Let’s face it: I’m an Android fanboy.
The Android Platform is one of my favorite, if not my most favorite, platform to develop for.
I want to tell you exactly why I think Google makes a good job regarding Android. Nevertheless, I also try to highlight some problems I have with Android, because, be realistic: nothing’s perfect.
The Development Environment
Back in the days, Android Development in Eclipse was such a paint. The IDE just wasn’t meant to be used for the job of developing apps. Plugin Management was painful, the UI preview didn’t really work and everything crashed most of the time (at least for me).
However, Android Studio was developed to solve these problems. And it does so to an almost perfect degree. You can tell that Google keeps an eye on feedback and integrates every new tool nicely into the IDE (Kotlin, Espresso Test Recorder, …). The development of the app’s UI is just as fast and smooth as the creation of business logic. It just feels right doing all of this. Developing Android Apps is such a pleasure nowadays.
I like Java very much. In my opinion, static typing makes much more sense in big applications than dynamic typing. But I also like the design decisions behind the syntax. The functional programming techniques, which were introduced in Java 8, are also implemented nicely into Java’s ecosystem. If you want to learn more about them, check out my other posts.
Every time I read or work with Android Code, the language doesn’t get in my way. It just makes sense and is easy to understand.
The Bug Bounty System
Breaking other peoples code is a real pleasure for me. Getting inside a developer’s mind and exploiting common code habits can keep me busy for a whole weekend. And bug bounty reports are by far the most fascinating blog posts for me.
However, this task is even more rewarding now, because Google expanded it’s bug bounty program onto some Android Apps last month. Now, you can make real money reporting issues you found and learn so much about the Android system while searching bugs.
The Testing Environment
As a developer who cares a lot about testing, I want to make sure that every released app of mine works as intended. I don’t want to release buggy software. Android makes it so easy to do achieve this goal. Espresso and Robolectric are so intuitive and they just work. And if you also use Kotlin in your projects, it’s easy to make your tests even more readable with extension functions.
It just feels right to write tests. This is so important in an environment where few people practice TDD and just rely on luck to find bugs.
When I’m working on a new project, it’s always easy to get started. The amazing work Google does at documenting Android features is one of the best reasons for that.
What’s more, every time I have a problem, there is someone in an IRC chat or part of an email list who can give me a quick answer. When I develop for other platforms, I haven’t felt this invited in their communities.
But of course, not everything’s good about Android. There are still problems that this platform has and which simply annoy me as a developer.
New Year = New Android Version
Let’s be clear: It’s awesome when a platform develops over time. But maybe Google should give us the time to really embrace new features.
Not even a quarter of the Android users use Android N at this time. Still, there is Oreo coming out right now.
However, you can’t use all of the new features and upgrade the minimum SDK Version of your app. This is because most of the users don’t buy a new phone with the latest Android version every year. Also, phone manufacturers usually don’t provide new Android versions for their older phones. And not everybody wants to use a custom OS on their device.
Google should just give the developers and users more time to adapt to a new Android Version.
To sum everything up: The Android platform is a superb platform for developers. Google provides an awesome IDE and documentation which doesn’t leave anyone behind. The community is amazing as well.
Still, the system’s not perfect. Google should slow down the release cycle so that the developers and users can adapt better to every new Android version.
What’s your opinion on all of this? Which parts of the Android ecosystem do you love or hate? Please write a comment and check out my other blog posts too!
Thanks for reading and have a nice day.