Best Android Books: Top 5 Choices For 2013

February 7th, 2013 Leave a comment
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Best Android BooksProfessional Android 4 DevelopmentBeginning Android 4 DevelopmentPro Android 4Programming Android: Java Programming for the New Generation of Mobile DevicesAndroid Apps With EclipseDefault

2013 has come to us, and we’ve noticed that our Best Android Books: My Top 5 Choices post has still been getting quite a few hits recently. Unfortunately, it’s been awhile and some of the books on the list are a bit out of date – with that in mind, we’ve gone looking for some new, cutting-edge Android books to help you be at the top of your Android development game!

1. Professional Android 4 Development

Professional Android 4 DevelopmentBy Reto Meier

I was quite impressed with Reto Meier’s breadth in this book – while many developers are fluent in Android 2, for the most part support for Android 2 is rapidly waning as more phones are released with Android 4 – Android 4 creates a fairly large opportunity for developers, and you won’t want to miss it. This book isn’t aimed at beginners – it’s aimed at developers who already have some Android experience and want to make the transition from Android 2 to Android 4 (Android 3 is also covered, for tablet developers). This includes a strong focus on new APIs that are introduced in these systems, including things like NFC Beam and the Action Bar.

The book is good in that it includes a great deal of hands-on projects that get you learning and absorbing these new APIs and methods in a practical context. These example projects aren’t just for learning, either: you can use them as a launching pad for your own Android apps, as well. Combined with the book’s coverage of publishing and marketing of applications, this book makes for an excellent primer to get current Android developers up to speed on real world Android 4 development and publishing.

2. Beginning Android 4 Development

Beginning Android 4 DevelopmentBy Wei-Ming Lee

In contrast to the previous entry, this book aims to help developers who are completely new to Android get up to speed developing for Android 4. The book isn’t exactly for beginners who are completely new to development – it’s more for someone who already has a fairly good handle on Java development and wants to break into the Android development process. Someone new to programming entirely might be a little out of their league here.

For those developers with some experience under their belt already, however, they’ll find that using this book to get up to speed on Android 4 development will be a quick and relatively painless process. The book covers real-world programming exercises with clear instructions, and it doesn’t leave anything out – it starts from the basics, like the SDK and how to get it, and moves on to cover more in-depth topics like activities, intents, data management, and user interfaces. Finally, it takes you all the way to the end of the project life cycle by giving you details on how to publish your apps to the Play Store. Definitely a book worth grabbing if you’re a developer who’s never developed for Android before but wants to break into the mobile market!

3. Pro Android 4

Pro Android 4By Satya Komatineni, Dave MacLean

Pro Android 4 occupies a space somewhere in-between Professional Android 4 and Beginning Android 4 – it’s a beginning book that nevertheless assumes some prior Java knowledge, and it attempts to take the reader from no Android 4 knowledge to building their own app, from the SDK install all the way to the promotion and publishing of a finished, professional app.

The book does occasionally seem to try to cover too much – one of Pro Android 3’s criticisms was that it was not beginner friendly enough, and it looks like the authors tried to correct that for this version. At a desk-denting 1020 pages, this book isn’t for the faint of heart – it could have perhaps been edited down just a tad. Still, it’s a very good book, and if you’re able and willing to pound through its length you’ll find yourself a very capable and knowledgable developer at the end of it.

4. Programming Android: Java Programming for the New Generation of Mobile Devices

Programming Android: Java Programming for the New Generation of Mobile DevicesBy Zigurd Mednieks, Laird Dornin, G. Blake Meike, Masumi Nakamura

I am usually impressed with the quality of O’Reilly books – they are often more technical in nature than others, but they are almost always extremely detailed. Programming Android doesn’t disappoint: anyone coming to this book will walk away from it with an extremely detailed knowledge of not only how to write Android applications but also of Android’s inner workings.

The book is very focused on its mission, and it does one thing that I quite liked: it allows access to a GitHub repository from which you can fork the authors’ code for use in your own projects. This gives you great launching pads for your own apps as well as respectable reference implementation if you need to look at how a certain API is used or a certain feature implemented. While it’s not for the completely beginner, this book will definitely be of use to anyone looking to learn Android programs – whether it’s complementing another book on the list as a reference or serving as the primary teaching tool itself.

5. Android Apps With Eclipse

Android Apps With EclipseBy Onur Cinar

This one is interesting on our list because it deals with a specific IDE. Many people enjoy using different IDEs, but it’s true that Eclipse is something of a standard in Android application development and this book approaches app development from the idea of having an IDE as part of the teaching process.

Many of the other books in this series use Eclipse as their example IDE, but this one actually makes it a point to parallel learning Eclipse with Android programming to make for a seamless work environment. It’s not as Android focused as the others due to its goal of integrating IDE and environment, and experienced programmers with preferred IDEs might feel a bit wanting from this one- as an Android starter edition, however, it works very well and is definitely worthwhile for anyone who doesn’t have any Android programming experience or a preferred Java IDE!

Conclusion

Android is a rapidly evolving platform, and books that were topical just a year ago can find themselves out of date. As a result, here are our new Android choices for current Android platforms on the market – stock up your tech shelf to stay relevant and keep up on all of Android’s newest cutting-edge features!

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