List of IDEs for Android App Development, Which is Best for You?
An Integrated Development Environment (IDE) is an all-in-one solution that allows an app developer (a.k.a. programmer) to perform the software development cycle repeatedly and quickly. That cycle is to design, write (i.e. code), compile, test, debug and package the app software. For Android app development Google provides the Android Studio IDE. Android Studio is derived from IntelliJ IDEA.
Google's Android SDK, NDK, Java and Kotlin
Android app development began with the appearance of Android phones in 2008. The Java computer language was for several years the main choice for app development. Support for app development in the Java language is provided in Android Studio and the Android Software Development Kit (SDK). Now the focus on Android app development has switched to the Kotlin language, which is fully supported in Android Studio. Furthermore, Kotlin and Java can be supplemented with C and C++ using the Google supplied Native Development Kit (NDK). The NDK is designed for optimising time-critical portions of an app (usually intensive gaming apps). Google does not recommend the NDK for general app development. For some developers, Java, Kotlin, C and C++ are not their prefered languages, fortunately, there are alternatives to Google's Android Studio and the languages it uses for Android app development.
Alternatives for Android Application Development
Some developers might not need the power of Kotlin or Java, or just don’t get on with C style languages. Some developers would like a single code base to support other platforms: Apple (iOS, macOS), Windows, and the Web (HTML5). This is known as cross-platform development. Well, there are plenty of alternatives to Google’s tools, see the following table for a list of Android app development IDEs and computer language alternatives. Code can be written in different languages, like BASIC, HTML5 or Lua. Many of the alternatives are free to use, some open source, and some restricted versions of paid-for products. A few may not have a free version. Some will require the Android Software Development Kit (SDK) that comes with the Google tools to be installed. It is possible to install several IDEs onto the same computer to try them out.
List of Alternative Android App Development IDEs
- AIDE and RFO Basic allows code to be developed on the go on Android devices. The code can be packaged into full-blown apps on a PC. (The AIDE website has not been updated recently so that IDE may not be under development.)
- RFO Basic only supports Android, i.e. not cross-platform.
Support for Android Programming
The above list of free and commercial IDEs for Android shows that other languages can be considered when wanting to develop apps. Some of these Android options provide cross-platform development from the same app source code, or most of the same source code, check with each platform. For most IDEs, the Android SDK will still need to be installed. Purchased commercial Android development packages will come with varying degrees of support from the company and the user base. Open source and free packages will be supported by the user and development community, and sometimes paid for support is available. Forums are a useful source of answers for Android development issues, for example Stack Overflow.
Setting Up Google’s Android Studio IDE
Need to get started with Android app development in Android Studio? Then see the other Tek Eye articles:
- Overview of setting up Android Studio on Windows - Setup Android Development Environment - Windows
- Detailed Android Studio set-up - Android Studio Windows Install for PCs
- Using the Google Studio Zip file - Android Studio Windows Zip Setup
- Use Tek Eye articles to learn Android programming - Android App Development Course
- Lots of learning projects for Android - Android Example Projects
If you do use any of the other IDE options in the table above please let Tek Eye know of any interesting app successes. Plus let us know of any other Android development options you come across. Use the comments facility at the bottom of the page.
Hector GE on March 6, 2015 at 12:05 am said:
Hi! That is a very extense list, so we can see there are plenty of options. I have a little bit experience in Java but I don’t know if HTML5 is a better solution.
Which option would you recommend to me as a beginner?
Tek Eye on March 6, 2015 at 11:45 am said:
HTML5 is the way to go for cross device compatibility, it is also better for beginners. Java for better Android only performance and more intricate control of the device.
preeti on March 7, 2015 at 2:28 pm said:
I need some suggestion from your side. I want to build android apps, which IDE should i used to build it? Eclipse, Android Studio, or any other one?
Tek Eye on March 7, 2015 at 3:15 pm said:
Android Studio looks like it will be Google’s preferred environment moving forward. For cross device compatibility using HTML then Apache Cordova is popular and on Windows is now supported by Visual Studio Community edition.
Krle on March 9, 2015 at 2:55 pm said:
You forgot to mention Delphi XE7 who has great support for building Android applications throught its FireMonkey platform.
