My journey as an Android developer


By Neil Hogg

Shortly after I started working as a Java developer I decided to dabble with some mobile development. This was still way before the explosion of the mobile industry, as we know it today. If you exclude Apple’s IOS, there weren’t many operating systems that had matured into a easy to use mobile platform for developers. I played around with some platforms including J2ME but had nothing that really grabbed my attention. Shortly after I started to loose interest, a friend introduced me to Android. It was a completely new and exciting platform. As the years progressed Android evolved into a platform that everyone, as all of you know now, came to love.

In my years of working with Android I was taught 5 common but crucial lessons.

1. Never get set in your ways

Android is ever changing. We live in a fast paced world and due to this fact you can never stop innovating and building your knowledge base, because you will get left behind. Android has released 20 versions since the official release in September 2008 with one more on the way (Read more on it here). In that time new features were introduced in every release building onto the power of this platform and creating a hype in the industry. Many developers stayed up to date, shared in the power of the platform and are now Bilion Dollar companies because of it.

2. Competition is tough

Because Android is such a popular platform, many developers and innovators want to publish their work on this platform. Most developers will know that a new idea is like a mythical creature. Mostly it does not exist but there is a place in this universe where new ideas are spawn every few years and if you are in the right place at the right time you might catch it, become a million/billionaire, and live happily ever after. If this doesn’t happen for you, don’t be demotivated, you are on the right track and might just become the next big thing.

3. Keep your users happy

I have found that users tend to become very unhappy when an app is not updated with the latest bug fixes and features. This seems to be common sense but there are a lot of apps out there that are very rarely updated. Un-updated apps lead to bad reviews and a bad reputation, you do not want this. Bad reputation for your current app is bad reputation for all your future apps. Prospective recruiters will also look at your developed apps and rate you on what they find.

4. Build a good looking UI

Building and keeping your app’s UI up to date is a very crucial part of app development. Here is a good metaphor I heard from a fellow developer a while ago.

There were once two birds, the one was really beautiful but not very smart and the other was really smart but not as beautiful. The beautiful one always got the most attention even though she had no brains. Why was this the smart one wondered…

This helped me realise that an app with a pleasant, easy to use interface will always be more popular even though the functionality is not as amazing as the app with a terrible UX and UI. Take a look at Apple for instance. They built a strict policy that enforces a good user experience and a good UI design and this made their apps some of the most popular apps up to date.

5. Keep it Clutter-free

This ties in with building a good looking UI but should be mentioned on its own. A app that is cluttered with heaps of features usually repulses a user more than it will attract. Apps are meant to be simple. Let’s face it, we are part of a very lazy society and people don’t want to struggle with learning all of your features. When you start building your app try to keep it plain and simple yet powerful. This tied together with a good user experience and a nice looking up to date UI should definitely boost your apps downloads and also cause less people to uninstall it.

Android is a amazing and powerful platform that can help build a better life and a better future for you and others around you. Don’t give up if you find a few hiccups along the way, they’re all part of the growing process. Stay positive and build amazing apps. Let’s show the other platforms (that I will not mention), why the Android platform is the best.

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