Porting iOS to Android: Spotlight Mobile Shares The Pitfalls And Perks

If you attended (or watched) our Mobile-First CrunchUp last week, you’ll remember that a lot of the discussion revolved around the pros and cons of using the iOS and Android platforms. The debate was particularly interesting because it featured Matias Duarte, Android’s Director of User Experience, and it touched on everything from designing apps to the data each platform gives developers access to.

Now Nick Farina, the cofounder of Spotlight Mobile, has written an extensive  (and timely) recap of their experience porting their Meridian app over to Android (Spotlight Mobile has also developed several premium applications, including the Barnes & Noble Bookstore). This is hardly the first blog post to explore the issues involved with making the jump, but it’s more thorough than most and does a good job explaining the pros and cons of both platforms (it’s also perfectly understandable for those of us who aren’t accomplished developers). You can find his full post here.

Among the highlights from Farina’s post:

  • “You’re going to hate Eclipse” (the IDE that Google/Android recommends) when you first get started, but after a while, “it’ll basically write your code for you.”
  • Farina found that lot of the basic structure of the application was very similar between the iOS and Java ports.
  • The Android emulator is painfully slow, to the point that he recommends just going out any buying an Android phone to test on.
  • Farina likes Android’s layout system, which is more similar to designing for a webpage (in that it adapts to different screen sizes and orientations) than iOS’s pixel-perfect system. But he says that Android has a serious shortcoming when it comes to animations, which can seriously bog down the system because they’re not rendered with a GPU.  Worth noting: I downloaded Meridian and it looks quite nice, proving that Android apps don’t have to be ugly.

Again, if you’re a developer you’d probably do well the read the whole post here. It’s a fascinating read.

Meridian, which we’ve covered before, is an app that lets venues create custom, GPS-enabled guides. For example, the Portland Art Museum currently uses the app to give users maps around each exhibit (complete with audio narration for various pieces), as well as maps to key locations in the museum, like the restrooms.