AAPL Stock: 117.34 ( -0.96 )

Printed from

Starbucks exec: Android apps often 'watered down'

updated 05:35 pm EDT, Mon May 16, 2011

Starbucks says Android app writing too diluted

Starbucks' mobile lead KC MacLaren chose an interview Monday to criticize Android development. Although a Starbucks app was coming and wasn't affected by the issues, he saw some developers facing a "watered down experience." Many ended up with a lowest common denominator app where, to serve the most possible devices, they had to cut down on the features they could offer, GeekWire was told.

"They can't deliver a consistent [experience]," MacLaren said of Android developers. "If they are using a lot of native device elements -- like the accelerometer and the camera and gyroscope and all of the different pieces of the hardware -- those are handled very differently on different devices. So, if you needed that, you might not be able to deliver that in a great way. You might have to take that feature out, for example."

Android's development kit was also in a rougher state. Google was catching up, but it was "a year behind" where Apple was, MacLaren said.

Variety has often been touted as one of Android's advantages by giving users different sizes, the option of a hardware keyboard, and new features early. The divisions have nonetheless hurt certain categories of apps, most of all gaming, where having a consistent platform and deep hardware access are advantages. Apple is still much further in gaming support and had Netflix support much earlier than Android, which got it only on five devices because differences in hardware prevented consistent copy protection on 2.x devices.

Some limitations were still present across platforms. MacLaren didn't expect customers to directly order their drinks from a phone because of the experience, he said. iPad owners also likely wouldn't get a native app, since scanning a barcode at the store with an iPad "doesn't make a lot of sense."

by MacNN Staff



  1. Paul Huang

    Joined: Dec 1969


    No one knows 'watered down' better than...

    Starbucks, of course.

  1. chas_m




    Good one, Paul.

  1. DerekMorr

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Has this guy ever done any Android development? What does he mean that sensors and the camera(s) are handled differently on different devices? There are standard APIs for accessing those capabilities.

    Further, I can't take him seriously when he mentions "multiple resolutions, multiple screen sizes, different capabilities of different platforms." The same criticisms apply to iPhones. The iPhone 3GS and 4 have different resolutions and capabilities.

    Having said all that, I can't imagine why people are anxious for a Starbucks Android app. Their coffee is overpriced and horrible -- it always tastes burnt.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. macnews1

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Then answer to your: Huh?

    Derek - the API's are there but you don't know WHAT or how MANY of them are out in the wild. Android touts having, now, more phones than the iPhone. While this is likely true (if just looking at phones) how many of those have multi-touch, front cameras, camera res, accelerometer, etc. That is the difference. Yes, the API's exist but on how many phones does the hardware exist thus making it important when a developer decides to create an app with those features.

    As to the multiple screen sizes, I'm assuming you are not a developer or haven't looked at the SDK for Android? Yes, there are 2 sizes you need to develop for iOS but those are resolutions and not screen sizes. If you get in to the Android SDK you will find a drop down box that lists all the different devices so you can see how your icons/graphics/etc move based on the different device screen size. Get things to close on one device and it can mess up on others.

    What this guy said IS a fact for MANY small developers. I'm sure big development companies with more developers these are not as big an issue because they can develop special work flows or just pay enough devs to get the job done. For many smaller devs, however, this is a big deal. Do I care? Yes because I want my apps on as many platforms as possible. Moving to Android is very expensive and takes much more time than people assume just because it is open.

  1. Arne_Saknussemm

    Joined: Dec 1969


    "watered down"

    That's over the world! not just on the states, I wonder if they do this on purpose....

    An now Mr. MacLaren is on Apple's payroll.

    Ah that explains it!
    Mr MacLaren likes his personal electronics the same way he likes his coffee:
    iPhones, iPads, and Macs are as close to REAL computers as Starbucks products: WATERED DOWN and leaving consumers with that BURNT after taste taste.


  1. global.philosopher

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Bottom line.....

    development equals headaches. Reduce a lot of headaches and develop for a single platform that has very large marketshare OR accept the additional headaches (and resultant costs) and develop for a platform that sits on a large number of different hardware.

