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Android vs iOS: Which Platform to Build Your App for First Is Better?

Mariia LozhkaIT-researcher, LANARS

Android vs iOS: Which Platform to Build Your App for First Is Better?

Mariia LozhkaIT-researcher, LANARS

The choice between iOS and Android app development is one of the most critical you need to make before planning your digital startup. iOS and Android both are leading operating systems that match software and hardware components of mobile devices. 

 

The final choice will affect project timelines, budget, and your chances to get the revenue out of your idea. Basically, several factors may influence your decision. Required features, revenue goals, target audience, deadlines, and budget are among them. Here, we’ll sum up iOS vs Android development debates. 



iOS vs Android App Development: Everything Depends on Your Audience

 

You may already know that Android is a leader in the mobile operating systems market share. In 2019, it overcomes iOS three times. According to the latest statistics (January 2018—January 2019), Android made up 74.45%, while iOS gained only 22.85% of the market. And only 2% were left for other systems like Windows for mobile devices (0.3%) or Samsung OS (0.28%). 

 

Mobile OS market share, 2019

 

But don’t hurry up deciding if iOS or Android development is better — those systems have different usage statistics. In some geographic areas and demographic sectors, iOS is a leader. 

 

There is also a significant gap between iOS and Android apps shared revenue. According to Apple and Google reports, App Store generates more compared to Google Play Market. Compare $12 billion gained by App Store in the third quarter of 2018 to $6.2 billion generated by Play Market. No wonders, Apple audience is generally richer — the average annual income of the person with the iPhone is $53,231, while Android users have an average annual income of $37,040. 

 

So what is better for your marketing goals — Android and iOS development?

 

Android App Development: for Up-And-Coming Markets

 

To build a successful startup you need to know what your target user looks like (age, income level, family status, place of living, and preferable devices). Android holds the largest market sector, its audience lives mainly in developing countries and has lower salaries. Those people spend less money on paid digital products and usually are younger than iOS users. 

 

There some key Android users' characteristics. Consider thinking of Android vs iOS app development: 

  • Android users more often have a high school diploma only
  • Most common Android user is 34 or younger
  • 12% of Android people are more likely to have an introvert type of personality
  • Most of them have never traveled abroad (71%)
  • Major occupation areas — IT, Energy, technical jobs, and public utilities
  • Android user median annual income is $37,040

 

Android is also a good idea for global and up-and-coming markets such as Latin America, Asia, and Africa, where there are more users with small incomes. 

 

That is also important that Play Market — the platform where your app will be mainly downloaded from — is more competitive than App Store. That means that you’ll spend more money on app promotion and maintenance if you choose Android. And if you plan to create extremely demanding products, consider Google Play most popular categories such as communication, media editing, traveling, entertaining, and productivity.   

 

iOS and Android leading regions, 2019

 

iOS App Development: for Western Europe and North America

 

Who is a winner of iOS developer vs Android developer battle? As we said, everything depends on your target audience and monetization strategy. If your idea is to get the revenue out of ads inside the app, you probably need Android, and if you’d like to create a paid app or incorporate in-app purchasing feature — choose iOS. 

 

Here are some arguments. First of all, iOS users earn 40% more than Android ones. Second, they are generally more easy to sell your product to. Let’s look on some most common iOS users characteristics closer: 

  • iOS average user is younger than Android one — most gadget holders aged from 18 to 24 years use iOS
  • iOS has more women among users than Android, and 27% of them are 35 years old and elder
  • 37% of all iOS lovers have a university degree
  • Every second person with the iPhone has visited more than 5 countries
  • iOS audience has the best device engagement rate among other OS users
  • iOS user median annual income is $53,251
  • They work in marketing or media areas or run their business

 

What are the best regional markets to develop iOS apps? The OS is a leader in North America, Australia, and Western Europe. And most popular App Store categories are games, business, education, and lifestyle. However, they are also the most competitive. 



Pros and Cons of iOS App Development

 

Android development vs iOS development is a long-lasting global competition that is not going to end within the nearest years. As you saw above, iOS devices users are believed to be wealthy and ready for online purchases. However, Apple's audience is not that large as the Android one and is concentrated in well-developed countries with a high quality of life.

 

Android or iOS development is not only about your target audience. Depending on features you’d like to have in your app, your business goals, and development timelines you may choose one or another platform. Here the main iOS pros: 

 

— Faster and less costly development

iOS development software and hardware were exclusively developed by Apple. Following simple Apple guidelines, iOS developers can create an app faster than Android specialists. There is also only a limited number of Apple mobile devices (20) — so designers and developers should adapt your product for fewer screen parameters. iOS app development takes 40% less time than the one for Android. Apple uses Swift programming language which is less complex than Java. 

 

— Higher security level and capabilities 

iOS is suitable for financial startups and other businesses working with clients’ data. The platform is also automatically protected from piracy. An iOS app is also more responsive than Android ones. 

 

— Pre-crafted solutions 

iOS development is better for those who have limited resources. Developers can use ready interface models, frameworks, and functional modules to create a new app. There is also an iOS support line for developers as Apple generally appreciate their work.      

 

iOS/Android app development has its specific features. If you plan to start with an MVP on just a single platform, remember that iOS also has some critical disadvantages:

 

— Limited customization 

You can’t build anything on the iOS platform as it has too many restrictive guidelines and limited development tools set. Some of the ready-made frameworks need to be purchased.

 

— App Store rules and quality expectations 

Usually, it takes up to 5 days for an app to pass App Store regulations. And there is also some risk that your product will not fit into Apple rules and standards. In that case, you’ll have to rebuild it. At the same time, Android is an open platform with a lack of standardization so its rules are not so strict. 



