Top tips to make learning Android development easier
Get a good book and use it right
This is obvious, but the most straightforward way to learn to make Android apps is just to get a good book and give it a read. Don’t worry if some of it goes over your head. Don’t worry about getting bogged down in the later chapters once you’ve lost the thread. Instead, read through the first few chapters to get familiar with the basic syntax and concepts. Start thinking how you might use some of this in a simple project, and that will get you ready for the next step.
Start with an easy project
I learned to program by reading a book on a family holiday to Greece and making lots of notes in a pad of paper while my parents chatted on the balcony. That was BASIC and BASIC is relatively easy.
Trying to learn Android development this way will only lead to headaches and countless pens’ worth of ink. So instead of trying to “learn Android,” try to build a simple first app. This will contextualize everything you’re learning and help you to see not only how it all works, but why it’s useful. It will also keep you motivated and help structure your learning.
You will never learn everything there is to know about Android development. It’s changing all the time. You can learn how to make X app or Y app, and the skills you pick up along the way will make the next project even easier. This is pretty much what you’ll do every time you approach a new project, forever.
It’s also actually the strategy that author Josh Kaufman recommends in his book for learning anything quickly, The First 20 Hours. It’s a good read.
Ask a friend
If you’re fortunate enough to have a friend who knows how to code, then ask them to show you the ropes. They’ll help you get set up with the right software and be able to answer any questions you have. An afternoon with someone who understands Android development and is generous with their time is worth countless hours of reading and Googling.
Use Google and don’t reinvent the wheel
Google is your friend when it comes to building projects and learning concepts. Not only that, but it’s also a great place for finding libraries and even snippets of code written by others in the Android development community.
You need to make sure to keep doing this. When you’re new, you can easily spend hours thinking of how to solve a problem when actually, it could have been solved simply with an existing statement or library! Save yourself the headache by simply Googling what you want to do. Just make sure you have permission to any code and to include credit and attribution where appropriate.
Borrowing code or copying out simple programs is a good opportunity to learn. Try reading through some code and understanding how it works. Tweak lines to see how it alters the functionality and appropriate any elements you think could be used elsewhere.
This is partly a matter of personal preference, but I think following a video tutorial is significantly easier than learning the same thing in a book. This way, you can literally follow along with precisely what the instructor is doing.
Try another IDE/language for Android development
Still stuck? You could try taking a different approach entirely. Android Studio + Java is the official way to create Android apps, but there are plenty of other options out there too. One is to use the now-officially-supported Kotlin. If you’re making a game, you could also go with Unity. You could even try the lesser-known Basic4Android. All these options will make it a little easier to get started, but of course there are advantages to knowing the official “main” approach to Android development.