Pragmatic 33: The Shopfront Window Is Still The Same Size

19 August, 2014

CURRENT

Loyalty to a single platform can be a risky business position for developers. Russell Ivanovic of Shifty Jelly joins John to discuss his experiences on Android vs iOS and shows that putting Android willingly in your blindspot may cause you to miss out.

Transcript available
Welcome to Pragmatic. Pragmatic is a weekly discussion show contemplating the practical application of technology. Exploring the real world trade-offs, we look at how great ideas are transformed into products and services that can change our lives. Nothing is as simple as it seems. This episode is sponsored by ManyTricks, makers of helpful apps for the Mac. Visit ManyTricks, all one word, dot com slash pragmatic for more information about their apps, Butler, Chemo, Leech, Moom, Witch, Desktop Curtain, TimeSync, NameAngler and Usher. If you visit that URL, you can use the code Pragmatic25, that's Pragmatic, the word, two, five, the numbers, in the shopping cart to save 25% on any ManyTricks product. We'll talk about them more during the show. I'm your host John Chidgy and I'm joined today with my guest host Russell Ivanovich. That's how you say it right, isn't it Russell? I think technically for the Eastern Europeans it's Ivanovich but I'll accept Ivanovich. Okay, Russell Ivanovich. Got it. No, I just like to make sure I say people's names right, that's all. Because I've got such a terrible last name and everyone gets Chidgy wrong and they insert D's and L's and I don't know why but they just do. So anyway. Yeah, it kind of does feel like there needs to be an L after the G but I shouldn't talk like Ivanovic is complicated enough. Oh dear. Anyway, yes, so there you go. Last names. Okay, so before we get stuck into today's topic, I just wanted to quickly say thank you to - for some iTunes reviews, just to say hi and thank you to Sneak J from Australia, Nathan Yell14 from the US, and Darren OY from Singapore for their lovely iTunes review. So, thank you very much for those. Anyway, the point is and that's something for you Darren. Okay, so I specifically wanted to get you on to talk about something that it's somewhat of a rarity. I look around the developer space particularly the indie developer space and I look at people that have got essentially a foot in both camps. The camps meaning one in like iOS and the Apple camp and Android the Google camp. And I think it's a good topic to explore is why people become so obsessed with one platform versus the other and why there's resistance to supporting both and the reasons and justifications that people seem to throw around as to why you should do one and not the other. And I think you are the perfect man to talk to about this. Well, we can certainly try. I can't I can't say I'm the perfect person, but you've got me, so you have to make do. Okay, well, we're going to make do, it's fine, no worries, it's all good. So, okay, so how many other indie developers that are you aware of that actually have a foot in both camps? Because I'm not aware of any off the top of my head. I've been thinking about this actually, just in the last few minutes, and I think it's only one and a half that I can think of off the top of my head. So the half would be Mark Edwards, I don't know if you know him, of Bajango fame. he has his Scala preview app is available on Android but it's funny the only reason he has that is because he got us to build it so that's that's why he's the half. But still he recognized at a very early stage that you know there's designers on Android too and they'd benefit from his app and the one I don't know if you know a guy called Justin Williams? Yes. Yeah so he's even on I don't know if he's on Windows Phone as well but he definitely does you know cross-platform development and he's just like a one-man army really. Okay. But yeah, I look at all the other people I know and they're either in the Apple camp or the Google camp. There doesn't seem to be much else in between. Yeah, it's interesting, isn't it? And I sort of, okay. So it's hard to know where to start this conversation because it's a little bit circular. So what I think I just want to before we really start peeling it apart is thinking about this goes beyond just software, but we'll focus on software obviously because it's you know you and me and we're both software guys, but well I am in a sense I don't claim to be an iOS developer, but I do write software for a living. So anyway point is you can this applies across the board to all sorts of fields of human endeavor I guess for the one of a better way of saying it I mean it applies to cars like if you're an Australian, Ford versus Holden, that's one example right there. Politics, again, Labor versus Liberal, or Democrat versus Republican. Soft drinks, Coke versus Pepsi. Yeah, I mean, the list goes on and on and on. If I really thought about it, I think there would be so many things where people just get invested in either a brand or in a certain viewpoint about a certain platform, and they stick with it and they justify it, and I say, well, I'm sticking with this and here's my reasons. Half of the reasons aren't even logical. So anyway, so starting off with some of the articles you've written, because I think that one of the things that I enjoy reading your blog, and there'll be a link in the show notes to this, is the fact that you often take the stance of, I'm an iOS developer and I'm developing for Android. And here's actually a reality check about Android and try and put the facts on the table. And two examples that I love recently is bug splitting and the Android screen fragmentation myth. Long name for an article, but very good one. So could I just ask, what is it that sort of compels, has compelled you to sort of put that out there? - I think it's just my personality. Like ever since I've sort of joined the workforce, found that I really can't stand it when people take an opinion that they they can't justify or they use you know just common common held wisdom to to you know back it up you know my friend said this and then I heard that and then the same saying just gets repeated over and over again and you hear that a lot about it Android and the Apple side and to be fair it happens the other way around too you meet sort of hardcore Android people and they're just as as fanatical and I just I don't know there's something that just rubs me the wrong way about that Like it's it's fine to prefer one device over another it's even fine to prefer one company over another but to Make up all these weird and wonderful reasons You know why you have that preference that maybe have no basis in reality. I don't know something about that just irks me and I think it's It's interesting like I enjoy writing. I wouldn't say I'm brilliant at it or anything like that But I do enjoy it like I enjoy sort of you know writing articles and just writing sort of various things And I kind of looked at the space and thought everyone's writing about Apple You know, there's there's no shortage of coverage and there's no shortage of good coverage, you know, it's amazing And then there are people writing about the Android side of things as well But it's a lot more from the perspective of you know, new devices new phones new new updates new whatever There's no one really sort of taking a more critical look at the Development side of things and that's that's kind of why I started that blog in the first place is I just wanted to To cover that a bit more in it. It was just before we were going to Google I/O as well So it felt like a good time to to just write about these things that that all the people I guess that I associate with Have never really experienced, you know A lot of the the iOS and Mac developers that you know, I really love hanging out with you know, great great guys and girls They just they don't have experience on that side of the fence So it's just interesting to to kind of write about it and explain the differences and even Some of the things that when you find out about how the other side works, it can make you reflect You know on how the way things work on the Apple side you start to think "Oh, wouldn't it be great if this worked like that?" Or if they, in this aspect, they could be a bit more like Google, and in this aspect, it's kind of nice that they're not like Google. And kind of to get the best of both worlds, I guess. Was that the longest answer ever to a very simple question? (laughs) - I don't think that that was necessarily a simple question, and I'm glad that you sort of went to that depth. For me, what I think is so refreshing about it is that you tend to put the facts on the table and say a perfect example is the screen fragmentation myth, because everyone will say, well, all these phones are different sizes. Well, yes, but that doesn't mean that they're all different resolutions, which is what you mainly concerned about, I would expect. And then if you break that down, it turns out that there's actually not that much variability when you consider the layout tools that you've got and you can specify, and this is a bit you should be talking about, 'cause I'm now repeating back to you what you've written down in your article, but you know what I mean. So, you know, for that specific case, it's really not that much extra work. This is me again, paraphrasing you, but it doesn't sound like it isn't an extra lot of that much extra work. And it's a bunch of XML files, I think you say in the, I haven't actually used it. So I'm again, just, yeah. So it's not that much extra work really, is it? To support those screen sizes. - No, it's the one thing every time we tell someone that we do Android development, they're like, oh, you know, how do you deal with all those different screen sizes? and that's that's actually one of the easiest parts of Android development and that's not me sort of being a fanboy or trying to Exaggerate there's there's work involved obviously if there was only one screen size It would be less work than if