How I started as an Android developer

I never really planned to become an Android developer. It happened almost by accident while I was working in a project that included an Android tablet. Let’s call it my destiny, although looking back it was logical and a clear path. Tell me about connecting the dots…

Before Android and mobile development

In case you are interested in my various (smart)phones and tablets since the first one, there’s another blog post describing them.

My interest in mobile phones and mobile apps started long, long time ago. I used to download simple apps as J2ME/MIDP JAD/JAR files for my Siemens C55 way back in 2002 or so. Later I used mobile apps in Windows Mobile 5.x and 6.x, then Symbian OS apps and finally in 2012 Android kicked in.

Ready, set, go!

In 2012 I was a low-level C developer. For roughly a decade the keywords on my monitor most days were: Linux, VMware, bash, Eclipse, vi, make, gcc, g++, ld, Makefile, cvs, svn, malloc(), free(), Valgrind, etc. I was doing pointer arithmetic, writing structures, calling function pointers and whatnot.

The web was never my thing, although my masters’ degree was written in PHP.

Sure, x86 assembler was fun, but besides reverse-engineering a serial key generator for a client 2 years earlier, whose software was stolen and he didn’t even have the source code, it wasn’t of much use in this day and age.

At this time I was working on a super cool project which included an OpenWRT router where I was the main developer, a couple of WiFi cameras and an Android tablet. Since the Android developer has left, I decided to take over his role. I was already rocking the custom software in the router and helping here and there with the cameras, but the Android tablet was left in the dark.

Since writing in C wasn’t fun anymore, I started by compiling the Android project and fixing small bugs during the weekends and after work. I was already familiar with C#, so Java wasn’t that difficult to pick up. I realized that I can read and write Java in an instant.

I didn’t choose Android. Android choose me.

In the same year, I have already bought my first Android phone – a Samsung Galaxy S2 with Android 2.3 Gingerbread. I wanted to research the OS, but it never occurred to me that I will start writing my first app less than a year later.

In a way, Android choose me and was a natural evolution of all my previous interests in doing stuff for physical devices. I had experience with network equipment implementing various network protocols, a TV set-top box and I modded pretty much every phone I got since 2002. Writing mobile apps was I guess the next step. I liked it so much, that a year later I found myself in another country, hacking a cool Android app in a Berlin startup.

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