May 14, 2013
Recently, Nike released a statement that disappointed thousands of Android users. The company had been working on the Android version of an application that allows subscribers to sync their Nike Fuel band over Bluetooth, rather than plugging in to a computer. The app had already existed for months on the iOS platform’s iPhone, iPod and iPad and Nike announced in early 2012 that an Android application was on the way. Then, after several months without updates, Nike announced that the company would not be releasing an application for the Android market after all.
As a multi-national company whose revenue exceeded 24.1 billion in 2012, Nike is not a company one tends to think of as having limited resources. While some have speculated about a secret deal between Apple and Nike, most experts agree that it was simply too difficult for Nike to create a widely compatible Android app for the Fuelband on a platform that is still so fragmented. According to Google’s own figures, less than 3 percent of the hundreds of millions of Android handsets on the market today are running the most recent version of Android, which poses a major problem for both app designers and users.
When ASD began work on a mobile application for Android, we set aside a period of time for a select group of funeral directors to beta test our app. We followed this same protocol prior to the release of ASD’s iPhone application. Since the majority of ASD employees use iPhones, I was asked to test the new app using a myTouch 4g Slide Android phone and became the point person for helping our technicians communicate with clients who were beta testing the Android app. I prefer Android to iPhone because it allows me to share content easier and is a less expensive option.
As I began gathering feedback from directors, we soon found there were major inconsistences between how the app performed on some devices as opposed to others. When fixing bugs for Android phones, it became extremely difficult to resolve one problem without inadvertently creating a new issue. While our programmers expected the Android platform to present more challenges than Apple’s iOS, we never could have predicted users to report so many different variations of our app.
According to Hong Kong developer Animoco, Android is now on more than 600 phones and tablets in less than four years. Apple’s iOS, on the other hand, has only eight possible variations. The very open nature of the Android platform provides consumers with more choice when selecting a mobile device and also drives up competition, reducing costs. The consequence, however, is that Android is the most fragmented smartphone operating system in the world. Apps that rely on advanced functionalities may vary significantly from one handset to another.
In addition to the inconsistencies on different devices, Android also accounted for 79 percent of all mobile malware in 2012, according to security firm F-Secure’s latest Mobile Threat report. For funeral directors who use their mobile phone regularly to conduct business and depend on apps like Evernote to transcribe sensitive information, the risk of lost or stolen data may be too high to justify using an Android device. Apple’s iOS platform provides funeral professional with added peace of mind knowing apps will run smoothly and information will be protected.
ASD’s recent research on our Smartphone app found that more than 3,800 funeral professionals are using ASD Mobile. Of those, 2,905 were iPhone users and 929 were Android users. From this data we conclude that less than 25% of ASD clients prefer Android to iPhone. These statistics are surprising, considering that 75% of all smartphones sold are Androids. However taking into account all I’ve learned about funeral directors and all I’ve learned about smartphones, I was hardly shocked. Funeral directors must prove their reliability each and every day. It is a trait that can often define a funeral home’s reputation—for better or worse. So it’s no surprise that funeral homes place high value on the reliability of the vendors they work with and the products they select. Directors that depend on their mobile phone as a business tool are likely to select the most proven and reliable option available.
As an Android user, I recognize both the practical and economic reasons for choosing Android over iPhone. However, from a programmer’s perspective I completely understand why some companies are throwing in the towel and focusing solely on iOS platform. The security and fragmentation issues present challenges that are difficult for companies like Nike to overcome, let alone small businesses. App designers want to offer every user an ideal experience but with so many variations, the performance quality of Android apps is not likely to ever eclipse Apple’s iOS.
ASD Mobile was created to be the complete mobile solution for funeral directors, not a one-trick pony. Rather than developing a text-displayer or a scaled-down version of our website, ASD Mobile is to be used as an interactive tool capable of performing multiple functions and communicating information directly to ASD’s systems. It would have been simple to create an app for Android with only some of the functions available to iPhone users, but we recognized there was a strong demand from Android subscribers to have equal access to this mobile tool.
ASD appreciates the many funeral directors who patiently assisted with the Android beta testing program. Without their help, we would not have been able to ensure our app was functional on all Android devices. However, some users continue to experience variations in our app’s performance. Please know that we are always working to enhance your ASD experience and will continue to update the app based on your feedback.
While we believe that the iPhone will maximize your use of the ASD Mobile app, our Android app remains a high priority going forward. If you experience any problem using our Android app, please do not hesitate to contact us. The issues that have been reported are sporadic and seem to affect a small number of devices. Email support@myASDcom or call 800-868-9950 and we will work with you to resolve your specific issue.
About The Author
Jess Farren (Fowler)
Jess Farren (Fowler) is a Public Relations Specialist and Staff Writer who has been a part of the ASD team since 2003. Jess manages ASD’s company blog and has been published in several funeral trade magazines. She has written articles on a variety of subjects including communication, business planning, technology, marketing and funeral trends. You can contact Jess directly at Jess@myASD.com