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Unlocking Android: A Developer's Guide
by Frank Ableson, Charlie Collins, Robi Sen

Manning Publications
1 edition
April 2009
416 pages

Reviewed by Ulf Dittmer, September 2010
  (7 of 10)

Android being a complete application platform, it's impossible to cover all of it in a single book, but "Unlocking Android" makes a credible attempt at getting the reader up and running quickly. The major chapters cover the development environment, user interfaces, intents and services (the building blocks of Android apps), storing and retrieving data, networking and web services, telephony, notifications and alarms, graphics and animation, multimedia, and handling location. After the capabilities of the platform have been introduced along with many code examples that show them in use, a lengthy example app that ties it all together is developed from scratch.

None of the areas is covered in full depth -trying to do so would be futile, given the size of the class libraries- but once a familiarity with the basic concepts has been established, the reader can consult the javadocs for more information, and use targeted web searches to find the missing pieces. The same is true for more advanced concepts such as OpenGL and native code, which are covered just briefly or not at all.

It needs to be said that Android is a fast-moving target, and while this book covers the now obsolete Android 1.x, a 2nd edition is on its way and will update coverage to Android 2.x. I recommend the book -or rather, its upcoming new edition- to anyone who has had no exposure to Android, and needs to get up to speed quickly on a whole range of issues. Reading javadocs and searching the web will be necessary to fill in some of the blanks, though.

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