One of the most hotly anticipated apps in recent memory has been Twitter Music, which helps people discover new music based on what they tweet about and who they follow. But since its release, Twitter’s latest app has been generating a different kind of buzz.
Like a lot of apps, Twitter Music is only available on iOS. The web-based version is functional if you’re using a desktop browser, but on Android it just points you to the Apple App Store, as if it’s mocking you.
This illustrates a tendency for a lot of developers to treat Android as the “ugly stepchild” of the mobile world. Many major apps come out first on iOS, then finally make it to Android months later.
Technical discussions tend to devolve into holy wars, and iOS and Android are no exception. iOS proponents love to claim that it’s easier to develop for their favorite platform, and there’s a bit of truth to that claim. Apple maintains a tight grip on the hardware for their mobile devices. And since only Apple makes iPhones and iPads, you know exactly what they’re capable of as a developer.
Android, thanks to carrier restrictions, has a number of active operating systems (Jelly Bean, Ice Cream Sandwich and Gingerbread). Since most manufacturers do as they please, Android devices also have widely varying capabilities. Some have NFC, some don’t. The screen sizes vary widely too, from 10-inch tablets to 5-inch “phablets” to 3-inch phone screens. This makes it difficult, though not impossible, to target a single Android platform.
Another explanation is that iOS users actually buy more apps and surf the mobile web more than Android users do. Android users seem to use their phones as, well, phones.
Now that sales of Android phones are outpacing iPhones, the tide might start to turn. More companies are starting to consider Android as a means of tapping into this rapidly-growing market (Vine, another Twitter app, recently announced it was coming to Android “soon”). So if you’re an Android developer, expect to find yourself very busy. With the majority of devices running Jelly Bean and ICS, it won’t be because you’re dealing with fragmentation either.