there was five But the fact is when you have you know five or six screen sizes and they're not they don't vary by that much You know, there's maybe 40 pixels on the right. There might be you know, 40 pixels on the bottom or whatever It's not it's not a huge variation to have to deal with and the the tools that Google have kind of built into Android from day one have always Catered for that, you know, they knew there was going to be different screen sizes. So they built it in from day one So it's funny I find as I mainly do iOS development, you know I do a little bit of Android but iOS is the main thing they do I find that as more and more screen sizes get added to iOS It's actually harder to support it on there because it wasn't sort of built in from day one And I think a lot of people don't realize that they think oh the hardest thing about Supporting Android the screen size. It's not it's it's the variation in in software and and the sort of low-level You know device drivers and hardware and people tweaking their phones. That's where Android fragmentation really starts to I guess rear It's ugly head, but screen sizes is really not an issue like it's it's not a hard thing to support It's built into the language. It's built into like all the tools, and it's it's the one myth that really bugs me That's that's what people think is hard about Android development. It's it's really not I Guess it's easy to latch on to because it's very visible and you say well this person's got a galaxy note with a how big that screen is and and this other person has a significantly smaller one or whatever. And it's visually easy for a person to say, well, all the iPhones are the same size and these are all different. So therefore that's a problem and it's very straightforward. But the thing that you just brought up as well about the versions and the hacking, I'm curious to talk a little bit more about that too, because when you're designing for iOS, generally because Apple's updates are much easier for people to get their hands on. They therefore be, and of course, you know, there's no carrier required. People can download them over the air nowadays. I mean, why did you rewind a few years ago and you couldn't, but now you can at least. And people are there for generally, if you look at the stats, I didn't look at the stats beforehand, but you know, it's quite high as the number of people that are actually on iOS 7 right now. - I think it was like 89% or 90% or something. - Yeah, you would know more than I would. And I think that that's a testament to the fact that Apple have got that aspect of it at least nailed, but that's an advantage, sure, because you don't have to worry so much about supporting iOS 6, iOS 5, or God forbid, iOS 4. And there's a bunch of functionality that you're gonna use in iOS 7 that's not available in those other ones. How does it compare then with going back to, well, let's see, what's the most popular on Android? It's 2.3, I think, statistically. I'm not sure what those figures are. Maybe you would know. Historically 4 and above is by far the most popular device sort of at the moment It's interesting. It's it's a double-edged sword because on the Apple side of things. It's it's really amazing that we were able to launch Like pocket cast version 4 for an OS that was only just going to be released You know on the a day or two before we actually launched the application here That's you'd never be able to do that on Android obviously That's just an impossibility But the the double-edged sword part is that the Google is aware of that issue and they build in a lot of backwards compatibility Libraries, so let's say there's some new feature, you know coming out in Android 4.4 or 5.0 or whatever nine times out of ten They'll actually put that same feature in a support library that you can backport you know all the way to 2.3 if you you're really that insane and It it's funny the the Apple the Apple attitude is very much, you know when we came to do Update for pocket weather for example, we wanted to make it six and seven compatible We thought well, there's no reason to go ios 7 only we shouldn't have to force You know people with older devices to update but it proved so hard to try and support you know both in the same space to try and deal with all the Things that were ios 7 only you know some of those things if you if you adopt them You can no longer even build your app for ios 6 it just becomes a an impossibility and it's an Apple's attitude has always been Why do you bother? You know, iOS 7 is going to be adopted by 90% of people. Just just take iOS 7 You know, don't bother and they don't bother building that Backwards compatibility sort of side of it at all and that that more often than not is a good thing But it can it can come back to burn you as well Like we've had a lot of people, you know in the old pocket where they're saying I can't update You know, I've got a 3GS or I've got a iPhone 4 and I've heard that iOS 7 is slow And I don't want to update and we we can't do anything for these people I just had to say look, it would have taken me two or three months worth of development to support both We made a business decision to go with iOS 7 You know only and that that hurt us a little bit But it's just the nature of things like on on the Google side of things there there are a lot more I guess conscious of backwards compatibility and they've They've started doing something interesting over the last year or so is they have this thing called Google Play Services I don't know if you've heard of that. Yeah, I have heard of it, but tell me more So I think originally it just started as a library where they could put a few Sort of common things that they wouldn't have to to ship with the OS basically And it's it's kind of blown out like every month like something something new they'll add to Android They won't actually add it to the core Android operating system They'll stick it in this Google Play Services thing and that's that's something that they update monthly just through the store And you know roll it out to all the devices and that's where they're starting to put a Lot of their backwards compatibility stuff and a lot of their new features So you'll find that even going to something like Android L almost everything in Android L is sits inside that Google Play Services library So even if someone was to run, you know an Android 4.0 device, you'd still be able to get a lot of that stuff You don't get everything. It's not a magical, you know, fairyland Some of the new animation stuff is not in there and there's a few other things that that aren't in there but it's not always about You know having the pain of I must have this feature from Android 4.4 and I can't I can't do it Otherwise like we haven't found a lot of issues. We found that once Android went to version 4, that's when things started to get good. Like we don't support 2.3 at all. Like it's just, it's really not worth the headache. That's the Android 2 days was really the wild west. That's when manufacturers like HTC, they just went to town. Like on all the hardware drivers and all the software stuff, including their own sort of libraries that used to conflict with ours. And that was a nightmare. If you want to talk about what a nightmare that was, you know, if you try and support Android 2.3, then I'll take my hat off to you. Well, see, that's actually a really good point to expand on because I think that a lot of the momentum behind the resistance to developing for Android started back in the wild, wild west days of the 2.X of Android. and a lot of that has perpetuated. It's built up a momentum and people keep on referring back to that and saying well yeah but you know Android's got this and that it's so far behind it's really not well, it hasn't been well implemented or it looks you know cheap or whatever else but if you pick up a phone running 2.3 and a phone running 4. well is that way up to 4.4 now? Yeah 4.4 is the latest one. It's chalk and cheese even from the same manufacturer it's chalk and cheese And you know, it's people seem to cling on to the way it used to be as a justification for continuing to ignore Android, which is kind of a bit disappointing. Yeah, yeah, definitely. It definitely suffers that whole first impression type thing. I think the problem is when Android started to get popular was when it was at its worst, I guess, and, and all it was in the 2.0 days, please, please don't email me. But it was it was more just an alternative to the iOS side of things. Yeah, and it wasn't even a good alternative I'm sorry But until Android got to 4 like it really wasn't even worth considering is like like it competed to the iPhone in my opinion Anyway, feel free to email John if you don't agree, but yeah, you know me What but you know you'd go to the store and it's before spam and every single comment was like spam links in it It was yeah, it was amazingly bad. And what happened is Google employed, you know people to actually clean up the Google Play Store So you go there these days and it's a really sort of professional sort of well-run store they managed to convince a lot of the hardware manufacturers to scale back on their crazy things that they sort of bundled with the OS and you find a lot of what they do these days is someone like a Samsung or an LG they've kind of stopped modifying the core OS and they've just started adding their own you know extras on top like Samsung has all that swipe gesture stuff and look away from the video and it pauses and as useful or as useless as you think those things may be. As a developer they no longer hurt us. If Samsung implement some swipe gesture thing it doesn't affect us at all as app developers. Whereas when they used to actually mess with the core OS and especially some of the audio playback stuff which they all used to get in there and do for some reason, that's a nightmare to support that sort of stuff. It feels very much based on everything that you're saying and that I've read and watched over the last few years