There is a permanent controversy around iOS and Android. Developing for iOS is much different than developing for Android and multiple factors can influence the process (demographics, development speed, app costs, engagement and so on). The two operating systems present visible differences and the only one who can decide which is appropriate is the developer. A developer will always seek operating systems that offer ease of development, cost efficiency, and a wide target market. The easiest way to make both sides happy would be developing an app in both Android and iOS, but that’s so costly that not everyone can afford it. That’s why people are looking for reliable information that can guide their work towards one operating system or another. This article will cover most factors that can make the decision easier for developers:
Market share and demographics
The past five years encountered an oscillation regarding the iOS and Android market share. In 2012, the numbers were similar to what people can see today: 497,082 for Android and 212,899 for iOS. People could notice that the iOS market share is twice as small as Android’s, which pushed developers to use this operating system instead. In 2017, the market share maintains itself in a similar position: 1,069,503 for Android and 504,147 for iOS. Even though the number of users is double in the case of Android, iOS is still an important player because of the revenue generation possibilities it offers. The wider market of Android is beneficial for developers who want to reach as many people as possible. One impressive fact about the market share is that Google Play’s revenue was $11.8 billion this year, while App Store’s worldwide gross app revenue was double – $22.6 billion. Even though Android’s market share is wider, it doesn’t generate as much profit.
Another important detail has to do with demographics. Android and iOS users have to be analyzed in order to choose what operation system to choose for developing an app. If the app needs to have a larger global access, Android is the right choice. However, iOS users tend to be younger and show a greater engagement. Setting up a target audience is the first criterion that has to be considered in making a selection between the two. iOS users are more likely to have a greater income, which leads to better sales in the App Store. Moreover, iOS users are more likely to use or work in media, marketing or business.
The complexity of development
More details must be considered in terms of development complexity, meaning that a mobile app can be developed easier, faster and more efficiently. These are relevant for the discussion:
- Hardware necessities
Programmers that want to develop iOS apps must use a Mac. Macs can be quite expensive and a beginner app developer may not afford to buy a Mac. This restriction is the reason why some developers choose Android apps. Linux, Windows, and Mac are all suitable for creating Android apps.
Android apps are usually developed in Java or other similar programming languages, the ones preferred by most developers. On the other hand, iOS also has a limitation. All iOS apps need to be developed in Apple’s Objective-C programming language. Recently, Kotlin and Swift replace both Java and Objective-C, so compatibility might be an issue for developers. The compatibility between Kotlin and Java is complete, meaning it doesn’t raise problems. Swift and Objective-C are not entirely compatible which leads to a more difficult development process.
Developers care tremendously about fragmentation. Developing an app for Android, which is used by numerous devices, can include some challenges because of the different resolutions and DPIs in these devices. Android also has numerous versions that all have their individual particularities. This makes the job of developers much more difficult, compared to iOS, where versions are less numerous and devices are quite similar. Only Apple products run iOS, so it’s much easier to handle app development in this situation. At the same time, Android offers a huge variety – developers can come up with apps for Kindle, Gear VR, in-car systems, smartwatches, smart TVs, smartphones, tablets and other devices that rely on Android.
The financial standpoint
The potential profit that a developer can earn for each platform is the major key in selecting the operating system. iOS has clear advantages in this sense. Even though Android devices outrun iOS ones in terms of numbers, Apple’s App Store visibly outruns Google’s Play Store. iOS users make purchases in the store much more often compared to Android users. The potential revenue drops terribly in the case of Android. Of course, the best decision is to go cross-platform, but the only loser here will be the developer, who will have to make a considerable initial investment. Being an iOS-exclusive developer might be more profitable than expected in the first place. The individual needs of the developer and the target audience selected should be the ones that dictate the decision.
iOS developers will pay more money to develop and publish their apps. Apple launched a membership program for people who want to publish apps on their store. Individual developers have to pay around $99 per year in order to publish apps. The company has different programs for individual developers and development companies. To publish an app to Google Play, users only have to pay a one-time-only fee of $25, which is much more acceptable for freelance developers.
Choosing a winner – it might be a draw
The iOS vs Android development battle will never end, as neither of them is perfect. The developer is the only one who can decide which option is better for him, considering all the points discussed in this article. Both operating systems have pros and cons and the mobile development approach selected can be made easier or more difficult depending on the developer’s choice. The only method left is to analyze the target audience thoroughly and to choose the one operating system that seems best for it.