The Yahoo developer network has a useful analysis of some Flurry stats that show consumers are spending 35% more time on their mobile devices than a year ago. However, of more interest to developers is that the browser is being sidelined and users now spend only 10% of their time using web browsers compared to 14% a year ago…
Another surprise is that gaming is in decline, taking up 15% of the time as opposed to 32% a year ago.
IDC have a new smartphone growth forecast up to 2019. Developers will be more interested in the split by operating system…
As with other recent forecasts, iOS and Android are predicted to remain at roughly their current market shares.
Moovweb has an informative article on how iOS vs Android conversion rates and revenue per session are converging. iOS used to convert at significantly higher rates and have a higher average spend but the differences are now starting to be much less significant…
“The difference in e-commerce conversion rates between Android and iOS decreased by 75% year-over-year in Q1. The Android-iOS conversion rate gap is now a mere 5%.”
The difference in revenue per session is now only 9%, down from 15% a year ago.
Last month Peter-Paul Koch (PPK) of quirksmode published a contentious post asking if it was time to stop pushing the web forward. His argument was that “cramming in more copies of native functionality at breakneck speed” is futile and native apps will always be better. Instead, the web should concentrate on its strengths: simplicity, URLs and reach. There has now been a newer post, stop pushing redux, on the mixed reactions to the original post.
I think what web developers are coming up against is what I described in 2007:
“Once we try to write real applications within the browser we will be exposed to similar issues that make native development difficult”
Even though the web now is still nowhere near feature parity with native in 2007, web developers are having a hard time developing for it. As I mentioned recently, the web vs apps outcome has resulted in the (mobile) web platform having security and fragmentation headaches.
The web still has a possible alternate successful future and I agree with PPK that it’s time to play on its strengths… and particularly it’s strengths over apps. Maybe new features should be those that native apps don’t have?
There’s some interesting new research by CIRP (pdf) that shows people are more likely to switch from iOS to Android (20% of users) than Android to iOS (16%). The net flow is in a different direction than the media (or Apple?) had us expect and the actual percentages are higher than I had expected. The CIRP report says that changes in OS happen more often when users change carriers. It seems people are not so loyal about their mobile OS after all.
Device upgraders and OS switchers bring extra challenges for developers. For some apps, you might want to consider how users might migrate data to their new devices. This might go beyond normal OS app backup schemes if you also wish to also support OS switchers. You might also like to think about in-app purchased items but in most cases if the user changes OS they won’t expect to keep purchased. Exceptions are usually subscriptions, like Spotify or Evernote, where the user will expect to continue with their subscription.
The latest Good Technology Mobility Index Report is out for Q2 2015 (pdf). Their report provides enterprise-centric insights and is based on
on Good’s own enterprise customers.
Organisations use an average of 3.43 apps in addition to email. Since the last report, financial services, energy and utilities have joined insurance as the main industries adopting apps. iOS continues to be most used but its share of 64% has dropped slightly while Android share grew from 26% to 32%. On tablets, iOS fell steeply from 81% to 64% while Android saw an increase from 15% to 25% of activations. Windows saw an increase from 4% to 11%.
The overall picture is one of Android maturing and being taken more seriously by companies. The use of apps is also maturing in that they are being used in more industries as a major point of contact with employees, suppliers and end-customers.
Blackhat USA 2015 finished yesterday and some interesting Android and iOS related papers are now available. The sessions included Josha Drake’s much anticipated ‘Stagefight:Scary Code in the Heart of Android’ but papers for that session aren’t currently available. However, the fallout of Stagefright is of more consequence with Google, LG and Samsung to be pushing more security updates. This might prevent Android armageddon predicted by ars technica or less dramatically by myself a year ago.
Back to Blackhat, there are interesting papers on Exploiting Heap Corruption in libcutils (pdf), Yet another Universal Root (pdf) and Front Door Access to Android Devices (pdf) via poorly thought out phone OEM software.
The growing list of vulnerabilities is a reminder to developers to better secure their app data. Hence, of more direct interest to developer’s is NNC Group’s paper on Faux Disk Encryption:Realities of Secure Storage On Mobile Devices (pdf). It gives a great summary of the challenges mobile app developers face in securing data stored on iOS and Android devices.
OpenSignal have a new version of their study into Android Fragmentation. It’s the multi-coloured graphic, that I won’t be reproducing here, you often see when some blogger starts talking about fragmentation. Instead, I find the variation of OS version market share over time to be more interesting as it helps define what minimum version to target for new projects…
I believe this data to be more useful than declared device shipments as it a) represents the installed base and b) tells us the Android version. It’s also useful to compare with Google’s own dashboard.
It has been the case for a while now that there’s no point supporting pre Android 4.0.3 (Ice Cream Sandwich). Having worked on many past projects that had to go down to 2.3, this is great relief as it simplifies development and testing. Despite the hype over fragmentation, carefully selecting test devices that cover all the Android versions (v4.03 and later), top brands, dpi bands and main screen sizes is usually sufficient on most projects.
There are still a few outlying ‘strange’ current devices to consider. For example, there’s the Samsung Galaxy Pocket 2 that runs Android 4.4.2 yet only has a ldpi 240×320 screen. I find it’s a useful device to test apps at the lowest end of the device spectrum.