The jury is in regarding the Android OS (Operating System). It is a dominant force in a market that is only growing.
- Android dominates the global market, with an 87% market share (Statista). In context, that is greater than the combined share of both iOS and Windows devices.
- As of July 2021, Android OS accounts for 72.12% of the global Mobile Operating System Market Share (Stat Counter).
In some specific countries and regions:
- Android’s Mobile Operating System Market Share as of December 2021 was 82.07% in Asia; 40.54% in the US, 45.04% in the United Kingdom, and 41.67% in Australia.
This dominance has led to many opportunities for businesses and marketers alike. Indeed the sky’s the limit for how Android can help you reach out and grab customers, but it also means that there is much competition.
Please spare a thought for businesses and app developers looking to get their foot in the door of this lucrative market and find themselves wondering what their next move should be.
We’ve written this article to assist you in knowing what the must-have skills are for every Android developer.
With so many other developers and app owners also looking to snag a piece of the pie, you need to ensure that your app is the best.
And this starts with ensuring that it has a solid foundation of skills and techniques, which is why we have compiled a list of essential skills that every Android developer should know.
These skills are just the start of a checklist of what you should have in your arsenal.
Each one is valuable on its own, but they also work together to create a more robust app – getting caught lacking in any of these areas will only prove problematic for you in the future.
Essential Android App Developer Skills
Unquestionable Proficiency in Kotlin
The developer must show that they can code in the most modern, popular and Google recommended programming language for developing native Android apps.
While developers wrote Android Apps for a long time in Java, Kotlin is a newer, more modern language designed to be an alternative for Java. As of the time of writing this post over 143 thousand apps, downloaded over 390 Billion times, have been built with Kotlin accounting for 81.65% of top apps (AppBrain).
Additionally, according to Stack Overflow and HackerRank, which surveyed Android app developers in 2021 and 2020 respectively, Kotlin was the eighth most-wanted coding language, and 24.9% of developers chose Kotlin as the language they wanted to learn next.
These stats are not surprising because Kotlin provides developers with an extensive range of features and tools that will help them build their apps.
How to tell if they have the needed expertise in Kotlin?
The developer should be able to demonstrate proficiency in:
- Syntax and structure are the grammar of programming languages. There are idiosyncratic ways to write Kotlin that are important to note. You don’t want to hire a developer writing Kotlin like Java. They are different languages and require a different approach.
- Programming fundamentals still apply in mobile development, though they are often missing—code reuse, single responsibility principle, reusable classes..
- Kotlin is a powerful and expressive language. Ensure your developers understand how to handle null safety and type systems.
Do you need more evidence that they are proficient in the languages?
The developer should be able to:
- Write stand-alone functions and classes.
- Demonstrate a deep understanding of Kotlin’s type system.
- Use variables and data types appropriately to get desired results.
- Display demonstrable understanding of idiosyncratic and functional Kotlin
- Know when and how to use Kotlin extension functions.
We insist that the developer has wholly mastered these skills and built at least one Android app. These skills are vital to a successful Android app because they indicate that the developer has enough knowledge and experience to write a maintainable and performant app.
Our developers are the cream of the crop. They are experts in Java and Kotlin, with proven work experience at top-tier agencies and tech giants. But what makes us stand out is our empathy towards code and maintainability of apps – therefore, along with the proficiency of Kotlin, knowing the right solution, being proud of our code, caring about what you build and taking up ownership of the code so that when things go south, you rest assured we’ll be there to fix it fast. To help you quickly get on your way, you can get in touch to discuss your requirements here.
Knowledge of Android Studio
Here is an analogy; A carpenter needs their saw to build a house. The same thing is true for Android developers – they need the right tools at their disposal.
That’s why Android Studio is so important to the developer, and it holds this spot on our list of top skills a developer needs to have.
What is Android Studio? It’s a graphical integrated development environment (IDE) for developing Android apps; it includes the developer tools that they need to build an app.
Some of these tools are the code editor with syntax highlighting and autocomplete, a debugger for troubleshooting issues in an app’s code, log viewers, app building and packaging tools, layout inspectors, unit and UI test runners and emulators for testing code.
To be successful as a developer, they must:
- Be adept with Android Studio and its components.
- Be capable of installing and updating Android Studio themselves
- Know how to build an Android app from start to finish using Android Studio.
The developer must be able to:
- Work with Android Studio’s IDE and use the proper components for a successful build.
- Understand how to debug an app with Android Studio and use the IDE’s tools to troubleshoot problems.
- Use Android Studio’s documentation as a learning resource for understanding how it all works.
And if they don’t? They could be in for some trouble down the road.
For example, imagine that Google releases a new version of Android OS and Android Studio with a new feature. If the developer can’t use the IDE, it will make it increasingly difficult for them to build a successful app – and it would be a missed opportunity.
The above scenario can be akin to a doctor not taking advantage of new medical discoveries – they would be doing themselves and their patients a disservice.
Familiarity with the Android Jetpack Libraries
Android Jetpack Libraries are the backbone of Android, without them you won’t be able to build an app.
There’s a lot more you can do with Android than what’s available through standard APIs (application programming interfaces). To unlock these advanced capabilities, Android developers need to get familiar with Android Jetpack.
According to Android, “Jetpack is a suite of libraries to help developers follow best practices, reduce boilerplate code, and write code that works consistently across Android versions and devices so that developers can focus on the code they care about.”
In essence, a developer with a good understanding of Jetpack can:
- Create trend-led apps built around modern design practices, characterised by fewer crashes and less memory leaks.
