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How to Program Android Apps - Learn Android Programming from Beginner Level

Updated on February 10, 2014

Learn how to Write Android Apps

Now is a good time to learn Android programming. There are some great books and free online classes. If you already know how to program in Java and can afford to spend about $30, just buy Android Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide. I'm about halfway through the book and it's an excellent tutorial.

If you'd rather learn for free, scroll down for online guides and resources. This article isn't about selling books, although I find learning from a good book to be the easiest and most direct way to learn. I like that I can follow it at my own pace and the example programs in the The Big Nerd Ranch Guide really teach a lot of concepts in a way that's memorable.

If you don't know Java programming already, have no fear! Below I will outline how a beginner can learn to program android apps.

Don't give up! Take your time. If one book doesn't work out for you, buy another one. There is a lot to learn, but if you are determined, you can do it! Read, write code, ask questions, and read more. I gave up programming for almost 15 years... and then one day, I decided that I really wanted to learn how to program. Set goals for yourself.

Find your Path to Success

I like self study, but the challenge is figuring out how to get from Point A to Point B. This article outlines what topics to study if your goal is to write Android apps.

Learn the Basics of Programming - Step 1

If you've done any basic programming before, you can skip to Step 2. That means, if you know about variables, loops, and if/else statements, you can skip this step.

I skipped ahead because I did some BASIC programming back in middle school, then I spent a year learning PHP recently, but if you've never programmed anything, then start here.

You need to get some basic programming concepts under your belt. Follow one of these books from start to finish and then you'll be ready for step 2. It doesn't matter what language you learn here. It's all about getting the basic concepts.

Beginning Programming with Java For Dummies
Beginning Programming with Java For Dummies

I'd probably go with this one, since it teaches programming with Java, which is the same language that you use in Android programming.

Hello World!: Computer Programming for Kids and Other Beginners
Hello World!: Computer Programming for Kids and Other Beginners

Lots of beginning programming books are in Python because it's supposed to be an easy language to use. Python can be used for lots of web applications and data analysis, so it's not a bad thing to know.


Learn How to Program in Java - Step 2

In my opinion, you can't learn Android programming without understanding Java concepts. So, don't get confused... start with Java. It's just like you can't go to medical school without first going to college. Too often people try to jump ahead in their eagerness but not understanding the basics can cause a lot of frustration.

There is only one course I've seen that teaches Android without knowing Java, and that's Coursera's online class "Creative, Serious and Playful Science of Android Apps." I followed part of this course and the professor really helped me learn how to use Eclipse. But, you don't actually write much code because you need to understand Java to write the code!

Head First Java, 2nd Edition
Head First Java, 2nd Edition

If you read and do all of the exercises in this book, you'll understand Java and OOP (Object Oriented Programming). This is a fine prerequisite for learning Android. It's not a dry textbook, but rather it's like taking a class with a fun instructor.

Head First Design Patterns: A Brain-Friendly Guide
Head First Design Patterns: A Brain-Friendly Guide

This book should be read after Head First Java, and it is totally optional. You don't need it to learn Android programming, but understanding the concepts in it will help you write better programs. If you're anxious to get started writing apps, you can always read this later.


Free Online Resources - You don't need to buy a book to learn to program.

I found that I like learning from books. Spending $30 on a book gives me an extra incentive to not waste my money and to complete the book. I've also found that some books put everything together in a more linear way that saves me time.... I learn some skills without having to hunt around on the 'net.

However, there are lots of online resources to learn code, and here are a few that will help you understand the basics.

Learn How to Program in Android - Step 3

Can you believe it, only 3 steps?

Android Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide (Big Nerd Ranch Guides)
Android Programming: The Big Nerd Ranch Guide (Big Nerd Ranch Guides)

I had my doubts when I bought this book. Too often positive reviews are from the author's friends. This book's high customer rating is well deserved.


Interested in Advanced Android Programming?

Coursera has a sequence of three courses that take you from beginning Android to the advanced topics of frameworks, patterns, and cloud services. It's free, or only $49 if you want a certificate!

More Books to Consider Reading - These are on my "Wish List"

Murach's Android Programming
Murach's Android Programming

I read Murach's MySQL book and it was like taking a college or technical course. That makes me think that their book on Android Programming might be worth a shot. The book focuses on teaching you how to build real world apps.

Android in Practice: Includes 91 Techniques
Android in Practice: Includes 91 Techniques

This book is for the developer who already knows how to write Android apps but wants to extend their knowledge.

Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship
Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship

When you're ready to take the step from "programmer" to "software engineer" this book might be worth a read. It comes highly recommended.

Effective Java (2nd Edition)
Effective Java (2nd Edition)

This is one of the most recommended Java books.


Ready for a vote?

What kind of Android program do you want to write?

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No need to raise your hand, just submit your thoughts! :)

Time for Comments & Questions

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    • profile image

      Edynas 4 years ago

      Gonna start programming, thanks :)

    • best-writter profile image

      best-writter 5 years ago

      Very valuable lens. Thanks

    • profile image

      thing2 5 years ago

      Wonderful lens and it will surely come in handy in my upcoming collegiate java course...I would be honored if you would check out my visual basic lens if you desire I'm sure you know how to find it I bookmarked your lens as well

    • profile image

      aleskotnik 6 years ago

      Great Post. I would recommend another book on programming: Clean Code by Martin C. Robert