There’s a revolution in mobile app development happening right now with the number of apps available for download in major app stores being at an all-time high. App developers are burying themselves in work, creating the latest software applications for mobile devices and hoping that their creations make enough money for them at Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store. Apparently, the numbers are more than encouraging.
As of March 2017, the App Store had slightly more apps available at 2.2 billion compared with Play Store’s 2.8 million apps. Also in Q1 2017, combined iOS and Android app downloads were up 15% year-over-year, reaching a total of about 25 billion new downloads globally.
With re-installs, these numbers could go much higher. In terms of in-app purchases, revenue likewise increased 45% year-over-year for a staggering $15 billion across the iOS and Android systems running worldwide.
It’s definitely a good time for mobile app companies to continue hiring app developers to work on a wide array of mobile app products—from mobile music apps to instant messaging and mobile game apps. These apps are forecast to generate close to $200 billion in in-app and in-advertising revenues in less than three years’ time. But the question is, should you develop Android or iOS apps?
The following infographic gives you a comprehensive comparison between Android and iOS app development services in terms of demographics, the range of devices, time frame of development, hardware, publishing and restrictions, cost, and revenue. These are the factors you will need to consider as you decide whether to develop on the Android or iOS platform.
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The Android and iOS platforms both provide a venue for your mobile app development, but they have very distinct functionalities on their own. Sometimes, you get a clear-cut distinction between the two. However, there are also areas where they go neck and neck so you’ll have to rely on your judgment and preference when choosing the appropriate platform to develop your ware.
Market share-wise, Android has a greater reach than its competitor, although iOS users’ income levels and spending capabilities may balance things out in the overall picture.
Screen and Resolution
The operating systems of Android and iOS differ from one another to a great extent. In designing your app, you need to factor in how your app will run given a particular device’s screen and resolution, the hardware compatible with the platform, and the individual features and capabilities of various phone models.
It might be a little more challenging to develop apps on the Android platform since you’ll be designing for different screen sizes and resolution. Meanwhile, iOS has a more uniform size range so that may free you up from having too many considerations to worry about.
With Android, you’re developing not only for one Android-based device but thousands of other devices produced by different vendors. Since Android has an open nature system, you can leverage it to run your apps not just on mobile phones but also on smart TVs, wearables, or media streaming devices.
Since different Android devices have different capabilities that are unique from one another, your apps should be designed to allow compatibility with all Android devices. You have to consider the whole Android family—from low-range to mid- and high-range iterations when developing and designing your apps. Otherwise, you might be leaving out a large portion of the Android market from running your apps.
On the other hand, developing your apps for iOS means you’ll have fewer configurations to make, as you only have a limited lineup of gadgets at your disposal. This also means you’ll have fewer fragmentation issues developing your apps within the iOS system.
As a developer, you’re naturally concerned about how much time it will take you to develop your app and put it on the App Store or the Play Store. Spending more time on app development may cause a dent on your resources and your chance to generate revenue for the company.
Testing your app across Android’s wide range of devices will naturally require more time as you look for and fix issues on one device after another. If the app works well on one Android device but not on another, you have to make the necessary modifications to the app.
Integrated Development Environment (IDE):
Android Studio replaced Eclipse, the previous iteration of Android’s IDE. Although Android Studio has been padded with improvements, iOS’s Xcode is deemed more mature. Specifically, in terms of debugging capability, the mobile simulator, which you use to build a prototype of your app for mobile, of iOS is deemed better than that of the Android simulator. However, Android Studio makes up for this by having a better autocomplete functionality for your coding work.
Java and Swift have a fairly similar structure. What differentiates them is that the former may be a bit complex if you’re just beginning to code, while the latter is based on Objective-C and touted to be generally error-free.
Publishing and Restrictions
From membership application all the way to submitting and publishing an app, it would seem like you’ll have to do a look-for-a-needle-in-the-haystack sort of thing with iOS apps, with no certainty whether your app will get approved on the App Store. In contrast, you can readily publish your app on the Play Store just by signing up and uploading your APK.
The strict quality standards of iOS may benefit users on the one hand but may scare freelance developers off on the other. That said, you’re more likely to have a better experience with Android’s mobile development policies, especially if you’re a startup developer and you’re not willing to spend on annual fees.
Cost and Revenue
Both the Play Store and the App Store put developers on equal footing when it comes to revenue generation, but the interplay of cost and revenue seems to favor iOS more. This may be attributed to iOS users’ willingness to spend on app purchases. Thus, iOS would seem to be the better choice over Android cost- and revenue-wise since it’s faster and less complicated to develop on the iOS platform.
Apple devices are known to be of premium quality and work well with a wide range of peripherals. These factors make the iOS platform effective for mobile app development as you need a shorter time to design, test, and release your app.
And the Winner Is?
After pitting Android and iOS against each other, both fared fairly the same.
Android may be your go-to platform in terms of compatibility with any hardware, more lenient rules for membership and approval of apps, and affordability of publishing fees. On the other hand, iOS shows better mileage in terms of uniformity in the screen size and resolution of devices for which the apps are intended, a more streamlined interface, shorter time frame of development, and cost and revenue model.
It’s a draw between Android and iOS when you consider market demographics, IDE features, and the nature of programming language used.
With all things considered, no one can claim to be better than the other. What one lacks, the other compensates for in another area of app development. It’s really your own choice to make, depending on your business goals and availability of resources.