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Mike Riley

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Hello, Android Book Review

February 01, 2009

I recently obtained a developer's version of the G1 mobile device running the new Android OS for an upcoming article I wrote for Dr. Dobb's.  The Pragmatic Bookshelf happened to publish its first book on Google's new mobile platform around that same time, complimenting the Android SDK documentation and the various web sites and discussion groups on the subject.  Read on to see how the book compares to these freely available alternatives.
 
 
Hello, Android: Introducing Google's Mobile Development Platform, by Ed Burnette, checks in at just over 200 pages, but every page is packed with practical instruction covering most of the features in the Android OS.   Author Ed Burnette walks readers through the construction of a Sudoku game complete with properly oriented screens, sound effects, persistent preferences and 2D graphics.  By Chapter 6, readers following along will have a game better than most of the Sudoku attempts available for download from the Android Market.  The added bonus, of course, is that a full understanding of the code behind the screens brings readers that much closer to a comfort level with Android to competently write their own applications.
 
The final part of the book consists of four chapters covering more advanced Android functionality, including the use of web services, acquiring GPS, accelerometer, light and magnetic sensor data, leveraging SQLite data binding and programming 3D graphics using Android's OpenGL libraries.  The appendixes discuss the Java language subset and, more importantly, which Java libraries are not supported on the current Android OS platform.  There's also a single page bibliography listing four recommended titles (two Java and two SQL books) for further reading.

Before reading this book, I had taught myself some Android programming for my Dr.  Dobb's Journal article sharing my development experience. I relied predominantly on the Android SDK documentation, several Android-specific developer websites (especially anddev.org) and a lot of trial and error.  My job would have been much easier had I read this book first to teach me about coding for this operating system.  Even so, the book helped answer some questions I had and showed me how to use features that I hadn't yet employed in my own programs.  After discovering how easy calling upon the digital compass or SQLite functionality was, mash-up ideas quickly flowed with possibilities of new, useful data capture and visualization applications that would be impossible to implement on other mobile platforms lacking such hardware and software integration.

Overall, I strongly recommend anyone interested in developing for or taking a closer look at the Android platform to obtain this book.  Hello, Android can be digested in a dedicated weekend of reading and building the code along with the author, and will continue to serve as a useful quick reference until an exhaustive reference on the Android OS makes its way to a printed book format.
 
 
 
Author: Ed Burnette
Publisher: Pragmatic Bookshelf
ISBN: 978-1-934356-17-3
Price: $32.95

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