Last week, Facebook launched a new app
that would bring the social network - one of the most used, dare one say "killer", apps used on mobile devices around the world - in front of the lock screen as it tries to understand people's use of their phones, and make Facebook even more integrated into it's customer's lives.
The problem with this launch, as you can see from Facebook
(you have to scroll to the bottom of this page) themselves, is that...
"Facebook Home for Android will be available for download from the Google Play Store on certain devices, including the HTC One X, HTC One X+, Samsung Galaxy S III and Samsung Galaxy Note II."
A fact that The Sun newspaper, given exclusive access to the app for PR purposes at it's launch outside the USA managed to misunderstand, reporting that “Any smartphone running Google’s Android operating system can run the app
There are a couple of issues here.
1) The Android platform, whilst it does account for about 50% of all smartphones being used, is by no means "all" mobile phone owners.
2) There are several thousand mobile devices that use Android, or a forked version of it. Very few people, relatively speaking, are using the most recent and high end (read: expensive) devices listed by Facebook.
Both these restrictions would seem to run counter to the very heart of what makes this social network so powerful: it's ubiquity. And those Facebook users that have downloaded the app, don't think much of it.. with nearly half of all reviews
giving it just 1 star!
[UPDATE: 13th May - just to reinforce the artificiality of the restrictions, an article has appeared in Mashable showing how the app does work in more devices
, but you have to side-load the app as the restrictions mean it won;t be visible to your phone in the app-store otherwise.]
And Facebook aren't the only large company that ought to know better to go down this technological route.
And Sky, similarly managed to "infuriate" it's customer base by not making this app available for all devices, or versions of Android. Worse, it tried to blame DRM issues and content providers for the failures. And it tried to blame the OS for the issue:
"We have two equally resourced teams that work on app development for Sky Go, one for Apple development and one for Android. However, due to the nature of the Android platform -- in terms of both the variety of operating systems and the sheer number of devices -- the reality is that developing for Android throws up a number of additional challenges when compared to working on iOS devices."
And yet, for a specialist mobile agency, like Incentivated, this is what we do every day. Make apps work
across all devices in an OS. We have specialist designers
, coders and testers - and hundreds of devices. Making sure that apps can, and do, work on every iteration of an OS, every screen layout option, every manufacturer is as important to us as ensuring that a website works on all the common installations of a web browser.
Is it complicated? Heck, yes. But that's what we do
- and it's why clients come to us to make their business accessible to all
their customers, whatever the phone (or tablet) that their customer chooses to use.