The world of Android development is evolving rapidly, and as an Android developer, an important part of life is to stay up to date with everything. Each new major release brings a bunch of new features, the tooling is constantly improving, new libraries are coming out every week, useful blog posts are published every day. Reading, trying, and knowing everything is impossible, but that’s not the goal - focusing on the right sources and channels results in a filtered, concise stream. Here are my tips on how to accomplish this.
Twitter is one of the most important channels in my opinion, it can help to stay on top of what’s going on. Following the right people turns your Twitter account into a stream of relevant news and discussions. You can find folks from Google and great Android developers on Twitter. Here are some of the accounts I follow:
- the official Google developers and Android developers accounts
- Square Engineering - the official account of Square Engineering, home of some of the most useful Android libraries
- Genymotion - news about the best Android emulator
- Xavier Ducrochet - Android SDK tech lead
- Chris Banes - DPE in the Android Developer Relations team
- Roman Nurik - Android Developer Advocate at Google
- Romain Guy - Software Engineer at Google
- Reto Meier - Head of Scalable Developer Advocacy at Google
- Chet Haase - Senior Software Engineer at Google
- Chiu-Ki Chan - Android developer at Square Island
- Nick Butcher - Android Developer Advocate at Google
- Taylor Ling - Professional Android Designer, author of AndroidUIUX
- Jake Wharton - Android Engineer at Square
- Cyril Mottier - Lead Android software engineer at Capitaine Train & Google Developer Expert
- Dan Lew - Android developer at Trello
- Chris Lacy - developer of Action Launcher and Link Bubble
If I left out anyone, let me know! Also, going through the following section of your Twitter account every now and then, and unfollowing inactive or too active accounts helps keep the noise to a minimum.
If you’re not that into Twitter, try Google Plus: most of the people listed above are active there as well.
YouTube is a great source of content about Android development, and about software development in general. Google’s Android Developers channel is a must-follow with the DevBytes series, and the recent Android Performance Patterns videos. Google developers and Square Engineering are good additions to the list, both have some great talks about Android, although not solely featuring the mobile OS.
Blogs and sites
There are a lot of noteworthy blogs about Android development, like Google’s official blog, Square’s Corner, AndroidUIUX, Dan Lew’s blog, the Square Island blog, Styling Android and Grokking Android, just to mention a few. You can follow them via RSS feeds or the authors’ Twitter account, or simply by subscribing to AndroidWeekly and Android Dev Digest, two newsletters delivering relevant articles to your mailbox on a weekly basis (also a good way of getting to know the latest libraries). You might want to check out the androiddev subreddit from time to time, offering excellent posts and conversations.
Read news sites frequently, it is important to stay updated with what’s happening in the device/app segment as well. Also, seeing all those screenshots about manufacturer UI customisations will make you appreciate stock Android even more.
Even with the uninteresting posts filtered out, it is a lot to read. Using a bookmarking service (like Pocket) can be very helpful, with reading a few articles every day.
Always read changelogs
Update available? Read the changes! It doesn’t matter if it’s Android Studio, Gradle, GitHub, the build tools, or a third party library - if you use it, know it. This helps finding out if there were breaking changes introduced in the update.
If you end up using some 3rd party libraries in many of your projects, follow them on GitHub if they’re open-sourced. This way you’ll be among the first to get notified about changes, and since you use them on a daily basis, chances are you can chip in to development as well.
Conferences and meetups
Developer conferences are a great place to learn about new technology, and to meet interesting people who develop those. DroidCon, AnDevCon, and Devoxx are great examples, and of course Google I/O, if you’re lucky enough to make the list. Every event can be great, if the speakers and subjects are relevant. If you can’t attend, check if the slides and/or videos of the talks are made available online after, this is the case more and more often.
- Join the Android developers Google group.
- Follow Android Development and Android Wear Developers on Google Plus.
- Check out the Android Developers Backstage podcast from time to time, hosted by Tor Norbye and Chet Haase.
- Don’t forget the bi-weekly Fragmented podcast, hosted by Donn Felker and Kaushik Gopal.
The secret to be up to date is to not view it as an extra burden you have to do. Incorporate it into the daily routine: scroll through Twitter besides the morning tea, read blog posts while commuting, watch a YouTube-video instead of a TV show episode.