Secure Bespoke Android app development

Security is at the heart of the low-cost enterprise Android apps we develop...

Knowledge is power!

We try to soak up all the blue-sky thinking coming from Google's Android Engineering Team such as their new Build Out initiative...

Custom built enterprise Android apps

We specialise in the development of bespoke business-critical Android apps in the UK...

Welcome to App Developers for Android ™

We are a boutique mobile app development company (New Media Aid Ltd) based in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, UK, focused on Android app development.

We develop bespoke mobile applications for the Android platform by leveraging almost 20 years of hard-won skill and expertise in commercially-proven app development. We build robust, state-of-the-art Android apps with a focus on business apps integrating with corporate IT systems.

Bespoke, secure and scalable Android apps
Delivered on time and on budget
Highly competitive rates
Happy to sign NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements)
All Android app development work done in-house
Only 30 mins from London and Cambridge


The only constant is change!

The Android operating system, and Android app development in general, is evolving so quickly that sometimes it is hard to keep pace with developments. However, here at App Developers for Android ™ we try to keep ahead of the curve by continuously learning about advances in the Android operating system by following the resources shown below.

Android Developers YouTube Channel

This is where Google's Android team place demos, tutorials, and anything else related to Android development. This is invaluable information.

Google Developers Blog

Google's latest news and updates for Android app developers. Here we find out first about new APIs which will allow us to code state-of-the-art Android apps.

Build Out

Build Out is where Google engineers present competing architectures to demonstrate how Google's developer products can be integrated into cutting-edge Android apps.

Google I/O

Google I/O is an annual developer festival held at Mountain View. Here you see presentations, demonstrations and codelabs for the latest Android developments.

Google Developers Codelabs

Here you can see videos from Google's Android engineering team that guide developers through integrating new cutting-edge features into their Android apps.

Android Architecture Components

A collection of libraries that help us develop testable and maintainable Android apps. A library is a collection of precompiled routines that our apps can use.

Android API Package Index

These are the Android API packages. A package is a namespace that organises a set of related classes and interfaces, essential reading for app developers.

Android API Class Index

Each Android API package contains classes which are the building blocks of Java. A class is a template that describes the data and behaviour of instances of that class.

We make sure we check the above resources regularly so we stay at the top of our game when it comes to cutting-edge Android app development for business!

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are often confused. Whilst Artificial Intelligence has been around for many years (most stocks and shares are traded automatically by software using Artificial Intelligence), Machine Learning (i.e. allowing apps to access data and then learn for themselves) is much more cutting-edge, especially when harnessing the power of neural networks which teach applications to think like humans whilst being far better than humans with regard to speed of computation and eliminating human error.

Following many years work by researchers and engineers working on the Google Brain Team within Google's Machine Intelligence research organisation, Google has just released on Android 8.1 (API level 27) their new Neural Networks API which is designed for running computationally intensive operations for machine learning on mobile devices. Together with the new TensorFlow Lite API released on 14 November 2017, a lightweight solution for mobile and embedded devices enabling on-device machine learning and supporting hardware acceleration with the Android Neural Networks API, we are about to enter very exciting times in the world of Enterprise Android app development when combining Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning capabilities into the custom-made Android apps we develop for clients. Hold on to your hats…

Neural Networks API TensorFlow Lite


How do we transfer data from the Android app to your cloud systems?

Most of the bespoke Android app solutions we develop for companies will be made up of an Android app which can be installed on your Android phones or tablets and a secure web-app which can be used for setting up Android app users, adding data which populates forms on the Android app, setting up customer sites, setting up technician jobs, etc.. We usually also develop an API as part of the web app so the web app can integrate with other corporate systems (CRMs etc.). We then tend to code the Android app and web apps to exchange data in JSON format. JSON is an acronym for JavaScript Object Notation which is an open-standard file format used to transmit data between devices. For photos taken, or signatures captured, on the Android device, we tend to convert the photos into a Base64 array (basically a very long string of data in ASCII format where each digit represents exactly 6 bits of data) and this is sent as JSON to the web app and then on the web app we convert that string back to an image so the photos and signatures are saved on your cloud systems as images.

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Keep using without an Internet connection!

We code all our Enterprise Android apps so any data which needs to be pulled from the cloud or data, photos, signatures which need to be pushed to the cloud (e.g. for real-time management reporting) is synced whenever there is an available Internet connection. This means your staff will be able to use the Android app we develop for you even when they are in an Internet connection black spot. Any operations or reporting they do on the app can be safely carried out and then this will sync with the web-based cloud systems (which we can develop for you) as soon as a connection is established.

