To design a good Android app, you need to use and understand Android. That’s the thinking behind Facebook chief product officer Chris Cox’s decision to make some members of his team switch to Google’s mobile operating system.
While Android is the dominant smartphone OS by far, taking up more than 80 percent of the market according to IDC, many in Silicon Valley carry an iPhone with them day to day. And that’s putting a damper on developing a compelling mobile app for most of the world.
“I am mandating a switch of a whole bunch of my team over to Android, just because people, when left up to their own devices, will often prefer an iPhone,” Cox told a group of reporters last week, according to Wired.
Facebook has long skew toward an Apple-like design, and even uses iPhones for much of its marketing materials. The most obvious example is Messenger, Facebook’s private messaging app, which looks nearly the same as the stock texting app on iOS devices, right down to the blue text bubbles and circular profile pictures.
The change is part of a larger push at the social media giant to see how users experience Facebook and the internet at large, especially in emerging markets where Facebook is trying to spur growth. The company is also asking some employees to join its “2G Tuesday” program, slowing down internet speeds to those found in many emerging markets.