Android Studio vs. IntelliJ IDEA

Many Android new comers haven't experience the pain of Eclipse for Android development. When I started in 2009 it was the IDE and tool kit to use. IDEA from Jetbrains was around and had basic support for Android projects but it wasn't super compelling. In 2010 I made the switch and its been wonderful ever since. However it wasn't until Google I/O 2013 when they released the first version of Android Studio and even then it was a very subtle "we are probably going this direction but still love Eclipse" kind of move.

So beyond the mini history lesson, why does this matter? Because you can still use IntelliJ IDEA Community or Ultimate editions to build your Android apps and there are a couple of good reasons why I do this.

I find it more stable and up to date

Its true Android Studio is built using the open source Community edition, however, its often out of date. It took 6 months for Android Studio to upgrade from IDEA 15 to IDEA 16, which had some fantastic improvements

It does a lot more than just Android

If you find yourself working in multiple languages and frameworks IDEA Ultimate covers you more than Android Studio. I also find it way easier to create simple Java projects using IDEA, which is useful for sketching ideas or building pure Java or Kotlin libraries. If you are building a hybrid app, the web technology support is superior out of the box.

It can be configured without all the bloat

In my workflow I don't use many (if any) Google plugins. In Android Studio I choose to disable 10+ of them removing UI clutter and overhead. On the flip side, IDEA asks you up front what you do day to day to help customize your environment right from the start.

Worst case, its a great back up

If something just isn't right with your Android Studio, try IDEA. It could help sanity check if the issue is truly with your app, computer, or just Android Studio itself.

While IDEA Ultimate is my daily driver, I do still have Android Studio around. Many of the new utilities haven't made it into IDEA and in the off chance I need them its just a double click away.