Best Books to Learn Android Programming


Feb 22nd

For those that have followed a few of my articles you will know I am in the midst of relearning a bunch of programming. I have many years experience programming in .NET technologies and am considered pretty skilled in C#. But here is the kicker, everyone wants Java programmers and Android programmers. Hence, my drive to re-skill in these languages.

I have spent the last 18 months learning Java, and have done well, I would rate myself as competent to good. Now it’s Android’s time to shine. When learning Java I found the best book was actually the reference course manual recommended by my son who attends MIT, so I thought I would take the short cut again and see what the course material was/is for Android programming.

In this process I found out that MIT actually has its own Android App Inventor, which I found was BRILLIANT to learn how to program. It seems to be an iteration of the Google App Creator, but for a noob like me I found this version of it had the edge over the original. It is basically drag and drop. Obviously if you have a background in Java you will find programming an Android App within your comfort zone. So the concept of a drag and drop application creator might be a bit on the “too easy” side, and to be fair you might be right. But if you are brand new to this domain then this is a great place to start, if you are pretty hot at Java you might want to jump straight in to the programming, rather than the App Inventor/creators of the world.

They also have a number of books to help you get started with programming in the App Creator. The three I found the best were:

Android Apps with App Inventor: The Fast and Easy Way to Build Android Apps

App Inventor: Create Your Own Android Apps

Google App Inventor

The Android Apps with App Inventor: The Fast and Easy Way to Build Android Apps book starts with helping you get the App Creator up and running, step by step, which I found useful. It then walks you through creating Apps from scratch, with each chapter building on previous knowledge.

By the end of the book you have created Apps that have utilised the media functions, hardware access, such as the camera, texting, text-to-speech, web integration and geo-positioning. There were some great recommendations for debugging resources, which when I got in to trouble was a life saver.

The second book, App Inventor: Create Your Own Android Apps was also a great “beginners” book, including the old “Hello World” App. As I had the first book I pretty much skipped the first few chapters, as I had already gained that knowledge. This was made easy by the book being broken in to two sections, the tutorials and the Inventor’s Manual.

I spent a lot of time on the tutorials, given the fact I had already completed the first book, but it was worth it, it really gave me confidence in my programming, although there was some overlap.

The final book was Google App Inventor. As a starting book I am not sure this would have worked, but as a reference guide I found this book invaluable. I found some of the content dated, but it did have some more advanced examples and tutorials, and I really appreciated the visuals, which made understanding how everything fits together so much easier.

Also it help you create your first game, which let’s be honest is all we want to do with Android Programming!!! It is also a great stepping stone to the more hands on coding, rather than the drag and drop, so is a pretty good stepping stone to the advanced stuff.

Don’t be scared to learn the basics via the drag and drop app inventor, it gives you the confidence to move forward with the harder stuff down the line.

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