Apr 03 AT 3:33 PM Dylan Andersen 38 Comments

Android: finally the sexy platform to develop for?


Path's 2.0 Android application is just plain beautiful.

Android has always been second to the races when it comes to triple-A applications and games like Instagram, Path or even Temple Run. These applications are usually developed by companies that choose to publish on iOS first and Android second, if ever at all. In the case of Path, the company waited for the revamp of their application to simultaneously launch version 2.0 on both Android and iOS. This worked out great for Path, showing a huge increase in users after launching on Android. Users on Android are rabid application hounds, as shown by the ever-increasing Play Store statistics for downloads and applications per user. With Path, Android didn’t have an “alternative social networking” application as gorgeous and as fluid as Path. With 2.0, Path showed the rest of the world that not only was developing for Android simple enough, you could also gain huge exposure and user counts by supporting the largest smartphone platform in the US.

Then came along Temple Run, which dealt with different device issues and support at launch, but is updating the game in what seems like a weekly fashion, adding new device support along the way. The game itself is a huge hit on Android, boasting over 1 million downloads (at least) in the Play Store so far, merely over a week since launch. Before Imangi Studios announced that Temple Run was on the way for Android, tons of unofficial applications littered the Play Store, with some folks going so far as to posting applications named Temple Run that were really just malware titles. Now that the game has launched, other iOS developers are realizing that if one of the most successful iOS games of all-time can be on Android, why can’t others? The old argument of “fragmentation” is quickly becoming just an excuse.

Instagram for Android, out now.

With today’s launch of Instagram, the stakes have never been higher. With over 30 million users in just 17 months, Instagram is a huge hit. No, it’s not the filters that makes the app so attractive to new users, it’s the exclusive social network that lives entirely on-device. Previously, Instagram was iOS-exclusive, but today’s launch enables any Android handset owner to sign up for Instagram and instantly reap the benefits of being a part of their bolstering 30 million-strong community. Before today, you couldn’t even sign up on their website – which is extremely bare bones, but for a reason – for an account, you had to have an iOS device or use your friend or family members’. With over 300 million Android devices, the potential for Instagram has never been bigger. With a solid app taking a few design cues (but not enough, some are arguing) from Google’s Ice Cream Sandwich standards, Instagram is the application to have on Android. If anything, the social network that is tied in is a blast to be a part of – even if you’re sick of Facebook and other intrusive social networks, like many of us are.

So, the question is then: has Android finally wooed the hearts of developers of the top iOS applications? Angry Birds is on Android, and even struck an exclusive deal with Samsung for their latest game, Angry Birds Space. Will we be seeing other triple-A titles make their way to Android, with a lot less waiting? I think so. In fact, one would be hard-pressed to find a title that is overwhelmingly popular that doesn’t have an Android port or similar app. Instagram is just the start of a paradigm shift for Android, and is extremely important to the ecosystem in general. Having a hard time believing that? Checking Google+ shows all the big Android boys – Hugo Barra, Romain Guy, etc – promoting and getting excited for the launch of Instagram.

As Dustin wrote extensively about yesterday, Android has a huge year ahead of it for 2012. With ICS rolling out to more devices as we speak, it’s only natural that these triple-A titles come not far after. Strap in folks, it’s going to be a great year to be an Android user.

Dylan Andersen is a part-time developer, part-time student and full-time Android aficionado. Hailing from Colma, CA, he's knee-deep in tech territory. Currently working on his Bachelor's in English at San Francisco State University, he's always up to date on the latest mods, hacks, and applications for Android. In his spare time, he loves to drink root beer and incessantly play Battlefield 3.

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  • http://www.jaxidian.org/update/ jaxidian

    I think 2012 will answer this question for us. As mentioned, Android has a lot going for it in 2012 and I think we’ll start to see where Android is going to settle in at. With ICS and other changes, Android is attempting to polish things up to the point where Android can start to compete with the iPhone on a UX perspective. Android has already proven that it can stand on its own in other perspectives.

    So ask this again by the end of 2012 and I think we’ll have the answer!

    I predict that it will be a toss-up whether devs should target Android or iOS first where the typical correct answer is: “Yes”.

    • Michael

      There’s 1 major reason why devs produce for iOS as opposed to Android imo, that being that Android is such a fragmented OS, far too many devices with varying screen sizes and specs all results in devs having to do more work to get games to run across the platform. iOS on the other hand has only a handful of iDevices that all run the OS etc flawlessly and 1 app pretty much works on them all with exception to maybe the iPad but that’s it.

      Maybe it’s a revenue thing? I have no idea how much they get paid for apps on either platform but the sheer number of Apps and sales on iOS suggests devs choose it for a reason and as a user of both OS’s I would be interested to hear from an actual dev to see why they choose iOS over Android.

      • pman

        I have read across the internet that iOS users are more likely to buy apps than Android users. So, profit is their reason for going with iOS first.

