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 software development kit (SDK), but other development environments are also available.
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 10.5.8 or later, and Windows 7 or later. As of March 2015, the SDK is not available on Android itself, but 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 Tools (ADT) Plugin, though IntelliJ IDEA IDE (all editions) fully supports 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 (e.g., triggering a reboot, installing software package(s) 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.
Apps provide multiple entry points
Android apps are built as a combination of distinct components that can be invoked individually. For instance, an individual activity provides a single screen for a user interface, and a service independently performs work in the background.
From one component you can start another component using an intent. You can even start a component in a different app, such as an activity in a maps app to show an address. This model provides multiple entry points for a single app and allows any app to behave as a user’s “default” for an action that other apps may invoke.
Apps adapt to different devices
Android provides an adaptive app framework that allows you to provide unique resources for different device configurations. For example, you can create different XML layout files for different screen sizes and the system determines which layout to apply based on the current device’s screen size.
You can query the availability of device features at runtime if any app features require specific hardware such as a camera. If necessary, you can also declare features your app requires so app markets such as Google Play Store do not allow installation on devices that do not support that feature.
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