A recent study by Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster has the tech world talking, not because of its extensive research, but its interesting findings. At Apple’s (AAPL) WWDC event last week, Munster surveyed 45 developers also attending the conference, looking at some of their developer preferences across platforms. He found that 47 percent of developers are on Android too, with only 7 percent creating apps on Mac. It’s because Munster was at an Apple event that the survey findings are noteworthy, though his study also compares responses to developers he surveyed at WWDC three years earlier, before Android (or even the iPhone SDK) was even around.
It’s this growing support for Android’s OS, even in the Apple camp, that spurs new services for cross-platform development. iBuild has extended its iOS app creation service to the Android OS, offering its simple and free tools to anyone that wants a mobile app. Appcelerator has also expanded its Titanium app creation service with an extensive cloud environment for building, testing and deploying mobile apps, making it among the first platform with such an inclusive offering.
But even as Android gains new developer and platform support, its popularity has also made it a target for malware and cyber-attacks. After a report was released from North Carolina State University professor Xuxian Jiang, Google (GOOG) quickly removed more of the uncovered apps that have been infected by malware in the Android Market. According to Jiang, the malicious code, dubbed “Plankton,” can remotely access a command-and-control server for instructions. It’s a stealthy way to push malware to an Android device, and doesn’t have to rely on a vulnerability to gain root access. Any app infected with Plankton can call in other files from the hacker-controlled server, including those that would exploit any of Android’s unpatched bugs.
It’s a serious threat to Android users, adding another dose of doubt to Google’s mobile platform. It doesn’t help that some app developers are including various forms of users’ personal data in plain text on mobile devices, putting information at risk to malicious attacks. Last week some top apps, including LinkedIn, Netflix and Foursquare, were all found to store passwords unencrypted on Android devices, putting consumers, app makers and Google at risk. While such risks aren’t reserved for Android only, it’s Google’s mobile platform that’s facing a great deal of scrutiny because of the recent flood of security issues that have plagued the mobile industry.