Author: Shane Conder & Lauren Darcey
Publisher: Addison Wesley, 2nd Edn, 2010
Aimed at: Intermediate Android programmers
Pros: Extensive API coverage
Cons: Sometimes not deep enough
Reviewed by: Harry Fairhead
I was puzzled by the title as the inclusion of the word "Wireless" lead me to expect something special. Perhaps something that concentrated on the wireless aspects of Android - what ever they might be. But no this is a standard Android book covering standard Android development.
The title isn't the only odd about this book. The first chapter is fairly bizarre when you compare it to the rest of the book. It is, reasonably enough, an introduction to Android but ... it covers the history of the mobile phone including a look at the original brick style phone and strange things like WAP that you can more or less forget. It does eventually get round to discussing the Android system but in a way that makes you suspect that the rest of the book is going to be disconnected and out-of-touch waffle.
Fortunately things start getting a bit better at Chapter 2 where we look at how to install the SDK and other development tools. Of course this is now already out of date because there is the option of Android 3 and various extras that you can work with. However the chapter does serve to give you the outline of what you need.
Chapter 3 gets you started running a full Android program that you can download from the website. I prefer a simple Hello World style first program but you might not
Part II of the book is all about design essentials, which roughly translates to the basic workings of an app. Chapter 4 outlines the anatomy of an Android application. The problem is that if you haven't got some experience of creating code the descriptions seem abstract and hence more difficult to understand.
If Chapter 4 suffers from being a little abstract then Chapter 5 brings you back to earth with a crash. It looks at the details of the manifest file. As this is mostly a matter of book keeping it could have been postponed until later while you looked at how to create an Android app. Then Chapter 6 explains in detail how to work with resources. Again a topic you have to master but probably not in this level of detail this early.
The next few chapters deal with the core UI framework and form part III of the book. Chapter 7 is all about the view and controls. Chapter 8 goes into detail about layout panels and chapter 9 extends the UI into drawing and animation.
Part IV singles out the various aspects of the API and covers them in great detail - data storage, content providers, the network APIs, web APIs, location APIs,multimedia, telephony, 3D graphics, the NDK, optional hardware APIs. This is perhaps the most valuable part of the book. The details that it provides aren't always enough but they will at least give you a good idea of what sorts of things you can do easily.
The next part of the book looks at "design principles" but in many ways it is just a look at more features like notifications. services, user accounts, synchronising data, targeting hardware configurations and so on.
Overall the book is probably worth getting just for Part IV and Part V and these two could be issued on their own!
Part VI looks a deployment and there is a fair amount of off-topic material here - unless you don't already know it in which case you might find it useful. Topics covered include debugging, testing, selling and so on. The book finishes with some useful appendices.
Overall this is not a book I would recommend to the complete beginner. You need to program in Java and be able to understand fairly high level explanations of the overall architecture. It also isn't a step-by-step book and it doesn't walk you though the construction of a complete Android application. It does have code snippets that show you how to do most of the standard tasks you need to master. However most of them are not explained in great detail so you will need to check the official documentation if you want to modify or extend them.
Despite its flaws this is a useful addition to your Android bookshelf as long as you are looking for general guidance about a particular topic and don't need to go too deep or have it explained in for the complete beginner. So with reservations it is recommended.