Once I got an Android phone, I think it was inevitable that I would start building apps for the Android platform. It was just a question of when, and that has now been answered.

This weekend I fooled around with building my own Android app. The idea I had in mind was to build an app that would tell me when the next VIVA bus would arrive. They have this information on their website, but you need to know a cryptic bus stop ID, punch everything into their form, and then read their page. An app is simple and straightforward.

The Android platform is pretty easy to use, much easier to get started than the Eclipse platform (which I do at work). They have a lot of good tools and assists that allow you to get going pretty quickly. One benefit that I like, coming from the Eclipse world, is the ability to quickly mock up UIs using XML and pre-existing controls. For example, the Preferences screen was surprisingly easy to do!

I was also able to embed a Google Map and plot the bus stops onto it pretty easily. Actually the most difficult part of this was to manually enter all the bus stop data (i.e., GPS coordinates) into an XML file.

It takes longer to build and polish than a web app, but building an Android app is still pretty easy!