Android vs iOS: Which mobile platform is best for app development?

iOS When it comes to developing an app, how do you choose between Android and iOS? On the face of it, with Google’s Android holding around 88% of the market share as per Statista from the second quarter of 2018, it might seem like the better choice, but can you ignore the high monetization prospects that Apple’s iOS platform offers? Of course, the simple solution would be to develop for both platforms simultaneously, but not every company has a budget for that.

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Therefore, which platform should you choose for your app development? It’s a common question many of our clients ask us when they approach us for developing an app. The fact is that both platforms have their fair share of pros and cons and being aware of these makes it easier to decide which one is better suited to your requirements. In this article, we outline the key differences between Android vs iOS to help you get a clear idea about which one to choose.

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Android vs iOS – Market Data

Market share of units sold: In terms of market share, Android has been the leading platform worldwide since 2016. In 2018, 217.72 million iOS smartphones were sold by Apple. In comparison, as per Gartner statistics, Android sold 1.3 billion units in 2017.

Market share of apps: Google Play Store had 2.6 million apps available for download as per Statista figures of December 2018, whereas the Apple App Store held the second position with around 2 million apps.

App downloads: In 2018, as per App Annie, the total number of downloads on the iOS and Google Play stores were 28.4 billion. Google Play downloads accounted for over 20 billion downloads during this period.

Average app revenues: When it comes to app revenue, the difference between Android and iOS is the larger reach of the former versus the more lucrative earnings from the latter. In the 3rd quarter of 2019, Apple’s iOS apps generated $14.2 billion, whereas Android apps earned $7.7 billion through the Google Play Store.

As per data published by Marketing Charts in 2018, although the average mobile app revenue on iOS and Android differ slightly depending on the type of app, iOS apps earned more per user across app categories. For gaming apps, the average mobile app revenue per user was $1.99 for iOS vs $1.56 for Android. When it came to shopping apps, iOS earned $19.64 per user compared to $11.49 by Android, and for travel apps, iOS was a clear winner with $32.29 per user versus $20.47 for Android.

iOS vs Android – Technical aspects

Development complexity: App development for iOS is less complex compared to Android, mainly because Apple has a fewer number of devices – iPhone, iPad, and iPod. One of the main issues with Android app development is that of fragmentation as there are many types of devices, smartphones, and tablets, besides differences in screen sizes, aspect ratios, and operating systems.

Development Time: The complexity involved in Android app development makes the process more time-consuming than that of an iOS app. On average, Android app development is 30-40 percent slower than iOS.

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An Ultimate Guide for Mobile App Development Process

Development Cost: The difference in cost is not easy to estimate since one needs to consider not only the time that is taken to develop the app but also the hardware used for the process. While Android apps might have a higher cost due to the longer development time, the Android Studio application that is used for app development can be installed on a standard PC.

iOS apps are developed using Xcode, which works only on the Mac. Therefore, the investment in buying a Mac as well as an iPhone or iPad can significantly add to the cost of development.

Programming languages used: Both platforms require completely different skill sets in terms of the programming languages used. iOS apps require Objective C or Swift for Native development, whereas Android uses Java and Kotlin. For companies looking at developing for both platforms, this means incurring additional costs towards hiring specialists in these languages.

Publishing process: Although iOS apps are quicker to design, Apple has a lengthy and strict approval process before an app can be published to the store. Android apps can be uploaded relatively easily on the Google Play Store by paying a one-time fee of $25. Updates and modifications to the app store take longer on iOS as every change needs to go through the long and stringent approval process. On Android, once published, the app is available on the store within a few hours, and one can perform beta testing or update the app easily and quickly.