Android Wars

With the the latest news out that Apple have won a patent battle (all be it a small one!) over HTC and the Android OS My Computer Warehouse take a closer look at the two rivals.

Ever since the launch of the iPhone and Apple’s accompanying iOS in 2007 every other smartphone manufacturer and software developer has been playing catch up! Apple have enjoyed superior design, technology and reliability than any of it’s rivals could achieve and this has ensured the dynamite success of the iPhone.

One of the biggest differences and debates that arises between iOS and Android smartphones is that of Adobe Flash support. Apple made a very bold decision early on not to support Flash web plug-ins on the iOS whereas the Android went the opposite way. Until recently this has been debated as possibly the iPhone’s, and anything else using Apple’s iOS, only downfall. Until in another recent Apple victory it was announced the Adobe was giving up on a Flash server platform for iOS and was going to instead concentrate on other platforms like Android – I know it seems like an empty victory but Steve Jobs never wanted Flash support for the iPhone! Now major media corporations (see BBC) are choosing the iOS platform for web streaming media rather than the Flash equivalent since Apple’s market share with numerous devises is so strong – If you want to reach the masses, you have to use the same platform as them!!

In March 2010 Apple filed a complain stating that HTC had violated 10 of its patents, in the prelim hearing in June a Judge found there only to be 2 violations and in the final hearing that has been now ruled as only one violation on HTC’s part.

This recent legal battle with HTC will only be the start of a war waged on the Android OS, developed by the Open Handset Alliance and led by Google, as Apple seek to defend the technological advantages it has over its rival.

In a bid to compete with the iPhone many Android Smartphone producers look to ensure that they have competitive price advantage over the iPhone which brings in a certain share of the market. Due to the exclusivity and technological advancement of the product the Apple iPhone does tend to command a higher retail price, but could that all change if the other Smartphone manufacturers and the Android system start to claw back some of the technological advantage that Apple has enjoyed over the past few years?!


Opportunities in Android App Development

Android based smartphones have captured the imagination of global users. Users are getting addicted with the unique applications developed on this platform. Consumer demands in terms of applications are on the rise and thus app development has acquired center stage. As a result, Android app development has presented a wealth of opportunity for developers, businesses and individuals looking to invest.

This platform comprehensively supports development of applications for different categories and verticals. Moreover, with the emergence of enterprise mobility, even businesses can harness the benefits of this platform to optimize their workplace efficiency. They can easily get customized applications developed on this platform.

Initially there were security and breakdown concerns. These threats have been eliminated with some of the latest and sophisticated technology advancements. This ensures that Android platform is less prone to vulnerabilities and reliable for complex developments.

Why Android development matters

Since the emergence, its popularity has sky rocketed. As per the recent stats more than 7, 00,000 applications have been developed on this platform and over 25 billion downloads across the globe. This has given rise to new applications and development support to meet the constantly growing demand.

Cell phones have made inroads in almost all walks of human lives. They are being used prominently for personal use, but are also compelling businesses to make a move on from legacy systems to mobile. These emerging trends require the development of complex applications. Enterprises can opt for mobile applications development based on Android to get tailored apps specific to their organizational purposes.

The Android brand is showing no signs of slowing down. The number of smartphones activated on a daily basis is also on the rise with every passing day. This would help enterprise to support the BYOD trend. There are numerous benefits associated with Android application development, these are

  • It is open source and free, this cuts down the development cost substantially
  • It is affordable, and does not restrict the development process with license expenses
  • It is best suited for inter application integration
  • It also allow development of custom apps for online stores

As this platform is booming, many professional development firms have started providing development services. Everyday more and more development teams are showing up. However, development of applications based on this platform is not a cakewalk. It demands high level of expertise and tons of experience in developing apps for different verticals. No matter if it is an individual app idea or development for business; it requires developers having robust skill set. An ideal development firm would be capable of developing apps for different verticals such as –

  • Sports
  • Social networking
  • Finance
  • weather
  • Business
  • games
  • Travel
  • News
  • Utilities
  • navigation, etc

As the competition in the digital world continues to intensify, it becomes imperative for business to grab opportunities by making investments on Android apps development. This is a perfect platform to get easy-to-use, customer oriented and technologically advanced applications.


How To Go About Testing Your Android App

Be it the enterprise market or the consumer market, the one aspect of Android that makes it a hard beast to handle is the fragmentation – device, platform and OS. If developing an Android app is a big enough deal, the fragmentation makes the testing of it an even bigger deal.

What is the first thing to do before you consider submitting your app to the Google play store – TEST… Test… test. A company that has had a Million downloads for their app has tested it in about 400 different devices. Well, the idea of testing your app in 400 different devices definitely creates a high barrier for entry into the Android app market – both in terms of cost and testing time. But the entire testing can be addressed in an intelligent way which makes it viable for an app developer.

Going by the 80-20 Rule for Devices

It is almost impossible for small companies and solo app developers to carry out elaborate testing of their apps across various devices. It is extremely time consuming to test manually and even worse, it simply is not cost effective.

One of the best ways to address this problem is to go by the 80-20 principle. As a general rule, 80% of the market is controlled by 20% of Android devices. What this means for you is that by testing on that 20% alone you have covered most of your market and that is a great start. Once you have seen traction for your app, you can invest more resources into catering to the long tail Android market.

So, what is the best way to go about finding the percentage distribution?

– Android website stats to find the popular OS versions
– Android website stats to find the most popular DPI-Screen size combination
– Devices that cover both the above

One of the points to keep in mind is that it is important to not spend valuable initial resources on testing your app on outdated phones and OS in an attempt to be thorough. If you have enough resources to start with, then it might be a good idea to test your app on the most popular devices across the price range – high, mid and low end.

Using the Android Emulator

The Android SDK ships with a device emulator that runs on your computer. This is an alternative for prototyping and testing your app instead of using an actual device. There are a lot of disadvantages in this option – you cannot make actual phone calls, the difference in terms of results when used on the actual device can be ridiculously bad. The general advice is to test the app at-least once on an actual device or use the other options described here.

Using a Third Party Testing Service

The success of the Android app marketplace has led to a plethora of services that contribute to the app ecosystem. Some of the most useful are the ones that provide offshore testing for Android apps. They offer a variety of testing services – functional, integration, load and usability testing.

Some of the bigger companies find it efficient to have the testing team in-house – especially those in gaming who push constant updates to their apps. But offshore testing can be a decent option for companies just starting out in the Android app market.

Some of the services available in the market are Testology, utest, Test-droid, App Thwack and Ranorex.

Design Tests While App Development Is On

One of the best ways to bring down the total development time is by carrying out test designing simultaneously with app design and development. This method saves time drastically especially if you are pushing a feature to a live app. Once the specifications for a feature are decided on, the specs for the test can be written when the development of the feature happens. These tests can be run right after the feature development is over and the feedback can be funneled into the system back again for refinements.

Android development and testing are not straightforward just because of the multitude of platforms and devices. The above options should help you def-rag your app development and testing process.