Android is large. Really large. According to analysis agency Gartner, 79% of all smartphones offered between April and June this 12 months have been operating Android: 177.9m handsets in comparison with Apple’s 31.9m iPhones.
Another analysis agency, IDC, estimates that 62.6% of tablets that shipped to retailers between April and June have been operating Android: 28.2m units versus 14.6m iPads.
Meanwhile, Google says that greater than 1.5m new Android units are being activated on daily basis, it is nearing 1bn activated in whole so far, and that by the tip of this 12 months that whole will embody greater than 70m Android tablets.
Big. Yet lots of apps still come out for Apple’s iOS first and even completely. Right now, in the event you personal an iOS gadget, you may play Plants vs. Zombies 2, Clash of Clans and Worms 3, however Android homeowners cannot.
Instagram launched on Android 18 months after iOS. Nike’s Nike+ FuelBand still hasn’t made the leap. Mailbox and Tweetbot are still no-shows, and whereas much-praised kids’s app-maker Toca Boca has 18 apps accessible on iOS, solely certainly one of them is additionally on Android.
This week, yet one more analysis agency, Canalys, fuelled the flames of this debate by mentioning that 30% of the 50 high paid and 50 high free iPad apps aren’t additionally accessible on Android – though 11 of the 30 un-ported apps have been made by Apple, so their Android-less standing is hardly a shock.
So what is going on on? If you are one of many thousands and thousands of latest Android clients questioning why you may’t get among the apps your Apple-owning mates can, right here are among the causes, evaluation of whether or not they’re truthful, and a few optimistic ideas on why this will likely change.
Developer considerations about prices and complexity
What? Developing iOS apps means making certain they work properly on a small vary of iPhones and/or iPads: usually 6-8 completely different units relying how far again the developer desires to go.
On Android, it is a completely different story: almost 12,000 completely different units on the market within the fingers of individuals, with a wider vary of display sizes, processors and variations of the Android software program still in use.
Many builders’ lack of enthusiasm for Android is right down to considerations not simply concerning the prices of constructing and testing their apps for it, but additionally the assets required to assist them as soon as they’re launched, if emails flood in about unspotted bugs on explicit fashions.
Is this truthful? Fragmentation, because it’s referred to as, is probably not solved, but it surely’s grow to be a more-manageable downside – and thus a less-convincing excuse for avoiding Android altogether.
Improved growth instruments are making porting simpler, and there is extra knowledge (together with Google’s personal) to assist builders determine which Android units to focus their energies on first. If they’re upfront with clients about which telephones and tablets their app will work on, the assist queries facet turns into much less daunting too.
That mentioned, many builders still desire to launch on iOS, iterate their app over a few updates in response to suggestions from their clients, then deal with Android – with additional time for testing to make sure the app works good, and has Android-specific options (widgets, for instance).
You might argue that these builders are making extra of an effort to serve Android clients, not much less. But that will not make the wait for some apps much less irritating.
Developer considerations about earnings and piracy
What? When builders are gradual to assist Android, it is typically not simply concerning the time and cash they will spend getting there – it is concern concerning the cash they will make as soon as on the platform.
It tends to be a two-pronged factor: first, the notion that Android clients are much less more likely to spend cash on or in apps, and second, the assumption that paid apps particularly endure from crippling ranges of piracy on Android.
Is this truthful? Piracy on Android is a reality: builders of paid apps who maintain an in depth eye on their analytics typically discover tons extra individuals utilizing them than have truly purchased them on a retailer like Google Play. Games endure particularly from this.
Yet a.) piracy is additionally a reality of life on iOS via some parts of its jailbreaking neighborhood, b.) it is all the time tough to work out how many pirates signify genuinely-lost gross sales – would they’ve purchased the app in any other case? – and c.) if an app is free (or freemium) then piracy is a lot much less of a headache.
On the Android-users-less-keen-to-pay level, it is true that iOS is still extra profitable for builders. Apple has paid out greater than $10bn to its builders, whereas Google hasn’t given comparable figures.
Analytics firm Distimo estimated that in April 2013, in the event you added the revenues from iOS’ App Store and Android’s Google Play collectively, their respective shares can be 73% and 27%. But a 12 months earlier than, that had been extra like 81% and 19%.
It’s bettering, in different phrases, and because it does, extra apps come out for iOS and Android concurrently, or no less than take much less lengthy to leap from the previous to the latter.
Developers are still in Apple’s again pocket
Why do not some builders assist Android? Because they’re lickspittle Cupertino-loving blinkered Apple fanboys, as are the journalists who write about their apps, and anybody else who praises iOS and/or criticises Android. Or so the speculation goes.
Is this truthful? Obviously not, though I’m most likely being paid by Apple to put in writing that…
No, critically, some iOS builders deal with that platform alone as a result of they like Apple and/or aren’t that eager on Android. But for others it is extra a assets challenge – small studios and startups choosing one platform after they’re simply beginning out (see: Instagram).
And there is a component, I believe, of some app builders wanting to remain in Apple’s good books by supporting its units first or completely: hoping for promotion within the App Store, a fleeting look in Apple’s adverts, and possibly even a slot on-stage at certainly one of its press launches.
It’s no secret that Apple likes builders who use (appropriately, clearly) the whizzy options of its units, and the brand new parts of its annual software program replace for iOS. Choosing to prioritise iOS over Android is generally a part of this want to maintain within the firm’s good books too.
But issues are altering…
Owning an Android gadget in 2013 is much less bleak on the apps entrance than, say, in 2009. The issues outlined above have all been bettering – or no less than changing into much less of a difficulty – over time. Meanwhile, the sheer scale of Android is making it price many extra builders’ whereas to get their apps onto Google-powered units as rapidly as potential.
That enchancment may be seen within the Canalys research. Stripping out the Apple apps, 19 of the 100 hottest iPad apps aren’t on Android. A 12 months in the past, that determine would have been a lot increased.
Industry analyst Benedict Evans put it neatly in a weblog publish earlier this month.
“Developers are beginning to transfer from creating new merchandise on the premise ‘iPhone, then possibly Android’ to ‘iPhone after which Android’ and even ‘iPhone and Android on the similar time’. Cool little apps from seed-funded firms are still iPhone-only, however most large well-funded companies are doing each.
Android is now not non-compulsory for any writer searching for actual attain. This applies much more in case your app is free, since Android obtain charges are a lot nearer to iOS than are Android cost charges (and naturally ‘free’ doesn’t suggest no income).”
Evans thinks the steadiness could tilt even additional, and that extra builders will go Android-first in 2014 except Apple takes motion – therefore the prospect of the corporate launching a less expensive iPhone to seize some market share again from Android.
So sure, in the event you personal an Android gadget, you still get some apps late or by no means. But it occurs lower than it used to, there’s an enormous pipe of attention-grabbing stuff being released – see this weblog’s 50 greatest Android apps from 2013 so far article, or the weekly roundup of 20 new Android apps for proof there.
But stepping exterior the ill-tempered flame wars about Apple versus Google, iOS versus Android and Cupertino fanboys versus Mountain View apologists…
The larger level right here is that the competitors between these two platforms is excellent news for clients of each, as Apple and Google battle to win the hearts, minds and roadmaps of app builders with higher units, extra options and improved methods for us to search out the apps that they create because of this.