Why do apps from the same developer look worse on Android than on iPhone?

“When I use an iPhone and an Android phone at the same time, I often find that apps from the same company look a lot different on these two platforms – the ones on Android usually look much worse,” Android Gripes writes.

MacDailyNews Note: In the full article, Android Gripes provides screenshots of a couple of examples.

“Since the apps of interest are [each] from the same company, they should have the same user interface standard, even if the iPhone versions and the Android versions are developed by different people,” Android Gripes writes. “But why do they look so different? Is it because iPhone developers are better at user interface design? Is it because the iPhone development environment is better than the Android’s? Is it because iPhone users care more about user interface? Or is it because Android itself implants the ignorance of beauty, usability and focus on details into the community at the first place?”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Perhaps the developers, consciously or subconsciously, put the extra effort into the versions they know will have a much better chance of generating revenue? After all, you can’t make a living off a user base that consists of cheapskate BOGOF pigeons, elderly Consumer Reports subscribers, and pseudo-freetards.

[Attribution: Daring Fireball. Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “MrMcLargeHuge” for the heads up.]

37 Comments

  1. I wondered this, as I downloaded Angry Birds Rio to my Android phone, and the graphics are much worse than on my iPod touch.

    Lucky I don’t use my phone for gaming. That’s what the iPod touch is for.

  2. Of the two people I know who have “hemorrhoid” phones, one has downloaded a few free (foursquare, facebook) apps. Neither, has bought anything. And the Facebook app on his phone looks like crap. Google couldn’t care less how apps look and feel. They just hope devs make as many as possible, so they can try to catch up with Apple.

    1. Maybe the Android platform (read: collection of similar unixy distributions) has a Zune Tang of its own, disguised as a developer who churns out as many damning apps as possible, to infest the platform.

  3. wow, what a slam in that last paragraph. anyways, its true. I’ve owned both the iPhone 4 and the HTC Inspire 4G, and the same app looks worse on Android than on iPhone. I’ve always wondered why that is. Some are even missing features on Android. Flick Fishing is a good example. The iPhone version allows you to brag to your friends about the catch you just made. The Android version doesn’t do that.

    Note: I do have an iPhone currently. I am much happier. What was I thinking, going to Android?

      1. I was thinking that Android is way more customizable, had widgets, etc. I found out that I was right (and the Android hardware is amazing), however, as Apple’s latest commercial says, “If you don’t have an iPhone, you don’t have an iPhone”. Enough said.

  4. Having read the article and seen the screen shots, I have to wonder if the cause is the differences in the GUI tools and software libraries available to developers. The same situation exists when comparing Mac vs. Windows development and results.

    1. Both you and the author are wondering the same thing.

      Android Gripes writes. “But why do they look so different? Is it because iPhone developers are better at user interface design? Is it because the iPhone development environment is better than the Android’s? Is it because iPhone users care more about user interface? Or is it because Android itself implants the ignorance of beauty, usability and focus on details into the community at the first place?”

    2. Then we have MDNs take:

      Perhaps the developers, consciously or subconsciously, put the extra effort into the versions they know will have a much better chance of generating revenue? After all, you can’t make a living off a user base that consists of cheapskate BOGOF pigeons, elderly Consumer Reports subscribers, and pseudo-freetards.

    3. Could it be that apps with a sleek GUI wouldn’t be appreciated by Android users? If you’re too good on that platform, it just looks silly and you’re the oddball.

  5. The explanation is simpler than you think. When one organization puts user experience front and center and releases SDKs that reflect this fundamental value the end result is predictable: apps that look better and interact better with the user.

    There are published guidelines for iOS developers to follow in terms of UI dicta which Android sorely neglects. 

    Google’s sole prerogative is to get Android into as many handsets as possible sacrificing quality for quantity. When your entire mindset is driven by advertisement derived revenue you tend to cut corners. Besides any Tom, Dick or Harry can upload an app on the Google Marketplace with predictably crappy results.

    1. “…get Android into as many handsets as possible sacrificing quality for quantity.”

      Not just quality, but profits. The only way to sell against the transcendently functional and beautiful iOS experience is to do it cheaper. Android OS is free, with Google hoping to make it back on search/advertising. The Android handset makers, without having to pay OS licensing fees, go even further by giving away the phones, desperate just to be in the game. How long can they stand to make pennies while Apple makes billions? Just look at the windows pc OEMs. They’re still happy to make a profitless commodity.

  6. Android is well on its way to becoming the Windows of the 2010’s. The GUI’s speak volumes about the clunky nature of this fragmented eco-system.

  7. Excuse me everyone. The reason the iPhone apps looks better than the Android apps and Mac’s interface looks better than the Windows interface is Steve Jobs sat in on a calligraphy class ages ago at Reed College.

  8. And this is why I waited damn near four years to get an iPhone instead of settling for something inferior (no AT&T coverage).

    I watched as friends and colleagues made remarks about how they could do this or that with their HTC pieces of crap as I used by POS Motorola feature phone for years longer than it deserved . . . and my remark from those who asked why I hadn’t jumped up to a smart phone was always a polite, “I will when the best phone for me is available on my network.” And what I knew all along was that the best phone “for me” was the best phone, period.

  9. There’s probably a combination of reasons, but since noone has mentioned it yet, I’d add that when you have to design for a fragmented group of devices and OS versions, you end up with a LOWEST-COMMON DENOMINATOR product. One that fits and works on as many devices as possible, but not one optimized for any of them.

    1. I don’t have the documentation at hand, but I think part of it has to do with the way Android generates graphics on to the screen. That is, Apple iOS has native sub-pixel rendering whereas Android does not. Put simply, iOS graphics perform more smoothly because they render more quickly and move in less than one pixel width and height.

      Anyone can confirm this?

  10. The real difference is the target audience’s expectations.

    Android users could care less about standards, which is antithetical to the desires of iOS/Mac users, who have come to expect a divine experience with their devices.

    Android users want it raw and incomplete so that they can connect the dots, they can unravel the mysteries of Android’s raison d’être.

    They aren’t interested in guidelines, or guiding principles, that’s too constraining. They believe if the experience is too predictable and consistent, it’s not magical, and there’s no chance their work will lead to unlocking the secrets of the universe.

    Eighty percent of Apple consumers view their devices as implements of productivity, while everyone else is preoccupied with the device itself, or the box it came in.

    If your target audience isn’t included in the design process, then you’re just fishing with nuts and bolts.

  11. It’s self-fulfilling prophecy. You get what you sow. If you create a platform with great importance on design, you eventually get both partners and customers who place similar value on great design. If you create a platform and product that are mediocre and cheap, then you eventually draw cheapskate partners and customers who are fine with mediocrity.

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