Being at the receiving end of enquiries for iOS and Android development has made me realise how many people and companies don’t really know what they are getting into. Some haven’t a clue, not even a hunch, how much effort is involved. Most see a set of screens as something simple. They don’t realise the complexity of what goes on underneath and the consequent communication with other systems and platforms. They don’t realise there are ‘quick and dirty’ ways of doing things and slower and more future proof ways of implementing things, both of which are valid depending on the business context. They don’t think about edge error scenarios, user experience, measuring through analytics and other things like localisation and even the complexities of time. In some cases, there’s no thought as to whether the project is technically feasible.
Ordinarily, this isn’t a problem because many of these things are taken care of by the developer. However, these types of people/companies also tend to not know how to choose a developer. All they think about is cost or daily rates. which gravitates them to developers who don’t know or don’t take care in what they are doing. Not knowing what factors are important and wanting implementation at the lowest cost is obviously a recipe for a failed project.
Google is Integrating Progressive Web Apps more deeply into Android. This will make web apps 1st class Android citizens in that they will be able to be shown in the app drawer and receive incoming intents.
If you are a long time reader of this site, you will know I am not a great fan of hybrid web apps masquerading as ‘native’ apps. They are usually less secure, have significantly less technical capability, have UI performance problems and don’t tend to use the Android OS look and feel. Allowing web apps into the app drawer is a backward step in my opinion.
There’s a new post on the Android developer blog on Engaging users during major events: How The Guardian used innovative notifications. The Guardian newspaper used the new notifications functionality in Android 7.0 Nougat to create a continuously updating notification which was persistent on their lock screen:
“Promoting live updates (via the notification) resulted in 103% increase in daily installs during election week. “
I am currently involved in apps using iBeacon and Eddystone Bluetooth beacons. It occurred to me that an interesting partner for persistent notifications is use with beacons. Detection of beacons could drive changes in a notification based on a user’s indoor location. This might be used in visitors spaces such as galleries and museums. It might even be used to direct users along an indoor route.
Learn more about notifications in Android Nougat
Learn more about beacons
There’s a thought provoking piece by James Bourne at AppsTechNews on how Mobility investments are moving more towards the business. The article is based on CCS Insight’s enterprise IT buyers survey:
“Enterprises may well balk at the thought of deploying thousands of iPhones to the organisation – McQuire argues that Apple will begin to see its grip on the enterprise mobile market loosened in 2017”
“Banks are pushing ahead with Android and could form a ‘big change’ for the operating system’s overall perception. You’ve [also] got the broader use case for Android, whether that’s field service, rugged, kiosking…these environments where Android is actually quite successful. Those are some of the areas where Apple just doesn’t play.”
I have always seen Android as a much more capable OS. In the past, this has led me to work on widely varying Android projects that use the OS as a self-service kiosk in hotels, an insurance video recording device in cars and a medical instrument used by consultant Optometrists. What with Android Things, the scope of Android projects can only get wider.
CSS Insight has a new article on The iOS and Android Duopoly and asks if there will ever be a third platform:
“Many mobile platforms have come and gone during the past decade, some created by start-ups and others by some of the world’s largest technology companies. Mobile platform projects such as Firefox OS, LiMo, Jolla, Maemo, MeeGo, Tizen, Sailfish, Ubuntu, WebOS and Windows 10 Mobile have had little impact on the market.”
The conclusion is that the chances of a new mobile platform succeeding aren’t good. Instead, it’s the services on top such as artificial assistants that will alter behaviour.
This is good news for mobile developers and those companies creating apps. After two decades of uncertainty, we can now develop for Android and iOS in the knowledge that the two main mobile platforms are not likely to change in the next decade. However, we need to remain alert to new mobile platform APIs provided by the ‘artificial assistants’ as these might increasingly be the chosen way to interact with apps and services.
It’s taken a long time, but we have finally reached the stage where a significant number of companies are looking for Android to iOS porting. There was a time when most development was iOS only, followed by a time where there was significant porting from iOS to Android. After this, there followed a period of enquiries for work on Android AND iOS. Now, finally we are seeing Android being ported to iOS.
The main problem with Android to iOS ports is that Android allows you to do so much more. More specifically, there are lots of things you can do on Android AND iOS, but the Apple Store T&Cs tie down what’s allowed. There’s even been an Android to iOS porting project this week that I wasn’t able to quote on because I knew two main features were not possible. Therein lies the problem starting with Android and porting to iOS.
MobiForge has an interesting post on how Android seemingly grew at the expense of iOS last year.
What makes this data particularly useful is the fact that it’s based on web traffic, not device sales. It’s the closest we can get to determining changing mobile OS use based on the installed base rather than new device sales.
At one time it was said that Android would grow due to market saturation in developed markets and takeup of Android in other countries. However, looking at the numbers, even the developed countries are losing iOS and gaining Android.
It remains to be seen if this is due to people becoming disappointed with new Apple products or whether it’s just a ‘blip’ caused by something else such as Apple’s device release dates.
I am always interested in iOS <-> Android code converters as they might make my job easier or even put me out of business! As yet, the problem has proven too complex to automate.
I just learnt about MechDome, a new converter that allows you to automatically convert from Android to iOS. It doesn’t even need your source code as it can decompile this from your apk install file. It produces native code with native UI controls.
However, once I started digging deeper I saw the limitations. The Android app must be Android 5.1 or later, not use Google Play Services (e.g. mapping) and not use JNI (c, c++). Unfortunately, just about every project I have worked on or I am currently working on doesn’t fit these requirements. Let’s hope MechDome becomes more flexible with time.
Also, most people tend to be looking at going from iOS to Android as they initially chase the money and then realise they need to go for reach.