Android enthusiasts, especially programmers, know that there’s no shortage of software to create Android apps – whether it’s Android Studio, tools for creating a hybrid apps like PhoneGap, or the “no coding experience necessary” WYSIWYG app-builders like Tiggzi. Because Android is an open-source, Linux-based OS, some might not realize that Microsoft’s Visual Studio has had Android development support for quite a while – but only now is Microsoft starting to become more vocal about it.

A slew of updates to Visual Studio in just recent weeks has added Linux and Mac compatibility – and Microsoft also launched Xamarin Live, a tool for testing and debugging Android apps without an emulator. This could prove to be a major leap forward for Windows-based Android developers.

Compared to other IDEs (integrated development environment), Visual Studio has its own pros and cons. Visual Studio offers remarkable cross-platform development support for C++ programmers, and being a native Windows IDE, it’s certainly less troublesome for non-Linux enthusiasts to get up and running. The drawbacks would be its over-abundance of GUIDs, and slower debugging compared to other IDEs. But if you’re interested in developing CPU-intensive apps in C++, Visual Studio is an IDE worth its price.

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