When it comes to mobile operating systems today, Android is clearly the king. The OS boasts a 90% market share. Yes, iOS may have a more loyal or elitist fan following, but it’s Android that dominates the market.
Android is hugely successful, and that’s why you’ll find it on most mobile devices. But, app development for Android wasn’t always an easy task, despite all the popularity. There were key problems that developers had to face back in the day.
Let’s look at some of those challenges.
Fragmenting OS: Gingerbread largely occupied Android’s market share at one point in time. However, it was soon surpassed by version 4.0 or Ice Cream Sandwich. This led to the reception of several new UI elements, such as new APIs, new screen etc.
This proved to be a major challenge for Android app development, as the process of app development itself changed. The number of bugs and crashes increased, along with turnaround time.
Stroller IDEs: Android has an official IDE for app development. It’s called Eclipse. Now, Eclipse suffers from a range of issues, which have been known to cause immense frustration among developers. For instance, the ADT plug-in for Eclipse was permeated with bugs, which proved to be extra problematic during the execution of complicated projects. Plus, it wasn’t a very user-friendly IDE.
Emulators: All apps have to be tested on multiple versions of the Android OS, as well as screen dimensions. This is where emulators serve their purpose. But, testing on Android emulators was a time-consuming process. This was another major challenge faced by the developers of Android apps.
These were just a handful of the many problems faced by Android app developers. However, over the years, many of these challenges have been overcome, and changes have been made at a rapid pace. Android app development is currently revolutionizing the way we do things. Thanks to the proliferation of the OS, there was a sudden demand to make the development process much easier
There are two strategies that Google adopted to achieve this goal. Firstly, it made the OS open access. Secondly, it made the OS open source.
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Since Android became open access and open source, several milestones have been passed. Let’s take a look at some of those key milestones. To begin with, we saw the launch of Android Studio, which is an IDE for Android app development. Studio allowed for greater stability in Android apps, proving to be a massive improvement over the Eclipse ADT, which is currently not in use.
Then came Gradle, an automation tool for projects that replaced Apache Ant to become the primary building system for Android applications. It has become one of the most popular building systems among Android app developers today. This is because it offers simple automation. This includes automating tasks such as the dividing of apps to the enhancement of build numbers.
Interestingly, these capabilities have also led to its adoption as an administrative tool that aids the definition and maintenance of various settings. Gradle has also contributed to an increase in the number of test automation libraries and build servers. This has brought forward continuous integration processes to the Android OS.
Another major milestone was the introduction of Lollipop, an improved version of the Android OS. In the beginning, Lollipop was plagued by problems. For instance, the transition from an older version to Lollipop was often buggy.
However, Google made up for things by continuously working on improving the OS version. As a result, Lollipop has single-handedly introduced a vast number of changes within the Android ecosystem. It revolutionized the most basic UX principles.
Android’s Impact on Today’s World
As stated earlier, we can see Android everywhere now. App development companies rely on Android to develop apps for everything from TVs to cars and smartwatches. A majority of today’s gadgets run on the Android OS. With the advent of IoT (Internet of Things), the growth in Android-based devices is only going to increase.
Now, we can look forward to further improvement in the app development process for Android. Some of the rumored developments/trends/changes have been discussed below. Let’s take a look.
-The replacement of Java as the go-to programming language. Java is currently the most relied upon programming language for Android. However, the time for change is coming. Developers are beginning to consider languages other than Java. This is partly driven by Apple’s shift towards Swift, which is an amalgamation of C# and Python etc. Developers are currently on the hunt for languages that will make Android app development simpler and the apps themselves, more versatile.
-Change in DB management. Database management is a current challenge for Android app development. The OS still relies on SQL commands, which get in the way of the development process. Debugging becomes extremely difficult when SQL errors arise. It becomes more time-consuming and there is no GUI for viewing the database data. This has promoted developers to look for new DB management programs.
What’s in Store for the Future?
As Android app development continues and improves, we will be seeing all sorts of new applications. For starters, there is likely to be a spurt of new payment apps. Android has been working towards simplifying payments for uses on mobile devices. The age of digital payments is upon us, fueled by innovations such as cryptocurrencies. Android will soon be leveraging such innovations to shape the future of transactions.
Android is also working towards moving beyond its current space, which is the mobile device screen. There has been a lot of interest in the area of VR or Virtual Reality apps and AR or Augmented Reality apps.
Android is also entering the cloud storage arena. We will see new offering in this arena, where Android will offer new levels of storage for users.
So, it’s pretty clear that the future of app development is Android.