New tools to make Android development easier; Apple could take a lesson

Android gives its developers some new tools to track OS popularity. It's all apart of the developer-friendly strategy.

The upgraded versions of Android just keep coming - and a new data dashboard for Android developers gives them some insight into which OS versions are in use.

Android 2.0.1 - which is the OS on Motorola's Droid for Verizon - is in use by 15 percent of the Android owners. Obvously, newer versions will grow as the devices become more popular and overtake the old OS versions.

From the data, developers can see that there is no usage of Android 1.0 and less than one-half of one percent is using version 1.1. In those cases, developers don't really need to sweat the backward compatibility for those devices. However, version 1.5, which has different screen sizes and densities than 1.6, is in use by nearly 28 percent of Android users. Version 1.6 is in use by more than half. So, developers can't really leave those folks out in the cold. The data is based on visits to the Android Market in the past 14 days - so those who haven't stopped by to browse in the past two weeks aren't counted.

It's interesting to see how developer-friendly Google is becoming - even with just insight data like this. It's a far cry from the hair-pulling experiences that developers on Apple's platform are going through, largely caused by lengthy approval delays. In fact, a post on Scobelizer this morning talks about how developers have become so frustrated with Apple's approval process that many have ditched app development and gone to rich Web experiences instead - which kind of takes some steam away from the app experience that Apple highlights.

There's already plenty of buzz - some from me, too - that 2010 will be the year of Android. Unless Apple gets its act together on this approval process - and fast - it could find itself playing catchup to Google's Android next year. Even though I had some mad iPhone envy, my good experiences with Droid are slowly doing away with that envy.

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