Android vs iOS: Which platform to build first?

Team Cumulations

30 May 2016

Android vs iOS: Which platform to build first

Humans may have taken centuries to evolve from Stone Age, but, we have rapidly entered the age of mobility, smartphones and apps. Mobile device ownership has skyrocketed in the last few years. As the demand for mobile phone increases, the demand for connectivity and internet increases too. With this increase in demand, people have come to realize that a mobile phone is no longer just used to make calls, texts or take pictures. With this realization, people are doing a lot more with their phones, thus changing the dimensions in the digital world.

When you have a ground-breaking idea, it can be tempting to shoot out of a gate and build an app that works on both the platforms. In a majority of cases, it is wiser to build it on one platform, before divulging into another. Let us take the example of Instagram. It is a photo sharing app launched on the iPhone in 2010. The app was an instant success with over 30 million viewers within 2 years. Even though Instagram was quite successful, it took almost 2 years to develop its app for Android users. The developers were focused on iPhone the two years because they wanted to secure the experience on one platform first.

Let us say you are starting with one platform, usually, the decision to be made is between Apple iOS and Android. It is no surprise because the two companies put together account for 90% of the smartphone market share.

When considering iOS and Android app development, chances are that you’ll eventually need to build apps for both platforms. However, while launching, a lot us tend to stick one platform.

So how do you make the choice? Here are some of the factors that can help you make that decision.

1. Geography and Users

Apple generally targets the premium smartphone market, especially customers with higher income, Android, on the other hand, aims for massive adoption. Android has a competitive advantage in emerging markets such as Asia,

Africa etc. over Apple.

As of 2014, Android has a commanding lead in market share and downloads which are 60% higher than iOS. iOS devices are generally more expensive and therefore are generally for people willing to spend more money i.e., them spending more to purchase apps and make in-app purchases. However, they do not have a lot of market share in developing countries and thus Android thrives in these countries.

2. Costs and Complexities

iOS makes building the UI and UX simple because you’d have to build the app for only iPhone/iPod and iPad. With Android, you’ll end up having to build for many devices, from different manufacturers and not to forget, several OS fragmentation across all of those devices. iOS is much more UI/UX friendly with easier frameworks to work with. Thus, this gives the developers a chance to focus on making the user’s experience a great one.

The cost of making and testing apps on Android is much higher. But it has become a more manageable problem with improved development tools that make porting easier. This helps developers decide which Android devices to

focus on.

3. Profits and Piracy

It is known that iOS is a closed platform. In simple words, Apple has complete control over its devices and software. They design all their hardware and software which permits them to use strict guidelines for how they interact with each other. This is particularly good for developers because there are a limited number of devices that support iOS and even when launches a new device, their design is not that different from their previous versions of hardware.

However, Android falls back here. The huge amount of Android devices and operating systems that are in the market significantly increase development costs because the app has to be optimized for different screen sizes and OS. While iOS has a closed system, Android doesn’t, thus making piracy of apps a very common problem. This causes the revenues to suffer. This is probably why iOS developers are making more money.

4. App Store Visibility

In 2008, the App store was added to iTunes which allows users to buy and download apps for their phones. Apps are organized into categories and ranked using a complex algorithm which incorporates total downloads, recent download volumes and possibly active users. They also have a star rating and review system which influences users to download apps with great rating and reviews. Apps for the iOS platform can only be downloaded from iTunes App Store. Android apps can be downloaded from a number of different stores such as Google Play, the Amazon App Store or any number of independent app stores. Having multiple places to download Android apps can be great for the consumer because they have a choice. However, it creates inconsistency between rankings and reviews. Generally, users download apps based on the review. This inconsistency can cause an app to not be ranked as high on Google play, which affects download numbers. Overall, the iTunes App Stores gives the iOS app developer better visibility when compared to its main Android store competitor.

When do you choose iOS first?

Keeping geography in mind, in the U.S marketplace, Apple has a significant advantage over Android. Apple smartphones are extremely popular in urban cities. This means if you are targeting American users, iOS could be your first choice. Also, it is important to remember that iOS offers more stability because the Android platform is based on open licensing.

We suggest that you start with iOS first because of demographics, cost and speed to market. During the initial stages of app development, a significant amount of time should be invested in learning of what’s working and what’s not. This would be a major challenge, especially considering the cost and time. This is why generally developers begin with iOS and then move on to Android.

When do you choose Android first?

Android has several advantages, especially if you are new to the market. As mentioned previously, Android OS being an open source software makes it less expensive to enter the market. It also allows you to use multi-source plug-ins and frameworks. In general, the Android platform has fewer restrictions on app submissions too.

Android makes sense if your target audience is mainly focused on Android, especially in developing nations and urban environments. It also makes sense when you into customizing an element of Android’s OS.

In conclusion, both Apple and Android has had their pros and cons. Android allows you to reach a broader audience but Apple’s audience is more engaged and loyal. You can choose to build on both platforms if you have well established resources. So when do you move to the next platform? Taking the example of Instagram, once you have perfected your core app experience, you can consider moving to the next platform.

You can find Slideshare powerpoint on the same topic by clicking the following link: Android vs iOS: Which platform to build first?