Despite iOS’ widespread success in the smartphone industry, it’s actually Android powered smartphones that make up the current bulk of the market share.
In 2021, over 73% of smartphone operating systems ran on some version of Android compared to just 27% running on Apple’s iOS. This makes it by far the most used smartphone operating system in the world, running on a variety of models.
We’ve compiled a list of the 21 best Android application development books in 2021. With them, learning to develop Android apps should be a cinch no matter your skill level. From expert developers to beginner programmers, there’s a book out there that’s just right to help you along your journey.
Why should I learn Android?
As mentioned before, Android phones command a huge share of the smartphone market. In fact, by 2023 experts estimate that global income from app sales will top out at around $935 billion.
In the third quarter of 2021, Google Play downloads alone exceeded over 28.3 billion, with Apple only managing to gain 8.2 billion downloads.
This squarely places Android as the number one platform to develop on right now.
How do I start learning Android?
Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a rookie coder, learning Android couldn’t be easier, and there are multiple ways to do it.
Online courses and tutorials are a great place to start, but for continual support and a constant reference point you should buy a few Android app development books.
Here’s our definitive list of the top 21 best Android app development books you can buy in 2021.
Best Android app development books
All of these positions represent different skill levels and entry points for anyone who wants to begin learning to code for Android. They also offer this teaching from different perspectives, from developing within Kotlin to a purely Java-focused course depending on what you feel most comfortable with.
1. Android Programming – The Big Nerd Ranch Guide
The “Big Nerd Ranch” series is already known for their extensive and high-quality coding and development courses, and this book is no exception.
Although it is geared more towards developers with a greater previous knowledge of Java, the guide doesn’t require the reader to have any previous knowledge of Android.
It also uses Android Studio - an official Android development environment, to teach its concepts, which is considered as the best programming platform for Android. This means that you’re getting a tailor-made teaching that takes place directly within the platform you’re using to code. It makes it perfect both for beginners and Java-experienced coders.
2. Android App Development for Dummies
The “for Dummies” series by Michael Burton is perhaps the best place to start for any beginner, regardless of subject matter.
The Dummies book on Android app development is no different, with the publication directed towards total beginners looking to break into the app development space. The guide (quite helpfully) also assumes that you’re going to make mistakes, and has chapters on how to avoid common pitfalls.
“Android App Development for Dummies” really is a book for absolute beginners looking for a starting point.
3. Head First Android Development – A Brain Friendly Guide
Similar to “Android App Development for Dummies”, “Head First Android Development” is a textbook suited for absolute beginners who may have a bit of Java know-how.
The guide covers quite literally every stage in the app development process. From first installing your IDE to programming using Java, “Head First Android Development” has it all.
This information is presented in a visually stimulating format whilst avoiding long and complex explanations of difficult concepts. For total beginners, there really aren’t many better places to start.
4. Android Cookbook: Problems and Solutions for Android Developers
“Android Cookbook” is slightly different to the other guides on this list. Although the publication is a guide on Android development, it’s best used as a reference guide for when you get stuck rather than as a start to finish guide for new Android developers.
Its problems and solutions include hardware specifics such as cameras or software problems such as interfaces or location services. As a referencing guide, the huge size of this publication only adds to its usefulness in solving common problems.
This book definitely isn’t for beginners, and is more suited to those already actively developing Android apps.
5. Kotlin Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide
As a relatively new coding language, there aren’t as many guides for Kotlin as there are for, say, Java.
However, this book is one of the best of the current ones and builds on the Java knowledge that Android app developers already have. This makes the transition from using Java to using Kotlin as painless as it can possibly be for current developers.
The guide covers key Kotlin concepts and first principles as well as the deeper and complex topics that crop up. If you’re a developer looking to dip their toes into the hottest programming language, you can hardly go wrong with “The Big Nerd Ranch”.
6. The Busy Coder’s Guide to Android Development
“The Busy Coder’s Guide to Android Development” removes the issue of out of date print editions by acting as an online ebook subscription service. New buyers not only get access to the current version of the book, but also 6 months of updates and revisions to it.
This means that the guide never goes out of date, and is always packed with the most relevant information. The author, Mark Murphey, also hosts ‘office hours’ each week for buyers of the publication who have further questions and queries.
At a huge 2,000 pages long, this book isn’t for beginners or even the faint of heart, but more than worth it for experienced programmers.
7. Kotlin Programming by Example: Build Real-world Android and Web Applications the Kotlin Way
Unlike other Kotlin guides, “Kotlin Programming by Example” takes a radically different approach to teaching new programming languages.
It essentially teaches you Kotlin through the practice of using Kotlin to write applications, but this of course means that this book may not be the best for beginners. The increasing complexity of the guide also means that you can stop or start where you feel the most comfortable, giving room for experienced professional programmers to jump in where they want.
8. Android Programming for Beginners
“Android Programming for Beginners” is another publication that starts from total scratch. This book is for total beginners and starts by covering the tools needed before going into the coding itself.
“Android Programming for Beginners” also provides readers with three step by step app development processes to learn whilst you code. In addition to coding, it also takes you through the process of deploying and publishing your finished application on the Google Play store.
This is a step often forgotten by other guides. By the time you’ve finished reading this book, you’ll be well on your way to being able to start building your own Android app entirely from the ground up.
9. Android Studio 4.1 Development Essentials – Java Edition
“Development Essentials” strikes a perfect balance between explaining Android programming basics and delving into advanced programming. It’s one of the few guides on this list we can recommend to both advanced coders as well as less experienced programmers.
