Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 24th Mar 2014 10:57 UTC
PDAs, Cellphones, Wireless

Fantastic article about design on Android by Cennydd Bowles, design lead at Twitter.

Android design is indeed more difficult than iOS design in that it offers fewer constraints. But any skilled designer can handle that with a bit of effort. My uncharitable interpretation for this class of responses is simple laziness, and if Android forces designers to drop a pixel-perfect mentality and adopt approaches that suit a diverse world, then that’s no bad thing.

The evidence is out there for all to see. Android developers - developers who are Android-focused instead of iOS-focused - come up with absolutely beautiful Android applications all the time. I have no doubt that it's harder to do so on Android than it is on iOS, but the cold and harsh truth is that there are also a hell of a lot more Android users and devices out there. If your iOS application requires two full-time developers, is it really fair to expect your Android application to require the same, even though the user base is four to five times as large?

A translation consisting of 3000 words takes me about a work day. A translation of 12000 words takes me four work days. None of my clients expects me to translate 12000 words in the same amount of time as 3000 words without a serious degradation in quality.

Bowles also dives into the argument that Android users are less willing to pay than iOS users.

Socially, excluding Android users seems almost prejudicial. Unlike Android is difficult, this isn't about about mere convenience; it's a value judgment on who is worth designing for. Put uncharitably, the root issue is "Android users are poor".

If you are an iOS developer, and you port your Android application over as a side-project, is it really so surprising that Android users aren't buying your application? Could it simply be that your potentially poor iOS-to-Android port simply isn't even worth paying for? If you do not develop and design with Android's strengths in mind, Android users won't be as willing to pay as your iOS users, the platform whose strengths you do develop and design for.

I translate English into Dutch, and since this is my speciality, I'm pretty good at it and my clients are willing to pay good money for my services. I could also translate German into Dutch, but since my German isn't nearly as good as my English, my clients aren't going to pay for it. I can translate German into Dutch just fine, but the quality will be far less than my English-to-Dutch translations.

Even then, Android's userbase is far larger than iOS', so even if only 50% of your Android users pay, and 100% of your iOS users (unlikely figures), Android still provides a more worthwhile revenue stream.

Still, the core issue is that Android is a different platform and ecosystem than iOS, with different strengths and weaknesses, and as such, requires different talents and mindsets. Translating English is different than translating German. I realise that. Developers should realise the same, and understand that being a good iOS developer does not make you a good Android developer - or vice versa.

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It's All About Return On Investment
by fmaxwell on Mon 24th Mar 2014 16:01 UTC
fmaxwell
Member since:
2005-11-13

Instead of suggesting that many iOS developers are lazy or unskilled, the author might want to consider the economics -- specifically the return on investment (ROI) for developing on each platform.

In an interview with All Things Digital, Bob Bowman, CEO of Major League Baseball’s Advanced Media division, said that, “the Android user typically is less likely to buy, and therefore the ROI on developing for Android is different than it is for Apple.” Benoit Essiambre, creator of the “Speed Anatomy” app for both iOS and Android, broke down how his application sells on both platforms, noting that he receives roughly 50% less from the combined paid and ad supported versions of his app on Android compared to its sales on iTunes.

Along with less lucrative sales, there are higher development and support costs for Android, with the plethora of devices and so many active versions of the Android OS making it a developer's minefield. If you're going to see 50% of the revenue, why would you invest 200% of the effort?

Reply Score: 2

daddio Member since:
2007-07-14

This is the innovators dilemma.

...and the answer is that you (probably) won't invest more into something that returns less.

Others will, perhaps those who have less to lose, and could be satisfied with those returns that are lower than what you enjoy.

...and in a few years they will be eating your lunch.

Reply Parent Score: 4

fmaxwell Member since:
2005-11-13

...and in a few years they will be eating your lunch.


No, in a few years, they will be bankrupt. Getting less income for more investment is how companies fold, not how they succeed. You're living an Android fantasy world if you think otherwise -- it's simple economics.

Developers are flocking to iOS because iOS development and support costs less, iOS users buy more apps, spend more money on the apps they buy, spend more on in-app-advertised products, and have more disposable income.

Reply Parent Score: 1