The one weird side effect of iOS-first development

Why making apps for iPhones first is a strange kind of social engineering

As an Android user, I’m pretty used to feeling like a second-class citizen. Just about everything launches on iPhones first – though to be fair, I do understand why. Fewer handsets and a more cohesive experience means it’s much, much easier to create an app that works well on iPhone than on the hundreds of extremely varied Android devices. If I were a developer, I’d start with iPhones too.

But there’s a strange side effect to developing for one type of phone above all others: social engineering. Like all apps, dating services like Tinder and Bumble launch on iOS first, often long before they come to Android (and as for BlackBerry and Windows Phone? Good luck) – which means that for a significant amount of time, the only people on those dating apps are Apple users.

Just think about that for a second. Can you imagine a dating site specifically for people who use HTC phones? Or a singles event exclusively for people who like Sony? Would anyone go to that?!

Yes, iPhones are massively popular and so it’s a bigger audience than the previous two examples, but it’s still a fairly odd situation. Apple fans sign up to the app and meet other Apple fans. Some of these people will get together, and some will have babies.

Those babies will grow up in Apple households, using Apple products, and it’s so pretty likely they’ll become Apple users themselves. Without ever meaning to, the iOS-first development culture is quite literally breeding more users.

Eventually, of course, dating apps open up to a wider audience of device users and people can finally start meeting singles who have a different software allegiance. Apples and Androids interbreed, diversity flourishes and we all get the tech utopia we wanted (except for, again, Windows Phone and BlackBerry people. But no one wants them to breed anyway*). The problem is, it’s taking far too long, and that’s giving Apple fans an unfair advantage in the social stakes.

Take Tinder, for example. It launched on iTunes on September 15th, 2012 (yes, we really have had bae-swiping since just after the last Olympics). The Android version didn’t appear until July 2013. That is ten months later. An abundance of time for iPhone fanboys and girls to pair up and potentially even self-replicate. How many Tinder babies must there be by now?

For all that time, Android users were left on the shelf, forced to make do with (dick pic HQ) and OKCupid (where someone memorably told me that not wanting babies must mean I don’t like sex). Meanwhile, our iPhone friends were all going on Tinder dates and making “I’d swipe right to HER” jokes and we felt like Bart Simpson without his soul:

Despite Android actually being more popular worldwide than iOS (76.6% market share last year), the situation hasn’t improved much since 2012. I’ve been waiting to try Bumble, a dating app launched by the female co-founder of Tinder, since November. It’s now June, and still no Android version. Meanwhile, the Apple aficionados have been merrily munching at the best of the singles buffet.

It’s bad enough that us ‘droid users had to wait months for Periscope, Snapchat and all the other ‘next big things,’ finally getting on board just as everyone else left the party. But when it comes to dating apps, leaving Android users out in the cold might actually be depriving them of love. Think on that, developers.


*This is a joke. Our staff writer Christobel is a BlackBerry and we love her very much.

Holly Brockwell
About Holly Brockwell 291 Articles
Tech addict Holly founded Gadgette in 2015, and won Woman of the Year for it. She's firmly #TeamAndroid, has ambitions to become a robot, and beat all other Hollies to her awesome Twitter handle.