24 October 2012
Why Are iPad Apps So Much Better Than Android Apps
During yesterday’s special event, Apple announced the iPad mini, threw out some impressive iPad sales stats, and mentioned in passing that they have paid out $6.5 billion ( yes with a B ) dollars to app developers. That’s pretty incredible considering that back in July they had already paid out $5.5 billion ( the .5 billion accounts for rounding errors, I guess ). That means they paid out another billion dollars to developers in just 2.5 months, give or take a few days. With those kinds of numbers flying around, it’s pretty clear that there’s plenty of demand for iOS apps in general.
During his iPad mini presentation, Phil Schiller compared the differences between the new 7.9 inch iPad mini and the 7 inch Google Nexus tablet. In a side-by-side screen comparison he highlighted the fact that the iPad mini has more viewable screen real estate than the Nexus 7 and that iPad apps are specifically designed to take advantage of iOS and the iPad’s full screen. Schiller also went so far as to define Android apps as, “just scaled up phone apps.”
Is that true? Are Android apps really just scaled up phone apps? From my own personal experience with a lot of Android apps, I believe it is. Even Google has said that Android developers need to embrace a tablet centric design focus. So, what makes Android apps some much different than iPad apps? Is there a software or hardware limitation that keeps Android developers from creating world class apps, both in terms of visual presentation and functionality? Does Apple bake in some kind of magic fairy dust in their devices that just makes developers want to create gorgeous apps and makes consumers want to spend $6.5 billions dollars collectively on them? Personally, I don’t think so in either case.
While it might sound awkwardly hip to say you’ve been roofied by Apple, I think it goes much deeper than that. Android is a fine operating system and there’s some great tablet hardware on the market right now that’s running Android. No one’s going to argue against these points, but these two factors aren’t the issue for the Android platform. The real problem is that there’s no central champion for the Android app ecosystem and developers feel it.
Sure, the Google Play store has given consumers a place to buy Android apps, but that’s hardly the same as being a champion for the platform. That’s not an Android problem. It’s a Google problem. Google says they want Android to be successful and yet developers have to worry about their Android apps being pirated. That doesn’t encourage confidence among the developer community, whether they’ll admit it or not.
But hey, too be fair, nurturing is not in Google’s DNA. Google does tech, they don’t do pretty. They create algorithms and code libraries, they don’t design beautiful interfaces and app ecosystems. That’s where Apple has flourished.
With what some might call a tight fisted approach, Apple has made sure to provide design guidance, enforce quality standards, and ensure that app developers get paid. Sure Apple’s app submission process might be a pain to deal with at times, but with 700,000 apps in the Apple App Store and growing, I don’t think anyone can argue that they gotta’ be doing something right.
So what do you think? Are Android apps, “just scaled up phone apps”? Can Android app developers do a better job of creating apps that people flock to? Do developers really not care about Android Tablets? Or is it an untapped market?