These Aren’t The Clones You’re Looking For

But it’s only from that angle. Every other look at the Galaxy S6 reveals a phone that is markedly different from the iPhone 6. And some of the similarities are thanks to those being the most optimal ways to manage this sort of construction. You want a phone that’s made out of metal? Well, your speaker grille is going to be a series of circular holes. Want to use that metal frame as an antenna? Alright, you’ll need to divide it up with some plastic strips so you can properly manage Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, GPS, and LTE.

iMore

I don’t want my blog to turn into a place where I just quote other people, but Derek Kessler puts the whole ‘THE GALAXY S6 IS AN IPHONE CLONE. OMG. OMG. OMG.’ outrage to bed.

iA Writer Comes to Town

Remember in December of 2014 when some crazy punk told you that 2015 would be the year of Android? Well he’s not looking so crazy now, and I think he’ll continue to look less and less crazy as the months tick by.

Today iA Writer joins the Android fold:

In the summer of 2014, we started dabbling with the Android SDK to get a feeling of what it would mean to develop an Android adaptation of iA Writer. We discovered a dev-friendly world with scant traces of the Android horror stories we had in the backs of our minds.

https://ia.net/writer/updates/starting-out-on-android

Well worth a read. The post does a good job of highlighting the differences (both positive and negative) of developing for Android vs iOS.

How New Versions of Android Work

I see a lot of confusion, and to be honest ridicule, from iOS Developers when it comes to new Android versions. In iOS when Apple release v8, all the supported devices get it on day 1. In most cases this is great for developers, because sales go up thanks to people looking for apps that support all the new whiz-bang features.

Android is different. When version 5.0 of Android comes out, it’s the AOSP (Android Open Source Project) version, that manufacturers use as a base for building their own custom versions of it. HTC, Samsung, LG, Motorola et al need to add their own drivers & firmware as well as supporting all the various functions they’ve built on top of Android. Google is always the first to ship a version of it, for its Nexus Devices. This is why I recommend all developers buy Nexus phones for testing. You’ll get the new releases first, and sometimes pre-release builds as well.

The above is why you look silly when you poke fun at Android adoption numbers. For the majority of phones, big new versions of Android ship roughly 3 months after the AOSP release. Here for example are the numbers from early January:

Screen Shot 2015-01-31 at 10.25.14 am

People are often quick to mis-interpret these numbers. “iOS 8 adoption is at 64%, but Android 4.4, a version that’s years old isn’t even at that!”. There’s two things wrong with these kinds of comments. Firstly there are roughly 6-8x more Android devices than iOS devices in the world, depending on which market share numbers you use. This means that if a version of Android achieves 39% adoption, that’s a huge deal, and you could develop just for that platform and address a larger user base than targeting iOS 8 with its 64%. Secondly people confuse overall numbers, with actual numbers of people who buy apps. Here for example are the version breakdowns of people who buy Pocket Casts on Android:

PC_Numbers

So while Android 5.0 has less than 1% adoption in the overall Android eco-system, 23% of our customers already run it. This makes sense when you put a bit of thought into these numbers. People that have the money to buy apps, and are passionate about Android, have up to date phones. While some users who run Android 2.3 on their 5 year old phone might be perfectly happy, they probably weren’t ever going to buy Pocket Casts. It’s also worth noting that Pocket Casts sells in much larger volumes (and makes more revenue) than any numbers I’ve seen for an equivalent iOS app. We’ve slowly moved our minimum version from 2.3, to 4.0, to 4.1 and it hasn’t hurt sales at all.

My last point is one very few iOS Developers actually know about. In iOS if your users want to take an advantage of a feature in iOS 8, they have to have iOS 8 installed. In Android this isn’t always the case. Google bundles features into two libraries: ‘Support’ and ‘Google Play Services’. Google Play Services is updated through the store, so it’s not tied to the version of the OS you have installed. The Support library is shipped by app developers inside their apps, and is updated regularly by Google. When a new version of Android ships, you’ll often find a lot of the new APIs appear in one of these two libraries, and not the core of Android itself. This isn’t the case for every API, but more often than not you can give your users on older platforms access to newer features, without waiting for them to update. Even when newer features can’t be brought to older versions, Google will often place ‘compatibility APIs’ into the Support library, so you don’t have to litter your app with runtime checks of which version you’re running on. It’s not a silver bullet, but backwards compatibility is far less of a headache on Android than it is on iOS.

