Android Under Fire In The News

Despite being a dominant mobile operating system, Google’s Android platform has been having a really bad week, PR wise. Here’s a look at recent Android-related news reports and surveys, which claim that developers are losing interest in the platform, malware threats are on the rise, and ads in free apps are big battery drains.

* Developer interest is starting to wane due to HTML5 and fragmentation.

On Tuesday, Appcelerator, a mobile platform development company, and research firm IDC, released their findings that suggest some Android developers are starting to lose interest in the platform.

Development for mobile devices so far has focused on native apps for Android, iOS, and other platforms. However, this year, look for more developers to set their sights on HTML5, which works cross platform. “A resounding 79% of mobile developers report that they will integrate HTML5 in their apps in 2012,” according to IDC. “This is much higher than many industry observers had anticipated as late as Q4 2011.”

Meanwhile, Android phones and tablets are showing “slow erosion of interest levels,” IDC says. During the first quarter of 2012, Android phone developer interest declined 4.7 percentage points to 78.6 percent from the previous survey. Interest in Android tablets dropped 2.2 percentage points to 65.9 percent. The prime culprit: Unlike iOS, there are multiple version of the Android OS out there at any given time, making development for the platform challenging.

* Hacker interest in exploiting Android is rising.

Android’s open-source nature, along with rising interest in Android phones among consumers, is attracting the attention of criminal hackers.

Between 2010 and 2011, the overall amount of unique, new malware grew about 2 to 6 percent, down from up to 20 percent a year before, according to security software maker Total Defense. However, at the same time, more than 25 times more Android malware was discovered in 2011, the firm found. All told, the report states there were more than 9,000 incidents of Android malware in 2011.

“Malware goes to where the numbers are,” said Don DeBolt, director of threat research at security software maker Total Defense, quoted in an eWeek article posted Tuesday. “There’s been an explosion of malware directed at the Android platform.”

* Free Android apps drain device batteries.

Also this week, Purdue University researchers, collaborating with Microsoft, said they discovered that ads in free Android smartphone apps can be responsible for up to 75 percent of the app’s energy use. Example: About 45 percent of the free Angry Birds app’s total energy consumption comes from powering third-party ads and analytics, the researchers found. The game Free Chess was another battery hog. NewScientist reported the findings.


Google, Android, HTML 5