II:Advanced Topics 3rd ed Addison-Wesley Professional ISBN 0-321-81384-7 
  • Murphy, Mark June 26, 2009 Beginning Android 1st ed Apress ISBN 1-4302-2419-3 
  • Meier, Reto March 2010 Professional Android 2 Application Development 1st ed Wrox Press ISBN 978-0-470-56552-0 
  • Haseman, Chris July 21, 2008 Android Essentials 1st ed Apress ISBN 1-4302-1064-8 
  • Clifton, Ian August 3, 2012 The Essentials of Android Application Development LiveLessons Video Training 1st ed Addison-Wesley Professional ISBN 0-13-299658-8 

External links

  • Android Developers
  • Building for devices at sourceandroidcom
  • Android Debug Bridge - developerandroidcom
  • Mobile application development

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