To our Oura community,
Last month, we released a new meditation feature called Moment. Due to internal and external factors, we were able to make Moment available on iOS faster than Android.
Instead of delaying the iOS launch to match the Android launch, we decided to release the feature on iOS first. We understand that this upset some of our Android users and we want you to know that we hear your frustration.
Oura is committed to minimizing the gap in feature updates between the two platforms. In keeping true to our transparency commitment, this note will explain why we were able to launch Moment on iOS first, what our Android team has been working on, updates to expect in the coming weeks and months, as well as how we plan to move forward in developing features for both platforms.
Throughout Oura’s history, iOS has been the more popular platform among our users, with roughly 70% of users on iOS and 30% on Android. Reasons for this are manyfold, but a big one is that Oura has been popular in markets in which iOS has a strong foothold, such as the United States. However, we have customers in over 100 countries around the world, and we are striving to create equal experiences for all users.
Fixing The Foundation
Our iOS team are Oura veterans, having worked at the company for several years. Because of that, the iOS app codebase is in good shape.
Our current Android team joined last autumn and after we analyzed the situation with the Android app, we recognized the need to invest time to improve the foundation first, so that we can build new features faster in the future. This is important work often referred to by software developers as ”refactoring the code” and “paying back the technical debt.”
An analogy from the physical world: You have an old, single-floor house and you want to add a second floor. To be able to do that, you might need to fix the foundation of the house first. This can be a time-consuming process and, at times, it can feel like there is no progress at all as you are essentially tearing down parts of the first floor to fix the foundation, before you start building the second floor.
For the first half of 2019, the Android team has focused on fixing our foundation. Now that the foundation is in better shape, the team has shifted its focus to the development of new features in an effort to close the feature gap between iOS and Android.
Bluetooth and the Android Ecosystem
Because of the way we use Bluetooth connectivity, Android is a more challenging platform than iOS for Oura. There are tens of different manufacturers and hundreds of different models of Android phones with varying Bluetooth chips and Bluetooth stacks. As Oura has grown, we’ve encountered a greater variety of Android devices, requiring comparatively more developers than needed for iOS.
Even some of the largest tech companies can’t support all the Android models, and it is even harder for smaller companies like Oura. But, as we grow, we are able to invest more in Android development and are hiring new Android developers to join the team.
Closing the Feature Gap
We are shipping a new Android release (2.6.0) in the coming weeks. This update will provide functions like manual bedtime editing, improved insights and charts, and improved data transfer to Oura Cloud. Our next Android update (2.7.0) is planned for August, and will offer additional improvements including Google Fit integration. Meanwhile, the Android team is hard at work developing Moment for Android and our current estimate for the release (2.8.0) is late September.
For the time being, we will continue developing new features on iOS before releasing them to Android. But the time between launching new features on iOS and Android will decrease now that the Android app foundation is strong and we have a team in place to manage this development.
Development and Release Cycle
Designing and developing a new feature is an iterative process. Based on feedback from internal users and beta testers, we adjust design and polish details of a feature. Sometimes during this process we may radically change the design or technical architecture based on user feedback and our learnings. For this reason, it makes sense to develop the feature first on one platform, get feedback, iterate, polish, and then copy it to the other platform. This way, we avoid doing iteration work on both platforms, thus saving time as well as ensuring a better experience for Android users.
For example, we are releasing an improved UI experience for Moment in the iOS 2.7.0 release. When Moment is released for Android, the team will implement this final improved design, eliminating the need for variants in between.
We will continue developing and releasing features first to one platform before copying to the other. Our target is that by the end of 2019, feature updates are released nearly simultaneously on both platforms, as we are committed to providing a great experience for all Oura users.
Again, thank you for being an Oura user and for bearing with us as we grow, learn, and refine.