If Android is so popular, why are so many apps still released for iOS first? | apps

Android is big. Really great. According to research firm Gartner, 79% of all smartphones sold between April and June this year were running Android: 177.9 million compared to Apple’s 31.9 million iPhones.

Another research firm, IDC, estimates that 62.6% of the tablets shipped to retailers between April and June were running Android: 28.2 million versus 14.6 million iPads.

Meanwhile, Google says that more than 1.5 million new Android devices are activated every day, and nearly one billion have been activated in total so far, and by the end of this year, that total will include more than 70 million Android tablets.

Big. However, a lot of apps are still released for iOS from Apple first or even exclusively. For now, if you own an iOS device, you can play Plants vs.

Instagram launched on Android 18 months after iOS. Nike’s Nike + FuelBand still didn’t make the leap. Mailbox and Tweetbot are yet to be shown, and while critically acclaimed kids app maker Toca Boca has 18 apps available on iOS, only one of them is also on Android.

This week, another research firm, Canalys, fueled the controversy by noting that 30% of the top 50 paid and 50 free iPad apps are also not available on Android — even though 11 of the 30 were not moved. They are made by Apple, so their non-Android status is no surprise.

what’s going? If you’re one of the millions of new Android users who are wondering why you can’t get some of the apps your friends who own Apple can get, here are some reasons, an analysis of whether they’re fair, and some optimistic thoughts on why this might change.

Android hash

Developer concerns about costs and complexity

when? Developing iOS apps means making sure they run well on a small set of iPhone and/or iPad devices: generally 6-8 different devices depending on how long the developer wants to go.

On Android, it’s a different story: nearly 12,000 different devices are in people’s hands, with a wide range of screen sizes, processors, and Android software versions still in use.

Many developers’ lack of enthusiasm for Android is due to concerns not only about the costs of building and testing their apps for it, but also the resources required to support them once they’re launched, in case emails flood in about unnoticed bugs on certain models.

Is this fair? Fragmentation, as it’s called, may not go away, but it’s becoming a more manageable problem – and thus a less compelling excuse to avoid Android altogether.

Improved development tools make porting easier, and there’s more data (including Google data) to help developers decide which Android devices to focus their energies on first. If they are upfront with users about the phones and tablets their app will work on, the aspect of support inquiries becomes less difficult as well.

However, many developers still prefer running on iOS, iterating their app on multiple updates in response to user feedback, and then dealing with Android — all the while taking extra time to test to make sure the app works well, has Android-specific features (widgets, for example). example).

You could say that these developers are making more effort to serve Android users, not less. But that might not make waiting for some apps any less frustrating.

Distimo . scheme

Developer concerns about profits and piracy

when? When developers are slow to support Android, it’s often not about the money and time they spend to get there – it’s about the money they’ll make once on the platform.

It tends to be a two-fold thing: first, the perception that Android users are less likely to spend money on or into apps, and second, the belief that paid apps in particular suffer from crippling levels of Android hacking.

Is this fair? Android Hacking Fact: Paid app developers who keep a close eye on their analytics often see more people using them than they actually bought from a store like Google Play. Games especially suffer from this.

However, a) hacking is also a fact of life on iOS by some elements of the jailbreaking community, b) it’s always hard to know how many hackers really are missing sales – would they have bought the app otherwise? – and c.) If the app is free (or free), then piracy is not a problem.

For Android users who are less eager to pay, it’s true that iOS is still more lucrative for developers. Apple paid more than 10 billion dollars to its developers, while Google did not provide comparable figures.

Analytics firm Distimo estimated that in April 2013, if you added revenue from the iOS App Store and Google Play for Android together, their respective shares would be 73% and 27%. But in the previous year, that percentage was closer to 81% and 19%.

In other words, it’s getting better, and as it is, more apps for iOS and Android appear simultaneously, or at least it takes longer to go from the first to the last.

App Store

Developers are still in Apple’s back pocket

Why some developers do not support Android? Because they are fans of Cupertino’s lickspittle, as are journalists who write about their apps and anyone else who praises iOS and/or criticizes Android. Or so the theory says.

Is this fair? Obviously not, although I would probably get paid by Apple to write that…

No, seriously, some iOS developers focus on this platform alone because they love Apple and/or aren’t keen on Android. But for others, it’s more about resources – small studios and startups choose one platform when they’re just getting started (see: Instagram).

And there’s an element, I suspect, in some app developers’ desire to stay on Apple’s good books by supporting its hardware first or exclusively: the hope of an upgrade in the App Store, a fleeting appearance in Apple ads, and perhaps even an in-stage slot in one of its press releases.

It’s no secret that Apple loves developers who (appropriately, obviously) take advantage of the great features of its devices, and the new elements of iOS’ annual software update. Sometimes choosing to prioritize iOS over Android is part of this desire to keep good company books on too.

But things are changing…

Having an Android device in 2013 is less bleak in interface than it was in 2009. All of the issues described above have improved—or at least become less significant—over time. Meanwhile, the sheer size of Android makes it worth a lot of developers to move their apps to Google-powered devices as quickly as possible.

This improvement can be seen in the Canalys study. Excluding Apple apps, 19 of the 100 most popular iPad apps are not on Android. A year ago, this number was much higher.

Industry analyst Benedict Evans penned it neatly in a blog post earlier this month.

“Developers are starting to move from creating new products based on ‘iPhone, then maybe Android’ to ‘iPhone and then Android’ or even ‘iPhone and Android at the same time.’” Still, cool little apps from funded companies from the ground up are iPhone-only, But most large, well-funded companies do both.

Android is no longer optional for any publisher seeking real access. This is even more true if your app is free, since Android download rates are much closer to iOS than Android pay rates (and of course “free” doesn’t mean no earnings). “

Evans thinks the balance may tilt even further, and that more developers will go to Android first in 2014 unless Apple takes action — hence the possibility of the company launching a cheaper iPhone to capture some market share from Android.

So yes, if you own an Android device, you still get some apps late or not at all. But it’s happening less than it used to be, and there’s a huge range of interesting things coming out – see the 50 Best Android Apps article in this blog from 2013 to date, or the Weekly 20 New Android Apps Report for clues there. .

But coming out of the nasty flame wars over Apple vs. Google, iOS vs. Android, and Cupertino Fanboys vs. Mountain View Defenders…

The biggest point here is that the competition between these two platforms is good news for users of both platforms, with Apple and Google battling to win the hearts, minds and roadmaps of app developers with better hardware, more features and improved ways for us to find a result.

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