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Building a Hybrid App with Android Studio

caperminttech profile image Vivek Shah ・4 min read

The popularity of Android devices is only increasing day-by-day, and so is the demand for Android apps. While the native Android apps are built using the native mobile platform, hybrid apps are built into the native app. The hybrid app is a combination of web codes like HTML, CSS, Javascript, and native code composed of Java and Android frameworks. You mainly need a native shell to hold the app, such as web view in Android, that enables you to display web pages as an activity layout.

An Android app development company prefers Android Studio for developing hybrid apps as it is a freely available and easy-to-use integrated development environment (IDE) for the Google’s Android operating system. With the launch of Android Studio 3.0 in 2017, a new set of tools and wizards have been included to accelerate app development on the Android O APIs. Android O is for developers who want to develop high-quality apps using Android Studio as it allows you to add custom fonts and downloadable fonts using XML. You can create hybrid apps with Android Studio using the steps given here.

Step 1: Get all pre-requisites ready

Collect all the pre-requisites before committing to an approach. This will make all that is needed easily available on the spot. You will mainly need Android Studio, Android SDK, and Java development kit (JDK). Install the JDK in the usual installation folder. The Android SDK tools and Cordova CLI should be ready, and Cordova CLI needs to be installed after installing Node.js version 0.10+. You also need access to features that are available to the browser in case you are building a pure HTML5 mobile application. After this install the Cordova CLI by running the command “sumo npm install -g cordova” and install the Android SDK tools.

Step 2: Create your first project

Once Cordova CLI is installed and ready to use, you can start creating your project. Using the CD command, you can navigate with the console to a folder where you want to store all your Cordova projects.

Step 3: Add a platform to your project

You need to add a platform to your Cordova project after creating it so that it can run successfully. The HTML5 mobile frameworks for creating the HTML5 mobile application are a great option for this. You can easily create animations, opt for showing or hiding things, and so much more using jQuery on a website. Then add your website and edit the index.html page for content.

Step 4: Testing the application

You can use either an emulator or browser to test your application. In case of an HTML5 framework, the best thing is that you can test it directly through your local server browser and also access your application through a local web server. In case you are using the Chrome DevTools, the view can also be imitated by clicking the mobile icon in the top left corner of the screen. You can also debug the content of your application using the Console, Network, Timeline etc.

Step 5: Package your application

In order to package your application in the native wrapper, you can use third-party applications like PhoneGap and Xamarin, that act as a bridge between the native API’s and your app. Your application is then displayed to the user by these third-party applications that load your app in the web view. After this, you can generate a release version of the APK using “Cordova build –release” and locate your APK file in the location (platforms/android/ant-build/MyApp-release-unsigned.apk). You need to sign in for submitting your application to the App Store.

Step 6: Testing the application on a device

Though you have tested the HTML5 application on any local browser, you need to run it on an actual device for testing it using the native API’s. After this, you can either use your browser debugging tools or debug directly on your device using the GapDebug. It provides you with a debugging interface that imitates the Chrome Dev Tools and enables you to install .apk files for Android or .ipa files for iOS on your device. Your live application will then reflect any changes you make in this interface.

Step 7: Distribute it to the App Store

After debugging your app is ready for the launch and you need to sign your application to the Play Store before installing it on any device. For this, you need a keystore file. This keystore file can be created with the Java Keytool utility. You can locate this Java Keytool utility at %JAVA_HOME%\bin as it is available with any standard JDK distribution.

Step 8: The final process

The final step is the least tiny hurdle you need to cross. You need to prepare your app store listings and sign up as a Google Play Developer.

Wrap up
You can also opt for converting an existing Android app and adding hybrid components to it. Android Studio has now adapted well to the Android O platform for developing hybrid apps. However, with the release of Android P developer review, the developers will soon have to upgrade to the still newer development codes due to behaviour changes and new features and API that will be brought along. These hybrid apps created using Android Studio help you share data back and forth between the web and native platforms and make attractive use of them. So, what are you waiting for – get out there and start building!

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Vivek Shah

@caperminttech

Vivek Shah is the founder and CEO of Capermint Technologies: A leading Mobile Game Development company.

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