Android vs iOS: Which Mobile Platform is Suitable?

When it comes to developing an app, how do you choose between Android and iOS? On the face of it, with Google’s Android holding around 88% of the market share as per Statista data from the second quarter of 2018, it might seem like the better choice, but can you ignore the high monetization prospects that Apple’s iOS platform offers? Of course, the simple solution would be to develop for both platforms simultaneously, but not every company has a budget for that.

Therefore, which platform should you choose for your app development? It’s a common question many of our clients ask us when they approach us for developing an app. The fact is that both platforms have their fair share of pros and cons and being aware of these makes it easier to decide which one is better suited to your requirements. In this article, we outline the key differences between Android vs iOS to help you get a clear idea about which one to choose.

Android vs iOS – Market Data

Market share of units sold:

In terms of market share, Android has been the leading platform worldwide since 2016. In 2018, 217.72 million iOS smart phones were sold by Apple. In comparison, as per Gartner statistics, Android sold 1.3 billion units in 2017.

Market share of apps:

Google Play Store had 2.6 million apps available for download as per Statista figures of December 2018, whereas the Apple App Store held the second position with around 2 million apps.

App Downloads:

In 2018, as per App Annie the total number of downloads on the iOS and Google Play stores were 28.4 billion. Google Play downloads accounted for over 20 billion downloads during this period.

Average App Revenues:

When it comes to app revenue, the difference between Android and iOS is the larger reach of the former versus the more lucrative earnings from the latter. In 2017, Apple’s iOS apps generated $40 billion, whereas Android apps earned $21 billion through Google Play Store and $20 billion from third party stores (source 9to5Mac).

As per data published by Marketing Charts.com in 2018, although the average mobile app revenue on iOS and Android differed slightly depending on the type of app, iOS apps earned more per user across app categories. For gaming apps, the average mobile app revenue per user was $1.99 for iOS vs $1.56 for Android. When it came to shopping apps, iOS earned $19.64 per user compared to $11.49 by Android, and for travel apps, iOS was a clear winner with $32.29 per user versus $20.47 for Android.

iOS vs Android – Technical aspects

Development complexity:

App development for iOS is less complex compared to Android, mainly because Apple has a fewer number of devices – iPhone, iPad and iPod. One of the main issues with Android app development is that of fragmentation as there are many types of devices, smartphones and tablets, besides differences in screen sizes, aspect ratios and operating systems.

Development Time:

The complexity involved in Android app development makes the process more time-consuming than that of an iOS app. On an average, Android app development is 30-40 per cent slower than iOS.

Development Cost:

The difference in cost is not easy to estimate since one needs to consider not only the time that is taken to develop the app but also the hardware used for the process. While Android apps might have a higher cost due to the longer development time, the Android Studio application that is used for app development can be installed on a standard PC. iOS apps are developed using Xcode, which works only on the Mac. Therefore, the investment in buying a Mac as well as an iPhone or iPad can significantly add to the cost of development.

Programming languages used:

Both platforms require completely different skill sets in terms of the programming languages used. iOS apps require Objective C or Swift for Native development, whereas Android uses Java and Kotlin. For companies looking at developing for both platforms, this means incurring additional costs towards hiring specialists in these languages.

Publishing process:

Although iOS apps are quicker to design, Apple has a lengthy and strict approval process before an app can be published to the store. Android apps can be uploaded relatively easily on the Google Play Store by paying a one-time fee of $25. Updates and modifications to the app store take longer on iOS as every change needs to go through the long and stringent approval process. On Android, once published, the app is available on the store within a few hours, and one can perform beta testing or update the app easily and quickly.

Android vs iOS – Difference and Comparison

 

Android iOS
Source Open source Closed, with open source components
Initial Release September 23, 2008 July 29, 2007
Customizability Easy to customize. It’s possible to change almost anything. Limited customizability, unless it is jailbroken
Developer Google, Open Handset Alliance Apple Inc.
Available Languages 100+ Languages 34 Languages
Call Messaging Primary: Google Hangouts.
Third party apps such as Google Duo, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Skype work on both Android and iOS.
Primary: iMessage, FaceTime (can be used only with other Apple devices).
Third party apps such as Google Duo, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Skype work on both Android and iOS.
Voice Commands Google Now, Google Assistant Siri
Latest Update Android Pie iOS 12
Security Android software patches are available earliest to Nexus users. Other manufacturers tend to lag in pushing out updates. As a result, most Android devices don’t run on updated or fully-patched software at any given point in time. Most users don’t encounter a problem with malware because they don’t go outside the App Store for buying apps. Apple’s software updates are also available for older iOS devices.
User Experience While Android devices are not on par with Apple devices in terms of enhanced user experience, it is ahead on certain aspects such as AR and VR. Apple wins in terms of ease of use and design. However, it has been slow in AR.
Speed Android leads in terms of faster mean download speed. iOS devices are much faster than Android ones.

