Mobile11 Best Android IDEs for Developers of 2021

11 Best Android IDEs for Developers of 2021

Mobile development represents a huge opportunity for developers, whether they work for large enterprises, small businesses, or are just hobbyists. According to App Annie’s market forecast, consumers will likely spend $81 billion in mobile app stores this year, and that number could reach $139 billion by 2021.

Those high revenue numbers explain why so many developers have begun creating apps. In 2016, Evans Data reported that the worldwide mobile development population has exceeded 12 million. To put that in context, there are about 21 million developers in the world, so more than half of them are targeting mobile platforms.

Many of those developers find the Android platform particularly attractive for several reasons. First, Java is the native programming language for Android. Because Java is the world’s most popular programming language, a lot of developers already know it. That means they don’t have to acquire an entirely new skillset when writing Android apps.

Also, Android is the most popular mobile platform in the world. Recent data from NetMarketShare gives Android a 64.38 percent share of the market, compared to 33.09 percent for iOS. And, although Android has been less lucrative than iOS in the past, App Annie says that Google Play and third-party Android stores will generate $41 billion in 2017, compared to $40 billion for iOS.

For many developers, choosing to write Android apps is an easy decision, but choosing which integrated development environment (IDE) to use to write those apps is much more difficult. Even though Android Studio is Google’s recommended option, it might not always be the best choice.

For example, if you want to write cross-platform apps that can run on iOS or another operating system as well as Android, it might be better to choose one of the cross-platform frameworks. If you already do a lot of development in a particular IDE that can also support Android, it might be more efficient to stick with the tool you already know instead of learning something new. And, if you are a brand new developer or want to develop from a mobile device, that might also influence your IDE selection.

The following list includes eleven of the most popular IDEs for Android development. To be included, a product had to be a full integrated development environment or a cross-platform development framework (not just a text editor), and it had to support the Android platform. Both open source and proprietary solutions are represented, and all of the Android development tools here come recommended by experts in the field.

Criteria Reviewed for Selecting Android IDEs

To determine which IDEs to include in the list, we reviewed several core areas, including the following:

  • Developer/owner of the Android IDE
  • Key features of the Android IDE
  • Programming languages supported
  • Targeted operating systems (in addition to Android)
  • Operating systems on which the IDE runs
  • System requirements for running the IDE
  • Target audience for the Android IDE
  • First production release of the Android IDE
  • Most recent update/stable release for the Android IDE
  • License (Open source, proprietary, freeware, and so forth)
  • Price for the Android IDE

Developer/Owner of the Android IDE

When choosing an Android IDE, developers should consider the organization in charge of maintaining it. Is it a for-profit company or a non-profit foundation? How long has the organization been in existence? Most importantly, is the organization likely to stay around for the foreseeable future and continue supporting the IDE?

Key Features of the Android IDE

For many mobile developers, the features of the IDE will be one of the most important considerations for deciding which IDE to use. It would be impossible to list all the features for each of the Android IDEs in this list, so the article calls out five to ten features that the IDE Web site highlights as being among the most important. Key feature considerations when selecting an Android IDE might include whether the IDE supports the other development tools you use, the usability of the interface, built-in emulator and testing capabilities, integrated build tools, and debugging capabilities.

Programming Languages Supported

Most developers prefer to stick with the programming languages they know. As such, knowing the supported languages for an IDE can be critical. Although Android originally had a large focus in the area of Java, a multitude of other languages are supported in today’s IDEs. Note that some of the IDEs support languages that cannot be used for Android development.

Targeted Operating Systems

To be included in this list, the IDE had to support Android, of course. However, many developers target other platforms in addition to Android. If that is your situation, you may prefer to use a cross-platform IDE or an IDE that supports other operating systems as well as Android.

Operating Systems on Which the IDE Runs

Most of the Android IDEs on the list support the three most popular operating systems—Windows, macOS, and Linux—but some do not. It’s important to make sure the IDE you choose supports the operating system that you run on your PC.

System requirements for Running the IDE

If you have a fairly modern system, you should meet the hardware requirements for most of the Android IDEs on this list. Some of the IDEs also require installation of some additional software, such as the Java JDK.

Target Audience for the Android IDE

Students and first-time developers have very different needs than experienced programmers have. You’ll want to make sure that you select an IDE that is suitable for your level of experience.

First Production Release of the Android IDE

If an IDE has been around for a long time, that might be a good indicator that its owners are likely to continue maintaining it. On the other hand, a younger IDE might be designed from the beginning to support more recent programming trends.

Most Recent Update/Stable Release for the Android IDE

To be included in this list, the IDE had to be updated on a regular basis. Beyond that, some IDEs get updated more frequently than others. Choosing between an IDE that gets new releases on a monthly or weekly basis or an IDE that gets a major overhaul once a year is a matter of developer preference.

