How Google is Winning the Delight Game with Mobile App Users

December 6, 2016 - 3 minutes read

Google and Apple have a lot in common when it comes to branding. App developers on both platforms will notice that play, experimentation, and a youthful “underdog” aesthetic underpin much of what the tech giants do — although they admittedly are far from underdog status at this point in the tech boom.

While Apple is winning the market for upper-class app users with high disposable incomes, Google has been taking a more wide-ranging approach with dozens of independent projects highlighting how “hackable” their systems are (in a fun way).

Android experiments, for example, brings together an ongoing series of unique, quirky, and not always utilitarian app ideas to fuel excitement among developers who got into tech to scratch their creative itches.

Paper Planes, for example, does little more than allow users to fold digital planes and throw them to other screens — where they mingle with planes thrown by other users around the world. Useful? Not really. Inspiring? For tech dreamers, absolutely.

Some of their mobile app development experiments are somewhat more usable in the real world. Landmarker, for example, is a simple but clever app that lets you find locations near you directionally, rather than by reading a map. This is useful for locating neighborhoods and orientation, although most users would still file it under “frivolous.”

It’s with small, quirky app ideas like this that Google is winning the war for developer attention. Android still has a long way to go before it can catch up to Apple in terms of brand reliability, but with the Pixel phone entering the market and cleanups underway in the famously cluttered Google Play app store, users can expect that they’ll soon carve out an impressive slice of the US mobile app market.

Another feature of Google’s developer-friendly efforts is their consistent emphasis on multi-platform compatibility, with many of their experimental app offerings integrating desktop monitors, mobile devices, tablets, and of course Android Wear hardware like the Moto 360. A similar experimental initiative explores developer-generated Chrome hacks, celebrating the weirdness rather than shunning it as many platforms undoubtedly would.

Whether or not all these games will translate into more NYC iPhone app developers jumping on the Android train, however, remains to be seen.

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