is that Google really has been playing catch up on in terms of how do they actually take a product like Android when they bought it and turn it into an actual platform and essentially learning all the lessons that Microsoft did in the last 20 years and they've sort of been going through it in the last three or four years I would say as Android's become more popular what do you think? Yeah yeah definitely so so though there seem to be and this is all me sort of looking from the outside in I don't know anyone sort of deep at the heart of Google. Me and Larry and Sergey aren't sort of best friends or whatever. Really? Oh, okay. Yeah, we only hang out for coffee like once a year when I come to San Francisco. So I wouldn't really call it a friendship. We're not Facebook buddies or whatever. But it looks to me like when they first launched it, it was just, you know, let's put this OS out there. Let's try and make sure that we don't become irrelevant in the mobile era of things. But it seemed to be run by a separate part of Google was hardly connected to the rest of Google at all and they kind of forged their own path and they they ceded a lot of control to manufacturers and to you know carriers in turn and all that sort of thing and I mean some people would argue that they had to do that to become popular you know maybe they did maybe they didn't who knows but that's the direction they went in and you can see a few years down the track that they started to realize that this was really going to burn them when Samsung has all the market share and they have all the control over your platform and you have virtually none and you don't charge for and you can't necessarily back then you couldn't even mandate that they you know used your apps or whatever That's that's where they started to sort of turn the screws and realize that they need to be smarter about the way they actually Ran this as a platform and and sort of from from two years ago to now you can see a real change in the way Google's been developing and You know pushing out Android to the various manufacturers. They've really started to So I guess wrench the control back like as much as someone like Gruba likes to poke it You know, haha open source the Android is no longer really an open source OS like you do have the open source project And yeah, the majority of the code is in there But all the stuff that makes Android Android is now proprietary to Google, you know All the Google Apps all the the drivers that go on top of that It's it's all stuff that Google now has control over and that they can go to a manufacturer and say hey If you want to call this an Android device and if you want to use our apps You have to meet all these other standards And that's kind of where they've been sort of leveraging the, leveraging the synergy or whatever you want to call it. Oh no, you used the S word. I said it. Yes. Yeah, absolutely right. And they have taken that control back and that's, that has directly driven the improvement of the quality of, of Android overall. So I think that one of the one things I just want to quickly explore is the from a psychological point of view when people have a belief about a platform or or a device or something like you know like I said the whole Ford versus Holden Coke versus Pepsi whatever you know or in this case Android versus iOS is you know you've got this this motivated reasoning issue which is I'm an iOS developer let's say I've cut my teeth on Objective C for years let's say on the Mac I've switched over to iOS or I'm learning it iOS because of the runaway success of Apple's platform and the early days of the App Store let's say and I'm motivated essentially to continue to become more invested in this ecosystem therefore I am going to justify beyond you know ration rationale and logic I'm going to justify why I am not going to explore Android and you then that then becomes a continual a reinforcement process such that the more you justify it the less likely you are to explore it therefore the more justified you feel in ignoring it and it's it's like having a willing blind spot as an alternative to iOS but I am willingly not looking at it. Yeah and I think the majority of people that do this don't necessarily even realize what's happening. Because what happens is this is I guess a psychological thing. Like you, someone hands you an Android phone right and your only experience is with an iPhone. So immediately everything that is different, everything that you can't figure out in the first second, you put that down to bad design. You're like "I can't figure out how to do X therefore this phone is designed wrong". And all, when you boil it down to it, all you're really saying is this does not work like an iPhone. And the things that I expect on the iPhone that this doesn't do exactly the same are wrong. And it's an interesting kind of attitude, and you see even when people cover the Android side of things, and even people like as smart as John Gruber and people like that, you can see when they cover that side of things, there's just a massive blind spot that these guys have, because they maybe spend a week with their OS, or they read some articles, and they just kind of have that background of, you know, they're people that have sort of surrounded themselves with Apple and the culture of Apple for so long that that almost becomes a lens I guess that they view the rest of the world through and there definitely is a worldview that goes goes with the Apple ecosystem you know and I was definitely into that as well I got my first laptop I think it was a PowerBook G4 yep one of the aluminium ones. I tell you what that thing was hot enough to fry like eggs and bacon on the back of it when you're doing anything but I love the thing it was amazing you know it was it was shiny it was aluminium and had iPhoto and for a few I was just of the opinion that everything that Apple did was was just amazing You know, they could do absolutely no wrong But you you start to sort of step back a little bit and I guess Developing on the Android side of things and working with Google is kind of showing us that Apple are just a company, you know, it's not a religion. It's not a sports team It's not a it's it's not a brand of car that you have to love like no matter what they do good things and they Do bad things and I feel like when? You're as enthusiastic about technology as I am You're kind of limiting yourself if you only ever look at the things that Apple builds, you know other people build cool things, too They don't always look the same that always work the same but doesn't mean they're not cool. I tend to absolutely right and I tend to Look at technology because I've been using Let's see. I use palm pilots. I used a Windows CE on a Cassio peer many years ago. Yeah Yeah, I love my love my Cassio peer Mind you compared to like an iPhone or an Android anything these days. It's not God I used to like that. But anyway, it was cool at the time. Yeah, even the part the palm with its graffiti thing I'm like this graffiti thing is awesome. I know I know but really because I think more cement I know I hate grief. I loved graffiti at the time, but jeez I hate it now and Anyway, never mind that but yeah so the thing is that I tend I've become very invested in Apple and I say that because I've become locked in a bit to their ecosystem. So I mean, I use iTunes for everything. I've got, I use Pages and Numbers. Although I do still have Microsoft Office because I need to have that for work purposes. You know, I find myself leaning more towards the simplicity of the Pages and the Numbers. And that's all, you know, that's all well and good, but you know, it's more platform lock-in. Yes, I can actually go and access through a web browser and work on, you know, Pages documents and Numbers documents in a web browser on a Chromebook or on a Dell or whatever running Windows. That's no problem. That's true, but in terms of native support, it's not as good as a native app. But anyway, so I've got iPhone, I've got an iPad. My kids have got iPads, my wife's got a MacBook Air now. Yeah, I'm heavily invested in Apple. So again, Apple love me and I keep giving them money. But, and here's the but, at some point, there will be a compelling functionality of some kind. I don't know what it is. I'm not even gonna try and guess or predict, but at some point there's gonna be something that's going to draw me away from that. And it's gonna be so good and so much more advanced in some respect that I'm gonna say, right, that's it. It's time for me to shake it up and move on to the next big thing. So I find myself at the moment with Apple, I'm still very impressed with the iPhone. I've have played with Android devices a few times, but they haven't had that thing, that feature that I'm looking for. That's like, this is the next thing that's gonna make my life so much easier. I need to have that. and then it's worth the pain of withdrawal of switching from one to the other. At least that's my position anyway, I guess. A justification, if you like. - I'm actually in virtually the same place. So, same thing, like MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, Apple TV, Mac mini running my television. My whole house is full of Apple products. It's just funny, like the phone that I choose to use though is the Moto X. And it is the first sort of Android phone that I've played with that I actually prefer to the iPhone. You know, I like the screen size. it's a 4.7 inch which is what the next iPhone I guess is rumored to be but we'll see but um it's just nice it's got these little features like when it's Bluetooth connected to my watch I can tell it hey if the watch is in range don't lock the phone so I get like one press access to to my phone without having to put in my pin number I get lots of little features that this thing does that an iPhone doesn't do and it's not it's not mind-blowingly different you know a lot of the same apps that I use on iOS are here as well and a lot of have like really good equivalents but there are some things that I miss. So things like iMessage, you know, really annoying because my entire family and sort of extended friends are all on iMessage and the first question you get is, you know, why did your - why did you think turn blue? I mean green. