Steve Wozniak, one of the original founders of Apple, recently stunned Apple fans by suggesting Apple should build Android phones.
“There’s nothing that would keep Apple out of the Android market as a secondary phone market,” said Wozniak. “We could compete very well. People like the precious looks of stylings and manufacturing that we do in our product compared to the other Android offerings. We could play in two arenas at the same time.”
My question – instead of building a separate handset, why don’t Apple allow iPhones to run Android apps?
From a developer perspective, it is technically easier to write Apple iPhone apps than Android apps. The Android App development system (the software used to create Android Apps) is much more difficult to work with than the iPhone App development system – the Android app system is more temperamental, crashes frequently, is fiddly (it often takes hours to figure out why your code is not compiling) and is really, really slow, especially when you are trying to test your work in progress Android app in the Android Emulator. So I am happy to write Android apps – but I prefer to write the Apple iPhone version of the App first.
However, there is no reason why Apple couldn’t fix all this.
Under the late Steve Jobs, Apple was unremittingly hostile towards cross platform development tools – tools which would allow say a Flash application to run on an Apple phone. But I have always wondered whether this prejudice against alternatives was because Jobs was emotionally attached to the NeXT tools he developed when he left Apple in the 80s – and brought with him, when a desperate Apple Corporation reinstated Steve Jobs as CEO. Jobs may have worried other cross platform technologies might displace his iPhone development environment, if he allowed other technologies on his iPhone.
However, aside from the software, Apple iPhone hardware is technologically very similar to Android phones – both Android phones and Apple iPhones use ARM processors, and have similar specifications. Apple iPhones have all the hardware they need to run Android Apps.
If Apple relaxes its software policy a little, Apple has a golden opportunity to be the best of both worlds – to utterly dominate both the Apple and Android app market, with one handset. To bring their design genius to the task of creating a market leading iPhone which can run most of the world’s apps.
Apple could even bring much needed improvements to the Android development environment. If the technically superb Apple XCode iPhone App development environment came pre-configured with the ability to create Android apps, nobody would ever bother using anything else.
Time will tell whether Apple seizes this golden opportunity, or whether the ghost of Steve Jobs keeps Apple loyal to the prejudices of their old master.
If you would like to know more about the difference between Android apps and iPhone apps, or would like to discuss an app idea, please contact Eric Worrall.
If your app idea is not quite ready to go to a developer, please visit Apps Nursery, for expert assistance with exploring and developing your app idea.