Ten months after the launch of the Realtor.com iPhone application, Move Inc. has announced the release of a version of the app for the Android operating system. The Realtor.com Real Estate Search app for Android, which is free to download, includes some features common to the iPhone app, but also features that take advantage of the Android platform.
"We’ve been able to build off the features from the iPhone application. Both apps are focused around the customer-agent experience. You want to get information where you want it, when you want it. You can share (notes) instantaneously (and) connect with your agent in multiple ways," said Move CEO Steve Berkowitz.
About 75 percent of Realtor.com’s 4 million property listings update every 15 minutes, he said, and "nowhere else can consumers get that currency of content."
The bulk of Realtor.com’s listings are for for-sale homes, though users also have access to between 150,000 and 175,000 Realtor-represented rental homes.
Like on the Realtor.com iPhone app, users of the Android app can search for homes nearby their current location, or by address; filter searches by price, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, building and lot sizes, age of home, and property type; draw a search area directly on a map with a finger; see property details and photos; view open-house information; save searches and favorite listings and access them later on Realtor.com; see recently viewed listings; share listings with family and friends through text message, e-mail, Facebook and Twitter; save private text notes for listings of interest; and contact a Realtor by phone, e-mail, a website link, or an "Ask a Question" button.
Unique to the Android app, users can view a property and the area surrounding it via Google Street View, save voice memos, and see thumbnails of nearby listings through a home page widget without opening the app. The app’s voice-entry capabilities include the ability to dictate an e-mail message or a question to an agent, and the ability to save impressions of a listing right on the listing page.
"You can do voice entry simpler on Android, so we’ve been able to include comments as you walk around the house. ‘Bathroom needs painting. Kitchen needs remodeling.’ You can make notes and send them to your agent," Berkowitz said. "In the old days your agent would take you driving around the neighborhood; today your app takes you driving around the neighborhood."
The Realtor.com iPhone app launched in January and has been downloaded 2.5 million times since then, the company said. In an Inman News smart phone survey of real estate professionals, the highest share of respondents said they were most likely to recommend the Realtor.com app to their customers/clients.
When respondents were asked which app they used the most for work, Realtor.com’s app came in second, after Facebook. The Realtor.com app also ranked second among up-and-coming iPhone apps listed by TopAppCharts.com in late October. The site listed the app as No.19 in the Apple App Store’s Lifestyle category as of Nov. 3, 2010.
The Android app has been in development for four or five months, Berkowitz said.
Although the development was in-house, "outside contractors did a lot of the programming for us under the auspices of our mobile development team," who designed the app, he said.
Other mobile platforms for Realtor.com are also under development, Berkowitz said. "We’re developing an iPad app (and) we’ll be developing for the Windows Mobile operating system," he said.
Smart phone use in general is growing rapidly. As of the third quarter, 28 percent of U.S. mobile users had smart phones, up from 25 percent in the second quarter, according to a report by Nielson that was released Monday. For those who bought a new phone in the past six months, 41 percent chose a smart phone over a non-smart phone, up from 35 percent last quarter, according to the report.
The Android operating system is now the fastest-growing smart phone platform, according to several market reports.
ComScore’s mobile market share report for the third quarter showed that more than 1 in 5 (21.4 percent) of U.S. smart phone subscribers ages 13 and up now have Android smart phones. The BlackBerry operating system continued to hold the lead with 37.3 percent market share, followed by Apple’s iPhone at 24.3 percent.
But in contrast to Android, whose market share rose from 14.9 percent in the second quarter, RIM’s market share shrank 2.8 percentage points and Apple’s share remained flat.
The aforementioned Nielsen report also showed that Android was the most popular choice among those who purchased a device in the last six months. A report from United Kingdom-based market research firm Canalys also estimated that shipments of Android phones in the U.S. were almost twice as large as iPhone shipments in the third quarter.