- Easily manage time-consuming yet crucial activities like background tasks , navigation, and lifecycle management, thus enabling them to focus on the unique value your app can provide.
- Utilise supporting libraries across Android versions and devices which helps to reduce fragmentation.
Examples of common Android Jetpack libraries the developers should be familiar with include:
- Activity – necessary to access composable APIs built on top of Activity.
- Appsearch – required to develop customised in-app search capabilities for your users.
- Camera – for developing mobile camera apps.
- Navigation – used for creating and structuring in-app UI, handling deep links, and navigating between screens.
- Test – Testing in Android.
- Work – Scheduling and executing deferrable, constraint-based background tasks.
- Ads – helps get an advertising ID with or without Play Services.
- Fragment – used to create segments of multiple, independent screens hosted within an Activity.
Others things the developers should know include:
- Constraint Layout
- Recycler View
- Material Design Components
- Androidx Lifecycle
- ViewPager 2
- Swipe Refresh
- Coordinator layout
Knowledge of Jetpack in practice.
A developer should:
- Be able to build user interfaces that are responsive and visually slick by using SDKs such as Material Design Components, Constraint Layout, Coordinator Layout;
- Make sure the architecture and navigation around the app is on point with AndroidX Lifecycle, Fragments and Jetpack Navigation;
- Display data cleanly and allow the user to interact with the data via Recycler View, ViewPager 2, Swipe Refresh and databinding.
Know how to build, package and sign an app
The skills of a mobile app developer are about more than just coding. Another skill android app developers have to master is packaging your finished apps for deployment.
Without this you can’t actually upload your app to the store.
What does this entail?
- It is a given that developers must know how to build their apps using build scripts either written in Groovy (gradle files) or Kotlin;
- Furthermore, they must be able to create different build types (called ‘flavours’) with different parameters so that the app can be tested on different environments or with different behaviour whether the app is being debugged or is released to the store. This way your app can be put through the paces in a test environment (e.g. with non-live payments or test data) on a real phone without affecting your production data;
- Additionally, the developer you consider should have the ability to write effective and efficient build scripts.
Here is the thing: this can save you money since cloud based CI/CD systems are switching to credit based pricing models which means it would cost you more money for each minute the build takes to run when you automatically build your app and run your test suite. Not so with a build script that is short and only does what it needs to, it can make a big difference to your bottom line.
Of course, in addition to saving money, you want to have a security-conscious developer in your corner who knows what encryption options to apply when building and signing an app. By knowing what security options to apply when building and packaging an app, your app is more likely to be accepted into the Google Play Store, and your app’s source code is protected from being stolen or reverse-engineered.
Write a comprehensive test suite
When it comes to software development, you can use a collection of test cases, called a “test suite” to prove that the program has certain features. You wouldn’t think that writing test cases is the most glamorous part of building software, but it is an essential part of development that ensures that an application performs as expected and does what it is supposed to. Your choice Android app developer should know how to do just that.
Developers should be able to write test suites useful in the following types of tests:
- Build verification tests
- Smoke tests
- End-to-End integration tests
- Functional verification tests
- Regression tests
Writing an extensive test suite would help:
- Save time and catch bugs before they make it into the production build
- Know what to cover and how to mock external sources
- Know when to unit test vs UI test
Follow industry standard architecture patterns
When you are building a new Android app your developers need to follow some well-known patterns. These patterns will help you to create decoupled code that is more easily testable, maintainable and extendable.
To design clean and easy-to-use code with a modular design structure (i.e. with distinct parts) developers use architecture patterns to separate concerns in the code. The following are three leading industry standard android architectures every android developer should be conversant with:
- MVVM (Model-View-ViewModel) pattern (Android & Google preferred);
- MVC (Model-View-Controller) pattern;
- MVP (Model-View-Presenter) pattern.
Each of these patterns is a different way to organise your project in a way that promotes testability – through unit testing.
The benefits include:
- More stable & error free app
- Better maintainability
- Easier for other developers to work on it
- Self documenting code
Okay, we must admit that including this skill on the list is controversial.
However, it’s a growing trend among app development companies – and for a good reason!
Mobile app development is constantly evolving, and developers must keep up.
This skill will help them create apps that can work across various platforms.
Cross-platform capabilities are the key to success for any app developer with an eye on the future and are a skill that will only continue to grow in importance. In recognising this, Google has introduced Flutter and Kotlin Multi-Platform to allow Android developers to build Android apps that can run on other OSs like iOS.
It does mean that if you have this skill, you’re in a great position to take advantage of the current market and get ahead of your competition.
We know that the best way to build a high-quality app is by using the Agile methodology. We’ve successfully used this approach to develop tons of Android apps, cutting across a wide range of businesses.
Agile development is a process used in software engineering for decades. The construction industry initially developed it to manage large-scale projects.
At its most basic, agile is a set of principles and ideas that help teams deliver software more quickly. It’s an iterative process that’s goal is to provide a functional product within short timeframes.
App developers who understand this process will benefit from speed, flexibility, and adaptability, which would also help the client.
It’s a skill that will help them:
- Increase productivity by shipping software faster
- Improve quality and reduce risks on projects in all stages of the development process.
Agile development is a vital skill and will only become more critical in the future.
Need an Android App?
End the frustration of dealing with inexperienced software developers wasting your money.
At Bilue, we focus on helping companies make informed decisions regarding Android app development. We believe a project is only as good as the team’s methodology and skills before the first lines of code are written. Bilue agile app development methodology helps companies quickly find the right solution to their problem without sacrificing quality.
If you’re looking for a reliable Android app developer, we invite you to contact us. We’ll be happy to discuss your needs and provide you with a quote.