Every year we see the same promise: this is the year that Android-first development will become a reality. At the same time we see big companies like Instagram repeatedly introduce new apps that are iOS-only. Android has been able to tout more market share than iOS for quite some time, but that doesn’t seem to have translated into app developers releasing Android apps at the same time as their iOS counterparts, much less Android-first. Over the past few weeks I’ve been talking with developers and researching why this is still the case.
A major reason not discussed in this article: the large companies – Twitter, Facebook, etc. – as well as the major technology press outlets, are all US-based, and clearly have a very US-centric view of the world (or maybe at the very least an Anglo-Saxon view). In the US, iOS and Android both sit at around ~45% market share, so it makes sense that developers working for these companies focus on iOS more than on Android, simply because iOS development tends to be an easier experience (I’m simply echoing what I hear from developers on both sides of the aisle). The same applies to the technology press.
Outside of the English-speaking countries, however, Android reigns supreme. If these companies had a more world-centric view, their Android efforts would surely improve – because as it stands right now, most major companies’ Android applications lag behind their iOS counterparts considerably. Over here in The Netherlands, though, every major new local application – banks, brands, stores, etc. – are always iOS+Android on day one.
It’d be great if American companies finally started getting their acts together too. Don’t assume that veteran iOS developers are automatically also good Android developers (they’re not), and hire real, proper Android developers. I translate English to Dutch, and my clients would never ask me to translate, I don’t know, Spanish documents into Dutch. Small indie Android developers have proven that, even if it may be a little harder, it’s perfectly possible to create Android applications that are just as good as, and often even better, than their iOS counterparts.
In 2015, there’s no excuse for releasing lousy, crappy Android applications. You only have yourself to blame.
You point to a very important point: development environment. In our shop, we find that developing for Android takes about three times longer due to dev-env problems and device fragmentations (yes, we still encounter Froyo users complaining!!!)
Not only is iOS a superior development experience, it’s the only platform that generates revenue for us.