Why I Don't Develop Apps for Android

As you might know, I’ve been spending a lot of time on learning how to develop iOS (iPhone, iPad) apps recently. I’ve put out my first app in December and I’m working hard on my second app at the moment (but it’ll take a while until I’ll put it out there). But among my friends, there are quite a lot of people who use Android phones. In fact, Android has a much higher market share here in Germany (~80%, although it’s hard to find proper statistics). So today, I want to answer the question: Why don’t I develop apps for Android?

There are quite a few reasons:

  • I personally use and prefer iOS over Android.
  • I don’t really like Java as a programming language. I’ve helped a friend with her computer science exercises using Java a few weeks ago and that confirmed to me once again that I prefer other languages over Java. This is all personal preference of course.
  • I REALLY like Apple’s Swift programming language. It’s a really young programming language compared to most other languages, but it became the de facto standard for everything Apple within three years of its release. It is also open source and developed in the open. They basically took the best out of all the other languages and put it together.
  • Apple’s development environment (called Xcode) is actually really good. It does suffer from a few issues, but all in all I am really happy with it.
  • Fragmentation on Android makes it harder to develop. First, Android has a huge problem with OS upgrade adoption. System upgrades are dependent on the manufacturer of the smartphone and often even relatively young phones don’t get the newest Android version. Therefore, to target most of the Android audience, you also need to develop and test against old versions of the SDK. Second, there is also a lot of fragmentation in the hardware, especially when it comes to display resolutions. It’s hard to be sure that your app looks good on all devices.
  • iOS on the other hand has been much better in this regard. About 93% of iOS users are on iOS 10 (released Sep 2016) or iOS 11 (released Sep 2017) ( recent article about this on 9to5mac). The newest iOS 11 still runs on all iPhones going back to the 5s that is almost 4 1/2 years old. Also, there is only a certain amount of display sizes and resolutions, and with the iPhone simulator, you can easily try your app on all available phones.
  • Android has quite a problem with piracy. It’s pretty easy to install pirated apps on an Android phone, I don’t believe you even need to root (jailbreak) your phone for it. On the other hand, piracy on iOS is basically nonexistent. The jailbreaking scene is becoming smaller and smaller as it takes longer for them to find exploits in the current software. I was once part of the jailbreaking community and was very proud of being able to install lots of great tools that would never be possible on stock iOS (I even spent quite a lot of money on tweaks back then), but since around iOS 9, I haven’t felt the need to jailbreak my phone anymore. That’s not to say iOS is perfect, far from it in fact. But I just don’t bother anymore and I think a lot of people feel the same.
  • Despite Android’s market share being much higher than iOS, the iOS App Store is still far more profitable than Android. iOS users are much more willing to pay for an app. In the last year or two, I’ve completely changed my mind about this. Before, I always wanted to get my apps for free and I was only paying for an app if I really had to. Now, I’m more than willing to pay for an app and even prefer paid apps over free ones. You can’t expect a developer to put many many hours into an app without getting anything from it. They have to live off of something as well. And if an app is free, they probably make money by selling your data or showing you personalized ads. (I recently tweeted that I really want Instagram to take my money and give me an app without any ads, promoted posts, and that stupid algorithmic timeline.)

For now, I will stick to iOS development. I’m not saying this won’t ever change (I mean, Apple has had quite a few software-related faux pas recently…), but for the time being, my focus will be on iOS.

If you have any questions about this topic, or if you’d like to correct any misconceptions I might have about Android, feel free to post a comment below or tweet me @stefandesu.

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