Android 101: Google Launches Mobile App Training Program

In days of yore, kids wanted to be policemen, kung fu experts or jet fighters when they grew up. They saw what was being glorified on television and in the movies and said, “Daddy, that is what I want to do!” These days, kids may want to grow up to be great mobile developers. It could happen.

Google is making that easier than ever to learn to develop for Android. Last night it introduced a new beta program, Android Training, a collection of classes designed to help mobile developers make better Android apps. Google realizes that in the realm of public opinion Android apps are perceived to be inferior to iOS. Hence, Android Training is targeted to help developers make slicker, sexier, more functional apps.

Android Training will be led by the Android Developer Relations team. The program will grow in time but as of today it has 11 basic classes. The program has code snippets and sample code that developers can build from to help create better apps. Here is the starter list:

  • Designing for multiple screens
  • Improving layout performance
  • Managing audio playback
  • Optimizing battery life
  • Remembering users
  • Sharing content
  • Capturing photos
  • Maintaining multiple APKs
  • Developing for enterprise
  • Monetizing your app
  • Designing effective navigation

For example, here is some sample code for designing for multiple screens. This is an example of using RelativeLayout which allows the developer to specify layout in terms of the spacial relationships between components.

Google knows what the biggest problems are for Android developers. Fragmentation, screen sizes, monetization and design are high on the list. For instance, designing for multiple screens is one of the biggest advances in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. The next step after developing for different screens is to make them perform better, hence the next class on the list, improving layout performance.

There are some prerequisites to Android Training. You should know the basics of writing code and how to develop an Android user interface. Android Training does not start from scratch. It is designed for developers looking to refine their apps. In time, Google is likely to come out with more beginner classes and more advanced classes.

Apple has long given developers a full set of training tools and directions. Check out the iOS Dev Center to see content like “Learning Objective – C: A Primer.”

If Google wants to fulfill chairman Eric Schmidt’s prediction that mobile developers will be writing for Android first by the middle of 2012, it is going to have to close the gap between the perceived quality of Android apps versus iOS apps. Consumers are going to want to buy Android apps the way they do iOS apps that at this point is not the case.

Mobile developers: you going back to school? Do you see Android Training as a good reference point to building your own apps (sample code is always helpful)?

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