Android Development Tools - Our Top Picks
With over 70% of the mobile market share, Android remains the most used mobile operating system and so the demand for new and innovative Android apps continues to grow, according to Statista.
While Android development is a tough process, there are hundreds of tools available to support it in increasingly sophisticated ways. With this vast choice, knowing how to pick the tools that will truly maximize the speed, quality and efficiency of coding isn’t obvious.
In this article, we offer a list of configurations, frameworks and tools that our Android development team uses on a regular basis. This list should help you focus on the interesting challenges by avoiding exhausting manual tasks that may be involved in Android development projects.
Android Studio is the most popular IDE for Android development and offers the largest set of features available free of charge. It’s recommended and maintained by Google, which created it in 2013. It has been regarded as the default IDE for Android development for many years as it does offer the best coding environment, thanks to which it earned the dominant position on the market.
In Android Studio, projects can be created for smartphones, tablets, Android TV, Android Wear, Android Auto, Glasses, etc. It integrates with Java, Kotlin, C++ and other languages using the plugin system, which is a great advantage.Source: Android Studio
Android Debug Bridge (adb)
A versatile command-line tool that lets developers communicate with a given device. The adb utility communicates with a device to facilitate a variety of actions, such as installing, debugging apps. It also provides access to a Unix shell that developers can use to run a variety of commands on a device. It’s one of the most complex tools that enables full interaction with the target device.
In adb, the client-server architecture is divided into three components:
- A client, which runs on the development machine from which it sends commands. Developers can invoke the client from a command-line terminal by issuing an adb command.
- A daemon (adbd), which runs as a background process on each device to run commands.
- A server, responsible for managing the communication between the client and the daemon. It runs as a background process on the development machine.
The adb command-line is an extremely powerful tool. If you’d like to explore its full potential, take a look at the full list of commands it offers, as listed on Android Debug Bridge
Android Virtual Device & Android Emulator
Android Virtual Device (AVD) is a configuration used to create and manage Android Virtual Devices, including Android phones, tablets, Wear OSs, Android TVs, or Automotive OS devices - all of these can be managed via the Device Manager feature that you can launch directly in Android Studio. AVD allows developers to run different Android versions on the development machine.Source: Android Virtual Device
When combined with Android Emulator, which is integrated with Android Studio, AVD becomes a handy debugging and testing tool with seemingly endless scenario possibilities. It is the perfect solution for testing software without the need to engage a real device.Source: Android Emulator
Firebase is Google’s official app development platform and testing suite that has just recently added support for Android Studio. It means that programmers can finally build and grow Android apps and games without having to leave their IDEs to test their projects on various hardware configurations.
Firebase offers a wide set of products that help release, monitor and store data on the apps. It is integrated with Google Play Store, Google Cloud Messaging, Google Ads and many other useful tools.
Firebase Crashlytics, a real time crash reporting tool, helps to prioritize and fix your most pervasive crashes based on the impact on real users. Crashlytics also easily integrates into target Android, iOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS apps. It's the primary tool for tracking bugs in software that’s already been released to the public.
With Crashlytics, it’s easy to dump the stack trace, find and identify the root causes of crashes without the need of physically examining the device, which, in the case of publicly released software, is impossible anyway.
This may be one of the less-obvious choices, but our developers use the Google Analytics SDK as the primary tool for tracking user acquisition, engagement and feature use. It’s invaluable when it comes to optimizing the mobile app to achieve specific business goals.
Google Analytics automatically captures key preprogrammed events and user properties of choice, while also giving the possibility to define custom events and measure them.
This tool was developed specifically for tracking and plugging memory leaks - a common issue in Android development. LeakCanary requires importing into codebase and enables automatic detection in runtime. It's an invaluable tool for debugging and ensuring good stability and performance of the project.
LeakCanary greatly reduces the number of crashes like ‘OutOfMemory Error’ or ‘Application Not Responding.’ You’ll have a hard time searching for a better alternative.Source: LeakCanary
It’s hard to imagine professional development without Continuous Integration system would build and test code during the development cycle. CircleCI is a cloud-based solution that allows developers to automate their building, testing and delivery process. It’s quick to set up and integrate with a range of different tools.
In addition, CircleCI supports all testing frameworks, so it’s an invaluable tool for every organization that wants to release stable code quickly, securely and at scale.
AppCrawler & Monkey Testing
These are the best tools for automated UI testing that don’t require writing or maintaining any code. However, there is a major difference between them: Monkey performs testing by randomly clicking on screen triggering (or not) an action, while AppCrawler actively interacts with an app, testing its state-space, so it’s a more sophisticated tool.
Monkey is a command line tool that allows you to configure high-level options for testing, e.g. the percentage of scroll or touch events to test. AppCrawler will automatically stop crawling when it reaches a designated timeout, the app crashes or when it has performed all the unique possible actions.
Facilitating Android development projects with dedicated tools
In addition to those listed above, there are numerous other tools that Android application developers will find useful in their daily work. We shared some of the basic and less obvious solutions that our development team uses most frequently. While creating Android projects remains complex and requires a number of skills to master, these tools should make the process much faster and easier.
If you’re looking for an Android development partner for your next project, have questions about the process or simply need help with an existing Android app, contact us directly and we will take care of the rest.