iPhone vs. Android Mobile App Development: Which is Superior?

by | Mar 29, 2016 | Apps, Mobile

If you’ve ever eagerly awaited a popular mobile app release, you may have noticed that most of the best apps come out on iOS before Android. There are still more Android users in the world than iPhone users, and more Google Play downloads than App Store ones; so why is this the case?

The starkest business difference is the fact that iOS users are more profitable to developers and their clients than Android users. Simply put, Apple’s customers are willing to spend more on app purchases. Also, Android’s market share is more robust than Apple’s is in lower-economy countries. Further contributing, then, is the sentiment that there will be less money made on development for Android than on iOS.

Developers, from a business standpoint, may react by offering a free version, or perhaps a lower-priced version, on Android, which explains bigger downloads on Google Play but less money earned. And with Apple continuing to make strides in China, the revenue gap between Android and iOS purchases is increasing further while iPhone sales rise.

What do Developers Prefer?

What do the pros prefer to develop on? It really all depends on the criterion. If you talk to your average developer, he or she will probably say that Apple has made it easier than Android has, overall, for developers to create mobile apps.

One of the primary reasons for this is that developing for Android tends to be a more fragmented development experience than that within the iOS space. Developers tend to have to create versions of their apps for platforms that are years old on Android, since it takes so long to get new software out to all of the devices.

Many people are still using Android’s KitKat, which was released a couple of years ago. Jellybean and Lollipop, the next two most popular versions, are considered rather outdated. Jellybean came out a few years ago, and is still a very popular, well-used version of Android software. This Christmas season, they’ll try to push Marshmallow, which will probably take some time to catch on as well.

These few details in themselves do not necessarily equate to the fact that iOS is “better” for development than Android, but mobile apps will probably continue to come out first on iOS. And while developers will definitely have to create apps for both platforms, they will likely prefer to develop via iOS for some the above reasons.

A Survey of Development Projects

A recent observation over six of development firm Infinium’s recent projects found that Android apps took an average of 30 percent longer to code than their iOS counterparts. While Infinium freely admits that more code is generally a good thing, the project study does attest to a bigger time commitment for the development team, resulting in more billable hours for the client. For the developer? More billable hours are no problem. The company that’s paying for it probably doesn’t feel the same!

The hours are longer because there’s just simply more code with Android. In fact, applications for Android are written in Java, which is a much more verbose language than Objective-C or Swift. More code can also result in more potential bugs (and then, the needed fixes that come along with it). Ease of upgrade is also better on iOS, in regards to billable hours.

Further Considerations – for Developers and their Clients

Here are a few more considerations for developers and their clients:

  • Android “emulators” (or desktop application-based testing programs) are slower than iOS emulators. This could slow down overall app development.
  • With Android, testing is going to tend to take longer, because there are more devices to test against. There are also more potential vendor-specific bugs with Android.
  • Most developers will say that Java is way easier to learn than Apple’s Objective-C. However, the newer Swift seems to be easier to learn for many; up there, for some, along with Java.
  • Apple has it way easier in terms of simulators, too. With such a small set of models, they have just one simulator to invoke for the appropriate model. With Android, you have to pick the operating system versions, screen size, and then have one created for you. You may have to even install an Intel hardware emulator when working with Android.

Is One Better Than the Other?

There’s no definitive verdict, just as there are some users who prefer Android phones over iPhones. Try to narrow down what your goals are if you’re trying to make this determination.

For Clients: Ask your developer if you need to have your app on both platforms. Is it possible to function without your app on one of the platforms? If you place your app on both, will you market them differently? What’s your overall mobile app development budget – and how will Android development vs. iPhone development affect the billable hours of the project? Is your development professional proficient in one over the other? How will that affect the overall project?

For Developers: What does your client need? Are you proficient on both? Who are you marketing to? How much time do you have, and how much money do you need to make? Would there be a specific, business or non-business reason why you would prefer one over the other, or do you create what your client needs, regardless?

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