Android is the world’s most popular mobile operating system, so Google has spent a lot of time making developing for it as easy as possible. This is where the Android Software Development Kit comes into play. There are a few ways to download the Android SDK and some prerequisites that are necessary before you can start developing. Let’s get started.
Get your computer ready
You need to get your computer setup and ready to go before you can install the Android SDK.
The first thing to do is install the Java Development Kit for the latest version of Java 7, using Java 8 will not work, but you can have both installed without any issues. As far as your operating system goes, almost all OSes will work, including x86 (32bit) and x86_64 (64bit) based systems running Windows and Linux and x86_64 Intel based Macs. Google has gone to great lengths to make sure everything works well on any system, so this should not be an issue.
Install the Android SDK itself
There are two very simple options to install the Android SDK, you can either download just the SDK by itself or download Android Studio which includes the SDK. Let’s start with the Android Studio method.
Google released an all-in-one program for developers that includes a full blown IDE, virtual machine manager and, of course, the Android SDK. This is the simplest, and more than likely the best, way to use the Android SDK. All you have to do is download Android Studio from here and follow the onscreen prompts. It’s that easy, and once everything is setup you can learn how to use Android Studio with this excellent guide and learn everything about the Android SDK here.
Downloading the stand alone SDK package
This is more complicated but still very simple. Keep in mind though that there is no real advantage to downloading the SDK by itself, even if you plan on using a third party engine, as they will usually just download it for you anyway. If you do plan on going this route go here to download the SDK. Once downloaded unzip the folder and put in a known, accessible spot.
Depending on your operating system there are a few different ways to open the Android SDK.
If you are on Windows just double-click the SDKManager.exe file in the root of the SDK directory. On OS X and Linux go to the “tools/” folder in the SDK and open up a terminal window and type:
to open the SDK Manager, if that does not work drag the android executable into the terminal window and hit enter. Once open, make sure to install the packages listed below, as well as any others relevant to what you want to accomplish.
- Platform-tools are used to support new and existing features of Android, including the Android Debugging Bridge, bmgr and logcat. The Android Debugging Bridge (ADB) can be used to see what is causing errors and what processes are running as well as other things. bmgr is a tool used to manage the backup manager on an Android device with an API level of 8 or higher. It can be accessed by using the ADB.
- Build-tools are made to work with the Platform-tools but can be updated independently if needed. These include JOBB, ProGuard and zipalign. JOBB allows you to build encrypted and unencrypted APK expansions in OBB format. ProGuard is able to shrink and secure your app by removing unused items, renaming classes and the like, this makes it harder for people to reverse-engineer your app and it makes the overall size smaller which is also a bonus. Zipalign optimizes .apk files to start in a certain alignment relative to the start of a file.
- The SDK-tools are required and are used no matter what version of Android you develop for, these include: build-tools, debugging-tools and image-tools along with others.
- The Android Debugging Bridge (ADB) and fastboot are also included in case you ever need to get your device out of a jam as well. Fastboot can be used to flash or wipe partitions to your device in case something happens, this is very easy to do. The ADB can be used to troubleshoot issues with your device and apps.
Once all of this is installed you are ready to start developing!
Gone are the days of worrying about using Eclipse and downloading the Android Developer Tools separately and having to go through loops to get everything working. Google really outdid themselves with Android Studio, enabling essentially a one click installation of everything needed to start developing for Android. But if you just want the Android SDK by itself that is also not a problem and can be easily configured. So what are you waiting for? Start developing!