NOTE: We’ve recently released a more up-to-date pick of the best Android books here: Best Android Books: Top 5 Choices for 2013.
There are a number of high quality books available about Android and Android application development. As with any subject, Google Android books vary greatly in quality and how broadly they cover their subject. We picked these 5 because they each approach the subject from a different perspective. Some carry the “introductory” flavor throughout the book, while others “ease you into” Android and then delve with more advanced topics. The point we are trying to make is that all these books can be complementary to each other rather than the “pick the best” kind. With that in mind, here are 5 of the top Android books.
The Busy Coder’s Guide to Advanced Android DevelopmentBy Mark Murphy
Mark Murphy is the author of the classic Busy Coder’s Guide to Android Development. This book picks up where the previous one leaves off. It delves into more advanced topics such as creating widgets for the home screen, taking pictures with the camera and using sensors. Mark’s style is very informal and easy to read, and the book has a great deal of no-nonsense examples, practices, and templates. Mark aims for the busy coder, and he’s not joking- the book’s aimed to get a busy coder into the wild and programming advanced Android apps.
The book is not for beginners, as the “Advanced” in the title might imply; many of Mark’s examples and ideas require a very good working knowledge of Android development, and a beginning programmer or developer is going to be extremely lost. For experienced Android programmers, however, this book is an important complement to the Android documentation and definitely deserves a spot on their tech shelf!
Professional Android 2 Application DevelopmentBy Reto Meier
Wrox’s Programmer to Programmer series of books are excellent for getting up to speed quickly and this book is no exception. This book deals with Android application development from the beginning through more advanced techniques. While it is well-suited for beginning Android developers, it does assume that the reader has some development experience and at least some familiarity with Java and Eclipse SDK. The author sprinkles the book with plenty of coding examples, which many books nowdays offload to a CD or link to their online repository. With a few exceptions, this book has a really great coverage of all Android components, from media to file IO to Bluetooth and WiFi radios.
The book does have a few weaknesses, and its most glaring is that it often neglects to offer context in particular parts of the book: while experienced or intermediate developers won’t miss these explanations, beginning developers may find it hard to follow at times. Other than that, however, it is a great book and definitely deserves a spot on your shelf!
Hello, Android: Introducing Google’s Mobile Development PlatformBy Ed Burnette
This book is one of the best introductory Google Android books available. It deals with the basics of Android development and uses a consistent sample application with increasing functionality to demonstrate the concepts. This is the book to get if you’re brand new to Android development. However, it is a basic book so experienced Android developers will find its value somewhat limited. The book does a good job “easing” you into the subject. It starts off hand-holding novice Android developers, but as it progresses, it picks up pace. It forces beginners to review the previous chapters often. Instead of simply copy-pasting the “example” code, it challenges readers to come up with their own solutions.
At no point in the book does it lose you, and it’s definitely a great resource to begin learning Android development on! If you’d like to read more of our thoughts on this fantastic book, check out an in-depth review of it here: Hello Android Book Review.
Beginning Android 3By Mark Murphy
Written by the author of The Busy Coder’s Guide to Advanced Android Development, this book is one of the best beginner’s guides to Android application development. This book covers the core features of the Android API. It takes a pace that is appropriate for beginners and does not go into great depth. This is an excellent first Google Android book for new Android developers. Even developers with limited experience with Java will find this book useful and easy to understand.
Beginning Android 3 is unique among the beginner books because it does still offer a bit of knowledge to intermediate developers: if you are unfamiliar with Android at all, this book is a great starting point to learn all of Android 3’s new features and how you can use them in your applications. If you already own “Beginning Android 2”, you might be disappointed because the two books share vast similarities. The unique parts about this addition is it covers some more recent Android additions, like “Honeycomb”, which is better equipped at handling larger screens used in tablets. Should you buy it? If you are a total Android newbie, YES! If you are an Android pro, NO! If you are anything in between, you’ll find much of this book quite useful and usable!
Pro Android 3By Satya Komatineni, Dave MacLean, and Sayed Hashimi
If Beginning Android 3 is a great introduction to Android 3 and the Android 3 SDK, this book kicks it into a different gear: even with Android 3’s relative youth in terms of when it was rolled out, Pro Android 3 is a great book that really gets into the development aspect and programming with Android 3. It talks about everything that’s new with Android 3 that’s different from Android 2, and reinforces these concepts with real-world, practical examples, including UI design, 3D graphics and gaming via Android’s OpenGL framework, and other relevant areas of Android 3 design.
The book is quite strong, and its only weakness may very well be its limited target audience. This book isn’t for beginners, and developers who are unfamiliar with Android 2 should be wary: much of the book talks about differences in the two, and you might get lost in a few places if you are not reasonably grounded in Android 2’s capabilities. For everyone else, however, this book is a great read and definitely deserves a spot on your tech shelf!
The variety of Google Android books available to new or experienced Android developers is quite large. There are five books that stand out as the top Android books for learning about Android application development. These books provide a thorough foundation for the complete beginner and lead into much more advanced android development topics.