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Android SDK: A Detailed Tutorial for Beginners in 2024

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7th Oct, 2022
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Android SDK: A Detailed Tutorial for Beginners in 2024

The Android Software Development Kit (SDK) is an integral part of the app development arena for beginners. It is a comprehensive list of all files required to kickstart the creation of an app by the developer. The kit includes tools like ADB bridge, additional codes to create java files, and emulators to begin creating the groundwork for an app.  

Every time Google comes up with a new version of Android, a new SDK is released. Developers are required to download and use the latest version to develop apps for incoming phones in the market. 

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Essentially, Android SDKs are used widely. Therefore, the composition should be such that they are understandable and easily put to use by developers. 

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An excellent Android SDK has the following characteristics: 

  • Easily used by other developers 
  • Accurate and detailed documentation explaining the code and its workings
  • Dynamic functionality that adds value to other apps
  • No negative impact on the battery of a mobile device, or any CPU component
  • It is compatible with other SDKs

 An Android SDK is made up of several components. There are platform tools, build tools, SDK tools, Android Debug Bridge, and Android emulator. All of this forms an essential toolkit to create an Android app. Out of these, the most important probably are the SDKs. 

SDKs form the fundamentals of any program a modern user interacts with. The internet explorer, video games, and modern mobile apps – all are birthed from this tool itself. 

Let’s discuss these components in detail. 

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Android SDK and its Components 

  • Platform tools – Platform tools are specific to the version of Android you want to create applications for. Once downloaded, these tools need to be continuously updated. The platform tools are backward-supportive, i.e., they usually support any older version of Android. 
  • Build tools – These were initially categorized with platform tools. Until the need arose to update them separately, they were clubbed and downloaded with platform tools . Build tools include tools that are necessary for an app to use the minimum amount of battery power while it is in operation. 
  • SDK Tools – The SDK tools are composed of debuggers, libraries with important resources, sample code for creating java profiles, and other tutorials. 

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Ideally, for any app development, procuring the required SDK tool and using it is the first step. It is similar to setting up your workshop, when making a new piece of furniture.  

  • Android Emulator – This tool is a virtual device that can be set to imitate a particular Android device as a target. It fulfils almost all the needs of the required device and can be used to check and execute developing Android applications. 
  • Android Debug Bridge – It also forms a part of platform tools and is required to gauge the version of Android being used on the concerned device. This tool is considered extremely versatile and lets you debug and run apps, all along running a variety of different commands on the device. 

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How to Install Android SDK?

Luckily for developers, today, the Android SDK and Java Development Kit (JDK) are a part of Android Studio. 

As a result, once a developer downloads Android Studio, it can function in the background, and they don’t have to take the pain to download two separate applications. 

The installation process is relatively easy, with most of the process following the commands and running the application once it is downloaded. However, once downloaded, the Android SDK will require regular updates and the SDK Manager is extremely helpful in managing those updates. 

Under SDK Manager will be SDK Platforms and SDK Tools. The former lists all the Android Platforms for which apps can be created. All the new versions are backward-compatible, which means that every new version will support all the previous versions. 

This makes app creation by a beginner comparatively easy. 

Until and unless a developer is looking for using cutting-edge, recent technology to create apps, this section doesn’t require a lot of attention. 

SDK Tools is another place where you can find all the other tools employed to create an app. This section lists Android SDK Build Tools, Android SDK Platform Tools, and Android Emulator. A developer can also separately download these if they wish to. 

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Once installed, you can begin using Android SDK. 

Using Android SDK 

Android SDK and Android Studio need not always be used together. To use former independently, you can use an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) for the purposes of either developing cross-platform apps (apps that can run on iOS, Android, and Windows) or 3D games.

For this purpose, a path needs to be shown to the chosen IDE for the Android SDK. This is precisely the destination of Android SDK in Android Studio. 

Even if you do want to operate on an IDE, it is better to download Android Studio and know where the SDK is installed. This will be needed for IDE path creation, and you can simply copy-paste. This makes the process hassle-free, especially for beginners who are still learning the ropes of Android development. 

A developer can also choose to install the SDK from the Downloads section. Here, a direct update from the command line will update the SDK. This might be convenient and a bit easier on the memory and storage of your system. But it is a good idea to download the whole package and make full use of the services. 

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Windows (XP or Linux), Mac OS X (10.4.9 or later), and Linux are a few development platforms that are compatible with SDK. 

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Making all-platform-friendly apps is a breeze with Android SDK. With all the tools provided within the Android SDK, developing apps and updating them is easier for beginners, who are stepping into the world of making apps. Therefore, if you are a novice at creating apps, download the whole tool of Android SDK rather than a few components of it.


Arjun Mathur

Blog Author
Arjun is Program marketing manager at UpGrad for the Software development program. Prior to UpGrad, he was a part of the French ride-sharing unicorn "BlaBlaCar" in India. He is a B.Tech in Computers Science from IIT Delhi and loves writing about technology.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1What is Android SDK?

Android SDK is a software development kit (SDK) which provides tools that allow you to develop applications for the Android operating system. It contains a comprehensive set of development tools, APIs, and documentation for writing Android applications in Java programming language. It requires a computer running Windows, Mac OS, or Linux to provide the development environment. An Android device isn't necessary to develop applications, but it's recommended to test and debug applications before they're deployed to a device.

2What does an Android developer do?

An Android developer creates applications for various Android devices. His job is to write the code that allows each application to operate on a specific platform. He creates the front-end and the back-end of each application, including the user interface, the table structure and the design map. He has to continually check the applications to make sure they function as they should and meet the customer’s needs. He may have to deal with a number of different devices, including tablets, smart phones and televisions.

3Which languages does an Android developer need to know?

If you are an android developer, you should basically know Java, XML, SQL and other web standards. Knowing Java is obviously important because android is powered by Java, so it is necessary for you to be familiar with Java. Though you don’t need to be an expert, you should be familiar with Java and also some android programming languages. XML is mostly used for defining application interface, so you should be able to use XML in order to develop Android applications. SQL is useful for databases and User Interface (UI) development. You should be familiar with the concepts of database and UI especially when the application you develop requires a database.