Wired: Why iOS Apps Look Better Than Android Apps

Wired ran a feature this week on why the exact same app can look so much better on iOS than it does on Google’s Android platform. And before you get up in arms, read along to find out why that is, or check out Wired’s article for a trove of screenshots and explanations. But the quick summary is as follows:

Uniformity vs Fragmentation

If you are designing an application for iOS, you have two sizes to design for. The iPhone and the iPad. Retina display differences are all handled by the development tools, so one design for each platform has you covered.

Android devices come in different shapes and sizes, different resolutions, with a dozen different processors and memory configurations. All that combines makes it more difficult to create an app that looks as good and performs as well on every Android device than it is for iOS developers.

iOS definitely makes transitions a lot easier. Whether it’s U.I. elements fading in and out, or sliding, those things can be used and you have a good sense that it’ll consistently look good across iOS devices. On Android, there are different frameworks, but the problem is you dont know what’s consistently going to work across devices. – Karma developer Lee Linden


Apple has been working to provide development tools for two decades, while Google has basically started from scratch. This may not take a huge toll on the actual development tools, but it gives iOS developers a clear advantage when it comes to documentation, human interface guidelines, and more. This is one area where Android will certainly improve over time.

Ryan, our Android guy, has to go digging around in the source code to figure out some XML formatting piece that isn’t made clear. That’s been painful for him. – Hipmunk developer Danilo Campos

Company Culture

Apple has decades of history in forming a design-centric culture for the company, employees, and users. Google’s background is in search, science, and engineering. While the Mountain View company has improved in recent years with great design with it’s Google+ product and with Android’s Ice Cream Sandwich, it is still working towards the design oriented culture in Cupertino.

Caleb Hicks

Caleb is a teacher, entrepreneur, and tech enthusiast. He teaches kids (and his Mom) how to use computers for fun and profit. He loves to talk tech, gadgets, and Apple on Twitter (@calebhicks). Check out more posts by Caleb on his Author Page.

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