Now is an exciting time for mobile developers. Mobile phones have never been more popular, and powerful smartphones are now a popular choice for consumers. Stylish and versatile phones packing hardware features like GPS, accelerometers, and touch screens, combined with fixed-rate, reasonably priced data plans provide an enticing platform upon which to create innovative mobile applications. A host of Android handsets are now available to tempt consumers, including phones with QVGA screens and powerful WVGA devices like the Motorola Droid and the Google Nexus One. The real win though, is for developers. With much existing mobile development built on proprietary operating systems that restrict the development and deployment of third-party applications, Android offers an open alternative. Without artificial barriers, Android developers are free to write applications that take full advantage of increasingly powerful mobile hardware and distribute them in an open market. As a result, developer interest in Android devices has exploded as handset sales have continued to grow.
In 2009 and the early parts of 2010 more than 20 Android handsets have been released from OEMs including HTC, Motorola, LG, Samsung, and Sony Ericsson. Android devices are now available in over 26 countries on more than 32 carriers. In the United States, Android devices are available on all four major carriers: T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. Additionally, you can now buy the unlocked Google Nexus One handset directly from Google at http://www.google.com/phone. Built on an open source framework, and featuring powerful SDK libraries and an open philosophy, Android has opened mobile phone development to thousands of developers who haven’t had access to tools for building mobile applications. Experienced mobile developers can now expand into the Android platform, leveraging the unique features to enhance existing products or create innovative new ones.
Using the Android Market for distribution, developers can take advantage of an open marketplace, with no review process, for distributing free and paid apps to all compatible Android devices. This book is a hands-on guide to building mobile applications using version 2 of the Android software development kit. Chapter by chapter, it takes you through a series of sample projects, each introducing new features and techniques to get the most out of Android. It covers all the basic functionality as well as exploring the advanced features through concise and useful examples. Google’s philosophy is to release early and iterateoften. Since Android’s first full release in October 2008, there have been seven platform and SDK releases. With such a rapid release cycle, there are likely to be regular changes and improvements to the software and development libraries. While the Android engineering team has worked hard to ensure backwards compatibility, future releases are likely to date some of the information provided in this book. Nonetheless, the explanations and examples included here will give you the grounding and knowledge needed to write compelling mobile applications using the current SDK, along with the flexibility to quickly adapt to future enhancements.
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