Developers Delight: iOS or Android

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Why app developers love iOS, not Android..?

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Apple, perhaps for the first time other than the data it shares during events, has officially disclosed ‘fragmentation’ data for iOS devices.

According to the data available on the Apple website, 93 percent of iOS devices run iOS 6, the latest version of Apple’s operating system. Just 6 percent of devices run iOS 5 and only 1 percent devices run iOS 4 or earlier. Apparently, this includes all iOS devices i.e. iPhones, iPod touch devices as well as iPads.

The graph that Apple has shared is very similar (in principal, if not the trends) to what Google shares every month for Android. It will be interesting to see if Apple updates this data every month, like Google does, or if this remains a one-off.

According to data shared by google, only 4 percent of Android devices run the latest version, Android 4.2. If you expand the criteria to include all Jelly Bean (Android 4.1 and Android 4.2) devices, even then the number touches just 33 percent, a heaven and earth comparison when you stack it up against iOS.

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Google’s data is for all Android devices as well, mobiles and tablets. Interestingly, Apple’s data is based on devices connecting to Apple’s App Store during a 14-day period ending June 3, 2013. This is the same cut-off date and criteria that Google used to share its last set of data. Google releases fresh data using the 3rd as the cut off for each month based on devices that connect to the Play Store during a 14-day period.

As is evident from the charts, fragmentation is rampant on Android, making it difficult for developers to write code against APIs available in the latest version of the OS. As a contrast, Apple developers can make use of all the latest features and write iOS 6-only apps, and be confident that their apps will still reach nearly all of the iOS install base. Android developers, as a contrast, must either maintain various copies of code, each targeting different versions of Android, or continue to use outdated APIs to ensure their apps reach a critical mass.

Of course, the Android fragmentation is even worse when you consider variants/ versions of Android that do not get to connect to the Google Play store, like Amazon’s Kindle Fire devices, as well as third-party manufacturers that are unable to ship with Play Store on board due to google’s requirements. As indicated earlier, such Android devices are not included in the dat Google shares.

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