I have my android app displaying a polyline shapefile file - a roading network in this case.
The shape file has a field that contains the name of the road "ROAD_NAME' - the question i have is how do i create a layer to have the road name automatically displayed?
Is the Shapefile being directly read from your device? Unfortunately, labeling isn't supported yet in this use case. This is coming in the next major release, Quartz.
The Final release of Quartz is targeted for mid-2016. That is the target as of today.
Between now and then, there will be another Beta.
The current Beta 1 is open for you to try right now. You can get it at http://earlyadopter.esri.com/
But it doesn't have shapefile labeling in it.