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Staying up to Date as an Android Developer

In this fast-moving world of technology and especially mobile technology, it is becoming more and more important to stay up to date if you want to stay relevant as a mobile developer. In fact, many companies in the interview will ask you about how you stay up to date.


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Ramiz Raja

4 months ago | 6 min read
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In this fast-moving world of technology and especially mobile technology, it is becoming more and more important to stay up to date if you want to stay relevant as a mobile developer. In fact, many companies in the interview will ask you about how you stay up to date.

Staying up to date in the Android world has become increasingly difficult in the last few years due to the gazillion changes happening all at once.

In 2017, the Android team courageously admitted their old mistakes and accepted that they have not been doing right by their developers by giving them APIs which were either not finished (like the old of the way of using SQLite in Android) or by giving them APIs that were buggy (like the famous fragment API).

They rightfully realized that due to all these factors the development in Android is hard and it is difficult to produce a polished app so they decided that it’s time for a change and boy, the changes they brought! I have to admit, even I, a tech junkie, did not expect these many changes based on their past history.

First, they came up with Architecture components that were very successful so the Android team decided we need something more strong and then they came up with the Android Jetpack, and as the name suggests, the libraries inside the JetPack are a big pack and are flying at the speed of a jet.

Android Navigation Component, Room, WorkManager, LiveData, ViewModel, switching to Kotlin as an official language, Kotlin Coroutines as an official mechanism for handling asynchronous code, Koltin extensions, Android Paging library and most recently the introduction of the App Startup library for the efficient initialization of app components at startup, Hilt — a new and official way of dependency injection on Android and the upcoming Jetpack Compose are some of the top highlights.

Oh and don’t forget that the startActivityForResult() and onActivityResult() methods are now deprecated and have been replaced by the Activity Results API.

All of these changes are revolutionary and good but there is just one problem, how do we as Android developers stay up to date with all of this? It’s a lot to take in given that most of us already have full-time jobs.

We also don’t want to be left behind otherwise we will be out of date very soon. So what’s the solution, given that you are as lazy of a developer as I am? Without disturbing my laziness in any significant way, I have come up with solutions that have kept me up to date so I am going to share them all here so that they can help others like me.

1. AndroidX Release Notes Page

Take my word, this one page is the single most important page you should keep an eye on. If you have a look at it once in a while and especially before integrating any Android JetPack library in a new project it can keep you up to date with most of the API changes, if not all.

AndroidX Release Notes

For those who are not aware of this page, it has a list of all the libraries available in the AndroidX libraries set and when you click on a specific library name it shows details about what alpha, beta, release candidate, and stable versions of this library are available and how to integrate it in your project.

If you look at the details of that library, it also shows a history of changes in that library, including new features, breaking changes and bugs fixed.

Activity library versions

New Features, Bug fixes, and API Changes in Activity version 1.2.0-alph06

As you can see that these highlights are very important for a developer as in just a glance you can actually get an idea of what has changed in the last few weeks or months in this specific library and what new features have been added and what APIs have been deprecated.

2. Google Alerts

Very few of the developers I know of actually use this feature or are aware of it but I find it to be very useful as it delivers information straight to my inbox at a frequency I like and in a format that is easy to skim through.

For people who don’t know, if you search a term like Android Development on Google and then click the news tab and go to the bottom of the search results you will actually see an option to create alert for this term to stay up to date.

Search Results of the android development keywords

After you click the create alert button Google will actually show you options to configure the alert with options like

  1. How often the information should be delivered (once in a day or once in a week).
  2. Which language the information should be delivered in.
  3. What’s the email to which this information should be delivered to.
  4. What sources (Blogs, News, Web, etc.) should be used or you can just set it to automatic.
  5. Whether all or only the best results should be delivered.

Options for configuring a Google Alert

Configure these options thoughtfully as you don’t want your inbox to be filled with just alerts so once in a week and only the best results should be the default option that you should choose. The following are some suggestions for alert keywords.

  • Android (to stay up to date about Android as a platform)
  • Android Development (to stay up to date as a developer)
  • iOS Development (staying up to date about the competing platform is important)
  • Technology (to stay up to date with technology in general)
  • Science (to stay up to date with the science world in general).

3. Android Developers YouTube Channel

Sometimes it just easier to watch instead of reading the information and fortunately the Android team is here to help us.

The official Android Developers YouTube channel is a good source of video format information and the Android team keeps uploading many important short-format videos that are very easy to go through and well designed. For example, they have a full playlist on Koltin Vocabulary which has many Kotlin specific videos and 

Chet Haase periodically uploads Now in Android: # videos as a guide to what’s new and notable in the world of Android development. Once you have subscribed to it and turned on the notification you will automatically get notified when a new video becomes available so you don’t have to look for them.

Official Android Developers Channel

Google I/O videos are also uploaded to this channel and I would strongly recommend that each developer should watch those Google I/O videos as they are a great way of learning about what is it going to be like in the Android world in the coming year. This channel has been an important source of information for me so I would strongly recommend it to anyone who has not already subscribed to it.

4. Medium

Medium (this platform on which you are reading this article) is a great platform for sharing articles based content and many of the top Android developers including the official Android team uses Medium to share detailed articles and guides.

The medium app has daily reading notifications as well based on what you are following so reading even one article per day should be a good dose of Android for you. I would recommend you to follow at least the following people.

These people actively write Android articles on Medium and are part of the official Android team.

5. The Rest

The Android team has an ADB Podcast on Android Developers Backstage which is a source of information in which the team discusses different topics in detail.

I would also recommend subscribing for the official Android developer updates so that any official news related to Android is delivered directly to your inbox and also try to have a look at the official Android developers blog once in a while for some side news.

This wraps the count of sources of information that I use to stay up to date as an Android developer.

I know there are a lot of other sources like the Playbook Android app and many unofficial Android YouTube channels but please see that this is a list of the sources I personally use and is not an official guide. I hope it helps others to stay up to date as well.

What’s Next?

As a Sr. Android developer I see many junior developers who are good but still have certain gaps in their skills, sometimes they know many skills but don’t know how to connect the dots especially in complex use cases.

At some point in the past, I was in this same situation (with gaps in my skills and not knowing how to connect dots) so now that my gaps are filled I want to help other developers like me fill in their gaps.

If you are one of those developers then follow me here on Medium, on GitHub, and Twitter as I will be writing some important articles in the near future.

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