The Fallacy Of Android-First

There has been a lot of discussion regarding this article in the last couple of days. I personally do not have enough technical experience to compare iOS and Android from a developer's perspective or to even defend Android in this case, if that is what is deserved.

It has caused many of the usual suspects in Apple circles to hold up this piece as a shining example that Android development is basically shit and some are taking it further and deriding the platform all together, quoting convenient data points. This doesn't help either.

What I can say however, as clichéd as it sounds, is that are always two sides to every story. Anuj Ahooja who has experience in Android development has expressed his thoughts on the matter in the comments thread of this Google+ post. I'll repeat it below for the convenience of the readers:

"I agree with a lot of what they said, but they act as victims rather than additionally being self-critical. That's a huge issue when you're claiming a complete framework is flawed.

Their first mistake was trying to integrate with SMS/MMS. Ignoring all the obvious pains, you lock yourself into only the platforms that open up the API for that (ie. only Android). That seems really short-sighted. When you want a feature-rich application like Emu, you need to own the whole end-to-end. Of course, their first red flag should've been the undocumented API, which is basically an API owner's way of saying "we don't want you to do this."

Additionally, they claim "fragmentation" causing issues with their pop-up windows. These modal dialogs outside of your application are not a standard UI piece in Android. You have to use workarounds to implement them and, therefore, Android cannot guarantee full-working functionality on every single modified experience, nor should you expect them to. If you want everything to work, stay within the bounds of the framework or don't expect it to work across the board.

As for the Pandora issue - I've actually had this happen but a very long time ago when Google Talk was around. I can't really pinpoint what caused it nor do I remember what device it was on, but that was definitely something that happened more than once for me.

One thing I do agree with is Android's APIs being in constant flux. At this point, you'd expect Android's APIs to become more mature and not change as often, but they still do. It's a huge pain-point that I hope they solve soon." 

Google is definitely to blame for the aforementioned issues, but that doesn't mean all app categories are immediately doomed to fail if you decide to make an Android application. Pocket Casts is a notable example and on a recent episode of The Prompt, Russell Ivanonic who is one of the developers at Shifty Jelly, the company who develops the app, said that the Android version has outsold their iOS app since version four was released.

Google is improving their platform and developer tools at a very quick pace, as mentioned on that The Prompt episode, and will hopefully address these and other issues at this year's Google I/O. Apple's platform isn't perfect either, but perhaps is more refined. My point is that you cannot use one person's account of their experience to wholesale bash a platform and condemn it to utter failure because you're not a fan of or use it.

Yes, Android developers may have a smaller chance to make it big than their iOS counterparts today, but, from my understanding, their situation is significantly better than what is was a few years ago and will likely continue to improve as long as Google is as serious about Android as they publicly make it out to be. Both companies' respective developers conference this year will be most intriguing to follow in this regard.