Tweetdeck to Jobs: Developing for Android isn't so bad

Tweetdeck to Jobs: Developing for Android isn't so bad

Summary: Apple CEO suggested that Android is a nightmare for developers when it comes to building apps - and used TweetDeck as an example to drive home the point. The only problem is that TweetDeck doesn[t feel it's a problem, according to a tweet from its founder this morning.

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On yesterday's earnings conference call with analysts, Apple CEO Steve Jobs went on a now well-publicized rant about the competition, spending a fair amount of time trying to portray Android as a complex, messy system that has so many different versions that it's a nightmare for app developers. To drive home his point, he used the example of TweetDeck, the popular Twitter app.

Jobs said:

Twitter client, Twitter Deck, recently launched their app for Android. They reported that they had to contend with more than 100 different versions of Android software on 244 different handsets. The multiple hardware and software iterations present developers with a daunting challenge. Many Android apps work only on selected Android handsets running selected Android versions. And this is for handsets that have been shipped less than 12 months ago. Compare this with iPhone, where there are two versions of the software, the current and the most recent predecessor to test against.

That sounds like a nightmare, huh? But maybe it wasn't. Early this morning, TweetDeck founder Iain Dodsworth shot off a quick tweet that read:

A post on the Business Insider blog today links back to a TweetDeck blog post from last week that talks about the Android ecosystem and the number of devices. The last line of the entry is the one that drives it home (with my emphasis added):

As we bring our initial Android TweetDeck beta period to a close, we wanted to quickly reflect on the Android ecosystem and what might be considered extreme fragmentation. To date we've had 36,427 active beta testers and below you can see the massive variety of phones and Android OS versions everyone is running. We were really shocked to see the number of custom roms, crazy phones and general level of customization/hackalicious nature of Android. From our perspective it's pretty cool to have our app work on such a wide variety of devices and Android OS variations.

Maybe Jobs should have asked them how they felt about it before he spoke for them. Just sayin'.

Also see: Apple's Jobs pans Android: Integrated will trump modular models?

Topics: Android, CXO, Google, IT Employment

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35 comments
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  • Yes, sounds like the apis exposed through the Davik VM make it fairly easy

    to target all of the different versions of the OS and form factors. Obviously you have to consider the different screen sizes and how it will look on the smallest and the largest. You also have to deal with differences in features like GPS, camara, accelerometer, etc, for some applications.
    DonnieBoy
    • RE: Tweetdeck to Jobs: Developing for Android isn't so bad

      @DonnieBoy True, its easy to deal with different versions of Android as long as you develop for the lowest common denominator. The only way you can really simplify things is if you target Android 1.5, which obviously means you can't take advantage of any new APIs introduced in 1.6 or later. You either dumb down your app to make it compatible or utilize cutting edge features and risk 90% of devices being incompatible with it.<br><br>BTW: If you really think all the different form factors and versions aren't an issue, obviously you have not only never written any mobile apps, but I seriously doubt you've ever developed anything in your life. That isn't a matter of opinion, its a matter of fact.
      Tiggster
      • RE: Tweetdeck to Jobs: Developing for Android isn't so bad

        @Tiggster This post is right on point.
        cmoya
      • Are YOU a developer?

        @Tiggster
        [i]The only way you can really simplify things is if you target Android 1.5, which obviously means you can't take advantage of any new APIs introduced in 1.6 or later. You either dumb down your app to make it compatible or utilize cutting edge features and risk 90% of devices being incompatible with it.[/i]

        Wow, this is just so wrong. You [b]can[/b] write an application that takes advantage of APIs that are there while falling back gracefully if the API isn't there. You think that iOS apps written for the Retina display magically stop working on older iOS devices? You think that Google Maps [b]only[/b] works on devices with compasses? How exactly do you think that Universal iOS apps (apps that take advantage of the iPad GUI API if it is there but can also run on iPhone/iPod) were written? You think that Angry Birds suddenly stopped working on iOS devices that don't have Game Center?

        To say that you MUST either code for the base API [b]or[/b] for the latest API is just wrong. Just wrong.

