Beginning Android 4 is published by Apress, and retails for £31.49 (although you can buy it now for £22.04).

Android 4, otherwise known as Ice Cream Sandwich (or ICS), is that latest iteration of Google’s mobile operating system, Android. With a host of new mobile devices due out which will run ICS and several devices already in market that will be updated to run ICS, it is the operating system that all Android app developers should have a working knowledge of. 

Beginning Android 4 is, according to its publishers 'your first step on the path to creating marketable apps for the burgeoning Android Market, Amazon's AndroidAppstore, and more'.

But despite its name and this spiel, this book by itself won’t allow someone new to programming to sit down and create a useful app - the book, quite rightly, comes with a caution that you will need to have a good knowledge of Java programming to make real progress. See also Group test: what's the best programming software?

With this in mind, it is easy to see that the book is targeted at existing programmers with some knowledge of Android and Java, and who are used to the way that code is laid out and require little explanation on structure and terminology.  If you want to start developing apps, and don’t have the pre-requisite knowledge of Android, then you might want to consider reading this book’s pre-cursor Android Apps for Absolute Beginners.
 
In more than 500 pages and using worked examples all the way through, Beginning Android 4 will take you through the creation and simulation of a basic functional app. Then chapter by chapter, the book builds on previous examples and knowledge, showing different ways to accomplish similar tasks, while introducing some more advanced functionality that Android offers. Many of the examples worked through in the book are downloadable from the publisher’s website, meaning that you can see the end result of the code as working apps.

All of the major areas of the core of all of the more recent Android releases are covered in Beginning Android 4, so you can begin to use maps, GPS, phone functions and deal with screen sizes from the biggest tablet right down to the smallest low res mobile displays, with a whole lot of other areas covered on the way.

Once you’re up to speed with the content of the book and ready to move to professional level, its very comprehensive (if slightly confused) index means that it will make a good reference book for the future. After all, I somehow doubt that I’m the only programmer out there who still occasionally references beginner’s books on a language!

You might find it a peculiarity that a lot (actually, almost all) of the new feature content for Android 4 isn't covered in the book – notably the API revisions and introductions for Social, Calendar, Camera, Voicemail, Beam... and so the list goes on.  But that probably doesn’t really matter. There’s an easy argument to make that the scope of the book is to build on your foundation knowledge of Android generally, at which point some of the Android 4 specifics become irrelevant.

If you understand the basics of Android already, and are comfortable with Java, then this book gives you everything you need to start developing yourself into a competent app developer.

Beginning Android 4: Specs

  • Author: Allen, Grant ISBN: 1430239840 ISBN 13: 9781430239840 Published by: Apress Date Published: Jan 2012 User level: Programmer - Beg/Int Number of pages: 582
  • Author: Allen, Grant ISBN: 1430239840 ISBN 13: 9781430239840 Published by: Apress Date Published: Jan 2012 User level: Programmer - Beg/Int Number of pages: 582

OUR VERDICT

It doesn't have much info that's specific to Android 4.0, and absolute beginners need not apply, but Beginning Android 4 will be a useful reference for app developers.