Why The Open Source Nature Of Android Benefits Developers?

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Written By Jane Collen

Freedom begets creativity and innovation and that is exactly what Android’s open-source nature has continued to power on since the time of its inception.

In today’s digital world, there are only two major forces when it comes to app development of any kind i.e. Android and iOS. However, iOS continues to remain heavily leashed by Apple on all fronts including how its proprietary software is used, who uses it, and how revenue can be generated from it. But Android allows its developers to be free from these issues to a high amount of degree.

One major example of this is the recent feud between Fortnite and the major app stores. When Fortnite moved to offer its digital currency in the app (the primary source of monetization on the app) through its own service on a discount, both the two major app stores banned it since what it did was considered a violation of the app store monetization policies. 

But while Fortnite’s removal from the Apple App Store meant that Fortnite could no longer be downloaded on iOS devices through any other legitimate means and neither could it get any updates, the app’s ban from Google Play Store didn’t mean the same.

If a user wants to download Fortnite on its Android device, it can just toggle the option of install “Unknown sources” to on and get the app on their phone just like they would have got from the Google Play Store.

While this might not seem much, it is a perfect example of how Android’s open-source nature continues to benefit app developers worldwide.

And this is just one benefit that developers leverage from the fact that Android is open source. There are many more advantages to this, so let’s a much deeper look and understand what they are to give you a better understanding of why picking Android for app development continues to grow in demand among a majority of developers across the world:

1. Availability of source code and SDK

5 Benefits of Android Open-Source to Savvy DevelopersAn open-source software effectively means two things i.e. firstly the source code is available publicly and you can modify it however you like and secondly, you have free access to whatever new developments or enhancements the open-source community continues to churn out.

For developers on Android, the Android Software Development Kit or SDK is entirely flexible and filled with the latest resources. This ensures that development can be done in a much faster manner and more apps can be developed on a continuous basis.

The open-source community of Android is majorly powered by Google based developers which effectively means that Android developers have access to some of the best and most viable technology frameworks out there and that too without any charges or royalty fees. 

This has led to multiple, highly valuable features to come forth in the Android development domain like Inter-App integration, which lets apps run on top of other apps among other uses. 

iOS-based phones might appear better but most of the features that they roll out have been on Android for a very long time and that’s exactly because of the availability of source code with the development community. 

2. Ability to develop an MVP easily

Android’s open-source nature isn’t just limited to core development but Google has also ensured that they do not create any roadblocks that could prevent developers from exercising their creativity with Android.

On iOS, you cannot easily pass the App Store guidelines since they are entirely restrictive on a lot of accounts, both subjectively and objectively. 

For e.g. on the Apple App Store, apps have to be perfect like they shouldn’t have any bugs at all, UI should be impeccable, etc. and apart from that, Apple can reject your app based on whether or not your app will offer any sustainable value to users. And since there is no other option for you to put out your app on iOS, you are effectively blunted out there.

On Android, the scenario is vastly different and its policies favor the creation of MVPs (Minimum Viable Products) that are incredibly important for developers who want to have a running app in case they are pitching their ideas for investment or crowdfunding or any other related purpose. 

Google Play Store will accept the app as long as it doesn’t violate its policies on the content within the app. And even if you don’t want to place your app on the store, you can always develop it as an APK and still have easily usable on Android devices.

3. Build an app circumventing app stores

Android and iOS charge a 30 percent commission on in-app purchases done in any app placed on their app stores. This can be hard on budding developers who either might not have the resources to scale their idea to such a stage that it could accommodate this commission cut or their idea might not be that profitable to provide for that cut. 

Either way, iOS doesn’t give any other option to developers apart from towing its own line, as we saw in the case of what happened with Fortnite. But that’s where the advantages of Android being an open-source software kick in to help developers out. 

An app that a developer doesn’t want to place on the app store either for saving itself from the commission or for any other reason, can be easily placed and operated upon from outside the app store. 

This has spawned another entire ecosystem of profitable, small-time apps like AdAway, Popcorn Time, ShowBox, F-Droid among countless others.

4. Leverage skills on a wide range of devices

5 Benefits of Android Open-Source to Savvy DevelopersThe Android SDK isn’t just useful for mobile app development, because nowadays, apps aren’t just used or placed on mobile devices alone.

In today’s incredible digital ecosystem, the demand for a wide range of highly innovative devices is increasing phenomenally. 

From VR headsets by Google like Daydream VR to Android TV to even Android Auto, you can place your app on any number of devices or platforms as you wish with just a little bit of tweaking in order to make the app useable on that device. 

Android’s open-source nature allows developers to build apps that can suit a wide range of purposes for e.g. if you develop an app that tracks performance for athletes, you can place it on Google Play as well as prime it for Wear OS by Google to increase your app’s reach. 

5. Create an entirely new Android OS for a certain use

Ever heard about Amazon Fire devices? These devices have been built using Android in order to power an entirely different purpose and for an entirely new ecosystem. The Fire devices leveraged the Android Open Source Project to create a custom code for themselves. 

This is certainly not possible on any other OS, especially Apple. And while Amazon’s Fire series didn’t have much success, a major example being the Fire Phone which was a $170 million disaster, shows the extent to which Android can be leveraged by anyone looking to create something innovative.

Wrapping things up: Benefits of the open-source nature of Android

Android’s benefits don’t end here for developers. There are a high number of very nuanced freedoms powered by this open-source software that continues to help developers in their tasks. For e.g. Android SDK can be used to code any type of app on any device without restrictions and recently, this capability was extended to Chromebooks as well. On Apple, you can’t develop anything unless you are on a Mac. 

These small benefits are often not given much attention, but the matter of fact is that if you are a developer for apps in today’s world, you can get much more benefit out of Android in terms of developing and placing apps than you can do anywhere, and this freedom is likely to spawn a new era of innovative solutions worldwide in the not so distant future.

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