        • dbcher

          agreed…i actually read a statistical paper whet it compared numbers as it pertained to Mac vs PC and iOS to Android and how likely they were to buy programs/apps…..it shouted that those who bought macs and other spoke devices were more likely till buy apps compared to their counterparts.

      • dcds

        “Android is such a fragmented OS, far too many devices with varying screen sizes and specs all results in devs having to do more work to get games to run across the platform. iOS on the other hand has only a handful of iDevices that all run the OS etc flawlessly and 1 app pretty much works on them all with exception to maybe the iPad but that’s it.”

        Almost every time I’ve seen someone (holds true especially for small devs) complaining about fragmentation and with me having a chance to look at the code, it’s the dev coding an anti-pattern. It’s much more frequently than people think, and they blame the framework… which by the way is nothing new to the programming world, really.

        It starts to make a difference for tablets, but that’s an entire market mindshare anyway… sometimes you may even need to change not just the coding logic, but also the whole reasoning of the app to better fit the tablet style.

        Sorry, Android is very well thought to support different hardware. There are still concerns here and there, but what you said, the way you said it, makes me suspect you don’t have experience deving for different Android devices.

        I apologize if I suspected wrong… there are always the black swans out there.

        • Michael

          I’m not a dev dude, never have been, just curious as to the reasoning behind iOSbeing the preferred platform and as for my comment about the different OS’s and screen sizes etc, that was purely speculation, I have no clue about that nor do I care really lol, I buy whatever device suits my needs regardless of the platform and I don’t play many games on phones as they suck to be quite frank with the exception of the basic ones such as Angry Birds.

          • PhilH

            Well why go around adding to the misinformation if you don’t know? Outside of games there is no problem with different screen sizes. Android has superb mechanisms in the sdk to deal with this. The people that complain usually come over from iOS thinking they are some kind or rock star and don’t need to learn the ins and outs of the platform. They haul off and try to do thinks the way they THINK it works and it fails. Then they blame the platform.

  • Bauce

    EA Also finally released FIFA12 and NBA Jam this week on Andriod. Both had been on iOS for awhile now. FIFA even has additional options not on iOS, not too sure about NBAJam though since the Galaxy Nexus isn’t supported, so they’ve still got some catching up to do, but at least they’re getting there.

    • http://dylandersen.me/ Dylan Andersen

      NBA Jam and FIFA are huge for the platform, as well. Unfortunately, support for the titles is wonky. The flagship Galaxy Nexus is not supported, and on the Galaxy Note, with its odd resolution, NBA Jam does not display correctly and is unplayable due to the touch targets being way off. Hopefully that’s fixed in the future, as NBA Jam is just a killer good time all around.

      • CORYK333

        Big Head Mode ftw!!!!!!

  • Bri

    Android = sexy? Hahahaha what are you smoking?

    • LittleGreenDude


    • CORYK333

      OG Kush, you???

  • jamal adam

    Now all I need is an Android smartphone to test this out on.

  • Adryan maldonado

    Maybe some one can give me some examples but i hope at some point a big name or some uber popular app will come to android first instead of android always being second fiddle just so i can rub in the smug faces of iphone users. Ok just jk about that but i do hope my first statement comes true

    • http://dylandersen.me/ Dylan Andersen

      Yeah, great point. I believe in the future, maybe even this year, we’ll see the “killer apps” get released on Android first. Cross your fingers.

    • Lee Swanson

      In some ways, widgets are killer apps that are only available on Android. Beautiful Widgets is the number 3 paid app on Google play. I love my widgets, live wallpaper, custom lock screens and all the customization that Android brings.

    • Raveesh Bhalla

      Any.do. Oh, and I’m building something for a stealth mode startup, and we’re going Android first.

    • http://theinternet-allofit.blogspot.com Jorge Branco

      Photoshop touch and the other adobe touch apps came to Android first. I thought that was a pretty big deal

  • Bikarbonat

    I don’t think fragmentation is the biggest reason for developers choosing iOS first. I think the issue is really about paying customers. On iOS you don’t really have a choice but to pay for the good apps you want to use. While on Android its pretty easy just to download pirated apps and install them. Also, I think a lot of Android-users expect apps to be free or are unwilling to pay for them.

    THIS is the problem as I see it. Angry Birds exists free on Android for this reason. It got a HUGE hit on iOS and of course since most iPhone users have to pay for their apps the developers got the money to continue their work and then release it on Android.
    If its big on iOS it will work on Android. And the best way to earn money on your apps I believe is to release it on iOS first since its a more closed up system but that makes it more attractive for devs.. Developers need to get paid properly to continue doing great apps

    I have so far always been an Android user. I think its an attractive OS in its openness, and there is so much to love about it. But the app support still is bigger and a bit more attractive on iOS, most of all for devs

    • http://www.jaxidian.org/update/ jaxidian

      I don’t know a single Android user who pirates apps except for apps that cannot be found in the Play Store/Android Market. Perhaps this is the exception?

