Android fragmentation has been discussed so often it’s essentially a broken record. The story goes like this: some developer complains about the variety of devices, hardware power, software customizations, and the difficulty of developing and testing for these platforms. However, this time it’s not about any of that. This time it’s about a charming little dancing app, and how the developers found that even devices like the Samsung Galaxy S4 were unable to come close to the quality they expected from their iPhone version of the game. It wasn’t for a lack of memory, processors, screen quality, or battery-life. It comes down the the hardware, the accelerometers and gyroscopes, to be precise (which they aren’t).
Bounden is a new app for iOS made to be played by two people. The app was designed around choreography from the Dutch National Ballet. It’s an app that can be played only by moving the iOS device around in unique ways while both people hold the phone or tablet. The video above explains the gameplay by showing couples playing the game. Originally the developer, Game Oven, thought the game could be made for iOS and Android. In fact, they even make mention of a special iOS-excluse level in the app description. However, it seems that the entire game is, and for the forseeable future will remain, an iOS exclusive game.
Issues with motion tracking on Android range from varying quality between devices, inferior accuracy, and the inability for app developers to limit app use to the phones and tablets the app can actually run on. A developer can easily say that an app requires an “iPhone 5 or better”, but there’s no equivalent for that on Android. Even if they can say “only Android KitKat 4.4 devices”, that would still limit the app to a very small group of devices. The developers even found that brand new Android phones could have lousy motion tracking capabilities, so they couldn’t even make “newer devices” a requirement. Bounden would have had to test their app on many devices, listing each one that had an accurate enough accelerometer, gyroscope, and compass to actually make the game work. If they make the app available for all Android devices, it’ll receive bad reviews from most smartphone users, and they can’t feasibly limit users by only allowing tested devices run the game. Therefore, the best decision for the developer is to skip Android altogether.
Other developers using motion controls, such as racing games or first person shooters, may have noticed unequal gameplay and unsual behavior between devices, but those games do not rely on accuracy in the three motion sensing components. For the most part, these games require smaller movements, and wouldn’t be ruined by bad motion controls, especially since most, if not all, can function with on-screen controls. But this app requires precise motion tracking, asking users to get up and move, and even newer Android devices may be incapable of doing this to the liking for the developers and players. Maybe they’ll have more luck with Blackberry or Wimdows Phone.