Feb '11

Deploy to Android – the Drop-dead Easy Way

As you’re building an Android app, you obviously need to test (often). But that means either deploying to the AVD (Android Virtual Device), ie the Android emulator, or actually putting it on a real phone/tablet. Using the emulator is, well, painful. Not only is it one of the slowest pieces of software I’ve ever seen, it isn’t “really” a phone and doesn’t “feel” responsive. In fact, I’ve seen weird behavior in the emulator that I didn’t see when the app moved to a real device.

But moving an app to your device means plugging it in, turning on USB storage mode (and thereby dumping access to your SD card from the phone while it is in that mode), copying the file over and then installing it – and potentially then, turning off USB storage, etc. It’s such a painful process that I started even dreading doing it — crossing my fingers that everything was working properly and continuing to code until absolutely, positively the last minute, and only then connecting my phone.

Then it hit me – there is a MUCH simpler way… in fact, it was a firm face-palm! Dropbox! Doh! That’s right, simply sign up for a free account, and then use the Dropbox application to add easy access to Dropbox right from your OS. Download the free app from the Marketplace on your Android devices and sign in. Now, I just compile and copy the apk file into my designated Dropbox folder. On the device, a single tap and the app is downloaded and installed! You gotta love it when the simplest solution was staring you in the face all along.


6 Responses to “Deploy to Android – the Drop-dead Easy Way”

  1. trev Says:

    I have usb debug enabled on my phone, doesn’t need to access the SD card to install. Guess only ok for small apps though

  2. Greg Says:

    True enough, but it is still a pain to have to plug the thing into the USB. I have 3 or 4 devices that I regularly test on, so that means plugging in, unplugging, plugging the next device in, etc. So, either way, I’m finding Dropbox to be invaluable in my workflow…

  3. Paul Trani Says:

    Good idea Greg! I’ll have to start doing that. On the Macbook Pros you do quickly run out of USB ports. I like it!

  4. Mike Cizenski Says:

    I’ve been doing the Dropbox method for awhile now, the main reason being that my ‘special’ usb cable for my Galaxy Tab is often left at home.

    What I don’t understand is once in awhile when I re-install an app it fails and won’t install until I have uninstalled the previous version. It doesn’t happen consistantly. I haven’t been changing the app version between builds either.

  5. Greg Says:

    Interesting because I’ve had that happen too, but thought it was just a fluke. Even so, still better than the “special” cables!

  6. Son Dao Says:

    This is brilliant!

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