Monday, August 13, 2012

Don't Let Android Fragmentation Get You Down

If you have decided to build an Android app the task of deciding which OS version to support and which devices to support can be daunting.  Here are some tips to help you sort through the sea of variables that exist and help you focus on what really matters.

Understand OS Adoption Rates:
First, check the stats for Android OS adoption. There is a great Android dashboard that gives the top OS version hitting the Google play store for that 14-day period.   At the time of this blog, the Gingerbread 2.3.3 version has a little over 60% of the Android market share.

Understand the Device Market:
A recent study done by OpenSignalMaps did a great job of visualizing the Android device market fragmentation.  This information can quickly help narrow the devices to tailor your development and testing efforts.
Samsung and HTC are big players but the market share division gets ugly quickly.

Unfortunately, knowing the device maker is only half the battle.  The models and features of each model can vary greatly.  Getting down to the model level will help further refine your efforts.

Get the Right Testing Tools:
Purchasing physical devices to physically test your app on is ideal. But it gets costly and can be difficult to scale. To get breadth of testing, consider enlisting the support of testing tools and services such as DeviceAnywhere or Perfecto Mobile.  These services offer enterprise scale access to thousands of devices and OS versions.  This affords the ability to quickly test out how a feature performs and trouble shoot specific user issues. 

Capture App User Feedback:
The app store ratings is not where you want to first surface any issues with your app. To keep negative user reviews at bay, consider adding an in-app feedback mechanism.  This provides your users the opportunity to give candid feedback during the in-app experience and keeps the negative reviews out of the public eye.  Tools like OpinonLab give the customer a voice and help feed your product backlog as well as identify trends across user experience. 

Reassess Everything Quarterly:
As with anything in the mobile space, things change quickly.  Use the tools and information out there to  reassess where the Android market is and where you should be focused.

What are the strategies your company is using to keep pace with the demands of the Android market?