Why Android (and why not iOS)?

Flurrish CTO, Mike Brown, outlines some of the reasons for choosing Android over-and-above iOS (Apple):

Why build an application on only one platform?

When building a mobile or tablet based application, you have ostensibly three choices for fluid gameplay: Android (Google platform), iOS (Apple platform) or web-based (and accessed via a mobile browser or "wrapper application") - web based apps are just live websites. Yes, there are others, but they simply aren't contenders in this space where mass-procurement and familiarity for young users is key. For a small number of key reasons, a web-based build was out of scope (you can read about why we made this decision in part 1 and part 2), but suffice to say that being unable to use the application in the classroom because of network issues would be disruptive to our "practice, practice, practice" mantra.

Flurrish Number.fy is built on the Android platform. We could have done on this iOS - but we didn't, for a number of sensible reasons. We often get asked why, and when this will be available on Apple devices. The answer is, not for a while, though we do envisage it happening. Here's why:

1. Number.fy was primarily designed as a classroom tool

Though we intend to make Number.fy available to pupils at home, it has been designed to work in the classroom, for teachers and pupils. The target device set has to be accessible by schools, and budget comes into this. At current costs, you can buy 2 or 3 reasonable Android tablets (even ones where batteries can be replaced at low cost) to every one iPad or iPhone. Purchasing hardware in reasonable quantities and within typical school budgets is an important factor.

2. Number.fy is not currently intended to be installed on home phones

Each device ID is known and mapped to a school, so we don't use a typical distribution mechanism, such as Google Play or Apple's App Store, which would have distributed an unusable app. Android as a platform allows custom distribution mechanisms without breaching Terms and Conditions.

3. Number.fy is designed to be used by children in schools

We needed a reliable method for disabling some key operational features of the device from inquisitive pupils. Android not only affords us the ability to remove some key elements of the Android User Interface to prevent the device being used for "other" purposes, but allows us to use Kids Place to ensure our application is the only one that can run on that device during that session.

4. Standard Android device differences don't apply in our case

The standard argument levelled at Android is that of device fragmentation. This is essentially the bewilderingly vast number of devices running Android that could conceivably run Number.fy but using different screen sizes, speeds and even screen ratios. This is conventionally the single strongest argument for building the first revision of your application on Apple's iOS platform, which has a very limited set of variations (you can be sure it will run perfectly for the most part). However, bBecause Number.fy isn't deployed conventionally to the public-at-large at this point, we are able to work within a recommended and best-value known set of devices. Number.fy at its core is graphically very simple, meaning the layout variation issues can be suppressed to a large extent.

Number.fy on the iOS platform will happen in the mid to long term, but we need to overcome some of these key challenges. We'd be very interested in hearing if you have a large set of Apple or Android-based devices, and the rationale behind your choices. Please get in touch!