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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Android: Yes, It’s On The Roadmap

UPDATE: Check out this very early WIP screenshot: http://blog.fitocracy.com/post/33015083593/this-is-a-super-early-work-in-progress-shot

Are you planning on releasing Fitocracy for Android?
Yes. Over half the Fitocracy team are Android users; who want it just as much as you do. FRED is also excited at the prospect of a robot buddy.

Android seems to have a larger userbase than iOS. Why does almost everyone develop for iOS before Android?
We’re a business and we make decisions based on thorough examination of metrics to determine the highest return on any time invested. Before we began development for the app, we paid close attention to the devices that accessed Fitocracy. A higher percentage of our visits came, and continue to come, from iOS devices.

Of course, it’s not just about your current audience. Like any business, you have to develop great products that get you noticed. Being able to iterate quickly to grow your audience is key to your long term survival. Android, although an amazing OS, is considerably harder to develop for than iOS. When you develop for the iPhone (and iPod Touch), you design for one physical screen size and ratio, and two screen resolutions (exactly double the previous generation which keeps things simple). This makes design prototyping and testing easy. In contrast, there are thousands (http://opensignalmaps.com/reports/fragmentation.phpof Android devices using different physical screen sizes, ratios, resolutions, and most problematic of all, versions of the operating system installed by different manufacturers.

We’re not alone. This fragmentation affects the entire industry. For every 10 apps built, 7 are for iOS (http://blog.flurry.com/bid/85911/App-Developers-Signal-Apple-Allegiance-Ahead-of-WWDC-and-Google-I-O). That’s why even considerably larger companies like Instagram and Flipboard took over one and two years respectively to release their Android counterparts.

When can we expect Fitocracy for Android?
We are doing everything we can to kick Android development into high gear.

With limited resources, we have to be careful about how much time we invest in Android development, and when. We need a dedicated Android developer on the job, and full support from our backend engineering team during the process. That would mean almost no time for developing a very long list of key features to our website. Again, as a consumer business the market moves quickly, and we need to be able to respond accordingly. Everything is a trade off.

What we can say is we promise to announce when we are focussing in on Android development. As we get closer to launch, like the iOS app, we will make sure to include the community in the development process.

Why didn’t you use a cross-compiler framework to develop a cross-platform app for both iOS and Android?
We care about the quality of the app experience. If you look at our reviews in the App Store, in the 4 or so months we’ve been on the market, we’ve received almost 5,000 reviews with a 5 star average rating. Many of them cite the quality of the design as a really important part of their experience.

The problem with “write once, deploy everywhere” solution is it almost always results in sub-par products. Android and iOS have significantly different interfaces and expected behaviors. Using identical interfaces for both platforms is guaranteed to break their individual conventions and expectations. We want to make sure that each experience is consistent with each platform.

It’s worth noting that Facebook recently decided they were switching back to native code development (http://www.theverge.com/2012/6/27/3120964/facebook-objective-c-app) because of the problems with cross-platform solutions (for those interested they use an underlying HTML5 architecture and an Objective-C wrapper)

Can’t you just port your iPhone app over to Android?
Unfortunately, we don’t yet have a magical box that converts iOS apps to perfect ports of Android versions. If we do manage to build that magic box, our next post will be written from Fitocracy Island.

Can I get access to your API to build an Android app myself?
API access is something we are aiming for in the future, but we don’t plan on providing it yet. Providing API support to 3rd party developers is a significant task and resource requirement. More importantly, when it comes to Android, we take the design quality of the Fitocracy experience and brand very seriously. We invested a lot of time into the small details of our iOS app and if our App Store ratings are any indication, people are in love with what we built. We want to make sure to provide the same quality and attention to detail for Android as well. It would be virtually impossible to rely on an outside 3rd party to build out our vision and remain consistent with our brand. 

Notes

  1. kiriappeee reblogged this from fitocracy and added:
    but I completely understand...fitocracy folk. Better...right...
  2. engers reblogged this from fitocracy and added:
    Via fitocracy
  3. the-courage-2-grow said: THANK THE FITNESS GODS. Waiting… impatiently. ;p. This is one of the biggest reasons I stopped using the site; back on it now.
  4. fitocracy posted this