Getting Started with Android

Before we can run a simple Hello World App we need to install the programming environment. We will run Hello World on the Android Emulator (which runs very slowly) and on the phone (which is super fast). The best resource for developing Android apps is Android Developers. We will use developers as a source for material for parts of this course.

Get the Android Studio

Android Studio is the official Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for Android development. It includes everything you need to begin developing Android apps.

After installing Android Studio, you have:

Click on Download Android Studio and SDK Tools to get started.

It will automatically detects your operating system and gives the correct Android Studio download link.

Install Android Studio

Open android-studio-ide-1641136.dmg (assuming Mac OS X is the target) and drag "Android Studio" to "Applications", as shown below. Go to Launchpad or your applications directory, open Android Studio to complete installation. First, it asks you to import your settings from a previous version of Android Studio. If you have a previous version, specify config folder or installation home of the previous version of Android Studio. After you click "OK", it shows a welcome message. After you click "Next", select "Standard" as the type of setup you want for Android Studio. Next, Android Studio will automatically install the Android SDK. Accept all licenses to continue. After installing the Android SDK, you are ready to build and run the Hello World app.

What is in the Android SDK?

There are several packages associated with the Android SDK. If you look in the directory ~/Library/Android/sdk you will see a number of sub directories associated with these packages. For more information of what's in these directories checkout exploring the SDK

Creating a New Android Project

To start a new Android app project for HelloWorld follow the wizard input; that is:

  1. Click "Start a new Android Studio project" as shown below.
  1. Fill in the application name, package name, and project location as as shown below. The package name is the reverse of the company domain. If you want to customize the package name, click edit on the right of Package name. The project location is where your project files reside.You can choose any location you want. Click next when you are done.
  1. For Minimum Required SDK, just accept the default and click next
  1. Create activity. Here you select an activity template for your app. Select BlankActivity and click Next.
  1. New blank activity. Again, just click through accepting the default settings then click finish

Once you have clicked finished you are presented with the project and all its files as shown below.

Open the app/java folder and look at the code.

package edu.dartmouth.cs.helloworld.helloworld;

import android.os.Bundle;
import android.view.Menu;
import android.view.MenuItem;

public class MainActivity extends ActionBarActivity {

    protected void onCreate(Bundle savedInstanceState) {

    public boolean onCreateOptionsMenu(Menu menu) {
        // Inflate the menu; this adds items to the action bar if it is present.
        getMenuInflater().inflate(, menu);
        return true;

    public boolean onOptionsItemSelected(MenuItem item) {
        // Handle action bar item clicks here. The action bar will
        // automatically handle clicks on the Home/Up button, so long
        // as you specify a parent activity in AndroidManifest.xml.
        int id = item.getItemId();

        //noinspection SimplifiableIfStatement
        if (id == {
            return true;

        return super.onOptionsItemSelected(item);

Running HelloWorld App

How you run your app depends on two things: whether you have a real Android-powered device and whether you're using Android emulator. This lesson shows you how to install and run your app on a real device and on the Android emulator.

Running HelloWorld on your phone

Let's run our program directly on the phone. The big advantage of using the phone to develop is that it is fast to load and run programs. In contrast the emulator discussed next runs slowly in comparison and is irritating to use for a course -- but it is a good back up. Before we get started plug your phone into your laptop using the USB port, as shown below. Android Studio installs the Hello World app on your connected phone and starts it.

Next, go to settings on your phone and select Developer option and then select USB debugging -- this will allow Android Studio to communicate with the phone to program it.

If you do not see developer option (circled on the image above) watch this video and it mystery will be revealed.

Basically the vendors and providers don't want that option accessible without enabling it -- for good reason. So as the video shows if you cannot see the developer options button, you should tap on the About phone button (under settings) and the click the Build number' button 7~8 times and voila -- now you see developer option. Now go in to developer option and select USB debugging.

If you app did not run

If for some reason you do not see the app running on the phone check that you see USB enabled in the status bar as indicated below

If it is not go make sure you clicked and enabled the USB debugging option, as discussed above.

If it did not work, unplug the USB cable and then plug it in again. See if a dialog shows up on your phone. If it does, check "Always allow from this computer" and click OK, as shown below.

Now after re-launch the app, you should see you HelloWorld on the phone.

Running HelloWorld on the Android Emulator

Now let's run the program on the emulator -- that's right it emulates the functionality of the phone as best it can. And for developers without a phone it allows them to run code, test and debug code. Code that runs on the emulator runs unchanged on the real device.

To run the app, disconnect your phone first, then click the run button in Android Studio. In Choose Device dialog, check Launch emulator and click OK as shown below. A device window will pop up. Android Studio will installs the app (the HelloWorld.apk) on your AVD and starts it. this could take sometime, so go for a coffee ;-)

It can take sometime to run the emulator. There are faster emulators out there but overall the one that comes with the ADT is just to slow to be useful.

Overall it took 5 minutes to start the emulator and run the app.