Pros and Cons of Android App Development

 

Android developer vs iOS developer — who will win the debates? The problem is that there is no single leader in the competition. Android gives you access to a huge audience while iOS is cheap and means a faster development process. Let us sum up some key Android advantages and compare them to iOS specifics: 

 

— Android dominates the global market 

The platforms work well if your product could be useful for people around the world. It is also a good idea if you plan to build an MVP and launch a marketing campaign in different regions — Android will help you to cover diverse audiences, study people’s tastes, and behavior and then to infest in the promotional events on perspective markets only. 

 

Consider that Android is the number one platform in some well-developed countries only — for example in Canada and the UK.  

 

— Platform flexibility 

iOS/Android developers have different software engineering opportunities. Android has open licensing that’s why Android developers can use crowd-created frameworks and plugins, play around with functionality, and customize UX and UI endlessly as well as share their discoveries with others. 

 

Deciding if you’d like to develop apps for Android and iOS, keep in mind your budget and commercial goals. Although Android has great monetization potential, it seems to be expensive. Here you’ll find the major disadvantages of it:

 

— Unexpected user experience 

There are more than 24,000 types of Android devices in the world, while there are only 20 of iOS mobile gadgets. Sometimes, it can be impossible to predict what kind of UX will be performed on some rare Android phones or tablets. You may lose a part of your audience without proper UI and UX optimization.   

 

— Every second Android user doesn’t update their OS

If a user doesn’t update the operating system on their device, developers have to adapt their product to OS types with different capability levels and software algorithms. That makes it harder to create a good-working modern product without losing the audience with old gadgets. 

 

— Expensive and long-lasting development 

To develop an Android app you need skilled developers and designers, an advanced QA team, and patience. Android is a fragmented platform with lots of pitfalls. At the same time, your product has more chances to be published earlier if it was built for Android.     



Android vs iPhone development — Monetizing Your App

 

In most cases, potential profits are the main reason why you’d like to develop a new app. Although there are other cases such as White Label monetization strategy or building a product as a viral promotional instrument for the brand, here, we’d like to analyze which monetization model is better for Android and iOS apps.

 

But first a warning — both Android and iOS app can be the source of income within any app monetization strategy. To find a suitable solution you must take into consideration all sets of factors including desired features and target audience characteristics. 

 

Google Play Market and App Store revenue

In our article called How You Can Monetize Your App Idea, we described all monetization models applicable in app development — Freemium, paid-to-download, in-app purchases, in-app sponsorship, and White Label. And here, lets us tell you what fits Android and iOS better:

 

Android 

best model — Freemium, in-app advertisement 

 

Android audience is not willing to pay for apps or make in-app purchases — it is accustomed to free solutions and fills generally OK with various ads inside your app. That is a good idea to propose users to get rid of ads paying for the Premium app version, however, you shouldn’t expect more than 1% to do so. Advertisement Software Development Kits (ad SDK) are also better on the Android market. 

 

iOS

best model — paid apps, in-app purchases 

 

iOS apps generate great revenue for their owners. Apple users are willing to pay for the app or some app features twice more often than Android devices users. Also, they spend more than Android fans inside their favorite apps in general. 

 

Shopping apps, paid apps with exclusive features, or paid subscriptions are good ideas for your iOS-based startup concept. 11% of App Store apps are paid and the area is not that competitive as on Play Market. So, in terms of direct sales revenue, in the Android vs iOS programming competition the second one wins.    



Cross-platform App Development: Another Option

 

How to develop apps for Android and iOS at the same time? Cross-platform development could be a solution you are looking for. Multi-platform apps can ensure a wide range of users regardless of what devices they use and where they live. Those apps are good for testing your idea, searching for your target audience, or just studying different types of user behavior. The cross-platform approach is also popular among inhouse development teams. 

 

Cross-platform app top development tools in 2019

 

Cross-platform app development helps you to create two or more apps with the same functionality adapted for different platforms (Android, iOS, or Windows mainly). The approach is cost-effective and less time-consuming as native app development because developers can reuse the code and avoid repeating the same programming actions. 

 

The idea of multi-platform development is to create a flexible programming code (for example, in HTML5 programming language) and then use ready-made tools and frameworks to adapt it for a particular platform. In 2019, cross-platform apps are easy to build, publish, and fix. Special frameworks can automatically translate basic programing language into acceptable by your target platform. Examples — Adobe PhoneGap and Appcelerator

 

There are also some disadvantages of cross-platform apps. They provide users with poorer UX and UI experience and may have slower performance.   



Android vs iOS Development 2019: Making the Final Decision

 

So which platform better fits into your business goals? From a commercial standpoint, you need to choose the platform where it is easier to get the revenue out of direct relations with users. 

 

iOS audience has larger annual income, spend money on online purchases more often, and is accustomed to subscription fees or paid apps. 

 

At the same time, iOS is not so spread as Android. There are only a few regions where it is a leading platform — the US, Australia, and a couple of Western Europe countries. 

 

As you may assume, Android / iOS development is a question of your target audience. If you plan to reach North America or Western Europe users, choose iOS, and if you need other markets — keep working with Android. 

 

Take into consideration, that Android development takes more time. However, Apple App Store has lots of standards your app needs to meet to be published. Fixing bags may also take time. 

 

Multi-platform development is a good choice for those who’d like to test their MVP and decide what platform is more preferable and what kind of users is more loyal. In 2019, this development approach works even better than before — cross-platform apps are easy to create, improve, and promote.

 

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