TL;DR:

  • There is no ‘day’ a major new version of Android comes out. Each set of phones have their own launch day. Nexus devices, then Motorola/LG devices, then HTC and Samsung devices. So it’s only useful to think about adoption numbers for a new version of Android after the last of those manufacturers ships their updates.
  • Overall Android adoption numbers should be ignored by most developers, look up the ones for the category you plan to launch in. They are available in the Google Play Developer Console.
  • Ongoing revenue on Android tends to be a lot higher and steadier than iOS, and you don’t get spikes caused by new Android versions being released.
  • If you’re making a new app, targeting Android 4.1 and above will get you the most users. Targeting 5.0 only is probably not wise as of today, but will be in a few months time. 4.4 is also a perfectly acceptable minimum for an app you plan to release regular updates for.

Getting Started With Android Development

You’d be surprised by how many iOS developers contact me, often privately, about the ‘best’ way to get started in Android development. As I often tell them, there probably is no best way, but here’s what I’d do if I were starting out today:

  1. Download Android Studio. It’s a smaller initial download than Xcode, but it will download more things when you run it, so have lots of Internet Tubes handy.
  2. Buy a Nexus 5 from Google. It’s not the best Android phone, but it is one of the cheapest, and you know it will get OS updates on day 1 for a while. In the cheap department the Moto G is also a great second choice.
  3. Embrace the difference. Android looks different. The language used to write apps on the platform is different. The frameworks are different. Embrace that difference. Take the time to just dive in and learn it. Don’t be fooled by any frameworks that let you use the tools you already know and love to develop Android apps. They are all dead ends.
  4. Bookmark the heck out of this site.
  5. Set Android 4.1 (or above) as your minimum target. Trust me on this one.
  6. Installing sample apps in Android Studio is really easy, start there: Screen_Shot_2015-01-30_at_10_59_35_am

It’s really not that hard to get started, but you have to be realistic. If you want to get somewhere, you’re going to have to invest some time. If you want to build a viable business on Android like we have, that might end up being a lot of time. I really feel like 2015 might be the only window you’re going to get though, before Google Play becomes as hard to succeed in as the iOS App Store. So get cracking!

Claim Chowdering The Claim Chowderer

Two years later, I don’t think “Google is getting better at design faster than Apple is getting better at web services” feels true any more. John Gruber, Tuesday 13 January, 2015

Today: Apple releases a bug that logs developers into other people’s accounts.

As a user of it, I can tell you definitively that iTunes Connect is still a buggy mess. These days it’s a very pretty mess though. To me that’s more telling than anything else. Apple chose to make the interface look good, before it fixed all the bugs.

So I raise my glass to you John, enjoy the chowder.

Ideas Are Like Onions…They Make Me Cry

Ideas. I receive emails from people wanting to pitch me ideas all the time. I’ve decided that the potential educational and market-research benefits to others of me adding my opinion to the mix will be greater than the risk of people thinking I’m an asshole for doing so. So here’s the latest one:

Hi [name redacted],

The first thing and most uncomfortable realisation about an idea is that it’s completely and utterly worthless. The second thing to realise is that there doesn’t exist a set of conditions where only a single person, in the entire world, has a unique idea. Allow me to elaborate on both of these points.

Firstly: why is an idea worthless? Simply because you can’t make money with ideas. You can’t sell ideas, and until your ideas become products they are by definition without worth. People who have ideas, no matter how grand or how much they value them must eventually come to that realisation on their own.

Secondly: why is there no such thing as a unique idea? Well without getting all philosophical on you ideas don’t occur in a vacuum. The conditions that led to you having an idea (your surrounds, the geo-politcal events of the day, heck even the weather) occur for thousands of other people. Out of those thousands, hundreds will ponder it further. A few dozen will attempt to bring it to life and in my experience at least 3-4 actually will.

Lastly: anyone seeking to protect an idea more than developing their idea is wasting their time. If you’re not working on actually bringing your idea to life, other people already are, and they will most certainly beat you to it.

I’m sure you don’t agree with most of what I said, but it doesn’t really matter since we don’t do client work anyway. And if you don’t agree, that’s great, here’s your chance to prove me completely and utterly wrong! I look forward to reading about your success story in a few years time should that be the case. Please, by all means call me out in your article.

Russell
Developer and Co-founder

http://www.shiftyjelly.com.au/

Inside Baseball Jokes? Never heard of them.