  1. hayesk

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Android trolls rigging the votes

    In less than a minute between when I read a comments and then votes, I saw all the anti-Apple/pro-Android posts jump up by 5 or more votes, and the pro-Apple/anti-Android posts go down by 5 or more votes.

    macnews1 made a well-formed, reasonable counter-argument to Derek's post, and was voted -21?

    I saw this last week too. It's clear some Apple-hating troll registered several accounts just to vote. I alerted MacNN about this. Let's see if it happens again.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. SwissMac

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I can't imagine why he doesn't want an iPad app... he's going to lose a lot more sales that way than giving up on a single Android device.

    Yes there are more Android phones/Tablets, but the choice is too confusing. I walked into our mega sized electrical retailer recently and there must have been 30 or 40 devices there. They all looked the same, like fish in a shoal and no matter which way I looked at them I couldn't differentiate them. I would have had to read the spec sheet of each one and remember each to compare them, and life's too short for that. I've read also about the differences in OS versions, the lack of telco help in upgrading to the latest OS, and more.

    Two steps further on and the Apple section of the store transported me a world away to a stress-free environment of simplicity, ease of use, and ease of choice. It was easy to walk out with an iPad 2.

  1. Arne_Saknussemm

    Joined: Dec 1969


    This iFanatic attitude...

    Might make a worthy subject of study to a psychology or sociology professional. It's quite interesting to watch how well informed and certainly not biased comments get negative marks if even one single sentence touches Apple with less than the utmost praise.

    At times the energy with which iFans flame Apple critical comments feels downright violent; maybe even comparable to that of religious fanaticism. But maybe the best comparison to this attitude can be found on countries with totalitarian governments like North Korea, where the government (Apple? Macs? Steve Jobs?) is spoken of very highly in public by everyone yet criticized bitterly in private by a minuscule minority of well informed citizens(Trolls?).

    The fact that comments with many negatives get "buried" encourages this attitude further; giving the impression this is yet another "feature" designed to reinforce the "God bless Apple - and no one else attitude" present throughout most articles.

    The top executives at Apple sure understand this phenomenon well, maybe this is why the whole identity of the company rests(apparently) on a single character. It will be very interesting indeed to watch how Apple handles the departure of it's current "public leader" when his health worsens.

    Maybe just as interesting as the outcome of the company with it's new boss. Will the new persona be as charismatic as Mr. Jobs? Will it matter as long as whomever it might be follows a strict set of guidelines set in stone by the leader(Jobs?) himself?

    Wonderful story to watch for sure!

    Comment buried. Show
  1. tfmeehan

    Joined: Dec 1969


    RE:This iFanatic attitude...

    Ah yes, if you have nothing of value to say, your arguments are shot down one by one, or Apple succeeds despite your predictions of doom, play your trump (chump) card, blame it on the fanatics, the cult, the "distortion field".

    My favorite aspect of this is that over the years Microsoft-, Flash-, Android-fans, etc. have been far more vehement/violent in their comments against Apple and it's fans than the other way around. Certainly no less cult-ish. Perhaps it's just that no one likes to think they made a mistake, especially where a fair amount of money is concerned. I used to take part in some of the Mac vs Windows battles right up until the time the trashcan became a major criticism of the Windows crowd. I realized I had better things to do than participate in a fight that had already been won.

    Maybe you don't like Apple becuase your just cheap. Makes as much sense as anything else.

Login Here

Not a member of the MacNN forums? Register now for free.


Network Headlines

Follow us on Facebook


Most Popular


Recent Reviews

Ultimate Ears Megaboom Bluetooth Speaker

Ultimate Ears (now owned by Logitech) has found great success in the marketplace with its "Boom" series of Bluetooth speakers, a mod ...

Kinivo URBN Premium Bluetooth Headphones

We love music, and we're willing to bet that you do, too. If you're like us, you probably spend a good portion of your time wearing ...

Jamstik+ MIDI Controller

For a long time the MIDI world has been dominated by keyboard-inspired controllers. Times are changing however, and we are slowly star ...


Most Commented