Today we use our smartphones to do every little task which was once possible only on a PC or laptop, similarly, you can perform programming on Android phones or tablets too, for this you only need to have the right IDE and text editors.
You won’t find too much information on using a phone as an environment to develop apps and sites. Unless and until you are very specific, searching the net shall lead you to a page regarding code and debug apps that run on mobile phones.
But for now, you have landed on the correct page as we have collected, researched and analyzed what you will require to start coding from your phone...
How To Program on an Android Phone/Tablet (Everything you need)
Integrated Development Environment, Editors and Source Viewers
First things first, to develop your phone you need to have a source-code editor. With this, you can create and edit text files that have been written in different programming languages. To put the long story short, this is where you write your code.
Just like the desktop editor, the Android tool is a lot easier to navigate and highly customizable by modifying the font size, color schemes and much more. Along with this, it offers simple cut, copies and pastes features. Now, what else you want in an editor would be the ability to handle UTF-8 encoded text and highlight syntax.
If you go to PlayStore then it has many popular text editors but chooses the one which is both popular and free. If you know about Vim or Nano, then it has an Android version and some features are laid out to make touchscreen editing more bearable.
AIDE – IDE
This is used to develop Android applications from the Android device directly. If you are a developer of Java, this is a great option. With this, you can also perform C and C++ development. It offers lessons to learn Android app development and java programming.
- It carries interactive lessons for Android, Java and game development,
- Just with a single click you can edit, compile and run code and the best part no root access is needed.
- Helps to debug java applications and java console applications.
- Perform real-time error checking and code refactoring.
Dcoder – A full Compiler on mobile
This mobile coding IDE has been designed primarily to hone your skills in coding on your smartphone device. Why it is on the list? Well, it is a complete package to both learn and comprehend programming languages from C to Ruby and much more.
It is rich in features and includes a rich text editor which supports syntax highlighting and gives you the edge a compiler can give. Make sure an active 4G or WiFi is available as it is not available without the internet.
Along with coding, you can debug code to see compilation errors and results on one screen. It is similar to Notepad++ or sublime text with compilation power. It shall offer you custom themes as well, editable font size if you are an editor and a lot more. With this, you can also make in-app purchases.
C4droid for C/C++ programs
This is a popular IDE compiler for the Android platform. It is user-friendly which means even if you are a beginner you won’t find any difficulty. You can both write and run C and C++ programs on your system directly. Well, the app does not come in free you need to pay, overall a great application to use.
- No root access.
- The graphical User Interface is customizable.
- You can create your own apps and run them without the internet.
- It provides support to Git integration.
- Full ANSI C and ISO C99 support with TCC (Tiny C Compiler) + uClibc.
- It has a source code editor with syntax highlighting, tabs, code completion, code formatting, file association and undo/redo.
Pocket Editor – Edit code on the fly
It is a product by Our Code World. This is used as IDE, text editor and code editor for Android. With this you can perform syntax highlighting, code completion and other features for the following languages:
- Python, R, Perl, Lua
- Go, Rust, Elixir, Elm, TypeScript
- Cobol, Fortran, Pascal, Ada, and Assembly
- YAML, TOML, and Markdown
- PHP and SQL language support.
- Java, C, C++, C#, Objective-C, Swift, Kotlin
It is rich in features. Though it is closed-source it comes in free and carries no ads which is a relief.
Use a Reputable and Flexible File Manager and Source Viewer
If you ask anyone especially an Android freak why he prefers this platform to iOS he’ll simply say because it comes with a file manager application that offers the ability to create folders and move files around. If we talk about these apps then these are limited for the programmer as they don’t show the entire data on a smartphone device.
You need to an explorer for each program you write or application you build as they shall be represented as a file and it shall provide you with the flexibility to find out and manipulate files as you like.
We suggest ES File Manager; it is a free file explorer. With this, you can copy, move, rename and easily share files. The basics only.
View source code of any app, program, or site instantly is necessary if you are developing a web-based application. It lets you open the source code by typing in the URL address there on the browser.
You can find View Source Mobile as an add-on for different browsers including Opera Mobile, Dolphin and Firefox. As an alternative, you can also get an application by the name of VT View Source which is a stand-alone browser that shall offer the same capabilities as the add-on along with some extra features to developers.
Create a testing environment
If you are a developer of a site and web-based apps then you need to server to store files that can be easily accessed by the target users through the internet.
Whenever someone from around the globe visits your site or uses your application online then what happens is that his browser communicates with your web browser and then exchanges information to determine what shall be shown on the screen of the visitor who lands. Popular site hosts include HostGator and Godaddy which provide cheap servers to host online applications.
You can easily build local web servers with XAMPP and WAMP which are one of the best web server packages but you can get the same features on Android. Palapa Web Server is the best which gives you MySQL, PHP and Lighttpd all pre-configured into a single, free stack package but beware when you try to run a local server on an Android device is expensive and might not have the specs to handle it. You can also create a web server in Python with less effort. It only requires running a couple of commands in sequences.
Take it a step further: Root your Android device
The above-mentioned tools are more than enough but there are other applications through which you can expand your exploits, especially when you have rooted your device.
If your intention is to be an active mobile programmer then you might want to grant and revoke permissions manually to applications that can access root privileges. SuperSU is a great option that shall control a rooted mobile device.
Remember that your phone is not a system without a command line. As Android Terminal Emulator offers great utilities on its own you need to get BusyBox Free which shall add more GNU or Linux features to the Terminal Emulator.
Should you really code on Android – Is it worth it?
Yes, you can but be clear of one thing to learn coding a mobile is not an essential need if you intend to practice code or wish to run code then the device matters a lot.
Realistically, you will not learn to code overnight, it will take a good few months. Some resources to get started are Youtube and Udemy are good platforms. What you can do is select a channel and start to learn. Besides this, there are many other sites, apps, and online courses as well. Great free resources include Khan Academy and Code Academy.
Moreover, you also need to have a keyboard to write different kinds of syntax and on mobile phones, normal keyboards are not enough to write them so you need to write all code syntaxes quite smoothly.
Android phones have become very powerful in recent years. Their processing capability and RAM are the same as laptops and desktops. Programming on Android is possible if you have the correct IDE, apps and knowledge in place. I hope our article was helpful in making you able to start editing and compiling any type of code from your phone!