Android Popularity

idc.gifIDC has new Worldwide statistics that show for Q1 2013 Android and iOS represented 92.3% of all smartphone OS Shipments. Android had a 75% market share, iOS 17.3%, Windows Phone 3.2% and BlackBerry 2.9%.



From my perspective, as predominantly an Android developer, I can see Android has ‘grown up’. Companies are no longer going iOS first usually because their clients are insisting on both iOS and Android versions of apps. The amount of Android development has increased and diversified. My next project is indicative of this being based on the Google Android TV platform.

Android development has matured. I am using more and more Apache licenced libraries where, only a few years ago, I had to write my own code. Almost any Android complex development problem I have can be answered using StackOverflow. Clients are better understanding the need to use Android UI idioms and dissuading them from iOS idioms is less of a hard sell.

However, the popularity attracts malware that feeds on Android’s slow and, for some companies, non-existent OS update processes (meet X-ray). Google is tightening up the OS but only for new versions. For example, on later versions of Android third party apps can’t read the developer output (logcat) and only trusted desktop machines can connect via Android Debug Bridge (ADB). This is also making things slightly more difficult for developers. In these examples, I am finding it harder to do automated testing (robotium + spoon) via ADB from arbitrary desktop machines and I can no longer ask clients to send me ADB output captured from 3rd party apps such as catlog.

I also find it difficult to understand why so many people root their phones – so much so there’s a large market for some apps that only work on rooted phones. The built in Android security is the first line of defence and people rooting their phones really should think more about what they are doing.

This has some interesting implications for BYOD. An employee with a rooted device can have all the information on their device shadow copied off just by someone having contact with the phone for a very short time. I will be speaking about this and other issues at Make IT Mobile at the end of the month.