We’re often asked why we developed AppCan for the iOS operating system (OS) and not for Android too.
It’s a fair question. And we hope to address this one day.
As to why only iOS at this time: well, we, like others who create software predominantly for business environments, are attracted to iOS being a closed platform, which means Apple has total control over it’s devices and software – because they design all their own hardware and software, this allows them to impose strict guidelines on how they interact with each other.
‘Device Fragmentation’ is often used to describe the number of device variants you must accommodate when developing mobile software. Apple’s ‘closed’ iOS, means the total number of available devices supporting iOS is quite small (say, approx 20 different types of Apple mobile device currently).
With Android, an open source OS, the degree of device fragmentation is much higher. Take a look at this interesting graphic, hosted at Gizmodo, on the link below – you can see there are literally hundreds of different devices using Android.
One of the consequences of having hundreds of devices, spread across lots of different manufacturers, is that you need to ensure the applications you’re building are optimised for all the different screen sizes and, even more importantly, they will work with all the different versions of the Android OS installed on these devices. This can add up to a lot more development and QA expense in order to create a reliable ‘universal’ product.
Apple make it very easy for users to get the latest OS for their device, which means the adoption rate for the newest iOS operating system is much higher than the latest Android OS. In fact, an industry rule of thumb is that if you develop an iOS application with the 3 latest iOS versions, they will cover 97% of all iOS users. Android’s operating system on the other hand is again much more fragmented: concentrating on the 3 most used OS’s on Android would mean that the app would only be compatible with 67% of the Android market.
Of course, we hope Google are able to close this gap as we recognise there is some great Android hardware out there, and businesses will always want to have a choice between platforms. For now though we reckon Apple still has the edge, and if we were investing our money in mobile devices, they would most certainly be Apple flavoured.