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, so there's differences on both sides but that's just the phone that I choose to use and I find it really weird when people like, oh, why did you use that phone? Like, why don't - why didn't you keep your iPhone? It's just, you know, I want to play with new stuff and I like this one better. See, I get the reverse of that. I go into work and I'm surrounded by other engineers that have all got Android phones and I'm like, "Oh, look, John's still on an iPhone." And I'm like, "F you guys, whatever." But before we go any further, I just want to quickly talk about a sponsor for this episode, which is ManyTricks. And ManyTricks are a great software development company whose apps do, well, you guessed it, many tricks. Their apps include Butler, Kimo, Leech, Moom, Witch, Desktop Curtain, TimeSync, NameAngler, and Usher. There's so much to to talk about for each of these apps. So what we're going to do is focus on a different one each week. And this week we're going to talk about Usher. 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So one of the things that we've sort of we've touched on a little bit is, well, the advantages and disadvantages of each platform in your experience and in your specific experience, which platform did you go with first? And can you tell me a little bit about what attracted you to the other platform and how long that gap was between you went on one platform before then adding the next one? I assume you're talking about mobiles? I'm talking about, yes, I'm talking about mobile, yes. I'm talking about Android and iOS. And if I remember correctly, two of your apps are on both platforms. I think there's Pocket Weather and Pocket Cast. Is that right? Yeah, that's right. Which is the only two apps we make these days, so. Well, yes, okay. So yeah, so we went to the iPhone first. And the reason for that is, I guess, it was a really exciting platform. Back in 2008, you know, Apple released the iOS 2.0 with the App Store and back then there was no sort of amazing success stories There was no Angry Birds and all that stuff existed, but for the first time in basically You know forever there was finally a way to get applications onto a mobile phone That was really easy and I guess pain-free, you know We'd me personally I'd played around with I don't know if you remember J2ME and all these other sort of solutions for yes For building apps back then you could make an app and you could maybe get people to download it You know from your website you can maybe have ten different versions of it And you can maybe convince some manufacturer to bundle it and but basically as a developer You're always on the back foot there was no easy way to get applications onto people's phones And there wasn't even you know phones that were that amazing that you could write You know really good in-depth applications for so anyway long story short I've got a brother-in-law who's an awesome guy and We decided to import some some iPhones from the US You know when the original iPhone came out in the US and it wasn't in Australia I convinced him to to buy nine of them from the US and we imported them, you know one by one Sort of into Australia and we got to keep two out of that whole sort of deal like we sold the rest to Two friends and people on eBay and we managed to pay for the the two that we had and it was just fascinating You know, I never had Anything another phone like it like it was just amazing The whole experience is from the time you turned it on to like many hours later I was just flicking through, you know, all the different applications and all the different sort of Things that were going on and I was sold and I guess when it came time for the app store to come out That's the logical place that you know, we started and we were there for I think 2008 2009 2010 It was probably about 2010 that we Tried our first Android app and the the way that actually came about was quite funny because by 2010 sort of 2011 we started to get a lot of requests, you know, can you make pocket weather for Android? You know, why is pocket weather not on Android? Do you guys not like Android and we didn't like Android and What happened is we gave people three reasons. We said look Currently Australian developers are not allowed to sell paid applications Google Play. That was that was a restriction back then remember that We said look, we're not going to spend $800 on a phone if we don't know that we're gonna make that $800 back so that's you know point number two and Point number three. I can't remember there was some other restriction that would basically stop us from From putting pocket weather on Android and I kid you not within a month Google had figured out a way for you know, Australian developers to sell apps in the store. They've done all those agreements, you know with various companies and governments and then Someone actually mailed us a brand new Android phone in a box, you know Express Post turned up to her office It was it was a bit of a surprise and here was this sort of Android phone So I guess I heard it was who did that who sent it to you? I wish I knew the guy's name was a user on Whirlpool. If he's listening, I'm really sorry that I forgot You know, but he was a really great guy You know, he was really active in the Whirlpool community and those guys I know they often get called winch pool in Australia and it's a bit of a joke but there's there's really a good community of people on there and they started running polls and Petitions and they were all trying to push us into Android development So it wasn't even really our initiative to to get on the platform It was I guess our customers pushing us into it of of all things which is quite Unusual and you know they mailed us a phone and we we thought we'd try it and we you know initially We kind of made the mistake of just porting you know our iOS versions to Android And I guess they quickly let us know that you know we appreciate the efforts But this is not really what Android is all about and ever since then we've kind of You know we got more into it. We got to a point where Everything that people said about Android turned out to be true for us. We made back then we made no money on there You know that the support and the fragmentation was was horrific. They're just a bad experience and we came We came time to Build the next version of pocket casts and we looked at it and we thought we can either abandon this and just say look Everything we thought about Android was true. Here's the proof. We ported our iOS apps Hardly anyone bought them people on Android don't buy apps But I don't know we had this crazy sort of stubbornness that we decided no Let's let's do the exact opposite of what the conventional wisdom is. Let's build from the ground up, you know, Pocket Cast 4 for Android first, let's launch it there first, let's build just for that platform, let's build natively to that platform so no sort of code ported from the other one, let's do a design that's that's native to that platform and we spent, oh gosh, three, four, five, maybe even six months building this, that was a long time for you know Philip and I to invest into this one thing that there was there was literally no indication whatsoever that we were ever going to see any of our money back but I guess we just had a hunch and maybe it was like me pushing it a bit more at that time but I said let's try this you know it's a it's a good thing to try people on Android are always telling us how you know how passionate they are about their platform and how disappointed they are when all these apps go you know iOS first and you know don't they care about us and then they sort of want our money and so we thought okay let's give them what they want let's go Android first let's build like a native experience for Android let's actually put the time in required to make you know an amazing app and the response was absolutely amazing so version 4 of Pocket Cast on Android just sold like Like hot cakes like it was amazing We've never seen sort of anything like it even on the iOS side of things and I think to this day it still Outsells the iOS version about 4 to 1 you know it was an amazing sort of success story on that platform and People to this day still tell us that apparently we're the exception I don't know how true that is but from our own experiences. That's what really You know cemented us in sort of sticking with that platform so these days Okay, you know I do 100% of our iOS development and maybe sort of 10 or 15% of our Android stuff and then Philip Who runs the business with me? He does all the you know the main sort of guts of the Android development And he does all the server side of things as well So we find as a company of two developers That's that's kind of a good split like we can be on both platforms because we've got two people who You know who can who can code on both and it's not really much of an overhead You know one of us deals with one side of it and one of us mainly deals with the other side of it and it seems like a good mix. - Okay, yeah, that is a good mix. I like that approach. It means that one of you can step into the other's shoes and work on the other platform as required due to if there's a surge in coding load or something and you need to take care of it, that's good. - Yeah, it's fun because historically, like Philip and I haven't been able to work on the same code base. Like when we built Pocket Weather, I built the entire iPhone app and he built the entire server infrastructure neither of us really knew how to modify the other parts. We're both obviously programmers and we've been doing this for a while so we could probably you know learn but this is the first time we've actually got to you