Building my first Android app

One of my modules this last semester was ‘Mobile Devices and Applications’. For our coursework, we were tasked to make an m-Health app for Android which would allow people to perform ‘mini game’-like tasks to assess how alcohol affects cognition. Users can test themselves while drinking alcohol and compare their performance to a baseline established while sober. The app was called ‘Amulet’ and includes 3 different tasks for the user to test themselves with, a drink diary to keep track of units consumed, and a unit calculator.

This was my first time using Java and Android. I found that Eclipse (an IDE used to develop Android apps) was incredibly awful to use. With tools like this, I don’t understand how Android became so popular with developers. It makes sense from consumers perspective because the phones are cheap and full-featured. It’s slow, clunky, and gives errors too often. The project system makes no sense. For example, to open a project that you might have created on a different computer, you have to go File > New and use an import wizard. That’s crazy.

One of the things I did like was the helpful ‘quick fixes’ that let you resolve issues quickly in your code. The Android Emulator was also very slow if you don’t use the Intel mode. I’ve heard the Genymotion emulator (link) is very good, though I didn’t use it myself. Another good thing was the adapters. They are classes used to present data in a ListView. They’re good because they combined data binding, converters, sorting, and filtering into a single class. I wonder if something similar is possible in C#?

Here are some screenshots of the app in action. I tried to make it appeal to young drinkers, and kept the dark theme as it would most likely be used at night. The demonstration was on the same day as hand-in, so it was unusual to get results back so quickly. I’m very happy to say I received 100% marks, putting me in a good place for the exam later this month.

I also updated my portfolio on Behance to include this project - see here. I suppose I will try Android again for one of my own projects at some point, but it really makes me appreciate how right Microsoft got Windows Phone 8, Visual Studio, and their emulator.