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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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

WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

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.


I don't know about the disposable income part, as I am an Android user and have plenty of it, but this guy speaks the truth. What it boils down to is that, for whatever reason, iOS users spend more money, and is apparently easier to develop for, so that's where devs give the majority of their attention.

On the other hand, Android is steadily making Apple a niche player in the mobile market, so in the next few years, the number of iOS users left may be too small to make a real difference anymore.

Reply Parent Score: 4

jared_wilkes Member since:
2011-04-25

The number of iOS users continues to increase. They decrease as a percentage of smartphone users but actually increase as a percentage of all mobile users.

I've long argued that Apple has developed a sustainable ecosystem (an ecosystem that may not be larger than the entire PC and/or console market(s) yet but already as attractive). I don't see an ecosystem selling 9 figures worth of devices per year (particularly when those 9 figures worth of devices require targeting just a handful of form factors, hardware specs, and software features and has a large number of benefits from a tight but feature-rich ecosystem) as becoming so unattractive that developers are pushed away from it. Certainly not in the "next few years". Maybe if Apple had plateaued and then lost share in the US and Japan back in 2010 rather than growing to nearly half the market, but we're long past that chance to truly marginalize the iOS ecosystem.

Edited 2014-03-24 18:04 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

fmaxwell Member since:
2005-11-13

I don't know about the disposable income part, as I am an Android user and have plenty of it


No offense was intended. I'm speaking about published statistical averages, not you personally.

On the other hand, Android is steadily making Apple a niche player in the mobile market, so in the next few years, the number of iOS users left may be too small to make a real difference anymore.


What matters is who spends money. Apple still sells about 21% of the smartphones in the U.S. and they hold a massive lead over Android among those with high incomes and/or advanced degrees.

Someone with a low-end, free-after-activation Android phone probably just wanted a free phone on which he can check e-mail, take pictures, and do light web browsing. He's unlikely to spend a lot of money on applications.

Unless Google finds a way to reign in Android development and support costs, many developers will stick with Apple. Android vendors often let non-current phones languish with horribly outdated versions of the OS. Many phones that meet all of the hardware requirements for later versions of the Android OS cannot get those upgrades because the manufacturer has shelved all development and support efforts for the non-current phones.

Apple is much better about that, with iOS 7.x being backwards compatible to all phones back to the almost four year old iPhone 4. It was released in September of last year and, already, iOS 7.x is on well over 80% of iOS devices. By contrast, Android 4.x, first released in 2011, is on a smaller percentage of applicable devices than the half-year-old iOS 7.x.

Reply Parent Score: 1

rocwurst Member since:
2014-03-24

Apple has sold 800 million iOS devices compared to 1.2 billion Android activations. Last year alone Apple sold 237 million iOS devices.

Last quarter Apple sold 870,000 iOS devices a day compared to Google's 1.5 million daily activations.

That's a damn big niche.

Edited 2014-03-24 22:09 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 1

JAlexoid Member since:
2009-05-19

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.


Getting less profits does not make you lose money.

Reply Parent Score: 3

fmaxwell Member since:
2005-11-13

"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.


Getting less profits does not make you lose money.
"

Who said you would realize any profits?

Reply Parent Score: 0

ezraz Member since:
2012-06-20

"...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.
"

add to that iOS users enjoy their device more, enjoy their tech support, enjoy their purchase overall more, and also integrate that iPhone with several other apple products that exhibit the same ease of use and stability.

android is a knockoff and everyone knows that. it's a good product and sure enough cheap androids have flooded the market, but most android's aren't "smart" phones because most of the users can't find or won't use it's advanced features.

Reply Parent Score: 0