        [i]If you really think all the different form factors and versions aren't an issue, obviously you have not only never written any mobile apps[/i]

        Of course it is an issue. No one is saying it isn't. Where Steve Jobs is [b]lying[/b] is that he wants us to believe that it is [b]only[/b] an issue with Android. It isn't. He is [b]lying[/b]. Different form factors and versions are an issue in iOS as well. In fact, they are arguably even [b]worse[/b] with iOS since the iPad has a totally different GUI API.
        NonZealot
      • RE: Tweetdeck to Jobs: Developing for Android isn't so bad

        @Tiggster Bullocks - it's easy to use a bit of reflection to support 1.5 and 2.2 at the same time. I do it in DroidIn to manage contacts. Is it additional pain - yes, can it be done and is it worth it to add another 20% user-base, yes and yes
        droidin.net
  • Time for an analogy!!

    So according to Jobs, if you want to develop for the Mac, you are going to face a nightmare. After all, you have to test your software on the following models:
    - Mac Mini
    - iMac
    - Mac Pro
    - MacBook
    - MacBook Pro
    - MacBook Air

    Every one of those models that has a built in screen (except for the MBA) comes in different screen sizes so you need to test your application for all those screen sizes. The Mac Mini and Mac Pro don't come with screens so for those models, you need to test your app for every single size and resolution of monitor that could be attached to the computer.

    Most of these computers came with options for different types of CPUs, some are Intel Core 2 Duos, some are i5s, some are i7s (I'm going to ignore PPC to be kind). So you need to test your app for all those CPUs.

    Not everyone has upgraded to Snow Leopard so you need to test your application for every single version of OS X that is out there.

    Wow. It is amazing that a single OS X app is ever written!!!!

    Unless Steve Jobs is being disingenuous about how hard it is to test things on Android.
    NonZealot
    • Well, obviously, Jobs wants to discourage as many iOS developers as

      possible from making an Android version. They do not want to lose the application advantage, but, it is only a matter of time.
      DonnieBoy
    • That's the danger of propaganda, use only IF you can silence your opponents

      @NonZealot <br><br>Every falsehood you launch against your competitors can easily be used against you. iSteve is very experienced, I find it surprising how he let himself get trapped so easily. Looks like something from an amateur.<br><br>I was expecting more of him. You can only do what he did if you can silence your opponents and iSteve has no way to silence opponents who don't work for Apple.<br><br>Propaganda is safe only IF yours is the only voice that can be heard. iSteve: <b>Big Mistake!</b>
      OS Reload
      • RE: Tweetdeck to Jobs: Developing for Android isn't so bad

        @OS Reload and DonnieBoy

        Wow, you are agreeing with NonZealot. I guess "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" is true in this case or maybe it's just reverse day.
        Yax_to_the_Max
    • RE: Tweetdeck to Jobs: Developing for Android isn't so bad

      @NonZealot Nothing you mention has any effect whatsoever on application development for the Mac. The issues he raised are largely unique, or at least intensified, on a mobile platform. Instead of instinctively looking for a way to discredit someone's argument, why don't you use a little logic first to make sure you aren't the one sounding clueless? :-)
      Tiggster
      • RE: Tweetdeck to Jobs: Developing for Android isn't so bad

        @Tiggster
        [i]The issues he raised are largely unique, or at least intensified, on a mobile platform.[/i]

        Saying this doesn't make it true. Back up your statement.
        NonZealot
      • RE: Tweetdeck to Jobs: Developing for Android isn't so bad

        @NonZealot Do I really need to explain this to you? All of the models you listed support the standard screen resolutions you would expect on a PC. Very few applications would need a display area larger than 1024x768 which all of them support. Do Windows developers need to test their PC software on all Windows hardware? Absolutely not.

        And did you really say that since they use different CPUs, they must be tested on all as well? OMG! What type of fiction have you mistaken for technical literature?

        What you said makes no sense at all and I'm surprised I have to explain it to you.
        Tiggster
      • Wow. Just. Wow.

