With mobile computing taking off now, much like the personal computer
did back in the 1970s and 1980s, are you ready to handle this next wave
of technology? I am guessing that you are not as ready as you would
like to be and you are probably not alone. I mean, at least there is me
and there is you, right?
So my first step in getting prepared was to
get an Android phone as there are all these REALLY neat applications
available which can make the phone do some amazing things. For example,
I was able to turn my phone into a compass, a leveling device, and,
amazingly, even a metal detector. What else can it do? The applications
are seemingly endless.
As a hardware guy, I am somewhat envious of the software folks -- all
they need is a personal computer, and they can write a single
application and sell it for $2 the world over and make millions without
the concerns of manufacturing hat us hardware folks have to contend
with. What is a hardware person to do other than join them? So I
decided to do just that. However, I needed a good book to help me
develop my first Android application.
The book that I found to do that
was Professional Android 2 Application Development by Reto Meir (ISBN:
As I like to read all the material in a book that comes before Chapter
1, I was pleased to read in the “WHOM THIS BOOK IS FOR” section that
“While knowledge of Java is helpful, it’s not a necessity” and there
was no need for “…prior experience in mobile phone development.”
the most part it was these two key phrases that sold me on the book,
but they would later be tested. The book has 15 chapters with the first
five covering the fundamentals. Chapter 1 has the classic “Hello,
World” first application. The really nice thing about the tools for
Android application development, as covered in Chapter 2 of the book,
(aside from being free) is that they even include full up emulation of
the Android phone on the computer.
There is so much useful information in this book, I actually felt my
However, I did run into a snag with step #4 on page 23
as the “details” promised were missing from the text and from the
illustration on the next page. Things were resolved when I got to the
figure on page 39. The problem that I encountered is that I did not
know the syntax to enter a valid “Package Name,” I guess some Java
would have come in handy.
Now being an old-school programmer I really enjoyed typing the programs
from “COMPUTE!” magazine (oops did I just date myself?) as this process
enabled me to really learn about programming. The book provides code
snippets, with some highlighting, instead of the full code.
Unfortunately, they were not always complete even when gluing prior
snippets together. However, the full code was downloadable from the
Aside from those hangs up, the remainder of the book was insightful.
a hardware type, I really enjoyed Chapter 14 which covered sensors. The
book also goes on to cover other topics that any really neat
application would need to do such as connect to the network or other
devices wirelessly. For my current project, I was glad for the coverage
of Bluetooth. Information about design philosophy has given me a deeper
understanding of the operation and the limitations of the platform.
Although the book could have used some more testing—which might have
helped me avoid some hiccups along the way-- I would still recommend
the book as worth having in your technical library, especially if you
plan to join the mobile computing technology wave.
is an electrical engineer alumnus from N.C. State University, who is
taking his more than 15 years of industry experience to found his first
high-tech company, Digital Data Innovations - DDI, after being involved
in more than six tech start-ups since high school. He currently resides
in Portland, Oregon and can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com..
Standby for more mind unbending.
My guess based on T. N. Palmer's article on
"The Invariant Set Postulate: a new geometric
framework for the foundations of quantum
theory and the role played by gravity
" in Proceedings of the Royal Society A, 2009, 465
is that we will heading in the direction of simplification which will throw out a lot of the over complications of unvalidated (by experiment) concepts.
I just hope that Susskind will be around to make it clear - he is quite lucid.
Regarding the speed of the application, it really depends on the needs of the application. For my current project, I am using the Android phone to serve as the UI for a remote sensor product. There are still things that can be done better in hardware than in software...right? However, if your application is a fast paced video game you may need to tweak the performance, in which case you will want to look into the Android Native Development Kit (NDK) in which you can code up critical portions of your application in C/C++ instead of Java. However, you may be surprised at the performance you can get just using Java by using the development libraries that have already been done. Either way, you should become familiar with the Android Development website at developer.android.com.
As for the time it takes to develop your first "big" application, there are just too many variables to quantify that effectively since it depends on the complexity of the application and the number and skills/experiences of the developer(s). So the best advice that I can give for now is to simply get started with getting familiar with the Android development tools, environment, processes and concepts, which I feel this book will do. After you and/or your team does that you will get a better sense of the time and effort needed to finish a "big" application. And do not forget to connect up with some artistic friends or associates to cover the graphics, video and/or sound aspects of your application as customer expectations are HIGH as to what is a good application...even if it is free. I hope this helps!
Thinks for pointing Gearbox out Jagdish! To help others out, the website is www.Gearbox.me, i.e. not the ".com" domain. Being the hardware type this is what I am doing now and why I got this book and decided to post a review of it. Hopefully the review was helpful.
It's great to have such a book for an OS that is free & is getting popular day-after-day.A lot more is going to happen & I feel that the Android OS will take the momentum of Linux,given the fact that it is meant for hand-help devices.
I'd like to draw the reader's attention to a company called Gearbox that specializes in developing open-hardware devices that can be controlled using smart phones. This reference highlights the potential for the things to come in the future. We surely have a lot to witness !!
Thanks Manuel for this interesting insight. I wonder if you could give us some information about the speed of your applications' execution time and tips on how to reduce this? Also could you speculate on the average time needed to build a first reasonably big application on the Android, for newbies?
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.