The Android smartphone operating system has the largest share of users across the planet, far higher than iPhones with iOS and yet it is still absolutely terrible for making music. With such a large user base, you would think they could get it right.
Okay, first off I have to admit that I personally am a huge Apple Mac fan and have been using them for well over 27 years now, but I’m an Android phone user. I know, an odd mix but it is one I made for various reasons that we don’t need to discuss in this article.
My biggest frustration with Android is its complete lack of stability and poor choice of applications for musicians. The latency is too high for recording and monitoring audio successfully, the timing seems to slip (There is one particular metronome app that loses time after about 10 seconds) and last but not least the choice of music applications themselves is few and far between.
Whereas Apple’s iOS-based iPhone and iPad have thousands of great applications for musicians. Everything from synthesisers, multitrack recording studios and guitar amp simulators, that’s just scraping the surface, as there is so much to choose from on the Apple App Store. Yet Google Play has hardly anything worth mentioning, most of it will only run on specific handsets and even then it isn’t exactly great on those either.
So how has Android got itself backed into such a tight corner when it comes to good applications for musicians?
I personally think it is all down to there being too much choice in terms of hardware. Apple’s walled garden approach to hardware is the company’s strength when it comes to making quality music applications. Poor old Android has to deal with a myriad of hardware options and all with various processors, audio inputs and outputs, plus some that frankly barely deserve to run the Android operating system as they are just terrible designs full stop.
The only way I think Android can turn this around is if they come up with a minimum standard audio requirement to run the Android operating system on new smartphones and tablets. If your hardware doesn’t reach the minimum standard, then you cannot use Android, no ifs or buts.
Just a basic specification for audio, so that a smartphone or tablet can record and playback audio without latency, use MIDI without timing issues or have poor sound. I guarantee all those software developers that currently make applications for iOS would love to have the audience that Android has, and finally be able to develop good quality applications for musicians.
Of course, you could always just buy an iPhone…