Why is VoiceCouncil reviewing so many iOS apps – and not Android? Here is the answer.
We’ve had a lot of comments recently at VoiceCouncil like this: “Most of the music apps you are reviewing are on the iOS platform – but most of us use Android. Get with the program!”
It’s true: in a recent survey of VoiceCouncil readers, we discovered that 50% of you are using Android smartphones, 41% are on iOS and 6% are on Windows.
It changes with tablets: 38% are on iOS, 22% on Android (35% don’t own a tablet) and 3% on Windows.
Still, that is a lot of folks using Android devices.
There’s a reason we’ve focused the last few months on iOS (though the team is working now on Android reviews)– and we met with Product Manager Robert Rinaldi to help us explain why. Rob has been coordinating several App projects for TC-Helicon – for both iOS and Android platforms.
Rob, what is the main reason that iOS is ahead of Android right now when it comes to music apps?
Firstly: latency. That’s the word for the little delay you hear between you inputting a signal, say some music, and hearing it in real-time. iOS has better latency, that is to say less/smaller latency than Android – currently.
OK – that would be a major issue especially for performance-related apps. Any thing else?
Yes – Apple provides powerful tools within the iOS platform that make it easy for developers to build exciting and powerful audio-based apps. It’s the fact that Apple has a much stronger focus on “Audio” that allows more powerful and responsive apps to be built using iOS.
How does that affect a music app?
You want a great sound when you sing into the mic: no delays, clicks or whistles. You want to record, loop and do signal processing on your audio in a way that is seamless. iOS gives developers a full-featured audio engine so we can focus on the user interface and controls.
So, there is NO difference in quality between the platforms if an app does not require real-time music functions?
Latency is a big concern. The Android OS is used by various manufacturers, and as such the quality of the hardware inside can vary from sufficient to great. Alternatively, Apple controls both the hardware and the OS and can therefore ensure consistent quality. In fact we are developing a music warm-up app right now that doesn’t require real-time functions. Therefore, we are doing this for both iOS and Android.
What is going on, then, with audio processing in the Android platform?
Things are changing as we speak and this may not be an issue in the near future. A Windows or Android device simply doesn’t have the libraries or engines prebuilt into the platform that gives the same opportunity to developers. This, combined with the fact that Android is running on multiple hardware manufacturers devices, makes it more difficult for developers to create consistent and high functioning audio apps.
Can’t the latency issue on Android be solved with some extra programming?
Yes it can, but the problem is building a product that can grow in scale with that Operating System, essentially developing these tools yourself for the most part. If you develop something on your own, things will change in the Operating System and then your product could be useless because it is not integrated. Again, you also can’t guarantee how every Android hardware device will respond across each manufacturer and model.
But you say this is changing for Android?
Yes. The success of audio and video multimedia on iOS has signaled to the other platforms that an opportunity has been lost. Google has initiatives in place to build a better audio engine into the platform, and Samsung has even built their own to help this along on their Android phones. Windows, too, has people looking at the audio space.
Is the future bleak for me if I don’t have iOS?
As it stands today, if you are looking to use mobile devices as a part of your performance then you will face limitations if you are not using an iOS device. However, as I mentioned, Android and Windows will hopefully continue to work on their platforms building better audio tools and capabilities, and if so what I have said above may be dated information before too long!
Finally, take us into the future. I’d like you to speculate where all of this is going.
In the years ahead, applications will be able to run across devices regardless of their form factor, for example, we won’t see “apps” that only run on your mobile device. In addition, Apps will be even more network aware, being able to utilize resources across the internet making things like more real-time collaboration an even more powerful reality.
Are you suggesting that ‘Platform Wars’ will be over?
Not exactly, there’s nothing wrong with a little competition in an open-market for customers like us. Web-based applications will be more hardware “agnostic”; they will work through the internet rather than solely requiring the platform alone to have the right programming embedded.
I guess you can’t tell us when this revolution will occur?
Well it is happening now, but if I knew exactly when this would come into play for music performance Apps, I would have been able to negotiate this interview through my agent!
Rob Rinaldi is a Product Manager for TC-Helicon. He has worked on Voice Jam Studio and has just released on Voice Cross Trainer by Kim Chandler.
Kim’s Voice Cross Trainer App is available now. It’s based on her popular “Funky ‘n Fun” vocal training series.