Tek Eye on March 12, 2015 at 10:47 am said:
Thanks for the pointer, added RAD Studio to the list, which contains Delphi and C++ Builder.
Tek Eye on May 10, 2015 at 11:25 am said:
Added the Telerik Platform to the list.
Update: Telerik have switched to NativeScript.
vasa teja on July 22, 2015 at 6:02 am said:
Very useful information.
Trayce90 on December 18, 2015 at 1:40 am said:
Could you tell me which IDE I should pick if I want to design an oscilloscope with using the phone’s GPS to save the location?
Tek Eye on December 18, 2015 at 2:50 pm said:
Every IDE has their strengths and weaknesses. It depends upon which code language you will be using and how easy you find using the IDE. For Java Google’s own Android Studio is good. Microsoft now supports Android in their great Visual Studio IDE. Decide on your preferred language and try the IDE’s that support that language to see which one fits you best.
rossHell on January 20, 2016 at 4:22 pm said:
Nice article, but I think one of the best is missing, Qt Library and QtCreator IDE.
See here: http://www.qt.io/
Reza on August 20, 2016 at 6:57 pm said: Exactly.
Erel on February 22, 2016 at 7:21 am said:
Note that Basic4android is now named B4A and it is part of B4X suite which is a RAD cross platform tool for native Android, iOS, desktop, server and IoT boards.
Peggy Benson on March 28, 2016 at 12:30 pm said:
Which IDE should I use, am developing software to read bar codes.
Tek Eye on March 29, 2016 at 9:40 am said:
Which computer language are you most familiar with? The Zxing project reads barcodes and is written in Java so its good for Google’s default IDE, Android Studio. If a more basic like language is more your thing look at B4A (previously known as Basic4Android).
jmpessoa on April 18, 2017 at 5:03 am said:
You can try Lazarus + LAMW. There is a demo ready to use!
Ahmad on April 22, 2016 at 12:07 pm said:
Simple and useful, thanks.
MAYANNK on May 25, 2016 at 7:55 am said:
Hey, can I use netBeans 7.4 for Android App development?
Tek Eye on May 26, 2016 at 7:57 am said:
See NBAndroid - http://plugins.netbeans.org/plugin/19545/nbandroid
Amrita on August 21, 2016 at 5:59 am said:
Hey, I’m making an android app to control a robot with a WiFi/Bluetooth module. The preferred languages are C, C++, Java. Could you possibly suggest an IDE? Thanks :’)
geethadevi on January 16, 2017 at 5:07 am said:
Really helpful the List of IDEs for Android App Development which is best?
Kabilan on February 5, 2017 at 7:19 am said:
Given so much info in it, these type of articles keeps the users interest in the website, and keep on sharing more.
Majid on March 6, 2017 at 7:01 pm said:
Hi, add LAMW (Lazarus wizards), free Pascal.
maaza wondwossen on March 23, 2017 at 7:52 pm said:
Which ide should I use to develop an image scanner to convert to text or digit and which is simple?
Tek Eye on March 23, 2017 at 10:37 pm said:
Studio is the Google supported IDE but is complex. Xamarin provides cross-platform support. Some find B4X (previously basic4ppc) easier. For image to text scanning try the TextFairy app (https://github.com/renard314/textfairy).
jmpessoa on April 8, 2017 at 2:46 am said:
Lazarus LAMW: Lazarus Android Module Wizard, ref. https://github.com/jmpessoa/lazandroidmodulewizard/
Martin Lois on July 26, 2017 at 12:23 pm said:
Erfan on August 16, 2017 at 11:59 am said:
I plan to develop a multi-vendor grocery app with location based delivery. Portal with access to Admins and Vendors. Please suggest the best WYSIWYG type of IDE to develop both the app and portal. Thanks.
Tek Eye on August 16, 2017 at 4:04 pm said:
Do you need cross-platform support (Android, ios, and PC)? Which computer language will you be programming the app and backend with? Use the answers to those questions to narrow down the choice. For a good WYSIWYG IDE try B4X (https://www.b4x.com/).
Author:Daniel S. Fowler Published: Updated: