Enhancing Your Applications Android

One of Android’s most compelling features as a platform is its approach to application interoperability. Unlike the mobile development platforms of the past, which simply allowed each simple application to run in its own little bubble, Android allows applications to share data and functionality with other applications and the rest of the operating system in a secure and reasonable fashion. After you’ve developed your core application, it’s time to give some thought as to how to extend the application’s reach beyond the traditional use case, which is

  1. User launches the app.
  2. User runs the app.
  3. User closes the app.

Although it’s certainly necessary to support that particular scenario, it’s not the only way that users can interact with your app or its features. The Android framework includes a number of ways to move beyond this paradigm. You can extend and enhance Android applications in a variety of ways, including

  • Exposing small segments of application functionality in the form of App Widgets, which can reside on the user’s Home screen.
  • Providing users with an interactive background associated with your application in the form of a live wallpaper.
  • Enabling users to organize application data for quick and easy access using live folders.
  • Making application content searchable across the device.
  • Enabling your application to act as a content type handler, exposing the ability to process common types of data such as pictures or videos.
  • Acting as content providers, thus exposing internal data for use by other applications, as well as taking advantage of other content providers to enhance your applications, as discussed in Chapter “Sharing Data Between Applications with Content Providers.”
  • Enabling different application entry points using intent filters above and beyond the default Activity to launch.
  • Acting as a broadcast receiver to react to important events that occur and by broadcasting application events of interest to other applications.
  • By acting as a service, providing data services and special functionality to other applications, and enhancing your application with other services (system services or other applications’ services), as discussed in Chapter “Working with Services.”

This is where we encourage you to think outside the box and consider how to extend the reach of your applications. By doing so, you keep your application fresh in your users’ minds so they continually rely on your application and don’t forget about it. Now let’s look at some of the options listed in more detail.

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