License

With an open source IDE, you will be able to review the source code if you want, and it is usually fairly easy to write your own add-ons or extensions. On the other hand, commercial or proprietary IDEs might come with better support options.

Price for the Android IDE

If you work for a large company, the price of the IDE may not be a big consideration. But, if you are an independent developer or hobbyist, one of the many free IDEs may be more attractive. Remember, however, that it may not be as easy to get one-on-one help if you experience trouble with a free IDE.

Top 11 Android IDEs

    1. Android Studio: Google’s official IDE for Android based on Intellij IDEA. Click to see the Android Studio IDE overview
      Android Studio IDE
    2. Eclipse: This open source IDE is the second most popular in the world. It is more than just an IDE for Java desktop apps! Click to see the Eclipse IDE overview for Android
      Eclipse IDE for Android
    3. Visual Studio (with Xamarin): Microsoft’s flagship IDE comes in multiple versions, but when integrated with Xamarin (which Microsoft purchased last year), it enables cross-platform native development. Click to see the Visual Studio with Xamarin overview for Android Development
      Visual Studio IDE Android
    4. IntelliJ IDEA: IntelliJ IDEA is described as a “capable and ergonomic IDE for JVM.” Click to see the IntelliJ IDEA IDE overview for Android
      IntelliJ IDEA for Android
    5. NetBeans: NetBeans is known primarily as a Java IDE, but it also supports many other languages. It is the official IDE for Java 8 and boasts a large community of users, and works well for Android development. Click to see the Netbeans overview for Android
      NetBEans IDE Android
    6. Komodo: ActiveState’s Komodo humbly proclaims itself “the best IDE for Web and mobile app development.” Click to see the Komodo IDE overview for Android
      Komodo IDE for Android
    7. Cordova: First developed by a company called Nitobi, Cordova was originally known as PhoneGap. Click to see the Cordova overview for Android
      Cordova Android IDE
    8. PhoneGap: PhoneGap is Adobe’s implementation of the Apache Cordova open source mobile development framework. Click to see the PhoneGap for Android overview
    9. Appcelerator Titanium: Axway Appcelerator platform “powers mobility for 70 percent of the Fortune 100.” Click to see the Appcelerator overview for Android development
      Appcelerator Titanium IDE Android
    10. App Inventor: App Inventor aims at helping students and other new developers create their first Android apps. Click to see the App Inventor overview for Android
    11. AIDE: AIDE allows you to develop Android apps or Web sites from your Android device. Click to see the AIDE overview

Android
Development IDEs
Languages Target OS Runs On Audience License Price
Android Studio Java
C
C++
Kotlin
Android Windows
MacOS
Linux
Experienced Freeware Free
Eclipse Java
C
C++
C#
JavaScript
Python
more
Android
iOS
Linux
MacOS
Windows
Any OS supporting Java Professional Developers Eclipse Public License Free
Visual Studio (with Xamarin) C++
C
C#
Visual Basic
PHP
JavaScript
more
Cross-Platform
Windows
Android
iOS
more
Windows
MacOS
Linux
Experienced Proprietary, Visual Studio Code is Open Source MIT Free to $2,999+
IntelligJ IDEA Java
Scala
Groovy
Kotlin
JavaScript
TypeScript
SQL
Any OS supporting Java Windows
MacOS
Linux
Professional Java Developers Proprietary, Community Edition is
Apache 2.0 License
Free to $499/year
NetBeans Java
C
C++
HTML
PHP
JavaScript
others
Cross-platform Windows
MacOS
Linux
Solaris
Professional Developers CDDL 1.0 and GPL2 Free
Komodo Java
JavaScript
Python
PHP
HTML
Ruby
others
Cross-platform Windows
MacOS
Linux
Professional Web and mobile
developers
Proprietary, Komodo Edit is Mozilla
Public License
Free to $394+
Cordova HTML
CSS
JavaScript
Cross-platform
Android
Windows
iOS
MacOS
Ubuntu
Windows
MacOS
Linux
Experienced Web developers Apache 2.0 License Free
PhoneGap HTML
CSS
JavaScript
Cross-platform
Android
iOS
Windows
MacOS
Linux
Android
Windows Phone
Web developers Apache 2.0 License Free
Appcelerator Titanium JavaScript iOS
Android
Windows
Windows
MacOS
Linux
JavaScript developers Proprietary, Titanium alone is Apache 2.0 License Free to $99+ per month
App Inventor Kawa Android Windows
MacOS
Linux
Students and amateurs MIT License Free
AIDE Java
C
C++
XML
HTML
CSS
JavaScript
Android
Web
Android Amateurs or mobile professionals Proprietary Free with in-app purchases

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