The guide covers basic topics such as how to work within Android Studio to code Android applications and how to effectively use the interface. Later on in the guide, you’ll also learn about complex concepts such as Android development patterns.
Finally, you’ll also learn how to stress-test your application as well as tuning your app to help it run at its absolute best. It’s also available in a Kotlin edition for developers who have already mastered the new programming language.
10. Hello, Android: Introducing Google’s Mobile Development Platform
“Hello, Android” may be the best book on this list for total beginners. Rather than going into massive depth on advanced topics like some of the other 800 page tomes, this text provides a whistlestop tour of a variety of development stages.
These include how to use Android studio as well as the basic tenets of coding mobile apps. The guide certainly doesn’t explain everything you could ever know about Android app development, but it’s a great start for anyone even vaguely interested in application development.
11. Android Programming: Pushing the Limits
“Pushing the Limits” is the complete Android programming book. Any Android developer from beginner to intermediate will find something useful there.
From Google Play services to pushing the boundaries of Android SDK, anyone who wants to reach expert level programming can get use out of this publication. However, advanced Android developers may want to look for something slightly more advanced to further their skills.
12. Professional Android
“Professional Android” is now on its 4th Edition and larger, and more complete than ever. At a healthy 800 pages long, this book covers almost everything going on in Android development.
This includes coding tips as well as guides for Firebase and Google Play Android APIs. Programming in the text focuses on Java rather than Kotlin, so rejoice Java users! Although that may be a put-off for some, the guide is still absolutely worth a read for anyone interested in Android mobile app development.
13. Atomic Kotlin
For anyone looking to program apps for Android, Kotlin is fast becoming the hottest language to learn due to its superior functionality and simplicity as well as its cross-platform development.
“Atomic Kotlin” is a book from the brains behind “Thinking in C++” and “Thinking in Java”, guiding readers who are already familiar with other programming languages through the twists and turns of Kotlin.
Although previous coding knowledge isn’t necessary, total beginners will still be able to get something out of it.
14. How to Build Android Apps with Kotlin: A Hands-on Guide to Developing, Testing, and Publishing Your First Apps with Android
“How to Build Android Apps with Kotlin” takes you on an interactive journey creating applications for the Google Play store using the Kotlin programming language.
This is a comprehensive guide designed to kickstart developing with Kotlin. The guide provides readers with the skills necessary to scale-up apps they are taught how to build within the book, making it perfect for those going on to build even more apps for Android.
15. Kotlin and Android Development Featuring Jetpack
“Kotlin and Android Development Featuring Jetpack” is an excellent introduction to beginners with no Kotlin or Android Experience. It helps users to create two Android projects using the Kotlin programming language within Android.
The guide also helps users set up every tool they’ll need for the process, including Android SDK and a device emulator. This emulator is then used later in the book to test the apps you built, allowing you to visualize what a successful creation looks like.
16. Android Programming with Kotlin for Beginners
As the title suggests, this particular guide is best for beginners. In fact, it is specially designed for those with absolutely no programming experience whatsoever.
This makes it perfect for anyone who’s ever thought about getting into coding, but didn’t know where to start. If you’re just looking to have some fun playing around with Kotlin and creating apps and games just for yourself, you can’t go wrong with this beginner’s guide.
17. Java Programming for Android Developers for Dummies
The “For Dummies” series is back again, this time with something for users who really want to learn Java. Although the programming language has fallen out of favour recently with Android app developers, it’s still well worth learning and is a perfect language for beginners.
Like all “For Dummies'' books, this publication really is for absolute newbies who have always wanted to get into the world of coding but didn’t know how. Even if it’s Kotlin you want to go on to learn, having a background in Java is incredibly useful to make the transition to another language.
18. GUI Design for Android Apps
“GUI Design for Android Apps” is an excellent introduction to the world of app development and design. Unlike many of the other guides on this list, GUI Design for Android apps places emphasis on how to design excellent UI rather than teaching how to code in Android.
Although it isn’t the most detailed on the coding side, its broad introduction on the design and development process is a must-have for any Android application developer.
19. Android Design Patterns
“Android Design Patterns” is another position written more around intuitive design than the coding itself.
The book also does an excellent job of explaining why certain user interfaces work on iOS and Apple devices, but just aren’t intuitive when it comes to Android.
By creating apps dedicated for the Android platform rather than porting them over from iOS, developers can create a more intuitive product that is more likely to sell well, rather than just a carbon copy port.
20. Android Security Cookbook
“Android Security Cookbook” is a unique guide, hyperfocused on making sure your apps stay safe and secure.
This is one of the best guides for those who want to up their security. The perfectly explained examples take readers through step by step how vulnerabilities in their apps could be exploited by malicious third parties.
With apps constantly growing in size and complexity, this publication is a must have for any developer looking to create any substantial application for Android.
21. Beginning Android 4 Games Development
“Beginning Android 4 Games Development” is the perfect guide for those who already have a vision of what they want their app to look like.
The book is perfect for beginners, starting from complete fundamentals before progressing on to more complex topics such as making sophisticated game mechanics and game engines. By the end of this guide, you’ll be perfectly placed to call yourself a proficient Android app developer!
Is it easy to get a job developing Android apps?
Like the job market as a whole, making a career in Android programming is a competitive goal. However, everyone has to start somewhere and there are few better places to start than our top 10 Android development books.
With these guides, you’ll be coding Android apps like a true pro in no time!