How do we transfer data from the Android app to your cloud systems?

Most of the bespoke Android app solutions we develop for companies will be made up of an Android app which can be installed on your Android phones or tablets and a secure web-app which can be used for setting up Android app users, adding data which populates forms on the Android app, setting up customer sites, setting up technician jobs, etc.. We usually also develop an API as part of the web app so the web app can integrate with other corporate systems (CRMs etc.). We then tend to code the Android app and web apps to exchange data in JSON format. JSON is an acronym for JavaScript Object Notation which is an open-standard file format used to transmit data between devices. For photos taken, or signatures captured, on the Android device, we tend to convert the photos into a Base64 array (basically a very long string of data in ASCII format where each digit represents exactly 6 bits of data) and this is sent as JSON to the web app and then on the web app we convert that string back to an image so the photos and signatures are saved on your cloud systems as images.

How we build our Android apps

We develop our Android apps in the Java programming language (the latest version is Java 9, released by Oracle in September 2017). In the early days of Android app development (back in 2009 for us) we used the Eclipse IDE with the ADT plugin (IDE stands for Integrated Development Environment which usually comprises a source code editor together with build and debugging tools; ADT stands for Android Development Tools and this plugin developed by the Android team at Google provided an integrated environment for the development of Android apps). In June 2015 Google announced that they would soon stop supporting ADT and any security bugs would not be fixed. Android app developers were therefore told they should migrate their apps to the new version of Android Studio which would become Android's official IDE. We of course followed this advice (we take security very seriously) and now all our Android apps are developed using Android's official IDE, Android Studio.

How does this help you, the client?

Well, Android Studio has a number of great features which help speed up the coding and testing of Android apps. The less time we spend coding and testing our bespoke apps, the cheaper the development costs for you.

Instant Run

A great feature of Android Studio is called “Instant Run” which allows us to see coding changes in real time on a running app. We can connect any of our Android devices to the development computer via a USB cable and as we change the Android app’s source code in Android Studio we see those changes instantly on the app running on the phone/tablet without having to restart the app or rebuild the APK. This makes our lives as Android developers so much easier compared to the lengthy process we used to have to follow when developing Android apps in Eclipse.

Code Editor

The code editor in Android Studio is excellent and helps us work faster (and write more accurate code) because it offers code completion (i.e. start typing and if offers suggestions), refactoring (i.e. restructuring existing Java code without changing app behaviour) and also code analysis.

Super-Fast Android Emulator

An emulator in Android app development is a screen on your computer which simulates various Android phone, tablet, Android Wear, and Android TV devices. When using the Eclipse IDE, trying to test Android apps on the device emulator was painfully slow and kept crashing. The Android device emulator which comes with Android Studio is a great tool as it comes with configurations for popular devices and can transfer data faster than a real device connected via USB. The Android Emulator also allows us to simulate features such as GPS location, network latency, motion sensors, and multi-touch input. Together with the real Android devices we test our apps on, the emulator allows us to test the Android apps we develop on any number of device configurations so we are sure they will work as intended on the many Android devices out there in the wild!

Testing, Testing...

Software testing is one of the most important steps in the development of any bespoke Android app. The versatility of your app requires an exhaustive testing strategy. Users will interact with your app in many ways and we need to test all likely user journeys on the app to identify bugs (or indeed usability issues). Android Studio makes robust testing relatively simple by allowing us to set up JUnit tests that run on the local JVM or instrumented tests that run on a device. JUnit is a unit testing framework for the Java programming language and JVM is the Java Virtual Machine.

Android Runtime (ART) is the new runtime environment of the Android operating system. Prior to Android 4.4 (KitKat) it was the Dalvik virtual machine. ART performs the translation of an Android app's byte-code into instructions that are executed by the device's runtime environment. As opposed to Dalvik, ART compiles entire applications into native machine code on installation thereby improving efficiency & power consumption (battery drain being a massive problem with Android apps, especially those that need to sync data with cloud-based data silos like the majority of the bespoke Android apps that we develop).

JUnit 5 is the next generation of JUnit which aims to provide a solid foundation for developer testing on the JVM, focusing on Java 8 and above (which is the programming language used by our developers). Basically, as we develop a new feature we write a corresponding unit test and unit tests should try to cover all possible interactions with the unit.

If testing doesn't pick up a bug?