know to be in the same code base which is a lot of fun like I can't do a lot of the user interface stuff on Android that that Philip can but when it comes to the the lower level code like it's often helpful just to go hey you know can you come and have a look at this or you know what do you think about the way I've done this and when if what we find when you get two people involved the code just gets much better. It's not like we sit at the same desk and code on half the keyboard each or anything like that. But it is a massive sort of improvement when you get stuck on something and you just call someone else over who's familiar with how the platform works and they just go "oh look, just move this there and have you thought of this" and bang within five minutes you've solved your problem. And I've really enjoyed it, I have to be honest. That's the other thing about the Apple community, they're really down on Java as a language which is the native language of Android and I think a lot of that is because of the The way Java kind of made its way into user interfaces on various desktop systems. You know, there was swing which was kind of the Java UI toolkit and that you know was kind of hailed as this is the one platform that will run everywhere And it was really led to a lot of terrible terrible terrible user interfaces and I think that again is the impression Apple people have of the The Java language as a whole whereas really, you know as an actual language, it's it's really good I'm not ashamed to say that. I know a lot of people sort of look down on it and they're like, "Ah, Java is very funny." But it's a powerful language for building applications in. Yeah, I kind of have a love-hate thing with Java. I mean, I see its good points, but at the same time, there's certain things about it that irritate me, but then that's probably just the fact that I've spent far more time programming in C, and I'm just used to that. And it's the same. the same. And it's funny, you know, because that's part of the whole point of this discussion is, you know, it's what I'm used to. It doesn't mean that Java is actually worse. It just means that it's different. And it's a matter of getting my head around, you know, its differences and sort of being happy about the good parts about it. Because there are better parts about Java over C or Objective-C or Swift, I suppose, even now. But, you know, people just choose to look at all the things that they don't like about it and just write it off. Yeah, exactly. And I mean the same is true of Objective-C. A lot of developers look down and they're like "oh square brackets and this and that, isn't that terrible?" And I have to admit when I first learnt Objective-C I'm like "this is the stone age!" You know, alloc, release, auto-release, and I was just like "what is this?" Like manual memory sort of management. But I spent about a month with the language and I kind of came to love that as well. It's really flexible, you've got the categories which is where you can kind extend classes on the fly and you've got all these different sort of dynamic things that you can do and it's a it's a lower level language so it runs a lot faster as well and it you know I've kind of fallen in love with with that language as well and I kind of like to switch between the two camps just because they are you know two nice languages to work with and I don't know how much of that is you know I've done Java for 15 years and you know I know it inside out and maybe that's the only reason I like it who knows and maybe the only reason I like Objective C is because you know I've worked with that for five It's impossible to know whether one informs the other or the other around. Who knows? I don't care. They're both decent languages to work in. Well, that's where we have to come back to, is the fact that both of these camps have both got their pros and cons. And it shouldn't all just be one way or the other. And honestly, our own cognitive bias based on our own experience, you know, mixing a little bit of motivated reasoning behind, you know, I'm motivated to, you know, champion one platform because of my background and where I'm personally invested or professionally invested, and even a bit of brand loyalty. It's like, oh, Apple can do no wrong or Google is the best search engine in the world, therefore everything I do is awesome or something. I don't know. I'm not sure what the chanting line is for Google side of the fence. The Apple one is, it just works, right? So, but yeah, whatever the Google equivalent of that is. But it comes back to there will always be pros and cons irrespective of what platform you're talking about. And it's a matter of being honest with yourself and giving the alternatives a chance. And I think it's fascinating just quickly circling back, four is to one ratio between the two platforms where four times what was on iOS in terms of sales on Android, that's amazing. And even if you are the exception, let's assume you're the exception. the the an average an average okay how do I say this without sounding mean on horrible let's just say for the majority of people developing then perhaps a realistic figure would at least be a one is to one relationship I think that yeah if four is to one is amazing then maybe one is to one is realistic and if that is realistic then that is a massive potentially massive market that people are willingly ignoring or choosing not to see? Well it's actually it's worse than that even because the thing about Android is that if we're being completely open and honest is that there still are not the level of high quality applications that you get on iOS. So you look at something like iOS and if every single category of app there's one or two just standard apps that are just you know these apps are absolutely amazing they're built really solidly the user interface is really nice and in Android you get that in in some categories but the overall quality is lower so our other part of the thinking of going to Android first is actually easier to stand out on that platform so the original version of Pocket Cars 4 as good as it was you know it still wasn't you know the best app in the world in its category but it stood out because it was just so much better than you know everything else that was kind of built by you know enterprise Java developers and everyone else who's kind of tends to fluctuate, sorry, gravitate to towards Android and it's it's interesting like you see a lot of iOS developers at the moment complaining about you know revenue and how hard it is to succeed in the App Store and it is it is very hard oh yeah but a lot of those guys they just write off Android they're like well you can make even less money on there and I don't know they've got any sort of stats to back that up I don't know that have even you know thought that through but to my thinking and I'm not sure we even want to give out the secret because it's our little secret, but it's actually a far easier place to stand out and do well because the overall quality is so much lower. We can put six months of effort into something and we can be the best in our category. I mean, good luck doing that in iOS and not being superseded two or three weeks later. Yeah, well, that's a good point. Exactly. And one of the other things I'm curious about this while we're on that topic is, do you notice that the spike on the Android sales, was it of a similar duration? Like the spike was obviously it was higher, but did it last for as long or was it longer or shorter, just relative terms? Because everyone talks about that surge, right? That initial surge. Yeah, yeah. So I know a lot of guys like Marco and a lot of other developers, they talk about you get launch day sales and then you get ongoing sales and your ongoing sales are so much lower than your launch day ones. We don't really get that, like that's not been our experience and maybe it's because we don't have as much exposure out front and we don't have you know I don't have 50,000 people following on Twitter and 250,000 people reading my blog maybe I don't get that initial surge but our ongoing sales especially on Android have been really solid and flat so if maybe on launch day we did you know X amount ongoing we probably just did X divided by 2 like just completely ongoing it wasn't like a graph that just kind of trails down to to almost zero if you plot it out it was more just like a spike and then a little dip and then just an ongoing sort of level of sales and that that could be unique to making a podcasting app on Android I mean who knows I don't I don't really have the data to back that up I know that Pocket Weather Australia on Android has sold nowhere near as well and so you could argue that if you're making an Australian only app like iOS is is still the place to be or maybe we didn't do a good enough job I I mean, it's impossible to know. I know that Pocket Cast has sold amazingly well, and that's a worldwide app that obviously is designed for listening to podcasts, and Pocket Weather Australia, which is an Australian-only Android app, has sold nowhere near as well as its iOS counterpart. - Okay. Yeah, but in terms of the shape of that, the sales spike and the ongoing sales relative on the two platforms, would you say it's a similar shape spike for the Pocket Weather versus Pocket Casts, Or is it, so would you say X, X on two after a period of time, after the initial surge or? - No, it's probably a little bit lower. It's probably like X divided by four or something like that. So it's probably more typical of an iOS style graph that we see. Like for example, when we launched Pocket Cast 4 on iOS, there was a massive amount of press and a massive amount of articles. And that was a huge spike for three or four days. And then it definitely sort of trailed off after that. So maybe that's more typical of the iOS platform. I don't know. - Yeah, one of the arguments leveled at the App Store is the way they handle their top lists. And I'm not immediately familiar, 'cause I'm not an Android