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In the age of mobile technology, we have many new startups coming up every day. To take their businesses to new heights, startups are looking to reach maximum customers through mobile apps. However, as soon as they decide to have a mobile app for their business, they are faced with a dilemma to make a choice between Android & iOS. A tough choice to make indeed. Tough because the choice of one over the other will affect everything from development cost to potential customers to app monetization capabilities, in short, the future of your app depends on it.

Before making the choice between Android & iOS though, let’s go through the types of mobile apps briefly.

Native Mobile Apps

These are the most common types of mobile apps and also the most in demand currently. As the name suggests, Native Apps or device-native apps are native to specific mobile operating systems. This means that you need to develop separate apps for iOS users & Android users. Also, the native mobile apps can only be downloaded from their respective app stores.

Eg: Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter apps on iOS & Android

Web Mobile Apps

Web mobile apps, on the other hand, are designed in such a way that they are compatible with both operating systems. Unlike the Native Apps, the web mobile apps are accessed via the mobile web browsers making iOS and Android OS irrelevant.

Eg: Google Docs

Hybrid Mobile Apps

Hybrid mobile apps are essentially designed by incorporating the goodness of Native and Web Apps offering cross-platform development. These apps are easily downloadable from respective app markets just like Native Apps.

Eg: Amazon, Netflix apps on iOS & Android

In between, Native & Hybrid Apps it may seem that the hybrid mobile app development is an ideal choice. But, at present, Hybrid mobile apps lag behind the Native mobile apps in terms of performance & user-experience. This is due to the addition of an extra layer of code between the source code and the mobile platform. This may change in the future, however, currently, the Native mobile apps are the preferred choice of mobile app developers.

Now that you are clear to go with the native mobile app, the next riddle is whether to choose Android or iOS first.

Android or iOS: Where to begin first?

There is no straight answer to this question. However, to help you choose one out of two, we have prepared short guidelines that will guide you to select the right mobile app development path.

The important factors that we have considered to establish these guidelines are:

  • Audience Knowhow
  • Development Time
  • Development Costs
  • Approval and Release
  • Revenue Goals

Audience Knowhow

The prime factor that makes or breaks the deal for an app is certainly the audience. Their demographic locations, age, education & earnings play a critical role while deciding to choose the right platform.

Source: App Annie

From the above image, it is clearly evident that choosing Android Development if your target audience is from North America or Australia will be a really bad idea. Android occupies nearly 75% of the global market share. Therefore, if you plan to target the global audience, Android would be the better choice.  

Due to the global dominance of Android, it gets more download than iOS.

  • Android is best for developing markets like Asia, Africa, South America & Central Europe.
  • Android users tend to be from technical professions.
  • More men prefer Android over iOS.
  • On average Android users earn less than Apple users.

Though less dominant than Android, iOS covers the economically developed nations

  • iOS users are mainly concentrated in North America, Australia, Western Europe, and Japan.
  • The average iPhone/iPad user is slightly younger than the average Android user and comes from affluent families with average income higher than Android users
  • On average, iOS users are up to 4 times more engaged with their Apple devices.
  • Due to the income & age gap, iOS users tend to spend more money on in-app purchases and mobile commerce apps.

Source: App Annie

Key Analysis

Although Android dominates the global mobile platform share the majority of that is economically underdeveloped nations with lower income & spending power.

Development Time

Sure you want your app to hit the market fast and benefit from low Time-To-Market. This makes development time perhaps the second most important factor to consider while choosing the first mobile app development platform.

  • Typically it is considered that Android app development takes longer than iOS app development. This is because of Android’s longer release cycles and device fragmentation. Apple’s fewer device versions and easy to write code on Swift makes iOS development easy and quick. On the other hand, Android development is complex due to the large variety of Android devices with different screen sizes & versions of Android OS. Moreover, the Android Apps are mainly developed using Java programming language which requires more code writing as compared to Swift, which is the first choice of mobile app developers for building iOS mobile apps. According to a study, it takes nearly 40% longer to develop Android apps with the same specs as a similar iOS apps. This makes iOS app development faster, easier and economical.

Java and Swift are the most common and popular programming languages for Android app development and iOS app development respectively.

However, a point to note here is that due to Apple’s strict guidelines pertaining to quality and app release makes it tough and long before the app gets approved by Apple. Having said that expertise of mobile app developers plays a vital role in keeping development times short.

Key Analysis

Android app development is complex and takes more time and longer development times means increased development costs.

Development Cost

The analysis of this factor isn’t as straightforward as the other points we discussed above. Its simply because we do not have any clear answer to this. Generally speaking, the cost of an app is directly proportional to its size & complexity

  • Android app development is more costly given to the complex ecology of Android OS and variety of Android phones & devices. However, the Android Studio which is the main Android development tool can be easily installed on any latest personal desktop or laptop.
  • Whereas in the case of iOS app development, Xcode which is Apple’s main app development tool can only be installed on Apple’s Mac computers which implies additional costs if you already don’t possess one.

 Key Analysis

 The development cost implications are the direct result of the scope and complexity of the project.

Revenue Goals

The success of an app greatly lies on its potential of generating good revenues year after year. We saw in factor #1. Audience Knowhow that Google’s Play Store dominated the app market so it is obvious to derive that Android gets more downloads worldwide which is true. But if we look at the store-wise revenue below, Apple comes out as a clear winner.

Source: App Annie

From the study conducted by App Annie, it is evident that the annual revenues globally for iOS has always been higher than its competitors. App Annie’s forecast also shows that this trend is going to continue well into the year 2021.

Apart from the above, there are few other key differences of store wise app monetization:-

  • Android generates the majority of its revenues from in-app advertisements & paid subscriptions.
  • Apple’s major revenue sources are in-app purchases, freemiums & paid subscriptions.
  • Both the stores, however, pass-on the major chunk of their revenues to the app owners.

Key Analysis

Revenue-wise Apple is projected to be a market dominant. However, Android is fast catching up in this domain too.

App Approval & Release

So, your mobile app development is completed and ready to be released into the app market to be loved by the users worldwide. There is, however, still one last hurdle that your mobile app has to cross. That is, your app has to be approved and released by the respective app stores.

When it comes to the approval process and timing, Apple typically takes 2-3 weeks for your iOS app’s approval. This can get delayed even further if your iOS app is rejected on quality grounds.

  • Android, however, has less strict approval guidelines and just takes 2-3 days for android mobile app approval.
  • Cost-wise too Android fairs well as it charges only $25 as a one-off payment to release your android app post-approval.
  • In the case of Apple though, it charges $100 per iOS app as an annually recurring fee in addition to costs due to delayed approval.

 Key Analysis

Google’s Android Play Store is a clear winner in this section as it is less expensive and not as strict as Apple.

Note: All the above analysis and inferences are drawn from the various studies conducted by App Annie.

The Final Decision

Choosing which one to go for first depends on a lot of if’s & but’s. There are countless permutations and combinations of the above factors at play while deciding on one operating system. One has to think through various aspects before finalizing one. The guidelines above will help you a great deal and take you one step closer to the success of your business goals.

Whether it’s iOS development or Android development that you finally decide on, choosing the seasoned mobile app developers, who have the right mixture of experience and knowledge, will align your vision with your business goals.