If you don't own an Apple mobile device then perhaps you do own a smartphone or tablet running the Android operating system. Indeed, Android currently accounts for the largest market share of smartphone devices - so why do we not hear much about DJ apps (or indeed any music apps) on Android? We get asked all the time to cover Android DJing apps and music services, but up until now we've struggled to find anything worth reporting to you. So why might this be?
The answer is that there are some serious limitations facing Android music and DJ app developers. These are the main ones:
There are hundreds of device models from a large number of different manufacturers running Android OS, which means trying to develop an interface that fits well on all (or as many as possible) is difficult.
The hardware specification across the model range is also going to affect what the app can achieve. On iOS there are less than 15 variations of the iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, which keeps things for a developer much simpler.
2. Audio limitations
Android faces the same issue that iOS has with a single stereo output, so you will still need to use a splitter cable for cueing/master output with any DJ app. But for Android it's even worse; in some devices USB audio output isn't yet an option, as there's no method of bypassing the internal DAC to get a quality audio signal like you can with the Camera Connection Kit (CCK) on iOS.
Latency (the time taken between taking an action on the device and seeing/hearing the result) also appears to be a major issue on Android which is deterring serious developers. If you have a DJ app on such a device, you really do need the "Play" button to work immediately!
3. Tablet take-up
The tablet side of the Android market seems to be stuck at an impasse. Developers aren't producing apps for Android tablets because those devices aren't selling like the iPad does.
However, those devices may not be selling because of the limited number of apps available for them. So basically the nascent Andriod DJ and music app market is in a catch 22 sitation.
Looking to the future
So where do we go from here? Well, some glimmers of hope lie in the following:
- There is no fee to develop on Android - compared with a yearly subscription for iOS
- Development is much more open than the tightly controlled iOS environment - That's not to say it isn't still challenging, but this should allow developers greater freedom in deciding what their apps can do and what resources they can use
- There is no lengthy approval process when submitting an app for Android - Depending on your stance this is either brilliant news because your app gets to the store quickly, or it's the opposite because the lack of control means there's a lot of dreadful apps potentially making it difficult for your app to get noticed
Some apps to watch
A small number of DJ apps on Android are already worthy keeping an eye on (at least, they stand out compared to the rest of those so-called DJ apps available for this platform):
- DJPad - this is a relatively new one to Android and as such is still very much in development
- aDJPro - this feels a lot like a rough version DJ Player / Red Bull BPM DJ, but without the depth or quality of functionality
- Droid DJ - a seemingly popular, yet still basic app
The apps around now lack many of the key features enjoyed by those on iOS, and the hardware diversity is possibly the most restrictive hurdle for developers to overcome successfully. However, it is worth bearing in mind that the mobile and tablet markets are constantly shifting, so the dominance of DJ apps on iOS may not last forever. Yet with the enthusiasm of several large manufacturers such as Vestax and Numark in iOS compatible hardware, it will take time and a leap of faith away from iOS for things to reach the same point on Android.
The limited number of DJ apps currently available on Android feels similar to the situation a couple of years ago when early versions of apps on iOS started to appear, so there's some way to go yet if you're holding out for something to DJ on using your Android tablet or smartphone.
Do you use Android DJ apps? Are you an app developer on iOS considering porting your code to Android? Are there any "DJ app" hidden gems in Google Play (aka Android Market)? Please let us know your thoughts below.