Earning a living from Android…

20 Apr

There might be some folks reading this blog who are wondering just how easy it is to make a living out of writing apps for the Android platform. Well, to make a living you need 2 things. Firstly, you need a gem of an idea for an app so that people will buy it and secondly, you need the necessary skills to make that app. HAC is designed with simplicity and ‘user friendliness’ in mind so acquiring the necessary skills to make an app shan’t frizzle your brain cells, but more on that later. You will also need to know the basics of the Android Market, such as setting up, costs involved, requirements etc.

Setting Up
Before you start writing your Android app it makes good sense to know a bit about the Android Market. Below is a link to an insightful article that compares the costs of developing on the various mobile platforms. It also covers Android, which is of particular interest to us. Note that Android is the cheapest mobile platform, although this cost matters mainly to some shareware authors who are expecting to sell just a few apps per week.

Paid-for Apps
Getting people to pay for traditional desktop software is not that easy as it must be something that they really want to use because of the enjoyment factor or it needs to be a piece of software that enhances their lives, makes life and work easier etc. The great news, however, is that the price of mobile apps tends to be an order of magnitude lower than desktop apps. This means that mobile users are generally more likely to buy your app. If your app looks good and performs well then they might even buy on impulse because a dollar or so means that potential clients do not have to dig deep into their pockets. The beauty about the Android Market is that it also makes it very easy for people to try your app and then buy it.

Ideas for an App
As this blog is about paid apps you need to have something that people will want to buy. It might sound obvious, but there are so many genres of apps that it can be hard to find a profitable idea. If you make yet another Pacman clone it will probably not pay so well unless you can add something extra special to it. Perhaps you personally need an app to do something, but there is nothing out there quite like it? The odds are that other people are also looking for a similar app. Does your app have longevity or does it just perform a function a couple of times and then is not needed again? Finding a balance can be difficult, but that is also part of the fun. Once you have an idea, you might want to search the Android Market to see if it’s already out there.

Creating Your App
Assuming you already have an idea for your Android app, you then need to ask the question, ‘how difficult is it to create’? If you are new to programming, then the learning curve of traditional Android Java development approach is very steep and requires a wide range of knowledge. First, you have to learn Java programming language and then you have to get to grips with the Android SDK. The Android SDK supports a huge range of functionality, but even for experienced Java programmers its learning curve is steep and laborious. Furthermore, developing for a mobile platform, such as Android, is very different to developing for the desktop platform…why? Because mobile platforms have limited resources. The Android Operating System keeps tight control over Android apps and if memory becomes tight or the app is moved to the background then it can be removed from memory so necessitating being reloaded when moving back to the foreground. There are many ‘problems’ like this awaiting the Android Java developer. But with HAC many of these problems are automatically taken care for you.
One of the best resources for Android developers is StackOverflow. By browsing the resource, you can get a feel for how much effort it can be for beginner programmers to create their own apps.

In contrast HAC greatly reduces the learning curve of creating your own Android apps in at least four ways:-
1. The programming language is English-like and and is very similar to Apple’s Hypercard allowing the programmer to get quick results from just a few commands.
2. HAC hides the Android SDK and its Java functions from the programmer so you don’t need to know about ideas, such callbacks, listeners, activities, services, intents, inheritance etc, that are the bedrock of making Android apps using the Java approach.
3. Building your app with its media and other resources is quite easy as there is no need to learn about the raw and asset directories.
4. Signing and bundling your app for the Android Market is straightforward and HAC has a few easy to understand windows for setting up your app and its permissions.

If you aren’t sure about how hard the above points actually are to implement then browse StackOverflow and look at the related questions and their usually very complex answers.

Here is a an article about creating an Android game in just three days by some experienced Java programmers. They cover the different phases of creating their game and it applies whether you are using Java or HAC.


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