While you may have come to believe that Android and iOS are on similar playing fields when it comes to mobile devices, recent reports have found that globally, Android makes up 85% of the market share. Not only does this mean that building a cross-platform app is now a necessity, but focusing on Android application development can set you apart and even become a competitive advantage.

Unfortunately, most non-developers aren’t even sure where to begin with Android application development, much less build their own project from the ground up. Thankfully, we know what it takes to get started with Android and build the best possible application for your end-users. All you need is a nudge in the right direction, so let’s get started.

android application development

Tools you will need

The first, and arguably most important part of developing an app, is choosing the right tools for the job. When it comes to Android application development, there are a couple of different options. First, and most obviously, you will need to download and familiarize yourself with Android Studio, Google’s integrated development environment. Like other IDEs, Studio allows developers to lay out their UI and check their code.

The best part about working with Android Studio is that it was designed specifically for Android application development. However, another helpful part of Studio is the Android SDK, which provides additional tools you can use, and Android Virtual Device, which is an emulator you can test apps on. With each of these programs in your tool belt, you are well equipped to develop a native Android app.

While there are other IDEs for developing Android apps like Eclipse and Basic4Android, Android Studio is far superior. That being said, if for whatever reason you have trouble working with Studio, these alternate programs will get the job done in a pinch.

Skillset requirements

Once you have your tools downloaded and have made yourself familiar with their UI, the next step in the Android development process is honing the skills you will need for a successful project. The first and most important of these skills is the ability to write Java and use their SDK to turn your code into a functioning application.

That being said, there is more than just Java as a skillset requirement for building a robust Android application. You will also need to have a system for integrating APIs and accessing databases that can flush out the functionality of your app. Finally, a firm understanding of Android’s Material Design standards will allow you to build a stellar UX design for your app, setting your product apart.

If you don’t possess these skills yourself, you may need to work with an outsourced mobile app development team. Should this be the case, you may be interested in reviewing our piece on how to choose the right team here.

Brainstorming app ideas

Now that you have the tools and skills you need for your Android application development project the question becomes: what are you going to build? While you will likely have an idea already in mind, the brainstorming part of this process is one of the best times to get creative and try out new ideas to see what works.

With new technologies emerging every day, there’s no doubt you will be able to come up with a few Android app ideas to build. Our advice here is to get your team together and talk through these ideas as a group. Then, take what resonated with everyone the most and run with it. If this idea is then validated by real-world users, you’re heading in the right direction.

Building the MVP

After brainstorming with your team and choosing the app idea you want to pursue, the next step is to build an MVP or Minimal Viable Product. Every MVP will look different, but essentially you will need to lay out each of the functions and features you want your app to have. Then, you narrow down that list to only the essential elements you need to have a functioning app that still provides value to your users.

For this process, we recommend using a product backlog, like in Scrum development, to keep track of everything that needs to be built for the app. Then once the MVP has been built, you will have a list of features you can add in later as you see how users respond and which direction the project goes. This flexibility is just another reason to start with an MVP and walk before you run.

Wireframes

Once all of the features of your MVP are laid out, we need to go back to Android studio and lay out the wireframes for your app. Wireframes are simply prototypes of what your app will look like, broken down into their base elements in order to find the best possible flow for your app. Building these early on and having users test them will save you a lot of time fixing bugs and solving issues in the testing stage later on.

UI and UX

Another part of wireframing that is essential to Android app development is choosing your approach to UI and UX design. Not only have these design methodologies become standard, but providing an exceptional user experience throughout your app is one of the best ways to retain users and build organic user growth. Make this a focus early on with your team to avoid playing catch-up later on.

Providing Value to Users

With an outline of the app created with wireframes and a strategy for UX, the time has come to put your fingers to the keyboard and start actually developing the application. While we don’t have time to go into detail about this process here (check out this blog post for more), all we’ll say is that you should try your best to provide value to the users at every possible point.

So, when you are working with your development team, take time to ponder each feature that you add and each line of code, asking yourself: does this provide value? Does this make the user more or less likely to keep using my software? This sort of thinking is what separates good apps from great ones.

The Path Forward

From here, the rest is in your hands to see the project through. There will come a time for testing, quality assurance, and launching the app, but for now, you have what you need to get started. Our final advice on the path forward is this: never sell yourself short. While you might have begun your Android app development just trying to make another app, who’s to say yours won’t be revolutionary or the next big thing?

Unless you are ready to put your best foot forward, work with an expert team, and do everything you can to set your application apart, why build an app in the first place? We believe that you have the tools to make a difference in this world with your Android application. The question simply becomes: do you?