user, how that's handled and whether or not you get more visibility in top lists because you're getting consistent downloads or because as you suggested that the average quality of apps in the Android market is not quite as high perhaps. But I guess, so in terms of visibility on the app market, App Store, are you getting that same level of visibility on Android? Yeah, I know what you're saying. So the way the Apple one works, roughly speaking, is it's a three day rolling average of sales. So if you're currently selling well, then you're going to appear in the top list. And as soon as you stop selling, well, you're just going to drop out of there and kind of disappear forever. The way it works on Android, I've never been able to figure out. It seems to be based on, I know people actually opening your app perhaps I'm not sure we've seen times when we've sold worse than the competitors and actually been above them and I'm not sure how on earth Google figures that out and I think I think developers put way too much emphasis on those top lists like these days we don't even I wouldn't have a clue and I'm not trying to be humble or anything I have no idea where any of our apps rank in any of the top lists like I imagine pocket weather would still be in the top hundred you know in Australia like it always has been but I literally have no idea I don't know if it's number four and whether I don't know if it's number one because I think a lot of developers were kind of spoilt by the early days where Apple was giving them the majority of the promotion you know you'd release a new application to a store of a few thousand you'd go into the new apps then you'd go into the top charts and that would just kind of perpetuate itself whereas now you have a million applications you know in the store and and good luck getting into those charts never mind you know having Apple kind of do the promotion for you and I think that's caused a lot of developers to look at that and go well Apple should get rid of the top charts and they should do more features and and yeah maybe maybe I mean they could do all that but I think it's no longer up to Apple to do our promotion for us that that really has to be something that comes back on the developer you know you these days you have to make an amazing application but then you need to do the other 50% of the work on how you're going to get people to find this application you know is it going to be covered by you know X Y & Z side is it going to be word-of-mouth are you going to try and run some kind of promotion it's I think it's almost lazy from a developer point of view to go you know I'm an independent developer I do amazing work and therefore Apple has let me down when my app doesn't sell you know it's it's not Apple's fault you know there's only so much they can do and maybe they can do more but really I don't know if it's just me but I think it comes back to to us as developers you know if you want to succeed that's that's on you. You know a lot of businesses are hard. Absolutely. Any business you go into, you know you start a restaurant on the corner street, it's not the responsibility of the City Council to try and get your customers to your restaurant and all that sort of thing. Like it's nice if they help you out a bit but it's really on you to, you know, to see that whatever business you're going to start succeeds. And I think a lot of developers forget about the marketing side of it. You know they think that marketing is some kind a dirty word that you know they should never get involved in. Yeah and I think that the problem with the way the App Store has been perceived is that what the App Store gives developers is it's a shop front for you to display your wares and they will take care of all the hosting, all the transaction costs, all of the credit card BS. All you need to do is show up and put your wares there and they'll take a 30% cut and you don't have to worry about anything else. The thing is that the next piece of it, the next piece that developers saw when the App Store went live was, "Oh, there's not many other people there, so it's also a marketing. The shopfronting is a marketing tool for me as well." Yeah, exactly. That was not the intent, that was a side effect. So, it's okay, it's there. Now that it's filled with a million plus, like 1.2 million, the underscore, David Smith did the math on this just recently. It's a mind-blowing number of apps. And obviously, the shopfront window is still the same size, you know? So, marketing has always been something that anyone in business has always had to do. And if I want to run an engineering business and just do control system programming for hire, which believe me, I have considered on and off many times over the years, I still have to go and sell my services to somebody. If I want to be small fry and say okay I'm just gonna work for my mate Bob down the road because he wants me to automate some lay that he's got or whatever. You know great fine that contract will keep me going for a few weeks and then it's done and then what? Okay well I'm gonna have to get out there and market myself. I have to I have to tell people hey it's me it's John I can do stuff for you come pay me money that kind of thing and otherwise I'm not gonna get any business I'm not gonna get any revenue and it'll all fall apart and apps are absolutely no different they're no exception and I think that too many people as you say I think lazy is to some extent I think it's a bit brutal maybe there is an element of that in there perhaps for some developers. I should say it's not I didn't mean to be mean to them it's not willful laziness I think it's they just feel that it's it's not something that they need to do it's not their responsibility. Yeah yeah that's it they'd like they they they wanted to be like it was in the beginning when the The store window was a certain size and there weren't that many things on display. Yeah, exactly. And unfortunately, that was never going to last. No matter what the platform, that was never going to last. Sorry, I'll tell you a really, really quick story. So when we first launched Pocket Weather in Australia in 2008, we worked on this for three months, we put it into the store, and we literally did zero marketing. No blog, no write-up, no... We didn't even tell people we were going to release the thing. to the new releases and it was number one in the store the next day and literally all that happened is a few people saw it in the new releases that pushed it into the top charts as soon as it was in the top charts you know people were browsing that and up it went to number one for three weeks I think I mean that that doesn't happen anymore it's not a thing and I think to expect that to happen is like you're saying it's not it's not realistic that was realistic when there was 300 apps in this virtual shop window but it's not realistic when there's when there's 1.2 million. Yeah, exactly right. Okay, cool. So the next thing I wanted to talk about then just to change gears slightly, we've talked a little bit about the code and I want to talk a little bit more about the developer tools because one of the things that I hear this repeated meme time and time again and having, I will admit, yes, I've downloaded some of the dev tools for Android. I had a fiddle, but my fiddle was not extensive. So I'm going to, yeah, I've spent a lot more time in Xcode than I have on the Android dev tool. So I'm I'm sort of at the point where I can only speak to one half of that. So best to talk with you about it. And that is everyone... Hang on. I hate saying that. It's a conversational thing. Everyone thinks this. No, they don't, John. No. No. The perception I have is that the majority of people are saying that Xcode is a superior development tool environment, like a development IDE, if you want. and that simply means that it's easy to develop on, it's got a lower barrier to entry and it's better. And now I say, however, of course I recently saw you wrote a piece about Swift and how much you love backtraces and such and debugging. So I'd love to hear your thoughts on the quality and usability of the different development tools for each platform and how you'd rank them. - Yeah, fair enough. So if you look at it, this is interesting. you look at it from just a pure IDE, this is the thing that I develop in point of view, Xcode and Google's new thing Android Studio that they've been working on I think for about a year now, they're pretty much comparable. You know the things you can do in Xcode just as an IDE and the things you can do in Android Studio just as an IDE are about the same. You know they're both just as usable, they're both just as easy to get into. Where it starts to fall apart part on the Google end of things is that Xcode is really well integrated into everything else about the system. You know if you want to do profiling for example you know you go build profile bang launches on your phone profiler pops up you can profile you know memory use time frames per second anything you want in this really beautiful sort of graphical tool. Android Studio doesn't have that you know you want to launch the profile that's a separate process and no offense to anyone that works at Google but they need to improve you know the hell out of that. Their profiling tools are just absolutely abysmal. And then you look at other things like in Xcode now the interface builder part of it that used to be separate is all integrated in. So you click on your nib or your zib and suddenly your entire user interface is there. You can drag and drop bits on, you can link things up with code. It's just really really well integrated. And you go to the Android Studio side of things and they've really made a half-baked effort at building a user interface editor into there. There is one in there. It kind of works, but it falls apart. So so quickly like I literally never have I had to go into Xcode and then Open my zip files as just pure XML and go and edit them like it's just not a thing but an