I bought this after making a start with Android programming. Therein lies a point - it is not a beginner's book, but then perhaps it not that advanced either. It covers a lot of useful areas, right from hints and tips on testing your programs, to more advanced topics, like the Google Maps API. Graphics, Sensor Programming, File access, Networking, GUI programming, even a little bit on Threading, are just some of the different topics covered, and it has a broad enough range to remain useful as a general Android Reference book of sorts.
One issue, which is a fault of most Android books I have come across, is the fact that some of it has become relatively outdated. But this is an issue with Android itself, being as it has been revised so many times in the 6 years the OS has been available. Often the "old way" of doing things will work, but you can supplement this book with some internet searches if you get stuck.
So once you have mastered enough of Java, and then of the Android Environment to start to feel comfortable, then this book should become of use.
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This book is crowd-sourced. Ian Darwin has assembled recipes from himself and over 30 other contributors to build this book.
I like cookbooks. They sit somewhere between official guides and subject-expert web writing. They represent the team effort of co-operative mutual learning as we all share advice and advance the science. Even if you don't follow the recipe, they stimulate the taste buds and the imagination.
I read this book, all 661 pages, in a single busy day. Downloaded it over breakfast, devoured it through lunch, raced through the recipes over dinner, and finished it off in bed. Can't remember the last time a book captivated me that much.
This book is for you if
- you need to know what is possible in app development for phones and tablets - you are an experienced app developer but need some quick answers on new features and sensors - you a cross-over developer moving from another platform. Maybe one of the many RIM developers watching your user base evaporate right now. - you are new to professional development but already versed in the Linux, Eclipse, Java stack. Maybe coming out of college.
Android Cookbook is thought-provoking. The problem/solution format tends to concentrate on specific tips that are intriguing on their own but hardly of value as stand-alone apps. This has the effect of making the knowledge easy to absorb, and leading the mind to envisage mash-ups of the various tips to create real and useful apps. So for example you could combine recipe 4.9 (Starting a Service After Device Reboot) with 15.3 (Loading a User's Twitter Timeline Using JSON) and 9.4 (Creating an Advanced ListView with Images and Text) to create a fully functional Twitter client.
Android Cookbook is factually correct. I fact-checked the things I did not already know and they look right.
Android Cookbook is fast moving. The story leaps from solution to solution; each growing on the next. But it is inevitable that there are some time lapses in the solutions and a little overlap too. Recipes 6.5 and 7.2 date from 2010, while 22.2 and 22.3 are already obsolete, yet 22.4 comments on Android Market being folded into Google Play just as the book was going to press. Is it just me or is recipe 8.11 ( Creating a Reusable About Box Class, from Daniel Fowler ) and recipe 19.3 ( Obtaining Information from the Manifest File , from Colin Wilcox ) exactly the same? Buy the book and tell me if you agree.
Android Cookbook is scary in parts. At one point Ian Darwin even shows us how to embed C inside your app and potentially destroy any semblance of robustness you thought you had from the legendary Java sandbox. I was thankful he refrained from showing us a genuine use for bare-metal coding.
Is it worth you buying the Android Cookbook?
Yes, if you are buying out of your corporate budget this will pay for itself in saved labour within hours. Yes, if you are paying from your own pocket. I wish I had known tip 11.12 before I wrote my last app. Maybe not yet, if you are still to become comfortable with Eclipse and Java Yes, if you are an entrepreneur visualising the future.
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