Android or iOS? If you are a mobile app developer, you must have asked yourself this question at least once.
Both of these operating systems have their own characteristics. When it comes to discussing their differences, starting from the technical aspects, to app design and marketing- the entire concept of app development will differ according to the chosen platform.
Are you interested to know about these differences in detail? Then read along!
1. Programming Language
The Android operating system uses Java or Kotlin as the programming language, while iOS uses Objective C or Swift.
Java is an older language, but it has a steep learning curve because of its complex syntax. Apple introduced Swift in 2014 as the official language for iOS apps. Since it was built for the purpose of developing apps, the language has cleaner syntax, high readability and a shorter learning curve.
Thus, while considering programming language, iOS apps have a faster development cycle because of lesser code writing.
2. Development Environment
Since the programming language used is different, the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) used for back-end app development also differs.
Eclipse was initially used for Android development, but in 2013, Android Studio was released, and it has since then replaced Eclipse. Android Studio offers cross platform support, excellent development and debugging features, high readability and good documentation.
iOS developers use the proprietary tool called XCode. XCode is superior, easy to use and has a variety of features to support the entire range of iOS devices. It helps the developers find errors in syntax and logic, thus making it easier to find and fix bugs.
However, due to issues related to instability, refactoring, and inability to run multiple simulators simultaneously in XCode, developers tend to prefer Android Studio over XCode as it is more stable and less time consuming.
3. Development Complexity
Android systems have more development complexity than iOS. The primary reason for this is device fragmentation.
Apple releases a limited range of devices and hence has a small range of screen dimensions to consider. But when it comes to Android, there are plenty of devices and thus dozens of screen styles to account for.
Device fragmentation makes Android development a pain point for the developer. It poses a challenge in setting proportions and layout elements optimization. For low-end Android devices, creating detailed application interfaces can make them very slow. Apart from the problems posed in graphics adjustments, multiple device simulators have to be used during testing to ensure that screen display is equal for all devices.
Thus, in Android systems, both development and testing requires several iterations, and are resource and time consuming. It also increases the overall development cost and development time. This makes iOS systems easier to handle than Android.
4. Design Differences
Application development is directly related to application design. Both Android and iOS have vast design differences. The guide book for Android developers is Material Design, while iOS developers adhere to Human Interaction Guidelines.
In iOS applications, the design addresses a feeling of depth and multilayers. Shadows, gradients and white spaces are the commonly used tools by iOS designers. In contrast, Android designers use a more extensive range of tools such as light, motion, and color changes.
Both platforms have their own interactions and style in every aspect. Let’s look at some of them.
platforms have their own interactions and style in every aspect. Let’s look at some of them.
- Screen size and resolution: iOS has two types of screen size and resolution- for iPhones and iPads, whereas Android has numerous types differing for each brand. While designing, it is essential to consider these different sizes and resolutions.
- Navigation: For iOS devices, the navigation bar is placed on the top and is centered. For Android, it is often aligned to the left.
- Back button: A prominent design difference between Android and iOS is the back button feature. Android devices have a back button, either touch or physical, while iOS devices don’t have this button. Hence iOS developers need to consider this aspect during every app design and ensure that at every screen, their design has a provision to return to the previous screen.
- Animations: iOS devices focus on animations that are soft, powerful, and compound, giving value to the aesthetics and user experience. Hence the quality of iOS animations is better than Android.
5. Market Share
Android and iOS together possess 99% of the global market share. Before choosing a platform for developing your app, it can be useful to assess the current market share.
According to recent statistics, Android dominates the market share, holding 74% as of December 2019. While considering the worldwide smartphone users, iOS holds 16% of the population, whereas Android is favored by more than 80% of the users.
Thus, while aiming for a worldwide audience, Android is the best choice.
6. Development Cost
The cost of iOS and Android app development varies depending on the application being built- its features and complexity. Some significant factors that influence the cost of development are:
- Development Time: The development time is directly proportional to development cost. It is higher for android OS due to the high number of devices and their differing screen sizes. iOS has a limited number of devices; hence the time spent on development is less.
- App complexity: Since android apps need to run on various devices and different versions, they are more complex than iOS apps.
- Testing requirements: Extensive testing is required for Android app development due to their varying device sizes and screen resolution. This calls for more time and resources, hence an increase in cost.
- Market demand: The demand for iOS apps is lower than that of Android; hence the iOS app development process is slightly more expensive.
- Launch requirements: The requirements for launching an app is different for both iOS and Android. Android apps have a one-time publishing fee of $25, whereas iOS apps require a payment of $100 per year.
App monetization- the scheme to get profit from running a mobile app- plays a major role in choosing the development platform. There are three ways to monetize your app:
- In-app purchases: While considering the number of purchases, Android apps lead with 22% against 17% for iOS. However, the average cost of a transaction is higher for iOS than Android.
- Paid applications: App store has more paid applications than play store. 11% of game apps in iOS are paid while it is only 7% for Android.
- Advertisements: iOS apps generally don’t entertain ads, whereas Android apps are often packed with ads. 63% of Android apps implement ads, whereas it is only 22% for iOS.
Overall, iOS apps have a higher return on investments than Android apps.
Making a choice between an Android app development company and an iOS app development company for developing your app is not easy as both platforms have their own unique characteristics. You can make a choice based on the budget, business idea, target audience, and marketing strategies. If you are not limited by a budget and are aiming your app for the premium segments, iOS is a better choice. However, if you are working within a budget constraint and are aiming for a worldwide audience, Android might be the right platform for your app.