Thoughts on the iOS and Android Duopoly

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.

Android to iOS Porting

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.

Android Growing, iOS Declining?

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.

MechDome Android to iOS Conversion

mechdomeI 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.

iOS to Android Native UI Conversion

myappconverterAbout 2 years ago I wrote about the MyAppConverter Objective c to Java and vice versa code converter. At the time I observed that the project was ambitious and questioned whether it was viable:

iOS Android Native App Conversion

The team have gone through what they are calling a ‘product market fit’ phase, and have decided to focus their effort on the native iOS UI to native Android UI porting.

The free alpha version is an online tool that quickly turns common UI components into native Android Java. A beta version will support 100% of all iOS UI components. You upload your Storyboard and xib file and download the native Android UI project that provides a skeleton app to kick-start porting your iOS app to Android.

More details can be found on the MyAppConverter blog.

How Often Should You Update Your (iOS) Paid App?

There was a thought provoking tweet by Alex Fehners today:

The resulting comments suggest about 1 year is a good update period to avoid the affect of reviews being reset. Obviously, this isn’t practical for most projects that need to release often.

It’s another good reason to avoid creating paid apps and look for a different business model.

IDC Reporting on Smartphone Shipments

idcIDC has new research on smartphone sales that, similar to Gartner, shows Android share at 85.3% and iOS at 13.9%. More significantly, IDC don’t expect the market share to change much up to 2020.

idcsmartphoneshipments

I personally don’t think the market shares will change much over that period. However, there could be outside influences such as mobile operating system security scares, Brexit fallout (at least in the UK) or corporate tax politics that could change peoples’ perception or affect pricing and hence purchasing significantly.

Gartner Smartphone Market Research

gartner136Gartner has a new press release Top 10 Worldwide Mobile Phone Vendors Increased Sales in Second Quarter of 2016. Gartner says Apple has had three consecutive quarters of slowing demand and now has only 12.9% market share vs 86.2% for Android.

gartnerq216

Probably more interesting for developers is that Windows has only 0.6% and Blackberry 0.1% market share and can probably be considered ‘dead’ with regard to financially viable app development.