Sep 12, 2011

Last Week

Last week was a frustrating week for me in Android land and makes me worry about the future of Android. Let's dig right in...

First up, USA Today had an interesting article stating that piracy is a big problem for the Android platform in response to the massive discrepancy many developers see in their iOS vs Android sales. I'm sorry, but if you feel the need to pirate $2 games then there's something wrong with you. And while I think there's an issue there I actually think it's more complicated than that. I'd break Android owners into a few groups to explain this...

1) The technically savvy user that knows how to pirate stuff and think they're above buying the stuff with their massive technical knowledge.
2) The Android owner that has no clue about all the stuff their phone can do and this ignores that mysterious Market icon on their phone.
3) The Android owner that just doesn't care about all the stuff their phone can do with a handful of exceptions. Sure, they might use it as a GPS once someone points then in the right direction, but they're not going to actively seek out new games or anything. After all, it's just a phone!?

You see, while Android as a whole sports great numbers the truth is that a lot of its sales are cheapie devices with people willing to spend the big bucks opting for an iPhone. Remember just how much money Apple poured into advertising that their phone has apps? Android rarely touches upon that in their advertising.

Oh, and here's the USA Today article for your reference:

Next, what the @#%$ is wrong with the Android Market. Late last week NFL Rivals came out. I'd be all over that if I could SEE it on my Epic 4G. I can see it on my Transformer table, but I really want to be able to play this on the go. But, to top it off, the AppBrain app apparently can't see it either which tells me there's a problem. Upon further digging I now find that there's A LOT of stuff I can search for on the Market that isn't found. Try 'Atari800' which is an Atari emulator. It's stuff there, but the Market search doesn't work. I wondered about this awhile ago, but now I see it's true... the Android Market search is, at some level, broken. And if I can't find an app then I can't use it.

Third, I'll be honest... I'm disappointed how a free game review blog (this one) just hasn't grown much. For those wondering... it averages about 800 page view/day. I've removed ads as an experiment to make it totally free. I'm up for suggestions if you think I'm doing something wrong? My goal is 3 reviews per week, but now I'm tempted to just model myself after the countless other blogs that just print press releases for easy content instead of reviews that take actually time to create. No, I'd continue to do the reviews, but I suspect I lose readership to some of the 'news' sites by not being all encompassing.

Fourth, fragmentation continues to kill. Still no tablet NetFlix and it's still a guessing game as to what's going to run where. I recently got (purchased!) a game called Let It Rip football... doesn't work properly on my Epic 4G or my Transformer tablet (although the dev states it's not ready for tablets), but how it fails is different on both. And I'm sure the game works just fine for the developer. Consequently, all I can say is... what a pain to be a developer on Android vs iOS. On iOS you have one platform to target and perhaps you have to worry about older iOS releases. On Android you've got to tackle every color and every shade of that color in the rainbow.

Fifth, the lack of testing hurts. On iOS you can be assured of some basic level of quality from every app you download. On Android it's the Wild West. As much as Apple's dictatorial policies sound brutal they in turn provide the average Joe, that doesn't care about the politics, a better user experience. Sure, they can't run the freeform emulators (or what not) that I can... but I know my phone requires power cycling a lot more than my iPod touch ever did.

The Android platform has made some wonderful strides, but I'd expect a company with the money and resources of Google to get it right by now. A broken Market search from 'the search experts'? Need proof... just go to and search for 'Atari800'.  Two results are displayed and neither of which is the Atari800 emulator. Now, on your Android device (this link won't work outside of your Android device), click on this link:

I can see and download it now.


  1. It's very true that Android is needing a lot of work in that direction-that's why it's a 'professional' gamers phone.Admittedly it's got a heckuva lot of frustrating things going on but at the same time those can be seen as opportunities. The nannyness holding hands of Aplle doesn't allow the layman to have those opportunities.

  2. Check your site weekly and love the reviews

  3. Great Post Alster. I wish I had more time to write more reviews for your site but alas real life gets in the way a lot these days. At any rate, I look at the problem with Android along the same lines as I do with PC versus Console gaming. When developing for PC you have to deal with a myriad of configurations and things can go way wrong with any particular application. With a console app you know what you're getting into in most cases, about the only thing that can go wrong is if the console manufacturer updates their software and screws you that way, otherwise once you develop it you can move on to other things.