Android you do that You do that all the time you end up going to the the XML over the visual editor just because it's it's not good enough So yeah, it's that two-part thing like Apple has done a much much much much better job of getting the whole ecosystem Into Xcode so when you open Xcode everything is available from there. You know you're profiling your user interface stuff Even deploying to the App Store. That's all done from you know within Xcode in Android Studio devices Yeah, exactly everything. I mean that's a topic for another day about how difficult is to sign stuff You don't have that that signing nightmare in Android. It doesn't exist Let's not go there, but yeah, it's a bugbear of a lot of iOS developers and Mac developers That's for sure and that's the other thing is that Xcode and Apple have They've chose to implement a simulator to do your Your virtual stuff which basically means your code is running on x86. It's not trying to emulate like an ARM chip It's actually your code running It means you can't do some things but it means it's lightning fast you go to the Android side of things and they've gone the Opposite they've gone now. We're going to build a full-blown Emulator, so this thing's going to pretend to be sort of arm, you know hardware and it's going to emulate That's like dog slow you can sometimes take like two minutes to launch that thing You don't even bother with it. You just buy an Android phone and you're done with it So it's that level of integration, I guess, that Google just don't have. I don't know if secretly behind the scenes they're working on it, but really at the moment, if you look at it on the whole, Xcode is just so much better. But if you look at them just as I can edit my code here or I can edit my code there, they're pretty comparable. - Okay. - And that's the thing I think people don't realize. It's the whole integration thing that Apple has that is just miles ahead of anything that Google's done. - Yeah. Well, that sort of reinforces my general perception. And I mean, having used a few different IDs over the years, I have to confess that I love Xcode. It's really schmick and I honestly don't get the, yeah, it was about, 'cause when I was doing my development on iOS, back when I was doing my crummy little clock, I keep referring to it, not particularly fondly as, but anyway, I was doing my crummy little clock for the iPad. That was about three or four years ago. And that was back when Xcode still had the build and analyze button, and it still had the three separate windows. - I remember that, yes. - Yeah, and then now it's all integrated to the one. I think that happened about Xcode 4 at some point. - Yeah, Xcode 4 was when they built that. So Xcode 3 was a step backwards in my opinion. Like coming from all the Java development tools into Xcode 3, I felt like, again, just like Objective-C alloc and release and auto-release, I felt like I was stepping back into the stone age. But Xcode 4 and 5 since then are just amazing. - Yeah, absolutely, yeah, exactly. And I've been playing around with the beaters and a little bit of Swift, not much. And I'm just loving it. And it makes me want to re-release my Apple that I don't expect that I get anymore. Like I won't get very many downloads this time 'cause I was launching into a practically bare iPad app store at the time. Then I knew it, but that's okay. Anyway. - They were good times. - Good times. Yes. Well, long gone, but anyway. Okay, so I wanna try and wrap this up, but the way I wanted to do it is look at it purely from a business point of view. So take away all of the emotion, all the cognitive bias, all of your brand loyalty, just take all of that off the table. And we're now gonna say, well, okay, for individuals versus companies. And you look at companies, and this is the perfect place to start is, Companies will say, well, we need to get our product or service out to as many different people as possible. So it makes sense to support multiple platforms. In fact, it probably even pays to support Windows Phone as well. And a lot of larger companies will have apps available for Windows Phone iOS, as well as for Android. And they acknowledge the fact that they need to be out there. But then these are generally apps like, things like Foxtel app, for example, for cable TV or Telstra's apps or whatever, different apps. And I'm really drawing bad examples for our North American listeners, but I'm sure there's plenty of other equivalents. But generally larger corporations will say, well, you know what, they have a bigger budget. They have the ability to get more staff on that can specialize in the different platforms. And it's a big decision that when we develop upfront, we know we're gonna develop multiple platforms. So we're going to justify that cost. And in R&D environments, you're going to have to justify, okay, well, we expect we're going to get this much percentage users and this much percentage users from this platform. And there'll have to be a cutoff and say, well, we're not going to support Tizen or we're not going to support Symbian. Yeah, yay, whatever. Someone supports Symbian still, I'm sure. The thing is that they've got much bigger budgets. So I think that that's why you see more of larger companies apps across all platforms. But when it comes down to individuals and smaller companies or indie developers like yourselves, but there's still quite a lot of developers in your shoes that are just is currently in iOS land. The time and investment getting up to speed on another platform, learning all the nuances and all those little foibles, that takes time and effort. And that's real money that sometimes you're sailing close to the wind. I guess one of the things I wanted to ask was, in terms of time and money investment in learning Android, did you see that as a barrier to getting started? 'Cause obviously they gave you the phone, so obviously there was no hardware upfront cost initially, but in terms of time and effort, was that an issue for you, I guess? And if it was, how bad of an issue was it? - It was definitely an issue, but the problem is we were, wasn't that long ago but we were young and naive we didn't think it was an issue you know we we were both had java development backgrounds we knew the language in and out and we foolishly thought that we could port one of our apps in three weeks and kind of be done with it and three weeks seems like you know no time at all but in reality we were very wrong because to learn a platform well is going to take you at least six months to a year maybe not a full-time work but but of something sort of close to that and then to support a successful app on the platform is going to take you a lot of work as well so I guess we didn't think about those things you know up front we're not we're not as smart as we might appear to be from the outset we just wanted to do something you know different and fun I guess we were kind of pushed into it but it taking like a 50-foot view and zooming out it was really probably a good year before we learned sort of the the proper way to build Android apps I guess our first for your attempts were not that great. And so if it's going to take you roughly a year to learn how to do something well, then yeah, if you're an independent developer you kind of have to think, is that actually worth my time? And I think the other thing about indie developers is companies don't generally have a preference for languages, they don't have things that a company by its nature can't enjoy or not enjoy doing something, it's just made up of a bunch of employees. So if a company says we're going Windows Phone, Blackberry, Android and iPhone, that's what they do. They hire people, they get it done, they do it whatever. You as an individual, I mean the whole point some people become independent is so they can do something that they love and if they feel like that Android development is like death to them then they're not going to do it. And they're not going to do it even if it makes really good business sense because it comes back to something like for example I could go out and become you know a Java consultant or an iOS consultant I could probably earn like 300 bucks an hour without sort of breaking too much of a sweat and that's nothing nothing even close to what I earn now I earn way way way less than that but it's not something that I want to do you know I would I would find that really painful and I think that's how some people feel about you know trying to jump to either side of the fence so I know Android developers who do exclusively Android development they're like I don't want to learn this Objective C stuff and I I don't want to learn Xcode and I don't want to learn that. It's just like another world to me. Like I wouldn't enjoy it. And I know heaps of iOS developers who feel the same. They're like, oh, I don't want to install Android Studio. I don't want to learn Java. I don't want to learn about, you know, activities and fragments and how to build Android user interfaces. It's not, it's not what I'm passionate at. So I get that. I get that completely. I think from a business point of view, if you're talking about building a sustainable sort of independent development business, us going to Android was crucial to that. we literally would not be here today had we not jumped onto the Android platform at the time that we did. So I don't know that we're thinking that way at the time, but it turned out to be incredibly good, you know, business sense. And maybe as a lot of iOS developers are starting to discover now, being locked into just one platform and not having the flexibility to be on both can be really painful business-wise. Yeah, and thank you, because that is exactly where I wanted to go with this. And that is the point is that we have two massive, I mean, enormous platforms out there for mobile. Mobile, I almost said it in a different language then. I meant, yeah. - Cellular. - Cellular, yes, okay, anyhow. But yes, indeed. So you've got two enormous platforms. You're a