Pros and Cons – Android vs iOS

 

Android iOS
App Ecosystem There are a huge number of android phones available in the market from companies like SAMSUNG, HTC, MICROMAX and many more. This offers the users more choice in terms of devices. Apple has a distinct advantage for tablet apps, whereas on smartphones popular apps are usually available for both platforms.
Social Media Integration Posting updates and sharing on social networks is not as easy on Android as it is on iOS. It is easy to post updates and share on social networks using iOS.
Data Privacy & Security Data Privacy and security is an issue on Android devices as the controls on app access to user’s data is not as strict as on iOS. Undeniably, iOS is the most secure platform and the one that best protects user privacy. It offers better control over the access apps have to users’ private information such as contacts and location.
Customization Since it is based on the Linux kernel, which works on open source, you can get millions of free apps on Android. It is easy to customize. One can even access the boot loader. The greater number of apps increases the choices for users, and this is one of the top draws of Android. Customization is difficult on iOS. It is not easy to make changes compared to Android.
Chance of Malware Android phones allow installation of third-party apps which can harm data and increase chances of malware. The Apple OS decreases the chances of malware.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Which operating system is superior – iOS vs Android?

Both operating systems come with their pros and cons. While Android is easy to customize because it works on Open Source, it comes with the risk of low security and privacy and security controls. iOS development is less prone to the risk of malware and has tighter privacy and security controls. However, customization is limited on the iOS platform.

Is it easier to develop an app for iOS or Android?

In terms of development time, iOS apps take less time as it’s easier to develop code for them using Swift, Apple’s official programming language. Android apps need code to be written using Java, which is more time consuming.

However, an often-overlooked factor in the development process is publishing the app on the store. Apple’s strict controls mean that a longer time is spent waiting for the app to be approved, whereas Android apps can be uploaded quite easily on Google Play Store after a one-time payment.

Which is cheaper – Android vs iOS app development?

The app development cost depends on several factors, including the time, resources and hardware used in the process. While iOS apps take less time to develop, they require a significant investment in hardware as the development and testing can be done only on the Mac, iPhone or iPad, which are more expensive than the regular PC as well as the more affordable range of Android phones.

Conclusion

In the end, choosing the right platform depends on a variety of factors such as time to market, budget and the scope of the app. Should you opt for Android app development that gives you access to a wider audience but at a lower average revenue per user or and iOS app that has greater prospects for earning revenue? Will iOS app development give you the advantage of a reduced time to market compared to an Android app? While the details in this article will help to answer these questions, there’s no definite response as to which one is better.

At TechAhead, we have experience in developing hundreds of apps for both iOS and Android. We help our clients to make the right decision between Android vs iOS after evaluating their needs, the scope of the app as well as the budget available for the app development.

What should I choose – Android vs iOS?

  • If you want the app to reach a wider audience – Android
  • If you want a higher revenue per user – iOS
  • If you have regular PCs and don’t want to incur additional investment in hardware – Android
  • If you already have iOS hardware (Mac, iPhone, iPad) – iOS
  • If you prefer a less complex development process – iOS
  • If you prefer a smaller wait time to get the app to the Store – Android
  • If you like to customize the app – Android
  • If you want to reduce the risk of malware – iOS
  • If privacy and security of user data is a priority – iOS
  • If you want an app with a better user experience – iOS
  • If you want better integration with social media – iOS

Click here if you want help to develop your iOS or Android mobile app.

Shanal Aggarwal

By Shanal Aggarwal- As Vice President for Global Business Development and Alliances, Shanal takes care of TechAhead business growth through new client acquisition and management of ongoing client relationships. Shanal has helped TechAhead to set new benchmarks in service quality by always keeping customers' best interests in mind and providing extraordinary customer service. With his extensive experience in enabling mobile strategies for startups and enterprises across industries, he exceeds customer expectations by determining unique ways to transform their app ideas from good to extraordinary.