    • http://dylandersen.me/ Dylan Andersen

      Piracy is as “rampant” on iOS as it is on Android. In fact, it’s just as easy. You need to crack the .APK for Android and the .IPK for iOS (albet, with iOS, you must modify the system first) and you can get whatever app you want.

      Developers have avoided piracy by ad-supported games (which can be removed just as easily) or subscription models. It’s not a matter of that. It’s just a matter of the shift in the space, which is happening now. Instagram is a great example. But I hear your points.

      • Bikarbonat

        I don’t think it is just as “rampant” on iOS.. Sure, it might be easy, but first you need to jailbreak your device. Thats not something the more regular consumer will do from what I know. My cousin is a game developer and his choice is iOS. He thought that the piracy was a problem and reason for him not to choose Android at the moment.

        I really do hope things are shifting now though, with the release of Instagram. It’s nice to finally have it on my phone.

        • Peter

          Anyone who can be bothered to download and risk pirated apps is also capable of jailbreaking iOS, so the whole “regular consumers don’t jailbreak” is nonsense, especially when you consider how popular jailbreaking apps are and how popular pirated iOS apps sites are. One problem is that a lot of misinformation is being spread on both sides, but piracy is not a really valid excuse to choose one platform over the other.

          • Henry Ezra Ong

            Never found a single iPhone and/or iPad that wasn’t jailbroke in my country, Indonesia, while many of Android counterparts has never been rooted. If you are not capable to jailbreak the iStuff, there are plenty of paid services on small cellphone/gadget stores that would jailbreaking it for you with very little money, included install every apps you wanted.

  • Schmidty850

    So excited Android is gaining this popularity to finally get some credit over iOS

  • beleafer22

    Picked up my Galaxy note about 4 hours ago. I can’t believe how i was using my 3GS for all these years. Absolutely ridiculous how useful a phone this size can be. I am loving Android so far, can’t wait to see what ICS brings. Guys…I finally got rid of iOS!!!

    • aero

      nice to hear, hope you enjoy it and others will follow you

    • http://dylandersen.me/ Dylan Andersen

      I just installed the ICS leak for the AT&T Note and it’s running great. More info at RootzWiki if you’re feeling brave.

  • Lucky chauhan

    Your all the articles are very good and informative also…..

  • h0ruza

    I’m not sure what’s changed to warrant this article but Android as been market leader for a long time now but still we wait for Brand names and popular apps to get to Android. Never mind being exclusive to Android…

    The issues are…

    Issue one is that development for Android takes more work than IOS. More devices means more work, more screen sizes means more work, different chipsets means more work.

    Developers want to make money from as little work as possible otherwise where would they make a profit?

    Issue two is that developers and big brands prefer to associate with apple because apple are seen as a cool brand without compromises.

    Obviously apple makes compromises all the time but they never admit to them publicly and whatever your favourite brands our you can guarantee they will have an IOS app but an Android app is never guaranteed.

    The idea that things are looking up is great but shouldn’t Android be the first choice platform before we start celebrating?

    It saddens me but until the above issues are resolved Android won’t be the first choice for brands and developers.

    • PhilH

      Negative. With the exception of a game it is not more work for more screen sizes, more devices, more chip sets or more of anything else. Anyone who says this lacks understanding of what an API actually is. Its a contract that says all devices will respond in the same way to this set of commands in a nutshell. And anyone that has done web development knows how to build for varying screen sizes. All the complaints come from these iOS devs that learned to develop on iOS and have never seen anything else.

  • JeanMarc

    If iOS is still more popular for developers, it’s mostly because companies that employ them started developing for iOS first and are not ready to reverse the trend and invest in training or new programmers until they feel certain that the OS and device war will have a clear winner. Right now everything indicates that Android is winning this war globally and will most likely come out as the clear winner. For those who are one step ahead, priority will shift to Android dev first. No doubt.

  • Androidismylife

    I think the big reason why people don’t really buy apps on googles market is because of the crazy charges you get for buying an app which is priced in a foreign currency.
    I get charged £1.50 for every app this is crazy if the app only costs. 49p, people say find a bank that doesn’t charge but why should i go to that hassle id rather not bother or ive even downloaded cracked apps but i would rather pay.

  • jonstle

    I agree PhilH. I have made apps for Android, and coming from a flash background with no trouble making apps that look great on all screen sizes with little effort.

  • nipunmehta7

    Android FTW

  • montana920

    I have never had or used an Apple product. I don’t in the least feel deprived. I love my experience on Android.

  • spidremann

    Everyone says that ios gets developed first because people are more likely to buy the app do they’ll make a profit, but isn’t the reality that ad-supported free apps are more profitable?