The standard way to develop apps for Android is to use Google’s software development kit (SDK) together with Java and XML. Although the SDK is free, there is a learning curve for those who aren’t proficient in Java or doing UI design in XML. There are alternative SDKs including PhoneGap, Titanium Appcelerator and Corona. Previously Corona was a subscription based product which cost $349 a year to use. Last week, Corona Labs made its Corona SDK free for developers to create and publish apps in Google Play for any company or individuals generating an income, from mobile development, of less that $100,000 per year!
The unique feature of Corona is that it uses the LUA programming language rather than Java. LUA is an open source language that, in my experience, is easy to learn for anyone with some kind of coding experience including knowledge of languages like Basic, C, Python or even shell scripting. LUA can be found in lots of unexpected places including in World of Warcraft and in the VLC media player.
Since Corona is designed primarily for games, almost everything in it is handled as an OpenGL object. This makes game development very easy. There is also a built-in 2D physics engine with support for joints, collisions and variable gravity. There is also support for Facebook, sqlite3, cryptography and networking! Earlier this year Corona Labs also introduced Corona Cloud, a backend service which allows apps to provide functions like user accounts, leaderboards, achievements, turn-based multi-player, push notifications and chat. Like the Corona SDK there is also a free tier inside the Corona Cloud.
So what does this mean for those with aspirations to write the next hit Android game? It means that if you don’t fancy programming in Java or using XML then head over to the Corona Lab website and get the SDK. Included are dozens of example programs and the website contains the full API documentation plus tutorials etc. Once you have some code written it can be run in the included simulator which can simulate a variety of devices and screen dimensions. When you are happy with your app it can be submitted to Google, Amazon and Barnes & Noble for inclusion in the various Android app stores. Also, for those who want to dabble in iOS, the SDK can produce an iPhone or iPad binary as well!
What do you think? Will you give Corona a try? Would you like to see Android Authority cover some programming tutorials about LUA and Corona now that it is free? Please leave a comment below.