By: Hillel Fuld
As I watched Eric Schmidt of Google talk about Android and iOS at Leweb yesterday, all I could hear was talk of market share and the open vs closed debate. He addressed the fact that Android is exploding in popularity due to the platform’s “Hundreds of manufacturers working hard to get new Android devices out the door”.
This is not a new debate, it goes back to Gates and Jobs’ struggle over Mac vs Windows and probably way before that. The truth is, as most people in tech would admit, both schools of thought have their advantages and disadvantages. Of course when you license out software and open your code to the world, you will eventually win the numbers game, but then we get back to the whole quantity over quality debate.
Now clearly, Android has come a long way and pretty much closed the gap with the new Ice Cream Sandwich, as far as user experience of iOS vs Android is concerned. But what about the apps?
I use an iPhone as my primary mobile device but not a day goes by that I am not spending extensive time playing with my Nexus and Galaxy Tab. One of things that absolutely drives me nuts about Android apps compared to the same app on iOS is that nine out of ten times, they are inferior (and yes, I am being polite here).
I can list on one hand the apps that are either as nice or nicer on Android than on iOS and as far as the opposite, there are hundreds. Now, I am no developer, so I am not familiar with the constraints of the Android development environment, but if so many apps on Android look and act so much worse than on iOS, there is something wrong. If you want one recent example, check out Path on iOS and then use it on Android. You will know what I mean immediately.
OK, enough labeling myself (yet again) as an iOS fanboy. On to the topic of the post. The new Facebook for Android is the exception to the rule I mentioned above. Well, the new app is not nicer on Android than it is on iPhone, it is pretty much identical in terms of design. One thing I have noticed though, is that the bugs and overall slowness that I experience on the iOS Facebook app are not found in the new Android app, at least based on my initial tests.
You can download the new Facebook for Android here.
Facebook’s product manager Keith Peiris gave some insight into the new app in his blog post: “Photos and albums are up to two times faster than the previous Android app. It’s also easier to share photos, view comments and edit captions on the go. Your messages and notifications are now at the top of your screen. You can respond to friends and stay updated without leaving the page you’re on. You can quickly access your News Feed, Groups, games and apps from the new left-hand menu. The features you use most are now at your fingertips”
Well I could have saved him the time of writing that post and written the post for him by saying “The iOS Facebook app is now on Android. Minus the bugs”.
In conclusion, the only thing I take away from this story is that Android developers have to focus a little more on the design and UI of their Android apps. If Facebook can do it, so can you.