Research Report: Android Studio Ranks Far Below Xcode, Visual Studio

New research from Strategy Analytics Inc. compared the mobile developer environments from Apple, Google and Microsoft, finding that Android Studio ranks far behind the Xcode and Visual Studio IDEs.

The research firm graded the three IDEs on a 0-5 points scale that uses six metrics: supported languages, quality of the editor, available testing tools, gaming capabilities, team working and platform support.

"Apple's Xcode beats Android on all measures on which it was evaluated," Strategy Analytics said in a news release today. "Microsoft also offers a strong showing, perhaps providing it with an opportunity to better court developers to the Windows platform. Developer tools are an important component of platform support and Appleā€™s end to end system for app development to distribution is the reason the platform boasts some of the most advanced applications."

Xcode, used for iOS development, achieved the highest ranking on testing, as did Visual Studio, which focuses on Windows development but can target multiple platforms. Android Studio lagged behind those testing scores, as it did on all other measurements. Its main strength, languages, garnered only a 3 rating.

Rating of Mobile Developer Environments
[Click on image for larger view.] Rating of Mobile Developer Environments (source: Strategy Analytics)

Total scores were: Xcode - 22; Visual Studio - 21; and Android Studio - 13.

"Apple's strong showing is no surprise, as they are the market leader in the apps space," Strategy Analytics said. "The strengths of Xcode are its accessibility, with Swift aimed at coding novices, and a graphical interface for rapid prototyping."

Xcode garnered the highest rating of the three IDEs for gaming, the only ranking in which Android Studio beat a competitor: Visual Studio.

"The discrepancy in gaming capabilities is a major reason why Xcode is rated above the other developer environments," the research firm said. "Conversely, Visual Studio, the most mature product, closes the gap as it is the only environment which can be used to code for multiple platforms and also the strength of its editing and testing suite."

Strategy Analytics noted that Android Studio is the least mature of the three tested environments, and that parent company Google seems to recognize its shortcomings and is planning to address them with an updated GUI stemming from the company's July acquisition of Pixate. Pixate is described as "a visual prototyping platform that allows designers to create sophisticated, fluid mobile prototypes that run natively on iOS and Android devices." Strategy Analytics also said Google is planning upcoming improvements to its testing tools.

"With apps becoming mass-market and an important tool for all categories of companies, having tools which non-technical staff can use is becoming more and more important," Strategy Analytics exec David Kerr said. "Artists, media and marketing professionals are all getting more involved in app design and development. Apple and Microsoft deserve plaudits for enabling them to have a direct input into app design; Google needs to catch up to where the apps market is heading."

Strategy Analytics issued today's news release to hawk its $3,000 report, "Apple, Google and Microsoft's Mobile App Development Environments."

For (free) comparison, the Xcode-vs.-Android Studio-vs.-Visual Studio question has also come up on Quora ("it depends ...") and StackShare (where Visual Studio trounced the competition in a voting-based evaluation).

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.