Don't worry! We've got it covered! We build bug and error monitoring into all the Android apps we develop so we know instantly if there is a problem!

We integrate ACRA (a leading open-source bug/crash reporting library) into all the Android apps we develop. This means we get instant notification if any of our apps crash or throw any type of error. This allows us to deal proactively with any issues which were not identified during our extensive pre-release testing.

Android App Development Case Studies

Please find below some examples of the bespoke Android apps we develop for clients.

Weblight

With clients like Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Barclays, TK Maxx & Sainsbury’s, the number one commercial lighting company in the UK needed a bespoke Android app for their lighting engineers. We developed the Android app.

Phoenix Group

With their bottling systems handling 15 million bottles a year, the UK’s largest cold pressed seed oil producer required an Android app for real-time production reporting. We developed the Android app for them.

Wing Parking

Managing car parks on behalf of many local authorities such as Islington, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster they needed a bespoke Android app to plan their parking control operatives' rounds and report on issues.

Parker Hannifin

With annual sales of $12 billion, Parker Hannifin is a global leader in motion and control technologies. We developed a bespoke Android app for just-in-time stock conrol integrating with their EDI systems.

Leathermarket JMB

As Southwark’s largest resident-managed housing organisation, managing 1,500 homes between London Bridge and Tower Bridge, their maintenance officers wanted an a custom-made Android app to manage their rounds and tasks.

Just Filters

With clients such as Compass, Fullers, Black & Decker, Mercedes Benz, Panasonic & Royal Marsden Hospital, the technicians maintaining canopy grease filters at the UK’s busiest kitchens needed a bespoke Android app to manage jobs.

Hammond Produce

Producing over 50,000 tonnes of fresh vegetables each year for leading retailers and supermarkets throughout the UK, they required a bespoke Android app for Production Line Management & Quality Control. We developed it for them.

Curries Online

This online take away ordering system allows real-time ordering of curries from thousands of restauarants and take aways in the UK. They needed a bespoke Android app to manage orders and send to printers in the restaurant kitchens.

What is Android?

Android has the largest installed base of any operating system, more than Microsoft Windows!

It is the world’s most popular mobile operating system currently running on almost 90% of all smartphones worldwide.


The Android operating system is developed in-house by Google and then for each new version the source code is made available to the Android Open Source Project members (e.g. hardware manufacturers such as Samsung, HTC, LG, etc.). These manufacturers then tend to spend time adapting the Android source code for their devices. As we always like to be developing against the latest version of Android (with backward compatibility of course) we make sure the core Android devices we have here in the office are from Google's Nexus range (or since October 2017 from their Pixel range) so we get the latest "pure" version of Android to develop and test our apps against and of course we get the very latest updates and security patches before they would be released by OEM manufacturers such as Samsung on their devices.

Whilst Android apps can be written in a number of programming languages, for now we are sticking with the tried and trusted official Android programming language, Java. However, we are keeping an eye on Google’s new Android programming language Kotlin to see how this pans out in case it allows us to offer better Android apps in the future. Once we have coded an app in Java we then use the Android SDK to compile that code into an APK file (the Android Package) and it is this .apk file which users then install on their Android smartphone or tablet (or for that matter any number of different Android-enabled devices).

How times have changed!

When we first started developing Android apps back in circa 2009, the developer support was terrible i.e. Android development software was very poor and kept crashing - there was basically only the Eclipse IDE with the Android Development Tools (ADT) plugin. At that time the Android API and operating system documentation was forever out of date and always changing.

Thankfully these days there is a choice of robust Android development software (we use the latest version of Android Studio as this is maintained by Google and allows us to stay cutting-edge) and the Android team at Google are now great at providing detailed Android app development APIs with up-to-date documentation.

As you can probably tell, we are very much functionality-led rather than design-led App Developers for Android ™, however, we can of course make our bespoke Enterprise Android apps look as pretty as you like (just provide us with design mock-ups or we can put you in touch with one of our graphic designers and we then create bespoke apps such as the one below).

A prehistoric Android app from 2009!

Below is an example of a first-generation (almost prehistoric) Android app we developed for an aviation logistics client back in 2009 when Android was first released (this allowed their fleet of 30 lorry drivers to get real-time job details so they could for example get an aircraft braking system component to an aircraft stuck on the ground at Heathrow airport).

Contact Us

App Developers for Android ™
New Media Aid Ltd
8 Bunyan Road
Hitchin
Hertfordshire
SG5 1NW
United Kingdom

☎ 01462 658 688
ab@android-app-developer.co.uk