In today's mobile platform wars, it's not the size of your smartphone that matters - it's the number of apps you've got, and how well they work.
Google knows this much is true. On Thursday evening, the company launched Android Training classes, an effort to boost its app developer base in both breadth and quality.
"Each class explains the steps required to solve a problem, or implement a feature, with plenty of code snippets and sample code for you to use within your own apps," wrote Android developer relations tech lead Reto Meier in a company blog post.
Admittedly, it's more of a Phoenix U than an MIT. Currently, all of the "lessons" are available online via Android's Developer web site, with separate sections devoted to the nuanced challenges developers face when coding for the OS.
There are, however, more targeted categories for different types of developers and app strategies, including sections like "Developing for Enterprise," and tutorials focused on ad-based monetization strategies for apps.
In a technical sense, these classes are especially important considering some of the Android-specific issues that programmers must deal with. Case in point: the wide variety of screen sizes that results from providing the OS to dozens of hardware manufacturers for use on all manner of devices.
What's more, Google needs to beef up its app catalog in general. Currently, the Android ecosystem includes some 250,000 apps, and that's about 250,000 fewer than what Apple boasts in its App Store. It's an uphill battle, considering Apple's app momentum doesn't show signs of slowing.
This isn't the first time Google has taken to schooling developers. In August, the company hosted a series of workshops focused specifically on creating tablet-optimized apps. Dubbed Android Developer Labs (or ADLs), the aim was to boost the piddling number of Android tablet apps available in the Market, while simultaneously teaching developers tricks to improve app quality. The sessions were initially infrequent, with a handful occurring in the U.S., as well as an Indian session.
Of course, not all of Android's app problems can be fixed with better software development. Google has recently made headway in improving the Android Market itself, as the company launched a major interface overhaul in May and another in July for mobile devices.
Developer relations lead Meier says that this is a small step in the department's overall plans, and we should expect a greater offering of courses and tutorials over the coming months.
Posted by Janine E. Mooney, Editor
December 18, 2011