Launching a startup and building it for every platform and device may be hard. That is why, beginning from one platform sounds like a good idea in order to start the ball rolling and save your time and money. If you have got to choose one platform, from which to start, the following question is: Android or iOS? Both of them are two main operating systems dominating the market nowadays. It has been for a while already and it seems this tendency is not going anywhere in the near future.
However, choosing the right operating system to build your application can be a tricky task as long as both iOS and Android have their benefits and drawbacks.
So, in order to make up your mind and choose the right OS for launching your app, here are the factors, which you should take into consideration at the first place.
Initially, when selecting a perfect mobile app development platform for starting off your project, you should consider for whom you are making your product and which part of the market can be called your target audience. Both Android and iOS encompass an enormous amount – nearly 99% of the smartphone market share. Moreover, according to Statista, Android is the obvious leader in this competition, having its 81.7% in mobile OS market share in sales to end users, while iOS has only 17.9% (data for the 4-th quarter of 2016).
Even though Android takes bigger market share and, overall, there is a bigger amount of people using it, a considerable difference in the audience itself can be noticed. In general, Android’s spreading is mostly based on the users with lower income and mainly comes from the developing countries and emerging markets (Africa, Asia, and South America). By and large, iOS is more concentrated in the US and Europe. When it comes to the average iOS users, they are younger and have higher income, so they are likely to spend more. There also is a tendency that those who use Apple are more loyal to this brand than the Android users. Therefore, Android is targeted more on massive market with lower earnings while iOS – on the premium one with its users getting higher incomes.
Another very important issue which has to be taken into account is money. While the costs of making iOS and Android apps depend on a number of reasons, such as hourly rates, time spent on the development, design, and testing, etc. and can be relatively similar, there are different trends observed when it comes to the revenue. So which platform is going to bring you more money?
Much bigger market share captured by Android doesn’t mean more profits are generated through the Play Store than the App Store. Even vice versa – statistics shows that, overall, iOS apps earn more income from their apps than the Android ones so far. However, according to the recent report from App Annie, which gathers information concerning mobile-app market, Android app revenue has chances to reach and even beat its competitors in the terms of revenue this year (with the help of other Android app stores, not only Google Play).
In general, there are different ways how you can make money from your application. They can be the premium apps, which require paying fee once in order to set it up, subscription ones, which call for regular fees (monthly or annually), advertising in applications, and the in-app purchases.
If you want to launch a premium app, the App Store has to be your choice, since iOS users are much more likely to pay for the apps. Simultaneously, if you want to get your revenue through the in-app purchases, iOS also wins here. Although, when it comes to the ad-supported apps, the larger number belongs to Android. There is a broader user base, which tends to download many different applications without paying any fees.
Therefore, when talking about monetization, iOS is more about premium apps, direct charges, and in-app purchases while Android has more potential in getting revenue through advertising.
In the matter of Android, you also need an integrated development environment, which may be Android Studio created by Google specifically for Android development. There is also Eclipse IDE as an alternative, which can be used not only for the Android apps, but for the iOS ones as well. Though it looks more flexible, Eclipse is often considered slower and more complicated for using. When it comes to the programming language, the one mostly used for making Android apps is Java.
It is difficult to say which coding process is easier to learn and carry out. Both of them have their pros/cons, and, to a great extent, it depends on the preferences of each developer. For sure, both ways are not really easy and accessible for beginners. However, if you are an expert in Swift, it will not be too hard to switch for Java and vice versa.
What is more, there is still an option to use the cross-platform development tools, which enable creating apps for multiple platforms so as to save your time, energy, and budget. There are many of them on the market today. Among the most prominent ones, there are PhoneGap, Xamarin, Appcelerator, etc.
Xamarin is another cross-platform development tool, and, with its shared C# code base, you can build native apps for different platforms. There are functionality testing, quality assurance, and real-time analytics for multiple devices available. However, due to the compatibility questions, you will not be able to use all the open source libraries for Android and iOS.
Certainly, a wide range of devices on which Android runs looks like a strong benefit for this operating system. Providing this great level of diversification gives access to a number of various devices and their users. So, getting well with the Android development enables creating apps for different kinds of hardware: from wearables to smart TVs. However, a huge disadvantage comes along, which is fragmentation.
Fragmentation issue is unavoidable when it comes to comparing iOS and Android hardware. The thing is that developing Android app means it has to be compliant with a great deal of different devices. There are hundreds of Android devices out there with various screen sizes, DPIs and, of course, Android versions. Consequently, it causes increase in development time as well as possible incompliance with some devices or the OS versions. What is more, after you have finally developed your application, there usually comes testing. And here we go again – you should test your application on plenty of devices with their miscellaneous capabilities. When another round of testing must be conducted, the history repeats again. When talking about iOS, fragmentation issue is not so much applicable to this operating system thanks to considerably smaller number of Apple devices and operation system updates provided synchronously on them.
On the whole, app submission process is longer and more tiresome in Apple App Store than in Google Play.
In order to publish your application on Android, you have to sign up and start your Google Play publisher account. Registration fee is $25, and is paid only once. Once your account and payment is verified, you are able to publish your application via Google Play Developer Console. As you can see, this is a pretty simple process.
When it comes to iOS, you will come across more requirements during this process, which can seem too complicated and tiring. The most important here is that your app must be submitted and tested by real people. Besides taking quite some time, there are a lot of cases when apps just don’t pass it due to a bunch of various reasons (sometimes even the unforeseeable ones) and, as a result, are not allowed to be published on Apple App Store. What is more, the registration fee for getting App Developer Program is $99 annually. On the other hand, there are different categories in the App Store (App of the week, etc.), which provide your application with a higher level of visibility.
Therefore, taking into account the factors examined and the specifics of Android and iOS, you should choose the platform, which will be the most suitable for your project within given conditions.
If you think there are other important factors worth paying attention to – please write about them in the comments.