Android vs iOS Development: How Do They Compare?
Android apps & iOS apps are all around us on the many devices — from phones to tablets to watches — we’ve come to depend on for connections to the world. With more than 5 billion mobile users worldwide, mobile app development continues to be an in-demand profession. In fact, according to Statista, mobile device users will increase to 7.33 billion by 2023.
Programming for iOS and Android apps is an important skill for budding and experienced programmers alike. Before committing to developing applications on either Google’s Android OS or Apple’s iOS, learn the pros and cons of each platform to help you decide which mobile development skill to learn.
Last Updated September 2020
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As of July 2020, the Android platform dominates the mobile OS market with a 74.6 percent share. During that same period, Apple’s iOS operating system had a 13.5 percent share of the global OS market. You might think that developing apps for Android is a better choice because you’ll reach more users. It’s not just about the volume of market share though. Wealthier countries are dominated by iOS users. As a result, iOS apps have the potential for higher revenue despite reaching fewer people.
Because of fragmentation and testing processes, developing apps for Android can be time-consuming. Fragmentation is the process of adjusting an app’s features for compatibility across the different screen sizes and resolutions that your Android app will run on. Because the Android operating system is used on so many different devices built by third-party manufacturers like Samsung or LG, designing and testing for these many devices adds to your development time.
However, developing for iOS has a much shorter development time. Some estimates put development time at 30-40% longer for Android. iOS apps are written in Swift, a programming language with a simple syntax that helps speed up development time.
Apple’s closed hardware ecosystem limits the devices that your app runs on. An iOS app can only be run on Apple devices. As a result, developers need less time to test iOS apps.
App development is a costly process. Longer development times for an app means the cost of developing the app grows. When it comes to development costs, iOS is a better choice because it’s cheaper to develop. An iOS app developer spends less time on developing an app than an Android developer.
Because of the fragmentation and testing processes required when developing for Android devices, the development cost of Android apps is often higher than iOS apps. If hiring a developer to build the app for you, make sure to take into account the development time of the app.
Though Android apps are accessible by more users, when it comes to engagement, the iOS ecosystem sees more engaged users. If you’re planning to monetize your app, keep in mind that Android has a broader audience, whereas iOS offers more engaged users, which may help the financial success of your app.
With Android, the distribution of apps may not necessarily happen in the Google Play app store. An Android user could download an app from other sources, both trusted and untrusted. Because of this non-centralized Android app distribution, it’s often more advantageous for companies to generate revenue through in-app purchases rather than paying at the time of download.
Apple’s closed ecosystem makes it safer for companies to offer paid apps. Users can only download apps through the iOS App Store, a single trusted source.
Publishing apps to Google Play is a straightforward process with many apps seeing publication in a few hours.
Fast approval and publication of an app on Apple’s App Store is rare. Because of Apple’s strict rules regarding app standards, it often takes developers days to see their apps published.
Verdict: Android vs iOS development
Android and iOS are two different worlds of operating systems with completely different rules. Android is open source and iOS is a closed world.
A mobile app is like regular computer software with its features and characteristics. Android apps are developed in a Google-created software called Android Studio, while iOS apps are developed in Apple-created software called XCode.
When developing a mobile app, you’re not limited to Android Studio or XCode. You can also use React Native, built by Facebook, to create a cross-platform mobile app. While it might seem like a good solution, opting for a cross-platform app brings added complexity because of the relative newness of React Native.
While there’s no simple way to know whether you should learn Android or iOS development if you want to create your mobile app as fast as possible and as cheaply as possible, I recommend learning iOS. However, if you want to reach a large, global audience and have more customization control of your app, then you’ll want to learn to program for Android.
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