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What devs say about iPad (but not Android tablets)

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“Our designers and animators are working day and night to optimize our apps (for the new iPad)… We’ve made this our highest priority.”

Nicolas Calloway of Calloway Digital Arts made the comment to USA Today, and he wasn’t the only developer to make note of the quick efforts to get apps updated for the iPad’s Retina Display (s aapl). Epic Games, makers of the Infinity Blade series, upgraded their high-resolution action game to coincide with the new iPad launch. And a check of the iTunes App Store highlights 42 total titles as “Great Apps for the New iPad” that take advantage of the tablet’s 2048 x 1536 display.

I expect that total to quickly increase and I suspect it’s actually an understatement of the total apps optimized for the new iPad. Amazon’s Kindle(s amzn) app doesn’t appear in the list, for example, and yet a version for the new iPad arrived last week.

The entire situation differs greatly from that of Android tablets. When the first one appeared on the market just over a year ago, I could find only 16 tablet-optimized titles. More importantly, I don’t recall hearing any developers that were rushing to get their applications on new Android tablets. Some of that reason had to be related to the first Android tablet itself, Motorola’s Xoom(s mmi); a rushed device that was priced high, even with carrier subsidies.

Even now, however, Android tablet apps are taking a backseat to those for the iPad. It’s very rare that an app first appears on Android devices over those running iOS. And that gives Apple a competitive advantage in this market: Consumers in the know won’t want to invest in the devices that get software titles second (if at all), but will buy the hardware that has the best supporting software and ecosystem. If you don’t believe that, just ask a mobile app developer.

14 Responses to “What devs say about iPad (but not Android tablets)”

  1. Isn’t it Obvious? Because Android owns the marketshare in the phone arena. Why wouldn’t he sell on the largest platform he can, to maximize sales & profits??

  2. Michael W. Perry

    The developers for iOS and Android need to keep in mind that smartphone users aren’t going to be happy to see that apps bloat to accommodate high-rez graphics that won’t display on their device. Installation needs to be smart enough to take into account device resolution.

  3. Matt Eagar

    There are actually a lot of apps already optimized for the gen3 iPad display. Basically any “universal” app (i.e., one built for both iPhone and iPad) that already includes Retina display support is ready to go. The only thing they may be lacking is a high-res home screen logo and splash screen — all other graphics in the app that run at 2X resolution for iPhone 4/4S are already at the level they need to be for the new iPad. The apps that need a refresh are those that are iPad-only.

    The place where you really see the benefit of higher resolution is in text. Reading on a retina display is far superior to the old resolution. Usually the OS automatically handles text scaling, so not much to do here. One huge exception: all the magazines developed using Adobe software appear to run at the old resolution. It’s a disappointment, and makes me curious what exactly Adobe is doing in the software to prevent the OS from scaling their text. Could they really be storing text as graphics?

    • An Adobe product not targeting Apple products: I’m shocked! ;) I’m joking of course, but the Adobe – Apple relationship likely had more to do with that than anything else. And there have been a few apps available on Android first, but if I had to guess, I’d say 90% that don’t launch on both platforms at the same time appear on iOS first. Does that sound high to you?

      • Magnet Man

        Does it seem right? Sure it does. The Apple App store is easily a more lucrative market for developers, so that is where they pour their time. However, consider that Android’s market, Google Play, is growing (in revenues) at an incredible rate, which is now a key focus for the company. When the economics are there, I assure you, the devs will be as well. We are already seeing this happen as more and more apps are seeing the benefits of optimisation daily.

        This whole iOS vs Android debate is a gigantic shifting argument. First it was that iOS had more device sales, then Android started to outsell it. Then it was a superior number of apps, until Android threatened that position (it should surpass it this year of 2012 IIRC). Then it was iOS had a better UI, then Android got polished with ICS. Now it’s that Android doesn’t have enough ‘tablet-optimized’ apps? I assure you that Android’s trends are sloped such that the eventual categorical besting of iOS is virtually guaranteed should nothing substantial change.

        It’s like Mac vs PC all over again. The key difference is that Android is a quality piece of software, built on openness and innovation.

  4. Apple lovers sure are defensive folks. No one has criticized this yet, but you feel the need to get on the offensive to cover for all the trash *you* talked about other products in the past. I can already see your next article: a rationalization as to why application fragmentation (3 versions needed to support the different Apple product resolutions now) is a great thing.

    • Sam, I’m not sure I understand the point you’re trying to make. I don’t love Apple, Google, Android, iOS or any other singular product / company. I love devices and apps that work best for my needs. For some activities, that’s my iPad or iPhone. For others, it’s my Galaxy Nexus or Galaxy Tab 7.7 slate.

      And I’m not going on the offensive here; I have no need to as I have no vested interested in what products people buy. There’s simply no such motive for me to have. My point was to show a key difference between developer (and to some degree, consumer) mindset between iOS and Android tablets.

  5. There’s just one problem with this whole “tablet optimized” argument and sadly Google hasn’t put it to rest yet. There is really no such thing as a tablet optimized Android application. Android isn’t fragmented across tablet and phone as iOS is. An app developed using best practices for Android has one interface on phones and another on a tablet. Again I said a DIFFERENT interface…not scaled up. So outside of games that some like to market as HD you aren’t able to tell when an Android app is tablet optimized unless you view it on both a phone and tablet.

    As for developers if they believe missing out on the fastest growing tablet OS is a good business strategy then so be it. Theres a difference in blogs writing article after article of fluff about a product, launch day hype and what people are actually buying. And if they somehow thing their failure to support Android is going to slow down its adoption then they haven’t learned their lesson from the phone market. But again more power to them. It leaves a huge market open for developer interested in making the most out of Android instead of half hearted ports.