Ideally, a mobile solution should work on both the Android platform and the iOS platform.
Yet, in some cases, for example, when the budget is limited, you have to decide on which
operating system to launch an app first. Some people think that there is absolutely no
difference which option to choose. But, in fact, picking the right platform can give a great
boost to the app’s chances for success.
We created this article to help you make an informed decision. It covers crucial factors you have to consider when solving the Android apps vs iOS apps dilemma.
Android apps vs. Apple apps: differences in development
Before we dive into specifics, let’s review some basics. iOS is a closed operating system that supports only certain types of Apple devices such as iPhones, iPads, and iPods. At the same time, Android OS is open-source, and it suits a wide range of smartphones built by different phone manufacturers, for example, LG, Samsung, and Huawei.
To create an Android application, programmers use Java and Kotlin programming languages. They are fully compatible with each other, meaning that a development team can easily switch from one language to another. iOS apps are built either with an Objective-C (more outdated) or Swift (current). Since they are not completely compatible, programmers may face certain challenges, especially if they need to revamp an old version of an app instead of building the new solution from scratch.
Another criterion in the iOS development vs Android development comparison is hardware that software engineers can use to create an app. Building mobile apps for iPhones requires programmers to have Macs. For Android apps, a development team can choose practically any computer regardless of the operating system it runs (Windows, Linux, macOS).
The development process also depends on OS versions used by a majority of your target
audience. Statistics show that nearly 92 percent
of all iPhones introduced in the last four years are updated to iOS 13, the latest version of
iOS as of now. The high level of adoption has a logical reason: iOS updates don’t require user
involvement since most of them occur automatically.
Android’s latest version market share is significantly smaller. Its adoption rate amounts to 8.2 percent, while the rest of the users prefer to stick with the previous releases.
The number of devices that run the latest version of an operating system is critically important when you plan to build a state-of-the-art solution based on innovative technologies such as VR, AR, or AI. To perform flawlessly, such functionality requires the most current OS version.
Finally, Apple has about 15 iPhone models in active use, while the number of Android phone models is even impossible to count. Since they come in a variety of different screen sizes and types, developers have to target only the most popular Android devices that will definitely support a mobile app. At the same time, building an Android-based solution that works equally well on all Android phones can be quite challenging.
Market share and average users of each mobile platform
In the Android vs iOS app development battle, specifics of an app creation process play a crucial role for software engineers. However, if you want to make an app that can potentially gain wide popularity in a relatively short period, it all comes down to the preferences of your target audience. Market studies show that typical portraits of Android and iOS users differ a lot, so you need to take these factors into account.
The overall number of users
Android and iOS are both market leaders. Their joint share on the global mobile arena
constitutes about 98 percent, leaving only 2 percent to Samsung, Windows, KaiOS, and other
Yet, Android has many more users than iOS. Its share of 74.13 percent amounts to nearly 1.6 billion phones worldwide. While the iOS numbers are less impressive, they still remain considerable. With a market share of 24.4 percent, this operating system has more than 900 million users.
When you need to choose between Android app development vs iOS app development, it’s important to look not only at the total number of users worldwide but also at the operating system’s popularity in your target region. For example, iPhones are more commonly used in the US, UK, and Australia, while Android dominates on European, Asian, and South American markets.
To objectively compare Android app development vs iOS app development and pick the right
platform for your project, you have to know who prefers to use each type of smartphone. Different surveys
show that iPhone owners tend to earn more, but they are also more willing to spend money on app
purchases. According to the analytic report by Sensor Tower, App Store’s revenue constituted $46.6 billion
in 2018, while Google Play Store generated only a half of it. Given the significant
difference in market shares, this fact greatly impacts your monetization strategy.
Here are a few other facts to consider:
- iPhone owners spend one hour more looking at their smartphones than Android users
- They are also more likely to have a graduate degree
- More men than women use Android phones; with iPhones, the situation is opposite
- Professional occupation of Android audience is more often related to the tech field, while a majority of iPhone owners is engaged in business, management, and media
But note that this data is very generic and may lead you to the wrong conclusions. You need to do deep market research to make sure that a certain platform fits your target audience.
Android vs. iPhone development: app design differences
Differences in app design are another crucial point you have to consider while doing an Android vs iOS pros and cons analysis. Although they may seem insignificant at first sight, most of them matter for creating an outstanding user experience. So, at least, you need to be aware of these design peculiarities.
When you build an app for Apple devices, you have an exhaustive list of screen size variations and know exactly what the resolution is. Meanwhile, it’s hard to cater to the needs of all Android users with a one-size-fits-all solution since device characteristics depend on a phone manufacturer and model.
Primary, secondary, and back navigation varies in iPhones and Android phones. There are a lot of details that owners of certain smartphone models are used to, so you have to factor them in when creating a UX/UI design for an app. For instance, a tab bar in iOS is shown at the bottom of the screen, whereas, in Android, the same buttons can be spread across the whole interface.
The comparison of notifications and alerts in iOS and Android usually causes many discussions. While it’s a matter of habit for most users, app creators should adjust their products to the defined way of how a phone delivers messages. Otherwise, the user experience may be compromised. For example, Android enables push notifications automatically. It means that users must change the settings if they want to turn off this feature. iOS is more user-oriented and asks phone owners if they agree to receive notifications whenever they open a newly downloaded app.
Google Play Store vs. App Store
The process of publishing a solution to the store is different for Android apps and iOS
apps. The App Store has much stricter rules and requires up to seven days to consider an
application. To make sure that your app meets all the requirements, you can use App Store Review Guidelines
as a checklist.
Google also provides the Launch checklist, but the rules are less rigid, so a solution may be approved in just a few hours after submission.
Another aspect is money. Launching an app to Google Play Store will cost you $25. It’s a one-time fee, so no additional money will be charged. If you want to get your app to the App Store, you’ll need to pay $99 (for a development specialist) or $299 (as a development company) annually.
iOS vs. Android: development cost and time
Development time and cost will depend more on your project’s specifics rather than on the
choice of a platform. For instance, the estimation may vary based on product functionality,
integrations, visual effects, etc.
However, in some cases, building an Android application may take a longer time and, as a result, require a larger budget due to device fragmentation. At the same time, iOS developers (Swift and Objective-C) usually charge 10-15% higher rates than their colleagues working with the Java programming language. So, you have to figure this in when calculating project costs.
Importantly, iOS and Android developer rates will greatly depend on the geographical location. For instance, software engineers from the US and Western Europe are the most expensive while Asia is considered the cheapest region. It’s best to look for the optimal price/quality ratio in Eastern Europe. Here, you can find top professional services at a reasonable price.
The final word
In the Android vs iOS development battle, there is no single solution that would fit all mobile app development projects. Everything depends on your requirements, user needs and expectations, budget, target market and region. But if you don’t want to choose, it’s also possible to build one hybrid application that will work on both Android and iOS. Modern technologies such as Xamarin allow development teams to create cross-platform solutions that look and feel practically like native apps.