A lot of Android detractors are very quick to trot out the dreaded “F” word (fragmentation) while criticizing the operating system. These are the type of people who love to point to the fact that some app developers stay away from Google’s OS because there are too many devices and variations of the software to make developing for the platform a worthwhile business model.
While that may have been somewhat true in the past, one of the top mobile app developers in Asia, Animoca, begs to differ with that assertion. In just two short years the company has developed over 300 Android apps and topped 150 million downloads.
The company is very proud of their extensive testing process before an app is released to the general public. They are also quick to point out that in the last year a process that once included testing on over 400 Android devices has been cut to almost a quarter of that number, mainly due to how the OS has been standardized.
Yat Siu, CEO of Animoca’s parent company Outblaze, points to a couple of factors as to why and how Android developing has become more of a streamlined process. The first more obvious reason is that there are much fewer versions of Jelly Bean out in the wild than there was with Gingerbread. With more handsets worldwide running virtually the same software it goes without saying that developers can spend more of their valuable time on actually developing rather than worrying about compatibility issues.
The other thing that Yat points to is the success of the top Android manufacturer Samsung, and not just the amount of their own branded handsets in circulation either. Since Samsung provides components for a lot of their competitors devices the hardware on smartphones and tablets is all starting to become as similar as the software they are running. Additionally of all those 400 devices that were involved in Animoca’s early testing most were low-end devices. Now that these “cheaper” handsets are using much of the same parts as the more expensive ones, cross device development is much easier.
It’s not all sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows for the company however and all it takes is one market to throw a monkey wrench into the whole process. According to Yat Siu: “Japan is the outlier in all of this—they have the strangest phones, and each one is a little different from the other. The rest of the world is mainly quite similar, based on Samsung hardware.”
It just goes to show that while Android will never have the uniformity that IOS developers enjoy, it’s getting better. We already knew that there were less and less developers shying away from our preferred OS but if things keep following this track it’s all the better for everyone.