developer, you have an idea, and it's a great idea. You're gonna just stick with the one platform. The thing is, obviously in your case, and I think your case is a good example of how it can work because you've got a specialist in one and a specialist in the other, but you have the capability to step into the other person's camp to help out as needed. And I think that's a great way of doing it. Whereas if you're one developer keeping it all straight in your head and supporting two different platforms, uh, programs at the same time, that would be extremely difficult, not impossible, but certainly more difficult. So if you are going to tackle it and everyone's saying, well, the gold rush is over on iOS and it's all the, you know, Apple's just all the things that we've already talked about, all the reasons why people feel that it's not working out for them. Well, maybe people should be considering supporting another platform. You know, maybe that is an option or maybe shifting your focus from one platform to the other. And I'm not advocating one way or the other. All I'm advocating is that people look at it from a business point of view and think to themselves, I want to be successful. I want to do this. I don't want to have to work for the man, quote unquote. I want to be a free agent. Honestly, based on everything you've said and what I've seen, both platforms have got lots of really great things going for them. And if you dive into them and give it a chance, it sounds like you can be just as successful on either platform. And honestly, when you just said before that, when you got on, when you got on, you are now where you are with because of going on Android. Well, that's very heartening to hear. And it's certainly not the meme that goes around. And everyone says you can't make money on the Android app market. And it's simply, apparently is not true. - Yeah, and again, I can only speak from my experience. You know, I haven't sort of surveyed a thousand different developers to find out what the average experience is, but that's definitely been our case. Like these days, it's 80% of all our money comes from the Android platform. - Well, see, the thing is, the thing that gets me though, Russell, is that if you've got an app store and it's got 100,000 apps in them and 99,000 of those apps are rubbish, then all you have to be is the best in that top thousand. And, you know, the numbers don't matter. I don't have the numbers on top of my head. It doesn't matter. The point is that as you had said previously, if you put the time and effort in, into making a good quality app for Android, then there is no reason why it can't succeed. And I think that perhaps people are looking at it as a, treating it a bit as a second class citizen and saying, well, I will just port this stuff over and I will just sort of like hack it together and oh, it didn't work out. So, you know, hey, they were right about Android. Whereas your proof that that does not have to be the case. And yeah, exactly. And I think we're proof of both. Like when we tried porting our applications, we failed miserably. You know, the ported versions with the same user interfaces as their iOS sort of counterparts, they sold terribly. So I think what people don't realize about Android, and this is something I try and draw home to to iOS developers as well, is that there are way more Android phones than iOS devices but that doesn't mean that the market is way bigger. So the way we look at it is take the Android market as a whole right, worldwide it's X amount bigger than iOS, like who cares what that amount is. You literally shave off half those people and you ignore them. All the people that are on really really cheap Android phones, all the people that still run Android 2, all these weird sort of edge cases, you can just completely ignore that segment of the market like and just look at the people who have you know Android 4.0 and above and In there you have sort of two camps of people you have the really diehard Enthusiast sort of Android people that will buy They'll buy an app at any price. You know if they see a good quality app that they want You know, they'll literally give you money like a second later There's no problems at all there and then you have the other side of the market which is just you know ordinary People who walk into a phone store and they look at the phones and they're like, okay I can get this, you know, Samsung Galaxy s5 or whatever for 20 bucks a month less than my iPhone Okay, I'll grab that and so we kind of just target those two groups of people and ignore everyone else and then I Have no science to back this up whatsoever But I think that that segment of the market is probably as big as the iOS market, you know as a whole So I think the people we target with iOS 7 which is 90% of the iOS market It's probably just as big as the half of the Android market that the we kind of target our app towards So there's no reason that you know other developers can't do the same I think you need to ignore You know all the stats that you see of Android as a whole because you see all these stats And they're like oh, you know 30% of people still run Android 2.3 And to me I don't care about those people like it's not that you know I think they've made bad decisions or you know want to slap them or anything like that You know they're on that device for whatever reason, but you don't need those people to succeed You can just target the people with the more modern phones where your development experience is going to be a lot better And you're still you know sell a truck ton of apps if you do a good job Cool. So I guess the learnings to take away from this discussion is if you're going to do an app, for goodness sake, accept the fact you're going to be doing some marketing, doesn't matter what platform you're on. Second thing is if you're going to develop an app do consider all of your options don't just stick with one platform because either it's what you know it's what you really enjoy try and try the other platforms you never know you might actually enjoy them too and Java has been around and a lot of people know Java so you know and if anything Objective C would seem to have the higher the bigger learning curve I would suggest but in any case and be aware of of your own cognitive bias and the fact that being invested in a platform is not always the best approach. And I think in the end, just make the best app that you can because that will drive your success more. That plus the marketing will drive your success more than the specific platform that you put it on, at least between Android and iOS, at least that's I would say that's the case. So what do you think? Think that's a yeah. I think to add to that is don't expect success. You know success in both app stores is really hard, you have to put in a lot of work and effort. If you come into it expecting any sort of immediate success then you're probably going to fail you know 99 times out of 100 with that sort of expectation. I mean that does sound a bit brutal but that's kind of how the landscape is at the moment. Expect the worst but hope for the best. Yeah exactly, like definitely don't sort of expect to sell nothing and kind of you know do everything with that in mind. You want to be successful but don't expect success to just you know appear on day one of your app coming out. Awesome, cool. Well, might leave it there I think. If you'd like to talk more about this, you can reach me on Twitter @johnchijji. That's J-O-H-N-C-H-I-D-G-E-Y. Check out my writing at techdistortion.com. If you'd like to send any feedback, please use the feedback form on the on the website and that's where you'll also find the show notes for the episode under podcasts pragmatic. You can follow Pragmatic Show on Twitter to see show announcements and miscellaneous other stuff. I'd really like to thank my guest host Russell Ivanovich for coming on today and sharing all that. It's been wonderful and if people want to get in touch with you, what's the best way for them to do that? Rusty Shelf on Twitter is who I am, just a one word and obviously ShiftyDaily.com is where you find all the depths we make and I apologize for both my Australian accent and the cold that I've currently got. Hopefully you could still understand me. You're not allowed to apologize for having an Aussie accent mate. That's just why. Why? Our accent rocks. Okay, according to all the most of the women that I talked to when I was in Canada, they said that the Australian accent was awesome. So, you know, what can I say? Anyway, I'm not apologizing for my accent. Okay, so fine. Anyway, look, back on track. I'd personally like to thank ManyTricks also for sponsoring the show today. If you're looking for some Mac software that can do ManyTricks, remember to specifically visit this URL, manytricks.com/pragmatic for more information about their amazingly useful apps and use the discount code pragmatic25 for 25% off the total price of your order. Hurry, is only for a limited time and time is running out on that one so get in while you can. And yeah, thanks again Russell and thanks for listening everybody. No worries at all, thanks for having me on. Anytime. 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Russell Ivanovic

Russell Ivanovic

Russell writes at his site called Rusty Rants and is the co-founder of Shifty Jelly.

John Chidgey

John Chidgey

John is an Electrical, Instrumentation and Control Systems Engineer, software developer, podcaster, vocal actor and runs TechDistortion and the Engineered Network. John is a Chartered Professional Engineer in both Electrical Engineering and Information, Telecommunications and Electronics Engineering (ITEE) and a semi-regular conference speaker.

John has produced and appeared on many podcasts including Pragmatic and Causality and is available for hire for Vocal Acting or advertising. He has experience and interest in HMI Design, Alarm Management, Cyber-security and Root Cause Analysis.

You can find him on the Fediverse and on Twitter.