Android Posts

The Toptal Engineering Blog is a hub for in-depth development tutorials and new technology announcements created by professional freelance software engineers in the Toptal network.
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Johannes Stein
A Cold Dive into React Native (Tutorial for Beginners)

The development of cross-platform mobile applications has always been a source of many challenges. Although tools like Apache Cordova and Haxe do solve some of the associated issues, they are still not the ideal solution in many cases. React Native changes that by providing the power of React.js for mobile platforms and a promise of consistent developer experience across multiple platforms.

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Filip Petkovski
Apache Cordova Tutorial: Developing Mobile Applications with Cordova

Mobile applications are creeping in. Developing for each mobile platform can be an exhaustive task, especially if resources are limited. This is where Apache Cordova comes in handy by providing a way to develop mobile applications using standard web technologies - HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript. This article explores how one can get started with Apache Cordova and build mobile applications targeted at a wide range of mobile devices.

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Gilad Haimov
Android DDMS: A Guide to the Ultimate Android Console

There is no way around application diagnostics. No matter how good your code is, you will need to be able to monitor and study system behavior. This is where Android’s DDMS shines.

In this article, Senior Android Engineer Gilad Haimov explains how veteran Android developers leverage the potential of DDMS to improve app stability and performance, test new features, diagnose, and debug their code.

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Emran Bajrami
Building Cross-platform Apps with Xamarin: Perspective of an Android Developer

Writing reusable code that can be shared across multiple platforms can make developing mobile applications a lot easier. But, how do you do that without paying the usual cost of maintainability, ease of testing, and poor user experience that comes with cross-platform mobile application development?

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Emran Bajrami walks us through Xamarin and shows us techniques for building high-quality cross-platform apps.

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Eliran Goshen
Android Threading: All You Need to Know

Android provides many ways of creating and managing threads, and third-party libraries exist to make that even easier. However, with so many options, choosing the right approach can be quite confusing.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Eliran Goshen discusses some common scenarios in Android development that involve threading and how each of the scenarios can be dealt with.

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Sylvain Gravel
Xamarin Forms, MVVMCross, and SkiaSharp: The Holy Trinity of Cross-Platform App Development

Developing a mobile app for multiple platforms can be quite costly. Implementing the same functionalities in multiple programming languages and dealing with a plethora of unique libraries for each platform requires a massive amount of time and knowledge.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Sylvain Gravel talks about Xamarin and its companion technologies that let you build mobile applications for multiple platforms without compromising familiarity, performance, and uniqueness.

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Christopher Arriola
How to Simplify Concurrency with Reactive Modelling on Android

Dealing with concurrency in Android through imperative-style programming can be quite the hassle. RxJava, a library for reactive and functional style programming, allows concurrency constructs to be modeled in a reactive way in Android’s non-reactive world.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Christopher Arriola shows us how RxJava can be incrementally introduced to existing Android projects and leveraged to simplify concurrency.

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Mateus Gondim Romão Batista
Realm Is the Best Android Database Solution

Since the inception of the platform, Android developers have had pretty much only one option for a database: SQLite. Although feature-rich and powerful, it wasn’t quite what Android app developers needed. Realm, a modern, efficient database solution for mobile platforms, turned out to be an amazing replacement for SQLite on Android.

In this article, Toptal Software Engineer Mateus Gondim Romão Batista explains why you should use Realm for your next Android application.

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Gilad Haimov
An Overly Thorough Guide To Underused Android Libraries

Any experienced developer will tell you that their best code isn’t code they wrote. It’s code they took from someone else’s work. Many of the problems we encounter have already been solved—and the remedies packaged into libraries available to anyone. Why reinvent the wheel when free wheels are everywhere?

In this guide, Senior Android Engineer Gilad Haimov will take you on a quick tour of some the most powerful Android libraries out there. Robust as a hammer, faster than a drill, and more precise than any scalpel; no Android developer should leave home without these must-have tools.

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Nermin Hajdarbegovic
Android 7.0 for Developers: New Features, Performance Upgrades & Other Stuff You Won’t Care About

Google formally announced Android 7.0 a few weeks ago, but as usual, you’ll have to wait for it. Thanks to the Android update model, most users won’t get their Android 7.0 over-the-air (OTA) updates for months. However, this does not mean developers can afford to ignore Android Nougat.

In this article, Toptal Technical Editor Nermin Hajdarbegovic takes a closer look at Android 7.0, outlining new features and changes. While Android 7.0 is by no means revolutionary, the introduction of a new graphics API, a new JIT compiler, and a range of UI and performance tweaks will undoubtedly unlock more potential and generate a few new possibilities.

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Christopher Arriola
Meet RxJava: The Missing Reactive Programming Library for Android

Implementing applications that deal with complex concurrent behavior has always been a challenging aspect of programming. Various paradigms exist that promise a solution to this problem in different ways. RxJava is a Java library that enables Functional Reactive Programming in Android development. It raises the level of abstraction around threading in order to simplify the implementation of complex concurrent behavior.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Christopher Arriola gives us a detailed walkthrough of RxJava and how it fits into the realm of Android development.