    I also can't figure out why people don't buy as much android stuff as they do iOS. Maybe it is like you say, the money issue (richie's buy Apple, the rest of us buy Android). But, I own an Ipod Touch, an Ipad 2 and my Droid Incredible. I've spent easily in the neighborhood of $200-$300 on my iOs devices just in Apps over the last couple of years. For Android between Amazon and The Android Market I've maybe spent $40 total. Part of the reason is that I honestly prefer to buy an app on the Ipad 2 before I'll buy it on Android. Let me explain. I have a wife and a 5 year old that also play on the Ipad 2, so, if I can buy the Application/Game there I am assured they know how to use the device, As an added bonus I can also play it on the ipod touch if it is a universal application. Finally, the Ipad games just seem to run better on that platform than they do on Android. This could be my phone though as it's over a year old now but hey, it is what it is.

    Case in point, Cut the Rope iOS versus Cut the Rope Android. The game is choppy on my Android device and very smooth and quick on the iPad. Also, the screen is bigger (in the HD version) and my kid can play with it easier on the larger screen format.

    One last point. While the Android Market has gotten better over time it still lags WAY behind the Itunes App Store in ease of use. Apple is constantly putting up groups of apps like "Missed these games, check them out" or "Apps essential for business". I'll almost always go through these and see if there's something cool I missed. The other thing you usually DON'T see in the Apple App Store is page after page of comments that say F* this application it won't run on my phone. These negative reviews (even if they are based on reality) can bring down the score of decent apps and I'll never even give them a second glance.

    Anyway, just some thoughts. Hope you have a great day and I'll try to get some new reviews up this week!

  4. I am somewhat of a noobe to the android world, 3 months and counting.
    But I have left the apple market to be here, and I have no interest in going back. I do still have a 4th gen touch but really don't use it for gaming any more.
    I am in the know electronic wise and do have a couple hacked games on my device, but not for the reasons you would think. I believe I fall into a nich catagory.
    There are curtain titles (mostley gameloft) that are supposidly not available or compatible with my galaxy tab 7 yet work perfectly with my unit if you download a version that is for a model similar in specs and res ex: just about any cracked ver of their titles listed for the gtp1000, work for my schi800. Hell even most of the galaxy tab 10.1 stuff downscales and fully works for my 7in model, yet gamelofts website says it is not and I have no option to purchase that title.
    I think that the company is really only testing current units in the market and not doing a thurow evaluation of the games full compatability.
    If your company is unwilling to, or too stupid not to offer me a product that has been proven to work on another device than what you list, I will take appropriate action to aquire sed game through elegall means if necessary. Otherwise I will be happy to pay for your title
    Nuf said

  5. Have you checked your Market content policy allows all apps? I think it defaults to ‘everyone’ rating which hides most things, even skype, etc.

  6. @johndrinkwater - Yes, my Market Policy is set to show all apps. Good suggestion, though.

    @beldandy561 - Your post is interesting because it ties directly to the whole market fragmentation issue and your response to it is a justification for piracy. And, please, I'm not knocking you for that when you're given no other choice aside from abstaining from playing said desirable game. However, if a larger developer like GameLoft can't test across all devices then how is a smaller one to do so? Thus, the Apple iOS platform becomes more attractive to a developer.

  7. Alster
    I can't disagree with your logic... On paper it makes sense. But the more I used my ipad & ipod touch the more something kept eating away at me, but I couldn't place it. About 4 months ago it hit me square in the face.
    I was in a rush to throw some music on my ipod an head out. I set aside 30 min to do this, yet it took me over 1hr and 45 min! WTF.
    Ioccationaly leave my computer up and running to aquire updates, etc. itunes had downloaded over 2 gigs worth of game updates and podcasts. I had forgotten about this and once connected up to sync I was scrued.
    Thats when it hit me. I originally was purchasing these type of items to have convenience and to make my life essier, yet with all the fancy tech and glix this product just offered me none of that and pissed me off to no end.
    for the past year I had been making excuses for apples products because of how slick and in they were, not seeing how limited and closed off to the rest of the tech world they were. For what I had spent on these items I should be able to sync what I want when I want and only what I want. Not the other way around. I should not be tied down to a pc or laptop to sync crap with, nor should I have to carry that stuff around with me to get the most out of my $500 PORTABLE! Ipad. It defeets the point and only made me feel like a fool.
    The android market and products freed me from these restraints and allowed this tablet to trully be a netbook replacement.
    This is why I will never go back.