These days, Android retains its title as a leading operating system for mobile devices. 70.5% of all mobile devices in the world use this OS, which equals about 2.3 billion users with Internet access.
Its dominance is well-deserved thanks to multiple advantages, high performance, and wide customization possibilities. Additionally, Android is backed by a creative and dedicated community and many IT giants, most notably its creator, Google.
Due to the immense popularity of this operating system, there is a high demand for powerful software development tools, including Android IDEs (Integrated Development Environments). As a result, there are many Android development IDEs that offer different sets of features to conform to different requirements and conditions. In this article, we will review several popular mobile IDEs and try to determine an optimal Android IDE.
What is an IDE?
An integrated development environment (IDE) is an application suite of basic tools that help software developers get the work done consistently and quickly throughout the software development life cycle. Every IDE is a framework that enables developers to build, run, and test applications on mobile devices running Android. The design of IDEs also enables a very comfortable and effective workflow for developers.
New Android IDEs continue to emerge, and the old ones evolve. In other words, there are many IDEs to choose from. To help you choose the right one quicker, we have put together a list of the best integrated development environments to build apps for Android devices.
What Criteria Did We Use to Select the Best Android IDE?
To create the short list of best IDEs for Android development, we took into consideration several criteria, including:
- Key features of IDEs. More features mean more possibilities for developers.
- Supported programming languages. More languages allow the use of a wider range of developers and technologies.
- Owners or developers of IDEs. An Android IDE created or supported by an IT enterprise evolves faster and more effectively.
- Target platforms. Many IDEs allow developers to create software for other operating systems in addition to Android or reuse code for cross-platform development.
- License and pricing. This factor directly impacts the cost of software development.
Additionally, we considered other factors, including the age of IDEs, their skill requirements, how often they are updated, and so on.
5 Best IDEs for Android Development
Before we start the detailed description of the five best IDEs, here is a brief and illustrative comparison table of all participants in the list.
|IDE||Programming Languages||Target Platform||Works on||Created/Owned||License||Price|
|Android Studio||Java, C++, Kotlin||Android||Windows,|
|Google, JetBrains||Apache 2.0||Free|
|Microsoft||Freemium||Varies depending on editions and subscription plans.|
|Eclipse Foundation||Eclipse Public License 2.0||Free and open-source|
|JetBrains||Community Edition: Apache 2.0;|
Ultimate Edition: Commercial
Community Edition: free;
Ultimate Edition: $169-$599/year
|Apache||Apache 2.0||Free and open-source|
The official IDE for Android, Android Studio, is a software suite built by Google that has everything that will help you develop a solid Android app. It is known as the world’s third most famous IDE and is capable of accelerating the development process without sacrificing quality. This IDE is ideal for those new to programming as it has app-building tutorials that help to grasp mobile and enterprise software development.
Key features of Android Studio
- Flexible build system.
- Real-time analyzer.
- Intuitive visual layout.
- Smart code editor.
Visual Studio with Xamarin
Visual Studio, or simply VS, is Microsoft’s integrated development environment that is often regarded as a top IDE for Android development. Equipped with robust tools for swift coding, this Android IDE enables developers not only to develop eye-pleasing mobile apps but also to test different functions. VS also gives analytical data to developers, helping them boost app speed and perform bug fixes quickly. With Visual Studio, software developers can build efficient and error-free apps for different operating systems.
Key features of Visual Studio with Xamarin
- Integration with .NET.
- Code sharing for cross-platform development.
- Tools for building both native and hybrid apps.
- Automated UI tests.
- Real-time analytics.
Eclipse with ADT (Android Development Tools)
Eclipse is a free, open-source IDE used to build applications in Java and other programming languages. It is the second most popular IDE in the world. It has a vast support community and numerous plugins and configurations available. This Android IDE is highly customizable and can be used with many programming languages with the help of additional plugins. Eclipse is one of the best IDEs as it provides developers with a powerful and rich-featured tool for the development of advanced Android apps.
Key features of Eclipse with ADT
- Advanced editor with syntax checking and code completion tools.
- Multiple plugins to extend IDE functionality.
- Fast evolution thanks to a large community of developers.
- Separate pre-configured installation packages for different types of development.
This Android IDE from JetBrains comes in several editions that provide different functionalities at different prices. Its pricing and licensing models offer certain flexibility for individuals and organizations. IntelliJ IDEA may be an optimal choice for developers who specialize in Java and Kotlin. Even the free Community edition has impressive functionality and many convenient features right out of the box, while the paid Ultimate edition delivers the full power of this IDE.
Key features of IntelliJ IDEA
- Smart editor with AI assistance, code completion, quality inspection, and more.
- Shared sessions make collaboration and teamwork much easier.
- Supports many programming languages and frameworks.
- GitLab integration.
- Highly customizable UI.
Similar to other IDEs described in this list, Cordova supports several operating systems. It can be used to develop cross-platform apps or software for Android, iOS, Windows, and Windows Phone. As an Android development IDE, Cordova requires skills in Java Development Kit, Gradle, and Android Studio in addition to programming languages.
Key features of Cordova
- Allows reusing code for several platforms.
- Easy access to device hardware and native APIs.
- Employs web technologies to build mobile applications.
- Over 7000 third-party plugins available to developers.
Considering the wide selection, it is hard to choose one Android IDE that would fit all scenarios. Each IDE has its pros and cons that make it optimal for some projects and less effective for others. Additionally, every software development company has certain preferences depending on the team’s expertise, which also affects the choice of a suitable Android IDE.
As an additional factor, different projects have different challenges that require different tools to solve. So, the best IDE for Android development must be chosen based on the project specifications, team experience, and other factors.
At Intellectsoft, we closely follow the trends in mobile development to employ the most effective technologies. That’s why our developers have the experience and skills to pick among the best IDEs for Android development to deliver the best results.
We offer a wide range of Android app development services for all kinds of supported mobile devices: smartphones, tablets, TVs, and wearables. Such diversity is possible thanks to our skilled experts and their knowledge of Android development IDEs. If you need a top-quality mobile app for your business needs, contact our managers, and we will provide the solution.
What is the best IDE for Android app development?
There are many tools that can be named best Android IDEs if the circumstances are right. There is no universal answer because all of them have their pros and cons. For example, Android Studio was created by Google and is considered the “default” IDE for Android development. On the other hand, Visual Studio is much more versatile and may be useful if you want to cover other operating systems.
What Android IDEs are free and open-source-friendly?
At least three of the best IDEs for Android development fit this parameter: Android Studio, Eclipse, and Apache Cordova. Overall, even paid integrated development environments usually have free editions with limited functionality. Additionally, most of them have nice discounts and special offers for new users and loyal customers. So, you can find solutions for any budget using our list of Android development IDEs.