Over the last few years, Android and IOS have dominated the operating system scenario. In 2018, the bulk of the operating system has been distributed between Android and IOS with the former having 68% and the latter 29.92%. To study further the intricacies of Android vs. iOS app development, it will be relevant to fully comprehend to what extent these two mobile platforms are ruling the mobile app development segment. Cold statistics and their magnitude are truly staggering, to say the least.
There were over 5.1 billion mobile users as of end-2018 for which figures are available now. This proves that in today’s digital landscape, mobile apps coupled with social media are ruling the roost and this momentum is surely not going to slow down soon. Hence mobile app developers and software development companies are constantly devising strategies to get the best out of mobile app development to make the app development process efficient, effective and successful.
While Android lords over the world by a substantial margin, it is only in the USA that the market share of both is almost equally divided. Here is a synopsis of the two platforms and Android vs. iOS programming.
Overview of Android App Development
The operating system was developed by Google in 2007, primarily for smartphones and tablets. The mainstay of the OS has continually evolved over time through significant releases by Google. The current Android source code is called the Android Open Source Project (ASOP) and is licensed under Apache. In the majority of cases, Android app developers use Android Studio Integrated Development Environment (IDE) with Android Software Developer’s Kit (SDK) and Java programming language.
Overview of IOS app development
IOS was specially designed to function exclusively on mobile devices of Apple since it made its first appearance in 2007. Even though it is not compatible with other devices, the extraordinary popularity of Apple is behind the unmitigated success of IOS. While it has not topped the charts as a best-selling operating system, it is a dominant force and a top-grossing competitor in terms of revenue.
Developers create apps on Apple’s operating systems using the Xcode IDE combined with IOS SDK. Swift is the most popular programming language in IOS mobile app development because of its brief and expressive syntax and interactive interface that is much favored by developers. Since this programming language has been created by Apple, it works seamlessly with IOS.
So what does the iOS vs. Android development future hold for mobile app developers? What are the factors that you should consider before choosing the operating system that fits your mobile app development requirements to a T?
Characteristics of target population
The starting point of the decision-making process for choosing the platform should be the target audience your app will cater to, that is the type of customers who will be using your app. There are a number of factors to consider here.
- Market Share – There is one manufacturer only of devices – Apple – that uses IOS but literally thousands of companies build devices that run on Android. The competition amongst Android-based devices results in low prices and greater sales. This has given Android a larger market share than IOS – about 69% and 29% respectively. Hence Android is a preferred option if a wider reach is your goal.
- Using the latest OS – The number of customers upgrading to latest versions of OS is must as the latest functions are introduced through updates and cutting-edge softwares. IOS steals a march here as IOS updates to latest versions automatically while Android users have to input it themselves. Figures from the third quarter of 2018 show that only 5.7% of Android users run the latest Oreo version while 76% of all iPhone users are on the current IOS 11 update.
- Demographics of the target audience – The region where you want your app to reach out to is a crucial factor. If you have a specific location that your business caters to, check which platform is more popular there. However, if your app is targeting a global audience, there are clear dividing lines that can determine Android vs. iOS app development. Most users in South America, Asia, Africa, and European countries prefer Android while countries with higher per capita income like the USA, some European countries and Australia favor IOS.
- App revenue – The average Apple device owner pays more for the device and hence it is not surprising that the Apple App Store earns more revenue than Google Play Store. In 2017, revenue for the Apple App store was $38.5 billion as against $20.1 for Google Play. The average IOS app makes 45% more profit per customer than the average Android app and 10% more IOS users make in-app purchases. Being on the IOS is, therefore, more rewarding in the long run in terms of app revenue.
Design principle values
Design principles play an important factor in Android vs. iOS programming decision-making, specially when considering the future – 2019 and after. The following are the key values of the two.
- Navigation – The IOS navigation bar is placed at the top with navigation icons in blue or grey by default. Android OS has a navigation bar to the left and prefers multi-colored icons.
- Resolution and screen sizes – Android-backed devices have a wide range of screen sizes and resolutions while basically, Apple-backed devices have two screen sizes (iPhone and iPad) and three resolutions for iPhone and some for iPad. The screen resolution of iPhone 4 is also used for iPad.
