Just to be clear – this question indeed has no straight answer. It’s like comparing apples (the fruit type) to oranges. Some people prefer one over the other. Both the android and iOS platforms are not easily separable when the need to build a native app arrives. True – these are not the only mobile platforms available but they stand heads and shoulders above the rest of the pack.
Building an app on one platform is a very demanding task not to talk developing for two or more platforms. Everyone wants to develop their apps on both the iOS and Android platform, which is good considering the fact that your website visitors may do not all share one platform. Most times, app developers tend to build on one platform, see the outcome, receive feedback from users, improve and then build on the other platform.
Really, it pays off to develop on both platforms but it is difficult to build simultaneously. The real question now is, “Which platform should I develop for first?”
iOS, Android or both?
Without a doubt, Android is the most widely used mobile operating system and the highest selling OS overall. It takes a huge 83.6% market share of the world’s mobile devices (wow). Although iOS takes a measly 12.3%, when it comes to the number of applications on both platforms, the difference is little. As of November, 2014, both the android and iOS platforms had 1.4 million and 1.2 million apps respectively. According to a recent developer survey, 71% of mobile developers develop for android. The reason being due to the fact that the approval process for android is less strenuous than that of the iOS.
The iOS on the other hand is more profitable as the users of this platform are more likely to purchase apps. The Apple iOS is reputed to have stricter guidelines than that of the Android which does not necessarily mean that they lack bogus apps. In fact, the iOS does not usually provide a larger audience except in the U.S, where iOS has a much similar market share with the Android.
It pays to have a plan for both an iOS and Android app for your company. That doesn’t mean you have to build and launch both at the same time. When deciding whether to develop on one platform or both, it would help a lot if you did some research. But don’t look too far, some of the information you need are listed below. This should help you decide if you will build for one or both.
If your strategy is dependent on paid-for apps or in-app purchases, then iOS is what you want. As said, earlier, Apple iOS users are more likely to purchase an app than Android users. iOS provides superior development tools and support than that of the Android. Unlike the Android platform which is based on open source software, the iOS approval system is more sophisticated which allows for guaranteed security. There is also little fragmentation which makes debugging much easier.
The downside of iOS platform
Apple iOS have high standards when it comes to authenticating an app. The approval process for iOS takes time as publishing an app requires a lot of complicated certificates among other things. There is also more restrictions on the iOS on data sharing, advertising and interaction methods. Start- up costs are usually high because apps are licensed proprietary.
Android is a more open platform which is based on open source software. For a developer who has little start-up capital, he can develop apps for android easily because the barrier-to-entry is low. There is really no approval process necessary for the Android. The Android platform is widely used and apps made for Android are received by a wide audience.
The Downside of Android
Android is plagued by one big factor; wider varieties of and OS versions, which leads to more fragmentation. Any app developed on the android platform must be tested on different devices and OS versions. This could prove difficult for a developer with limited resources. Also there are development difficulties when developing for the Android platform. We should not also forget that there are higher chances of errors and bugs on android apps. Piracy is also high on the Android side.
Picking a Platform
Maybe you can’t launch both on platforms at once; it is now up to you to decide which platform should be considered first. Here are some arguable statements that will help you in picking the right platform for your initial release:
- iOS is more lucrative: If you ship your app to the iOS platform first, you may get paid in return. Like I said, the iOS audience is more likely to purchase apps due to its loyal and affluent user base. Why not earn some money first, and ship it off to the other platform.
- The development tools for iOS are stronger: Oh, not just that, they’re more fun to use.
- Android devices are many: Because of this, developers get instant feedback from users. Android’s market share is upward rising and it doesn’t look like dipping any soon. But, you never know.
- In app-sales easier on iOS: iOS users are always pressed by Apple to turn in their credit cards which in turn just increases the in app purchases of iOS users. So if you’re a developer with a view of making money, iOS provides just that. Android users are less willing to purchase.
- Less Fragmentation on iOS: Due to many brands of Android and varying OS, developers have to test their apps on different devices. But the case is the reverse on the iOS platform where debugging is much easier.
You also have to consider:
- What your current users are using: Take a look at your visitor stats and see where the influx comes from: android and iOS. It would be best to develop first for the platform with more users as you can get instant feedback, fix a few things before developing for the other platform.
If you can’t launch for both platforms at the same time, it’s okay to start with one. You’ll have all the information you need when you get your app in the market. If one platform does better than the other, you can always discontinue the one that doesn’t perform well.
In the end, the app platform you choose to develop for first will depend on your business model. However, you may need to develop for both platforms. Making your apps cross-platform will ensure that you are not missing out on a major user base. So plan well and chart down how you intend to make money and you will know whether you need to develop for iOS, Android or even both.