Why Android May Soon Be The Dominant Platform for Mobile Advertising

This is a guest post written by Michael Essany, senior editor of Mobile Marketing Watch.

Android PhoneRarely stated but universally accepted, mobile apps have played a pivotal role in creating the market duopoly that iOS and Android now enjoy.

Without their enthusiastic and prolific developer communities, it’s unlikely that iOS and Android would collectively account for a staggering 93% of worldwide smartphones today.

Curiously, the exceedingly important factor of developer platform preference is almost never taken into consideration when the future of mobile advertising is discussed. Instead, the headlines continue to reflect the present edge iOS retains over Android on mobile advertising revenue.

Alas, we are simply expected to believe that what is true today will somehow still be true tomorrow. But if you look closely at what developers have communicated to us with their actions, particularly during the last twelve months, a cogent argument can be made for why Android may soon emerge as the dominant platform for mobile advertising.

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Reply To Comments Enabled For All Google Play Developers

A few months ago we heard that Google had started enabling “reply to comments” for selected Android developers on Google Play. Unfortunately I didn’t get access at the time, and have been waiting for a chance to try it out ever since. Well it seems like today is the big day. According to the official announcement by Google, all developers can now reply to comments on Google Play.

Screenshot of Google Play developer feature - Reply To User Reviews

This new feature is a big deal for many Android developers. Anyone who’s released an app on Google Play knows what it’s like to receive a negative review, complaining about problems which have already been fixed, or are simply the result of a misunderstanding by the user. This kind of thing happens all the time. And up until now, it’s been impossible to follow up with these users.

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New Android SDK Tools and ADT Revision 17

Android with Screwdriver and Spanner InlaidThe Android Developers blog just announced an update for the Android SDK Tools and ADB. This new release, version 17, brings many improvements to the build process. Here are some of my favourite new features:

  • Added check for Android API calls that require a version of Android higher than the minimum supported version. This will save you from having to test your app on Android 1.6 for example, only to have it fail due to an API call that was introduced in Android 2.1
  • Added a feature that allows you to run some code only in debug mode. Builds now generate a class called BuildConfig containing a DEBUG constant that is automatically set according to your build type. You can check the (BuildConfig.DEBUG) constant in your code to run debug-only functions such as outputting debug logs.
  • Added feature to automatically setup JAR dependencies. Any .jar files in the /libs folder are added to the build configuration (similar to how the Ant build system works). Also, .jar files needed by library projects are also automatically added to projects that depend on those library projects.
  • Updated the resource chooser to show the resolved value for resources. For example, when selecting @string/hello the chooser displays a resolved value such as “Hello World”). The resource chooser also now allows you to edit the chosen value directly.

There are plenty more changes to be found in the SDK Release Notes and ADT Release Notes. The Android Emulator can now run x86 system images at native speed, thanks to contributions from Intel. Lint has also received a major upgrade, with 40 new rules checking for performance and code issues.

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Improvements to the Android Developer Console

A few days ago (before the Android Market was renamed) Google announced a major update to the Android Developer Console stats page. Rather than the simple “active installs” chart which used to be shown, developers now have access to a wide range of charts showing total & active installs over time. Google has also added the ability to view daily install charts, and see which version of your app users have installed at the present time.

Announcement on the Android Developer Console

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Google Play – The New Android Market

Google Play - Android MarketToday Google announced (in several places) that the Android Market is being rebranded “Google Play

The new marketplace (sorry, “play store”) includes content from four main areas – Movies, Music, Apps & Games, and Books. Of course, not all of these are available outside of the US yet, so folks in Australia will only get access to Apps & Games and Books for now.

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Android Developers on Google+

This morning Google announced a brand new Google+ page for Android Developers. The goal is to create “a place for Android developers everywhere to meet, share, and connect with the people behind the Android developer experience”. The Android Developer Relations team will be hosting Google+ Hangouts from this page, and even calling in some external developers … Read more…

Over 700,000 Android Devices Activated Per Day

Chart of Android Activations by David Webb

Andy Rubin just posted the latest Android goodness on Google+. Apparently there are now over 700,000 Android devices activated per day around the world. And that’s not counting upgrades.

The full message, posted in two parts on Andy’s Google+ profile:

There are now over 700,000 Android devices activated every day

…and for those wondering, we count each device only once (ie, we don’t count re-sold devices), and “activations” means you go into a store, buy a device, put it on the network by subscribing to a wireless service.

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Galaxy Nexus & Android 4.0

Google Android 4.0 LogoI watched the live Google/Samsung announcement of the Galaxy Nexus yesterday. The event was held in Hong Kong, and streamed live to the Android Developers YouTube channel. I wasn’t completely blown away by the hardware – seems pretty run-of-the-mill after being spoiled with the Galaxy S II. But I was impressed to see how much thought Google has put into the user experience for Android 4.0 (“Ice Cream Sandwich”).

I get the impression that this time, Google’s focused on the little things. Like zero shutter lag for the camera, rather than the megapixel count. Or streamlining the voice-to-text capabilities, as well as copy & paste. These “little things” are really the things that matter for consumers. Apple’s known this for a long time, and one of the selling points for Apple’s phones is the great user experience (even if the flexibility isn’t there). I think Google’s trying to take a leaf from Apple’s book here, and start building an engaging, “love-able” (their words, not mine!) user interface. An admirable goal, and from what I’ve seen, they have taken big steps in this direction with the latest version of Android.

But that’s the consumer side of things. For developers, Android 4.0 introduces a number of new concepts, including:

  • Unified UI toolkit – “A single set of UI components, styles, and capabilities for phones, tablets, and other devices”. So Android 4.0 has finally pulled together the Gingerbread & Honeycomb releases.
  • Rich communication and sharing – A bunch of new APIs, most significantly Android Beam, which enables NFC-based instant sharing between smartphones.
  • New lock screen – Not sure how much opportunity there is for developers to plug in here, but Google has introduced a new set of instant actions which can be accessed directly from the lock screen (camera & music controls).

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