- Alert Notification – Most alert notifications and pop-ups require prompt action while others provide information only. Android and IOS handle these two aspects differently. IOS-based devices have two types of alerts – alert and action sheet. On the other hand, Android users have to click “Agree/Disagree” or “Don’t Allow/Allow” to deal with the alerts and notifications.
- Menu – IOS places its tab bar at the bottom with easy access to the hidden menu icons. Android has a drawer menu or a side menu which has the tab bar on the left after the tap-and-pull gesture.
- Back button – iPhone users can go to the previous page and screens in a hierarchical order without having to navigate through the full app. Android users can only return to the previous page and might have to navigate through an entire app if multiple pages have been opened.
While designing an app for any of the OS, whether Android or iOS, follow Mobile app development best practices
The complexity of a mobile app depends on the scale of functionality that is embedded in it. Hence, it is necessary to evaluate iOS vs. android development future possibilities to arrive at the development principles for each platform.
- Required Hardware – To develop an IOS app, it is necessary for the developer to have a Mac computer. But an Android app can be developed almost on any computer – Linux, Windows and even Mac.
- Compatibility between technologies – Modern projects should be based on the latest technologies and not on the old ones. For Android, Kotlin is gradually replacing Java while Swift is doing the same with Objective-C in IOS.
Here arises an issue with compatibility. Kotlin is fully compatible with Java and hence numerous frameworks and libraries in Java can be used in a Kotlin project. This ensures that the developer can switch from one programming language to another from line to line.
In IOS, Objective-C and Swift are not completely compatible. Each code version has different compatibility and therefore one framework can be more compatible with Swift 2 than Swift 3 and vice versa.
- Fragmentation – Apple has over the years released about 18 iPhone models and 14 of them are in regular use today. On the flip side, there are numerous Android-based devices with varying screen sizes and resolutions. This is known as fragmentation. An Android developer has to choose a limited number of screens and resolutions that the app will support and this will be dictated by the product owner. It increases app development time and costs. Android also has a large number of versions running simultaneously and this creates fragmentation problems. Fragmentation is not an issue with IOS as there are limited models and screen sizes to take into account.
- Code – When taking Android vs. iOS programming into account, it has to be understood that programming languages develop and change over time. Even though the latest versions are more flexible and versatile, the new and the old one might be different, creating a lot of problems. This is what happened with Swift for IOS apps, making it difficult for developers to work with projects that had been developed using the older versions of Swift.
- Interface exclusivity – Both Google and Apple prefer that apps in their domain look native since they sell or distribute them to the end-user and want assured and guaranteed quality. This is why both have released stringent guidelines that developers have to follow for making sure of a unique and exclusive interface. While Apple checks apps during the app publishing review and follows the guidelines given by them very strictly, Google follows the main principles of Material Design while allowing for a certain extent of innovation and flexibility by the developers.
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Publishing the App
Android is definitely ahead on this point. To publish an Android-based app in the Play Store, all you have to do is signup and upload the APK. Within a couple of hours, the app will be live on Play Store and users can start downloading it. Charges are a minimal $25.
For publishing on App Store, you have to pay a recurring annual fee of $99. After the app is submitted, it will be tested by hands-on professionals. This usually takes a couple of days and there is always a possibility that the submission might be rejected. Any app that is deemed to be low-brow or offensive will be turned down.
iOS vs. Android development future considerations vary because they appeal to different user groups. So, Android app development is for:
- Reaching out to a wider audience
- No additional investment in hardware to get a Mac
- Less wait time for publishing
- Large scale customization
iOS app development on the other hand is for:
- Higher revenue per user
- A less complex development process
- Enhanced privacy and security and reduced risk of malware
- Superior user experience
- Better integration with social media
Even though there are many tools that make mobile app development easier than what it was even a few years back, it is always advisable to avail the expertise of a professional mobile app development agency regardless of whether it is Android App Development or IOS App Development. After all, a mobile app is the face of a company in the modern digital business environment and no chances should be taken on this score. Entrust your mobile app development project to the experts at Doynt technologies. Our developers use the latest technologies and cutting-edge tools to develop highly optimized and useful apps. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to know more.