        @Tiggster <br><i>What you said makes no sense at all and I'm surprised I have to explain it to you.</i><br><br>Yet when Steve Jobs says <b>the exact same thing</b> about Android, it makes perfect sense to you?<br><br>You <b>totally</b> missed the point of my post and I was even making it <b>very</b> clear that this was analogous to what Steve Jobs was saying. I started with this, did you miss it?
        [i]So according to Jobs, if you want to develop for the Mac, you are going to face a nightmare.[/i]

        Steve Jobs is saying that an Android application must be tested for every model of Android on every carrier for every resolution. It is an idiotic statement. My post was showing that, were someone to say <b>the exact same thing</b> about developing for OS X, people like you would start freaking out about how stupid a statement it was. I agree. Steve Jobs' statement about Android is stupid. And you just helped me prove it. Thanks.
        NonZealot
    • NZ on ZD Payroll?

      @NonZealot - After reading NZ's nonsensical postings for a few weeks now I've concluded that this "village idiot" is paid by ZD to infuriate the readers into responding. He's probably a in his early 30's, jobless and living at home with his mother with nothing better to do than conspire about Steve Jobs/Apple. I wonder if ZD advertising rates are tied to hullabaloo or controversy?
      Gr8Music
      • RE: Tweetdeck to Jobs: Developing for Android isn't so bad

        @Gr8Music
        If he's paid, then he has a job. If he's paid and at home, then he's telecommuting.

        Let's talk about the issue du jour. Jobs points out that developing for Android means developing for a variety of hardware and os configurations. TweetDeck put a specific number on that. TweetDeck follows up by saying that it wasn't a problem.

        All right. Android's diversity is not an unduly complicating factor in making a Twitter client. Good news for Twitter client developers.

        But..... not everything is like a Twitter client. Other classes of applications? Well, maybe no problem, or maybe a qa nightmare. Maybe something in between.

        Remember how Apple detractors are fond of arguing that its stability is a consequence of a smaller set of hardware configurations? It made sense then, it makes sense now.

        Jobs quoted a statistic, and it was out of context. Fair point. But TweetDeck's statistic is analyzed by them in their context. YMMV. Make your choices as you see fit.
        DannyO_0x98
      • @Danny: Huge difference

        [i]Remember how Apple detractors are fond of arguing that its stability is a consequence of a smaller set of hardware configurations?[/i]

        First off, this is a myth that is perpetrated by Apple zealots but we'll ignore that you got the source wrong.

        The argument is that the [b]OS[/b] doesn't have to deal with quite so many hardware combinations and that this, theoretically, makes the [b]OS[/b] more stable. No one, not even Apple zealots, have ever made the argument that the Mac ecosystem is easier [b]on application developers[/b] because the Mac ecosystem only has 1,000+ unique combinations while the PC ecosystem has 1,000,000+ unique combinations.

        So, if you want to start making the case that Android (and Android apps) crash more often, please provide evidence for that case. Keep in mind though that this is [b]not[/b] what Steve Jobs is talking about. He is trying to make the case that Android developers have to do something "extra" for every single combination of Android hardware and software out there. This is a lie. Pure and simple. A lie.
        NonZealot
      • Does that include the others

        like cybersalmmer, DonnieBoy, ect?

        they are quite the Anti-Microsoft act.
        Tim Cook
    • RE: Tweetdeck to Jobs: Developing for Android isn't so bad

      @NonZealot Every CPU? LOL.
      cmoya
      • Yet Steve Jobs would have you believe this is true of Android

        @cmoya
        Steve Jobs wants you to believe that you must test an Android app for every single hardware configuration out there. LOL!
        NonZealot
  • Propaganda doesn't have to be accurate

    iSteve has a right to do it (I'm glad he did it, I love having a good laugh.) Besides, Microsoft does it too anyway. Remember the recent WP7 Angry Birds announcement by Microsoft?<br><br>You're bound to make mistakes such as these once you engage too deeply into propaganda, there's no escape. Except when yours is the only voice to be heard, of course, which is not the case here.
    OS Reload