I recently read a great article on Medium on how there's a prevalent attitude among many designers about working on Android. It's often viewed as a second-class citizen in the eyes of people who are used to, and comfortable with, the pixel-perfection of iOS. It made some terrific points around why the community should take it more seriously, all of which I won't summarize but instead I'll highlight one I found very salient: that the diversity of Android screen sizes and devices poses a positive challenge for those looking to expand their skills as opposed to it being a reason to avoid the platform.
For a very long time, iOS was favored as a design target due to its predictability and constraints. There was a logic to designing for it, and it made sense. Pixel for pixel, you knew where you stood. And when Retina displays deepened the density of those pixels, there was an adjustment, but visual style went through the roof with the clarity it afforded. But for Android, where device targets were widely scattered across innumerable combinations of screens and technologies, it wasn't so clear.
Fragmentation is of course the bête noire of Android design, and is certainly a challenge for designers and engineers alike. But the word itself reflects a subtle framing issue. It’s not hard to think of positive synonyms: fragmentation as choice; fragmentation as diversity.
As web designers have learned over the last few years, device diversity is natural, welcome, and manageable. Many responsive web design techniques — eg fluid layout, breakpoints, resolution independence — are essential principles of Android design. In fact, they’re handled in a more technically profound way on Android than the web.
Android design is indeed more difficult than iOS design in that it offers fewer constraints. But any skilled designer can handle that with a bit of effort. My uncharitable interpretation for this class of responses is simple laziness, and if Android forces designers to drop a pixel-perfect mentality and adopt approaches that suit a diverse world, then that’s no bad thing.
It's important to focus on the details and to get things as close to perfect as you can stand, but there's really something to be said for allowing yourself to adapt to a changing environment and grow in your thinking and approach to solving a problem. A lot of the designers here–myself included–have often bemoaned the aggravating aspects of taking our battle-hardened skill set on iOS and trying to make it work on Android. And I'm not talking about creating a platform-specific experience; we understood implicitly why that's important as the platform continued to grow, and the work that Google has done to make Android truly look great really shows around the OS. But the technicalities of design don't always translate and you really need to use new strategies to solve what feels like the same problem in a new way.
This can be super frustrating, but as the author points out, there's no harm in becoming a better designer by working harder to figure out how you want to achieve your vision. Giving up and making excuses based on your own willingness (or lack thereof) to commit to a new way of doing things is ultimately going to be a detrimental approach to your growth as an artist and professional.
The mobile space continues to blow me away with both its pace of innovation and the sheer saturation in the minds of almost everyone you come across. Never before has there been a consumer technology so universally adopted and positioned to change the way we live our lives. Seeing the growth of Android and iOS as well as the same applications extended to new devices like cars, televisions, and wearables, it's easy to plot this trend line. If you artificially hamstring yourself by only allowing yourself to grow in one dimension right now, you're going to have a lot of catching up to do.