Still not “porting”

USA Today app has nearly twice as many downloads on TouchPad than all Android tablets combined.

While the article doesn’t include the Kindle Fire as an Android tablet but rather a separate entry, the point to make is that these “three” platforms each have less than 10% of the share the iPad has for the same FREE app. I emphasize FREE because we’ve already seen the data that says iOS users are more likely to pay for stuff so a free app is perhaps a ┬ámore fair/level comparison.

I’ve written a few times about my adventures in supporting older iOS versions and devices. Recently I’ve been working on something that may just work on iOS 3, and in having to test everything that goes with that, I’ve had the following plugged into my Mac at once:

  • iPod 1 @ 3.1.3
  • iPod 4 @ 4.3
  • iPod 4 @ 5
  • iPhone 3G @ 4.2
  • iPhone 3GS @ 5
  • iPhone 4 @ 5

Excluding the iPod 4 with iOS 4.3, all the devices are sporting their “Maximum” OS. Why do I have to do all this? iOS versions change a lot more than they appear to sometimes. iOS 3, 4, and 5 are all quite different. One area that recently surprised me was that it’s an iOS 5 thing to be able to have a background color to a UITextField. iOS 3 and 4 bizarrely use pattern images. This might be a bug as I swear I used a clear UITextField in Auto Adjust 2 and that ran on iOS 3.0, although that was in a UIToolBar and putting elements inside those don’t always have the same rules.

The reason I have multiple devices to test the “same” OS is because they differ greatly in hardware. The 3Gs has the same RAM as the iPod 4, but the iPod has the retina display, and an A4. The iPhone 4 has the retina display and A4, but also twice the RAM. These little things matter a lot in image heavy apps like mine where it’s very easy to use up all of a device’s RAM or you want to use hardware acceleration.

So to deploy something for iOS, I’m testing on 6 handhelds and 2 iPads. Why/how could I possibly devote any time (or money buying devices) to support a platform that may get 10% of the sales I’m getting now. I, like USA Today, would have to already be selling in the millions.