Lazy, Dishonest, Cheap: The Verge Using Apple's PR Campaign To Ding Android's App Ecosystem.


Apple's genius PR campaign manufactured the terms tablet-optimized and fragmentation. Ever since, tech pundits have used these terms with reckless abandon and often without rhyme or reason. Unfortunately, The Verge fervently participates in this mindless crusade.

From a software engineering angle, there are many reasons the tablet-optimized argument is both flawed and lame. But lets not get technical. In the interest of time and accessibility lets focus on just 3 high-level reasons why the tablet-optimized argument is weak, unoriginal, tired and just plain lame.

1). Normal Users Just Don't Care: Don't get me wrong. Developers that don't follow Android's design guidelines as it pertains to screen sizes should be called out. I enjoy when The Verge does this. However, not once have I ever heard a normal user say, "I sure wish this app was tablet-optimized." I have non-techy friends and families that use Android devices in all form factors. They don't care about UI layouts. All they care about is that the key apps they want exist and function properly.

2). Function Over Form: The beauty of Android's impressive software engineering feat is that, even for apps that do not follow Android's design guidelines for screen sizes, all apps scale well and function properly on any form factor, phone, tablet or television. This is why table-optimization is foreign to Android. It makes sense on iOS, where apps designed for one screen are essentially completely useless or unusable or a different screen. On Android, it's just not a factor. In fact, it's such a non-factor that lazy developers don't even bother to provide layout files for multiple screens. They're supposed to, but why bother, if Android will magically scale it properly anyway. And for these lazy slobs, that's good enough. iOS developers don't have this luxury. The good news is that all the apps you bought for your phone will magically work on your tablets. In theory, all 1+ million of them. The bad news is that lazy developers that don't follow Android's design guidelines exist.

3). Error of Omission or Commission: The Verge, always conveniently omits the fact that there are certain categories of applications and games that are exclusive to Android. I know The Verge staff almost exclusively use iPads, so this might be news to most of them. But, yes, there's a laundry lists of indie apps and games that are exclusive to Android. The Verge reviewers use every opportunity to whine about how an app on iOS doesn't exist on Android in every Android review I read here. They then make the logical leap that the Android ecosystem is lacking or iOS' is better. The Verge reviewers have a tendency to over value niche apps. I'm sorry, but that DJ app is a niche app. So also is that art app. The existence of those apps in one ecosystem has little or no impact to the majority of users in the market place. And thus doesn't make one ecosystem better than the other. I'm all for equal opportunity whining, so I'd like to see The Verge reviewers whine about how some exclusive Android apps are missing in iOS in an iPhone/iPad review.

So which ecosystem is better, Android or iOS? It depends. If you use Google products and services, you're almost always better off using any Android device. If on the other hand you're tied into Apple's products and services, then buy the iDevices. iOS' app ecosystem gets bonus points for art and music apps. Android's app ecosystem gets bonus points for context-aware automated apps, system utility apps, customization apps and certain category of game apps. This is obvious to anyone who's spent a decent amount of time on Android or iOS devices. Yet, in 2013, The Verge almost always makes the unanimous claim the iOS app ecosystem is better, citing tablet-optimization and missing apps as reasons. Nevermind, that you can't even install a real third party keyboard app on iOS. Yeah, The Verge, how about you whine about that in your next iPhone/iPad review.

Phone Arena addressed the issue of Android fragmentation. And for the first time ever, it didn't read as if it was lifted from Apple's PR campaign manual. Hell froze over and a tech pundit actually did some critical thinking. It's worth a read.

I think it's time The Verge began reevaluating some of its long held philosophical dogmas about Android, tablets especially. It's not 2011 anymore, Verge.

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