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Mike Riley

Dr. Dobb's Bloggers

Android on Android

March 06, 2012

Remember what I said in my Post PC series about waiting for the day when I could write a native Android app on an actual Android device? Good news, everyone! The wait is over. Android Java IDE, AIDE for short, has been released on the Android Market and provides a fully native Android application development experience, running entirely on an Android device. And no, this is not one of those services that zips up your code, ships it off to a build server in the cloud, and has your APK file waiting for download somewhere. AIDE does everything on the Android device itself. And why shouldn't it? Tablets like the Asus Transformer Prime running quad-core processors have enough computing horsepower to build and execute this kind of task. AIDE even runs on older HTC, Motorola, and Samsung Android 2.2 handsets at a pretty decent clip. Check out this video of the AIDE in action running on a Samsung Galaxy S2 mobile phone.

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AIDE doesn't yet have everything that the standard Eclipse IDE Android development setup has, like built-in support for SCM, a GUI forms builder, and rich editing capabilities such as snippet and template support. But it does have code formatting, refactoring and, yes, even code completion. And considering that AIDE's developers are giving this application away for free, it's a pretty amazing feat. That said, I do find it slightly suspect that the people responsible for AIDE hide behind an elusive Google+ page that discloses little about who they really are and whether or not their intentions are entirely altruistic. But since the app doesn't require root to run and only has basic permissions you would expect from an app like this (Network, Log, and SD Card Storage access), it seems on the surface to be legitimately safe.

Most important, AIDE actually works. I created several simple native Android apps (an RSS reader, a task list, and a simple text editor) all from AIDE. Not once did I have to copy the source code from my Android device, compile it elsewhere, and install it via the usual ADB bridge.

Applications like the AIDE will continue to prove that the PC is rapidly becoming less important in the hands of users and developers alike, and it will only be a matter of a few more years before we will be relying on our mobile phones/tablets as our primary computing devices. We'll return to the PC for legacy, "big data", and lengthy batch job processing needs.

The PC is the new mainframe, & the tablet is the new PC.

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