Netflix’s Slow Move to Android Highlights Developer Challenge
Netflix announced on Thursday that the service is finally making its debut on Android, months after it arrived for the iPhone. And, even now, it will only be available on five Android models. (The Netflix post appears to be down, in all likelihood because of the Blogger outage.)
It highlights the challenges that many developers face when looking to support Android.
If a developer managed to support five iPhone models, they would support all the existing models and one that hasn’t even been released yet. To fully support Android, though, developers have to make sure their app runs on hundreds of devices spanning multiple processors, several versions of the operating system as well as a number of different screen sizes, to name just some of the challenges.
Google took some steps to make life a bit easier for developers this week, announcing at its developer conference that it has launched a program to create common Android accessories and a separate effort to convince hardware makers and operators to continue upgrading Android devices to the latest versions of the operating system.
Netflix, for its part, announced its app will work on four HTC phones as well as the Samsung-made Nexus S.
“Because the platform has evolved so rapidly, there are some significant challenges associated with developing a streaming video application for this ecosystem,” Netflix’s Roma De said in a blog post announcing the arrival of its Android app. “One of these challenges is the lack of standard streaming playback features that the Netflix application can use to gain broad penetration across all available Android phones.”
Like many Android developers, Netflix said it is spending time testing its app with each handset it seeks to support.
“We are aggressively qualifying phones and look forward to expanding the list of phones on which the Netflix app will be supported,” De said. “We anticipate that many of these technical challenges will be resolved in the coming months and that we will be able to provide a Netflix application that will work on a large majority of Android phones.”