Android vs iOS App Development: Which Platform Should You Choose?

The question concerning which platform to choose for app development continues to be relevant after many years. This is not surprising since it’s not only expensive to create a product for several platforms at once, but quite often it appears to be useless.

Now, for the developer and the customer everything comes down to the choice between three main options:

  • Development on Android;
  • Development on iOS;
  • Cross-platform apps creation.

We already wrote about the cross-platform development advantages and disadvantages earlier in the blog, so in this article let’s consider the choice between the two platforms.

What is better to start with: Android or iOS? Which is more promising? Or is it better to immediately release the app for both of them? The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, so we shall describe them in detail and give some interesting statistics as well.

Well, let’s consider the key criteria, starting from which you need to make a decision depending on which platform you need to start developing the product for in the first place.

Market Share and iOS/Android Audience Features

The fact that the mobile market is absolutely dominated by only two operating systems is not a secret. According to the analytical company Gartner, at the beginning of 2018 the total share of iOS and Android on the market was 99.9%.

Android has 85.9% of the market. Apple, in turn, has captured 14%. The remaining mobile operating systems took a share at the level of error – 0.1%.

Statistics of popularity by country at the global level:

Android/iOS popularity by country

It is even more interesting to have a look at statistics over the past few years:

Mobile OS audience growth

Android Audience Features:

  • many more users;
  • the main market share accrues to developing countries;
  • greater geographical coverage;
  • users prefer free apps.

iOS audience Features:

  • users with a relatively high average income;
  • the platform is most popular in developed countries (USA, Europe, Australia);
  • the audience is distinguished by a higher involvement level;
  • eagerly spend money on paid apps and purchases inside them.

Operating System Update Cycle

Since Android is an open source platform, manufacturers often modify the shell up to their custom design, which complicates updating to new versions. In its turn, iOS is fully controlled by Apple and updates are centralized.

Mobile OS fragmentation statystics

[via Statista.com]

According to the data for February 2018, the operating system iOS 11 is installed on 76% of Apple’s smartphones, tablets and players. Another 19% of devices work on iOS 10, and only 5% on older versions. It is noted that regular iOS updates with the addition of new features helps to attract the audience.

Android statistics are not so exciting. Android 8 Oreo was found on only in 4.6% of devices. A large number of gadgets continue to work on old Nougat (30.8%), Marshmallow (26%), and Lollipop (22.9%).

The iOS app developer can focus on supporting the latest versions of the operating system with relative certainty that the app will still have a wide coverage. Creating an app for Android, you need to spend more time testing and supporting previous versions of the OS.

The Features of Android and iOS Apps Monetization

Another factor to be considered when choosing a platform for app development is the planned model of revenue generation. You want your app not only to be popular, but also be profitable, don’t you?

Most of the apps on Google Play are monetized primarily through ads and announcements, while for the App Store the model of purchasing the app itself or the content it has inside is more popular. iOS users are accustomed to spending more:

Mobile OS consumer spend

The statistics on net profit is quite evident:

Mobile Apps net revenue

If you are going to start with a free app and monetize it later or through advertising, Android is a better choice. If you want to charge a fee for downloading your app, you should choose iOS.

Development Speed, Technical Complexity and Budget

When it comes to the development complexity, Android can seem a more affordable solution at first sight. But don’t forget about the fragmentation of the operating system itself and the devices that work on it, as we wrote at the beginning of the article, to understand that this is not exactly so.

The line of Apple iOS-devices consists of only iPhone, iPad and iPod, which comprise a relatively small number of current models. This greatly simplifies the life of developers and accelerates the product release.

The essence of Android fragmentation lies in the existence of a huge number of devices that run on different versions of the OS, as well as having huge differences in screen size and performance. Creating an app with a good compatibility level is not only a technically difficult task, but it takes more time and requires much more budget.

And What About Tablets?

Here, iOS dominates completely and every new market research on tablets confirms this. Even though sales of these devices are slowing down, it’s still difficult to find someone with a tablet on Android.

Tablet Vendors

If you are going to develop apps for tablets, this factor should be the first in the list when making a decision, especially when it comes to the corporate segment.

When It’s Better to Choose Developing for iOS

Decisions are mostly made based on the audience specific features. When it comes to an entertainment app that will be monetized through advertising, Android will be the preferred option. But for many start-ups and services, the iOS audience will be more interested.

It is worth choosing iOS as a platform for app development if:

  • your target audience is mainly EU countries and the USA;
  • the app will be paid or monetized through purchases within the app;
  • your product belongs to such niches as “Education”, “Productivity”, “Business” or “Lifestyle”;
  • if the budget is limited and you do not have enough resources to adapt the app for multiple devices and operating system versions.

When It’s Better to Choose Developing for Android

In addition to the audience specifics, developing an app for Android OS may be preferable in cases where you need specific functionality, that is, you create a product for a certain device or you need more complete control over the hardware and software component.

Opt for Android as a platform for app development in such cases that:

  • your target audience is spread all around the world or concentrated in Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and other developing countries;
  • you intend to profit from ads or integrations;
  • you need more opportunities to access the software or hardware;
  • your product belongs to the “Lifestyle”, “Entertainment and Communication”, or “Internet services” segment.

When It’s Worth Starting With Both Platforms or Switching to Another One

In general, we can recommend developing the app for both platforms simultaneously only in rare cases. It’s all about budgetary and time constraints. However, there are cases when it makes sense.

For example, you are planning a large-scale product launch and want to reach as many people as possible around the world. Simultaneous presence on Android and iOS guarantees you sufficient coverage.

It is worth switching from one platform to another when the opportunities for coverage on the one which you started with are exhausted, or if you have statistical data and forecasts that confirm that access to the additional platform will provide you with a good increase in the overall user base.

Another interesting option which is also worth considering as a potential alternative is cross-platform development, for example, on the framework Xamarin or React Native. We wrote on the blog about the pros and cons of cross-platform development earlier, and we recommend you read this article to figure it out for yourself in detail.

iOS vs Android Development: What to Finally Choose
iOS vs Android Development

The answer to this question depends largely on the app that you are going to write. It is necessary to understand who your user is, what the app’s target audience is, and what devices this audience uses.

Summing up, let’s clearly list the strengths and weaknesses of both platforms.

Advantages of Android App development:

  • Broader audience and geographic coverage;
  • Faster and easier application publishing process;
  • Advertising in apps gives more profit.

Disadvantages of Android App development:

  • High fragmentation level complicates development and it takes more time;
  • On average, apps generate less revenue;
  • It is difficult to achieve a high level of performance and minimize errors.

Advantages of iOS App development:

  • The audience has a high solvency level;
  • Easier and faster development process;
  • High level of security;
  • High market share in the US, Europe, and other developed countries;
  • It is easier to achieve a high level of productivity;
  • On average, apps generate more revenue.

Disadvantages of iOS App development:

  • The number of users is less than that of Android;
  • Stricter requirements for app publishing in the App Store;
  • Monetization through showing ads brings less income.

In terms of prospects, both platforms are good and will not lose relevance in the next few years. Both platforms have a high level of competiveness, both in application stores (Google Play and App Store) and in the job marketplace.

Comparing Android-development and iOS-development on various parameters, it is necessary to understand that there is no universal solution for any case. As a result, the choice is still made based on the specifics of a particular project, and customers capabilities and needs.

If you still don’t know which platform to choose for developing your app, write to us and we will help you make the right choice.

Petro Kovalchuk
Petro Kovalchuk
CEO at Lvivity