There are hundreds of android development tools that programmers can choose from when working on a mobile app project.
Just ask any development team or web agency, listen in on a technology meetup, or attend a large tech trade show and you’ll probably hear the same names popping up over and over again.
In the same way that an auto-mechanic or carpenter has a special set of tools in their toolbox that they depend on every single day, developers too have their own particular “tried-and-true” solutions that work best for them. Several seasoned programmers have been using the same development tools for years simply because they work so well.
While there are different tools developers use when creating iOS vs. Android apps, for the purpose of this post, we’re going to focus on Android specifically.
Here are 5 current best tools for android development that seem to be the most popular among Android developers.
Best Tools for Android Development
1. Android Studio
Practically every “best of” list when it comes to preferred Android development tools starts with Android Studio. Android Studio is now the officially integrated development environment (IDE) for all Android applications.
Current advanced Android applications that involve Google Glass, AI, and virtual and augmented reality are all being built using Android Studio.
Android Studio was created by Google and is customized specifically for Android application development. The solution provides everything a developer could possibly need, including code editing, debugging, testing and profiling tools.
The easy-to-use layout editor features a drag-and-drop interface and allows you to see previews on several different screen sizes and configurations.
Developers also love Android Studio because of the detailed documentation provided and the high level of support. And since this is the development tool sanctioned by Google, it’s hard to find comparable customer service and clear documentation with other types of development solutions.
Android Studio is free to download and to use.
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2. Android Debug Bridge
The Android Debug Bridge (ADB) is actually part of Android Studio. Android Debug Bridge is a command-line tool that acts as a “bridge” of communication between an Android device and a computer. The bridge lets you perform several different actions, including installing and debugging applications.
ADB operates using three separate components – a client, a daemon, and a server. The client, which runs on the development machine, is accessed from a command-line terminal through an adb command. The daemon runs on the device itself, and the server facilitates communication between the two.
Android Debug Bridge features a clean and user-friendly interface. To use the ADB, you simply connect a device running the software through a PC and then supply it with terminal commands. This allows you to modify both the device and software using a command line.
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Genymotion is a cross-platform Android emulator that lets developers test against several different versions while also performing debugging tasks.
It has a very friendly drag-and-drop user interface and it comes with pre-configured Android images that make testing even easier, especially when working with graphics-intense gaming apps.With its automated testing feature, Genymotion allows you to “test early, often and easily.”
One of the reasons that Genymotion is so popular with Android developers is because of its amazing speed. Using x86 architecture helps Genymotion run faster than most virtual devices.
With Genymotion, you can simulate over 3,000 virtual device scenarios to test your application. You can also launch a private beta and let customers try out your app from your website. They can test drive your app either on a desktop or mobile device.
Over the years, Genymotion has evolved from just a simple emulator to a complete app development platform. It supports Windows, Mac, and Linux.
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Gradle is an extensive open-source development tool that supports many types of application development projects. The solution is based on predecessors Apache Maven and Apache Ant. It was designed specifically to scale and support extensively large builds.
Released way back in 2007, Gradle became so popular over the years that Google adopted it as the build system for Android applications in 2013.
Gradle utilizes a Groovy-based DSL as opposed to XML, which makes it a better development tool for Java-based projects. Gradle is currently the preferred development tool for larger Java projects.
Developers love the incrementality feature of Gradle that helps to cut down on unnecessary work by tracking tasks and running only what is absolutely necessary.
Also, if you happen to be using Gradle in Android Studio, it’s super-easy to add external libraries with a single line of code. These features save a ton of time and money when it comes to the overall development process.
5. Visual Studio with Xamarin
Visual Studio is the official integrated development environment for Microsoft and is used by developers to create mobile apps, websites, and other types of computer programs.
Xamarin allows you to build native iOS, Android and Windows apps using Microsoft Visual Studio. It is the tool of choice for most developers when it comes to building cross-platform applications.
Visual Studio with Xamarin is also popular with developers because it supports a wide range of programming languages and it makes it easy to both create and test cross-platform apps. It features a code profiler as well as a built-in debugger.
One of the biggest benefits of Visual Studio is that it works with an extensive library of plug-ins. It’s also free to use.
There are several other popular tools out there besides the ones on this list that can be used for Android development.
It seems that a combination of ease-of-use, open-source software, an active and available community, and state-of-the-art debugging tools all help to move a development tool to the top of everyone’s favorite list.
What’s considered the “absolute best” is subjective and really just comes down to the personal preference of the individual programmer.