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Ivan Kušt
Ten Kotlin Features To Boost Android Development

Kotlin is a new, expressive general-purpose programming language powered by the same virtual machine technology that powers Java. Since Kotlin compiles to the JVM bytecode, it can be used side-by-side with Java, and it does not come with a performance overhead.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Ivan Kušt gives us a walkthrough of ten major features of Kotlin that help avoid boilerplate code and, more importantly, save time.

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Tomasz Czura
Introduction to Kotlin: Android Programming For Humans

Java has been a dominant programming language for ages, but modern times call for modern languages. Meet Kotlin, a modern, clear, and expressive programming language powered by the same virtual machine technology that powers Java.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Tomasz Czura takes us for a spin through the world of Kotlin and shows us how it can be used to make an Android application with an elegant architecture without compromising the very qualities of the code that Kotlin aims to provide.

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Tibor Kaputa
Tips And Tools For Optimizing Android Apps

The plethora of tutorials on building Android apps may have you thinking that making a mobile app is simple. In reality, however, performance issues can be very complicated, and because performance plays a key role in making sure that your app stays on your users’ list of favorite apps for a long time, every little detail must be given one’s full attention.

In this article, Toptal Freelance Software Engineer Tibor Kaputa shares some tips on how you can optimize some common performance issues and identify some of the bottlenecks in your Android app.

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Becze Szabolcs
Android Developer’s Guide to Fragment Navigation Pattern

Navigation in mobile applications, when done right, can have tremendous positive impact on overall user experience. Android offers application developers multiple ways of implementing navigation in their application. However, not all navigation patterns are created equal.

In this article, Toptal engineer Becze Szabolcs shows us how to implement fragment-based navigation and how it stacks up against Android’s traditional navigation philosophy.

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Nermin Hajdarbegovic
Slow Android Wear Adoption Is Stifling Development

Several factors conspired to stifle Android Wear growth, ranging from lack of Google development, to inadequate hardware. Some of these problems have been addressed, some are being addressed, while others cannot be addressed with currently available technology.

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Nermin Hajdarbegovic
What Does Force Touch Mean For UI And UX?

Force Touch is not a new idea. BlackBerry experimented with the concept back in 2008, and a few Android phone makers also examined the possibility of using Force Touch on their products. In fact, Force Touch support has been a part of Android for years; it was introduced in Android 1.0.

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Nermin Hajdarbegovic
Apple Pay And Android Pay For Developers

Today, we will be taking a look at the future of mobile payments and emerging opportunities for developers. Needless to say, with each new opportunity, developers will have to face new challenges.

However, since we are talking about money, I don’t think anyone expects a shortage of software developers eager to learn a few new tricks and get into this space.

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Asa Kaplan
OpenGL Tutorial for Android: Building A Mandelbrot Set Generator

OpenGL, a cross-platform API for rendering 2D and 3D graphics, is extremely powerful and yet surprisingly easy to get started with. Although one may find the most common applications of OpenGL and rendered graphics in video games only, in reality there are far more uses. To demonstrate the power of OpenGL, we’ll be building a Mandelbrot set generator on Android using OpenGL ES.

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Ahmed Al-Amir
Android Customization: How to Build a UI Component That Does What You Want

It is not uncommon for developers to find themselves in need of a UI component that is either not provided by the platform they are targeting or is, indeed, provided, but lacks a certain property or behavior. The answer to both scenarios is a custom UI component. The Android UI model is inherently customizable, offering the means to create custom UI components in various ways.

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Nermin Hajdarbegovic
Case Study: Using Toptal To Reel In Big Fish

Whether you’re an avid angler or an app developer, you may be interested in taking a closer look at the development of a fishing app, which involved some of your fellow Toptalers.

The goal was to create an app that would be truly useful in a professional fishing setting, while at the same time meeting a hard deadline. Since Fatsack Outdoors wanted to launch the app at one of the biggest fishing tradeshows of the year, the deadline was non-negotiable.

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Nermin Hajdarbegovic
Android M (Android 6.0) For Developers: An Evolutionary Step In The Right Direction

Google announced Android M at its annual I/O dev conference in late May, and the new OS is coming to our beloved Android devices later this year. Android 6.0 is more of an evolutionary step, whereas Android 5.0 was a big leap forward thanks to its 64-bit ART runtime and all new Material Design.

However, Android M should not be dismissed as a minor update. In this post, I will try to explain why.

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Nermin Hajdarbegovic
Brace Yourselves Android Developers, A New Android Compiler Is Coming

With Dalvik out of the picture, many people expected Google’s new 64-bit capable ART runtime to stick around for years, which it probably will, but it will get a major overhaul in the near future. In addition to offering support for 64-bit hardware, ART also introduced ahead-of-time (AOT) compilation, while Dalvik was a just-in-time (JIT) compiler.

Throw in new 10-core ARM processors and Intel mobile processors based on three different architectures, and you end up with spicy, Google-style hardware gumbo.

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Nermin Hajdarbegovic
Android TV Development – Big Screens Are Coming, Get Ready!

