As users of Android we get a lot of brilliant apps and ROMs for free, but even so, I don’t think we should skimp on all levels of payment. There are many simple yet helpful ways we can give thanks to developers.
Following on from my previous post on how we can support our fellow Android users, this post is by no means the definite list of ways to support Android Developers, in fact I implore you to help us all come up with some other ways, but it’s a good start!
Critique Apps on the Market
You can either email the developer directly, or submit a public comment on the Market. Outline what you like and dislike about the app; this’ll help the developer know what an actual user thinks of it. Having worked on their app so much, developers can sometimes think their users know their app as well as they do!
If there are any features or changes you think would work well, be sure to include them. Be descriptive, outlining what you’d like. You might not get exactly what you want – it’s the developer’s app, after all! – but the developer should take it into consideration.
This can be as simple as reporting a crash anytime a problem occurs, which takes no more than 10 seconds (optionally more if you decide to include a message). To be really helpful, though, you can email the developers of your favourite apps and let them know about problems you’ve been having. A quick thank you goes a long way too. Their contact details are usually easily available through the Android Market.
When an app crashes on Android it usually allows for a bug report to be sent; this gets sent off to the offending apps developer outlining what happened, with logs, and possibly system info (if you allow it) to help the developer figure out what went wrong. This information can be really valuable for developers, as the more test cases they have on an issue the better. They can’t test their app on every Android phone out there!
You can help financially too: many developers work hard on their apps, updating frequently with new features and adding support for more and more phones, all requiring more testing and work. Sadly, despite this work, many don’t earn much money in return.
If you use an app a lot – especially a free app – donating to the developer helps keep them going, and helps ensure the continued updating of the app! Many Android owners spend hundreds or even thousands on a top notch phone and contract, so a few dollars towards your favourite apps is going to be great value for your cash. Without the developers, Android wouldn’t be nearly as much fun!
Amazon’s Appstore was recently in the news, as Shifty Jelly reported that many users thought that by downloading apps for free off the “App of the Day” section they were helping the developers get cash compensation from Amazon. It turned out this wasn’t true at all, and in this situation the massive number of downloads ended up costing the developers money!
Some ROMs, such as CyanogenMod, have massive teams of volunteer developers; many ROMs are developed by one person! If they have their own site they may have a donate button somewhere; some developers use threads on forums as the public face of their ROMS but usually have links to their paypal accounts for instance.
The CyanogenMod Community page
You can download test releases of many ROMs and report any issues; there are usually quite a few things broken in them though so if you need your phone working at all times I’d advise not helping in this way. Testing ROMs can be a very enjoyable and rewarding way to help. You get access to the latest features as they’re being built. And if you’re using Nightly Builds you’ll see some nice subtle changes with many features as they’re tweaked and improved.
Both large and small developers are usually grateful for any help, whether it be through time or money.
Many of the points I made in my earlier article could apply to both users and developers, but I’ve tried to avoid repeating myself. If you’ve any other ideas on how to help Android Developers let us all know in the comments.