Java gives Android development an edge

javaEvans Data survey also finds app dev is quicker for Android than for rival OSes, due to improved tooling and cross-platform development.

By Paul Krill | InfoWorld

Java familiarity is key to developers being able to build apps a bit quicker for Google’s Android mobile platform than for the rival Apple iOS or Microsoft’s Windows Phone platforms, Evans Data said this week.

The company surveyed 464 developers worldwide as part of its semi-annual Mobile Development Survey. Forty-one percent of respondents targeting Android said a typical Android app was finished in month or less. This compared to 36 percent who said the same about iOS and 34 percent who said this about Windows Phone.

Evans attributes Android’s advantage to Java development skills, which are leveraged by Android application-builders. The less-familiar Objective-C language is used for iOS applications, although this language is growing in popularity. Windows Phone applications use languages like C# and Visual Basic, which have been prominent.

“We see a lot of enterprise developers showing greater interest in Android in recent years, and I think a lot of experience they have in developing apps with Java translates easily to Android development,” said Evans analyst Michael Rasalan. Android development also gets a boost from improved tooling, such as Google’s Android Studio, and cross-platform development, including HTML5 use, said Rasalan.

Evans also found Android was the most targeted platform by developers building applications for tablets. Eighty-four percent of survey respondents building for tablets target Android, as opposed to 62 percent for iOS and 52 percent for Windows. Most developers target multiple platforms and screen sizes, though, and 74 percent emulate screen sizes before shipping apps. The most commonly developed apps for mobile devices are productivity and business apps, according to Rasalan.

Android developers, with multiple vendors’ devices to build for as opposed to single-vendor iOS devices, end up spending the most time on testing and debugging, Evans found. Still, this time is made up for in other portions of the development lifecycle. On all platforms, testing and debugging take up the most time, except for Firefox OS and Tizen, where coding takes up the most time, but there is a lack of commercially available systems supporting these two OSes in North America.

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