The first mobile applications I had the opportunity to work with were inventory control programs used in retail and manufacturing settings. The “terminals,” as we called them at the time, were heavy and expensive. They had big antennas, lots of clunky keys, grayscale LCD displays, and they looked like they came straight from the set of a science fiction movie.
From that austere beginning, my mobile horizons expanded when the Palm Pilot™ became the craze in the mid to late 1990s. My first significant PalmOS™ project was to develop an IrDA™ communications library for an application which printed Calendars, Contacts, and Task-lists. Back then the “hip” printers had an IrDA™ port and it was cool to “beam” your business card to someone. Ironically, I always enjoyed designing and writing the software more than using the devices themselves.
Fast forward ten years, and I have had the privilege of working on some very challenging and engaging mobile software projects for numerous clients along the way. Much of my career to date can be traced back to relationships stemming from my early mobile development experiences—and what a blessing it has been for me. I just love the question, “would it be possible to…?” And more often than not, the answer has been “Yes!” What I particularly enjoy is helping change the way a business operates or the way problems are solved through the application of mobile software. Mobile technology can and will continue to change the way we live, work and play…and this brings me to Android and this book.
In the fall of 2007 I was speaking with my friend Troy Mott, who happens to also be an editor for Manning, the publisher of this book. Troy and I were discussing the mobile marketplace, something we have done for years. We started kicking around the idea of writing a book on Android. The challenge was that Android didn’t really exist. Yet. We knew from some of the preliminary information that the platform promised to be open, capable, and popular. We felt that those ingredients could make for an interesting and valuable topic, so we began thinking about what that book might look like, taking it on faith that the platform would actually come to fruition.
Before long we convinced ourselves (and Manning) that this was a good idea and the work began in early 2008. Beyond the usual challenges of putting a book together, we had the additional obstacle that our subject matter has been in a steady, though unpredictable, state of change over the past year. In essence we’ve written this book two times because the SDK has been changed multiple times and Android-equipped phones have become available, accelerating the interest and demand for the platform. Every time a significant change occurred, we went back and revisited portions of the book, sometimes rewriting entire chapters to accommodate the latest developments in the Android platform.
I say “we” because in the process of writing this book, Troy and I decided to share the fun and brought in two experienced authors to contribute their expertise and enthusiasm for this platform. It has been a pleasure getting to know and working with both Charlie Collins and Robi Sen.
While I focused on the first and third parts of the book, Charlie and Robi wrote part 2 which covers the important fundamentals of writing Android applications. Thanks to their contributions I enjoyed the freedom to express my vision of what Android means to the mobile space in the first part of the book and then to work on a couple of more advanced applications at the end of the book.
We hope that you enjoy reading this book and that it proves to be a valuable resource for years to come as together we contribute to the future of the Android platform.