Designing for the App generation

android-vs-iosAs an integrator it’s important to always be well informed on all things tech because technology is constantly changing. In the Audio Video industry we notice this daily. This is so true, that every project I have worked on is immensely different from the last. The only thing that is a constant (recently) is that “There’s an app for that.”

The ability to use your iPhone and iPad to control your system is that little bit extra, that always brings its user to say “You can do that?” followed by smiles and excitement. But what if the end user doesn’t have either of those devices? What if that person is an android user? Sure you could tell them to buy an iPod touch, but what you should have done is ask that person which type of mobile devices they own in the beginning before you started a project with them.  It’s very possible that the user already knew of these apps that can control that system, and possibly made their decision for buying that system because they knew it was possible to do that.

My point is even if you don’t like one or the other of these operating systems, it is important to stay up to date with what these OS’ have to offer and what devices run them. Architects and designers have asked me several times this last year “Is there an Android app for this yet, or is this system supported by Android?” , and if the answer is no, then the control system, which ever you may be using, Crestron, Savant  (Ha! That would be hilarious if they had a Android app), Control4, Etc… better have one. Just as the iOS has grown and has many developers, Android is gaining momentum and is more common for people to have over iOS products these days than you may think.

So now you need to design your systems to offer and accommodate these solutions, because your clients will ask about this. The probability that your customer or their children have one of these devices is extremely high; especially the children so keep them in mind. However, again it’s possible that they don’t possess one of these devices, but that would be like not having an iPod and owning a Zune, ha, a Zune…..But I digress. There are other OS’ out there that are starting to look appealing and may have some really nice gadgets out in the world very soon. Blackberry has the “Playbook” running it’s RIM OS, HP has shown us some Tablets and mobile devices running its Web OS that I feel might develop into something interesting this year. Whether or not it will be significant enough to deter people from the iOS and or Android, only time will tell, but I highly doubt it.

For the most part I feel that the iOS and Android are the two main players in their respective fields, and will continue to be that way until Steve jobs leaves apple or gets fired…again( And then some other OS will take the number two spot). I do feel that it’s important to learn about both OS’ because of that fact. Even if you’re a fan boy for either Android or Apple, it’s time to at least look at the competition. I myself would preach all about Android and could care less about the iOS, but I learned to embrace the use of it because of the capabilities when added to an audio, video, control, lighting, etc…system(s). I guess you can say I learned to “Think different”.

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t bother with other Operating systems like the Web OS and Blackberry’s (definitely keep an eye on them because of all the tablets we have just seen during CES in Vegas just a few weeks ago), I am just telling you that currently these two are what is hot on the streets and what has a huge community of developers already years ahead of the competition. Keep this in mind the next time you go out to a new project or are designing a system, “Who has an app for this?”. Also if you are a manufacturer of these subsystems or developers for the OS’, Please, please consider making apps for us and you.