AIDE – Develop Android Apps on Android

Android Java IDE (mobile Eclipse)

During the past month or so, I’ve been testing a number of different apps on my Asus Transformer Prime tablet. The landscape form factor, coupled with a built-in keyboard make the Transformer a very different beast to most other Android devices.

While I’ve found the device great for gaming, basic productivity and email applications, I still needed my desktop for one important task – developing Android apps. Eclipse doesn’t run on Android, and for a long time there was no suitable Java IDE which could compile Android apps natively on the ARM architecture.

Along comes AIDE. The app’s description on the Android Market / Google Play states:

AIDE is an integrated development environment (IDE) for developing real Android Apps directly on Android devices. AIDE supports the full edit-compile-run cycle: write code with the feature rich editor offering advanced features like code completion, real-time error checking, refactoring and smart code navigation, and run your App with a single click.

Yep, that’s right. AIDE is not only a great Java editor. It can actually compile your Android apps, and then run them directly on the device itself.

This app provides a complete development environment on your Android phone or tablet. A pretty powerful code editor is provided, with basic real-time code completion and syntax checking. And it’s compatible with Eclipse projects too.

When coupled with a decent physical keyboard, AIDE can be a very powerful tool for developing and testing Android apps. Especially if you’re on the go and want to make a quick change to your Dropbox-synced Android project. AIDE would be the perfect tool for this situation – quick & easy mobile access to your code, and the ability to compile & debug the app without ever touching a computer.

For now, I’ll still be using Eclipse on my workstation to develop apps. I need the advanced SVN integration available on the desktop, as well as fast file-switching and copy/paste. This stuff is simply too slow or difficult on Android for me to use it as my primary development device.

That said, AIDE represents a huge step forward for the Android platform, and with a few tweaks could become an essential tool in the Android developer’s arsenal. I’d definitely recommend you check it out. At the very least, just to impress your iPhone-dev friends (“Hey Joe, look what my Android phone can do! Yep, just like Inception… an app within an app!”)