When talking about mobile development, we usually mean iPhone or Android application development, i.e. writing software for mobile platforms. There can be, however, another meaning, namely programming on mobile devices themselves. If you’re a developer, you never know when coding inspiration comes down to you, so it totally makes sense to install a set of programming tools on your gadget.
In today’s post, we’ve put together some of the best integrated developments environments, or IDEs, for Android phones and tablets. The difference between an IDE and a code editor, which are plenty in Google Play Store, is that the former contains an editor together with a compiler and powerful tools, allowing to build, run and test the program on the mobile device.
All the featured IDEs are free to install and check out, while most of them would offer you additional functions and features through in-app purchases.
Arguably the most popular mobile IDE for programming in Java and C++, AIDE is a huge coding suite aimed at programmers of all levels. It allows to create C/C++ NDK and Java/XML apps for Android, as well as pure Java console applications. When you try this IDE, it really gives you a feeling that you could develop mobile apps only with your phone or tablet.
Aspiring newcomers can purchase interactive step-by-step courses that include Java programming, Android development, game development, and even creating apps for Android Wear-based devices. It should be mentioned that the IDE has exceptionally user-friendly UI, and you become familiar with it very quickly. It’s easy to create a new project or switch between existing ones. Also, when creating a new project, you could easily download source code from remote repository or just create new repository for future collaboration right inside project.
Another nice-to-have feature is the ability to connect a Bluetooth keyboard, you can even bind hotkeys to main functions inside the IDE. The code editor itself has smart syntax highlighting and you can scale the window to change amount of code that you’re able to see at once.
Sporting clean material design interface, AIDE offers real-time error analysis as you type, automatic quick-fixes for simple errors, such as auto implementing methods or fixing imports. Navigation inside project is very easy, and you can watch not only code structure but also debug information like Logcat logs.
Maybe the only downside of this IDE is that it doesn’t give you the ability to set breakpoints and debug your app.
However, even basic free version provides almost all main features, allowing to develop on mobile device. And from all the IDEs described, this one is the most suitable for Android development.
One of the premium features that should be mentioned is a tool which allow you to create user interface of your application right inside IDE. You could change how you app looks like and see the changes without immediately launching the app. Premium features could be bought as separate functions or by subscription.
Additionally, DroidScript users can make most of a browser-based IDE, which allows establishing a connection between a PC and mobile device to use a full-size keyboard and big screen while running the code on your Android gadget.
The application includes plenty of documentation and a lot of examples of simple apps, which you could combine to write your own. Finally, writing code in your browser window is just fun. However, it’s also the main disadvantage of the IDE: you need to open an additional application to code and switch between them every once in a while. It goes without saying that the browser itself doesn’t give you a lot of features such as code completion or automatic error fixing. From our experience with this IDE, we would rather say that it’s more like a good text editor, which gives you the ability to run your .apk immediately.
As the name implies, CppDroid is an IDE for C/C++ development. It offers a full set of tools and features for experienced developers, as well as examples and tutorials for those learning the art of code.
When launched for the first time, the IDE will download all required libraries and create a simple HelloWorld application.
CppDroid has a highly customizable code editor with smart syntax highlighting, themes, auto indentation and auto pairing. Its features can be further extended with add-ons, which include a lot of application examples, programming tutorials and even lessons for beginners (premium).
You can also watch compile errors and warnings in special windows. In addition to that the IDE automatically fixes simple code style warnings. In each project setting you could set specific compile and link options.
It should be mentioned that this IDE is a bit unstable, however it still gives you an opportunity to create fully-featured C/C++ applications with your mobile device.
In addition to accessing local files and folders, AWD lets you to open and edit code remotely using FTP, FTPS, SFTP, and WebDAV.
The IDE’s developer markets the product as a great one for those who want to learn web development, and promises to include the support of Mercurial, Dropbox, and Google Drive in the next release.
Unfortunately all the best features of this IDE are hidden behind the paywall. But when you unlock them, functionality is amazing. You can get the ability to clone project from git repository, auto format code structure and use your Bluetooth keyboard with hotkeys.
Taking into account that today’s phones and tablets are more powerful than an average desktop computer was 10 years ago, there’s no wonder that any mobile device can bring in a full-scale software development kit. If you’re going to code hard on a mobile gadget, think also about ordering a Bluetooth hardware keyboard — getting one of the apps we suggested and paying under $20 for a keypad can really boost your productivity even on a small screen.
Other useful links:
- Fixing up a custom Android build: Pitfalls and possibilities
- Pros and Cons of Using Embedded Android for a Non-Mobile Device
- The Present and the Future of Developer Tools for Android