Google wants to bring Android to everything from phones and watches, to cars and smart television sets. Unlike Google TV, Android TV is much closer to standard Android. It runs Android 5.0 (at least in the initial launch version) and can be used on new TVs, as well as on standalone devices.

Android TV is not just about improving the way people consume TV content, it’s more about changing the way they do it.

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Nermin Hajdarbegovic
Smartwatch Development: Are Smartwatches Worth The Trouble?

While the Apple Watch is on track to be a commercial success for Apple and its shareholders, technologists are still not entirely convinced smartwatches have what it takes to conquer the market, at least not yet.

What does this mean for developers? What are the implications for other smartwatch platforms and companies behind them?

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Nermin Hajdarbegovic
Toptal’s Selection Of Best Developer Blogs

You are what you read – and most Toptal members and blog subscribers are software developers. So what do you read? Where do professional developers get the latest information about how their peers work and think?

Today, we will be taking a look at a small selection of popular developer blogs frequented by Toptal developers. We’re counting on you (our readers) to expand the list in the comment section.

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Nermin Hajdarbegović
Biometric Security – The Key To Passwordless Authentication Or A Fad?

Passwordless authentication has been the Holy Grail of security for years, but progress has been painfully slow. Until a few years ago, the technology to implement passwordless logins on a grand scale simply wasn’t available.

However, the industry juggernaut is slowly but surely changing this. There are a few technical, legal and even ethical considerations to take into account, but be as it may, biometric, passwordless authentication is here to stay.

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Nermin Hajdarbegovic
Nvidia Shield - A Different Take On Android Gaming Consoles

Describing Nvidia Shield as a mere Android console would not do it justice. The console relies heavily on streaming and cloud computing, so it shouldn’t not be viewed as another standalone device.

Nvidia sees Shield as Netflix for games, as a comprehensive Gaming-as-a-Service (GaaS) platform. While it’s still part of the Android ecosystem, Shield could be bad news for some Android game developers, but it also creates a range of new and exciting opportunities.

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Phillip Brennan
Best Programming Editors? A Never Ending Battle With No Clear Winner

Since programmers spend so much time using their favorite editor, they become extremely good at it, and are reluctant to learn to use any other. Even if offered a better editor for some specific task, the skilled programmer can get their existing editor to do the task just well enough, and therefore sees no need to learn how to use a new one.

This is what compelled me to try out a number of different editors and make the transition as easy as possible; I hope my experience saves you time and effort if you find yourself in the same situation.

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Mikhail Selivanov
Buggy Java Code: The Top 10 Most Common Mistakes That Java Developers Make

Java, a sophisticated programming language, has been dominating a number of ecosystems for quite a while. Portability, automated garbage collection, and its gentle learning curve are some of the things that make it a great choice in software development. However, like any other programming language, it is still susceptible to developer mistakes.

This article explores the top 10 common mistakes Java developers make and some ways of avoiding them.

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Nikolay Derkach
A Tutorial for Reverse Engineering Your Software's Private API: Hacking Your Couch

Reverse engineering and hacking are usually related to malicious activities that result in sleepless nights of engineers responsible for system maintenance.

Reverse engineering is a tool that we can utilize to find the flaws and improve our software in many aspects. This article shows us how to use these techniques to learn more about different implementations of web API.

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Ivan Dimoski
Tips for Developing an Android App: My Lessons Learned

This article provides an overview on building a great Android application, from defining an idea to releasing an application to the store. Toptal developer Ivan Dimoski gives us a chance to learn from his experience in making Ooshies, an Android Live Wallpaper designed to give you a hug and make you feel loved each time you interact with your Android device.

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Ivan Dimoski
Top 10 Most Common Mistakes That Android Developers Make: A Programming Tutorial

There are thousands of different Android powered devices, with different screen sizes, chip architectures, hardware configurations, and software versions. Unfortunately, segmentation is the price to pay for openness, and there are thousands ways your app can fail on different devices.

Regardless of such huge segmentation, the majority of bugs are actually introduced because of logic errors. These bugs are easily prevented, as long as we get the basics right!

Here’s a quick rundown of the 10 most common mistakes Android developers make.

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Ivan Dimoski
Automated Android Crash Reports with ACRA and Cloudant

Making a basic Android app is easy. But making it reliable, scalable, and robust, on the other hand, can be quite challenging. With thousands of available devices pumped out from tons of different manufacturers, assuming that a single piece of code will work reliably across phones is naive at best. Segmentation is the greatest tradeoff for having an open platform, and we pay the price in the currency of code maintenance, which continues long after the app passes the production stage.

In this post, we’ll walk through a solution: automated crash reporting with ACRA and a Cloudant back-end, all visualizable with acralyzer.

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Ryan Wilcox
How to Work Remotely and Still Be the Best

Starting a new remote gig, be it a contract project or a full-time job, can be a little intimidating if you’re used to going into an office day after day.

But this style of employment is growing in popularity, with some very notable companies lending it their endorsements.

I’ve worked remotely for years now on projects of various scales and durations. With this post, I hope to enumerate some of the best practices that I’ve picked up for working in a variety of situations. The advice here ranges from specific recommendations for software and hardware, to tips for hitting your team’s deadlines.

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