Developing a new native app for both Android and iOS at the same time could be expensive. So indie app developers often opt for releasing their app on one platform first and then working on the other platform version later. This article discusses the pros and cons of developing your new app on Android vs iOS.
Naturally, you would like to have your native app on both Android and iOS platforms. But what if you have a small budget? Or what if you’re not yet an expert on either platform? Maybe you’re a web or desktop developer and you came up with a mobile app idea and want to learn app development by implementing your idea by yourself. In any case, you may be considering which platform to invest the time and effort and money into for the best returns. While Android is free, iOS users often pay more for apps. The pros and cons discussed here can help you decide which platform you want to choose for your new mobile app.
Android Is Crowded. But It’s Free!
You will need to pay a one-time fee of $25 to get an Android developer account on Google Play. That’s all! You pay nothing else. It is completely free to install and use the tools for Android development. You don’t need any specialized hardware either. For new mobile app developers, free or cheap is very important and this is one big reason why Android currently rules as the king platform for mobile apps (both in terms of market share and usage statistics).
Another strong point in favor of Android is that it is based on the Java programming language. Java is an old, stable and very popular language that several new and seasoned developers already know. This means that the learning curve of Android for many desktop and web developers who are venturing into mobile, is not too steep.
While the Android platform has Java, free, open-source, and popularity going for it, its popularity is actually a double-edged sword. Android is crowded! If you plan on hiring developers for your new app, you will not have difficulty finding reasonably talented Android developers. However, you may have a lot of issues with competition. The Google Play store is heavily saturated with competing apps in any app category you can think of. Even if your idea is totally new and highly innovative, it is still difficult to rise above the noise and stand out without quite a bit of marketing and promotion.
Related Reading: 10 Tips For Marketing Mobile Apps On The Cheap
Do a careful search of the Google Play store for apps similar to the one you’re planning to build before you bite the bullet. If you don’t have a reasonable time/effort/money budget to spend on marketing, you may do better choosing iOS development instead.
iOS Is Slightly Less Competitive. But It’s Expensive!
The iOS platform is less competitive. It is still very competitive and crowded. Just not as much as Android is. Apple’s standards for its App Store are higher than Google’s standards for the Google Play store. For this reason, iOS apps have been known to have higher quality than Android apps.
Higher quality in this case, is a double-edged sword. It costs much more money for a developer to get started on iOS than Android. And you also have to pay recurring fees to maintain your developer account. You even need to have an Apple computer before you can dream of being productive as an iOS developer. You cannot build and upload apps to the App Store with a non-Apple computer. True, there are some black hat methods of bypassing this restriction but they’re illegal and your developer account could be banned if you get caught.
If your iOS app does take off however, you can probably make more money from it than if it was an Android app. Statistics show that iOS users generally spend more on apps. This might be because there are more paid apps in the Apple App Store whereas Google Play has more free apps with In-App purchases. It may also be because iOS users are generally richer than Android users. The model of “free app with in-app purchases” is not exactly a problem either. You can even make more money using this model. Clash of clans was successful based on this model.
Making Your Choice
I have a personal bias that makes me lean in favor of Android. This is probably because of my development experience with both platforms. Or it may just be because I don’t like locked ecosystems like the Apple ecosystem. Free and open-source rules!
Personal biases aside however, both iOS and Android remain very strong competitors on the mobile landscape and you should carefully evaluate the pros and cons listed here when making your choice.
If you don’t have a lot of startup money, you may want to go with Android. You will still need some money for marketing and promotion but this is true for both platforms anyway. Android at least is cheaper from a pure development perspective.
If startup money isn’t a problem for you, iOS is generally considered a more premium option for a new app. If the consensus about iOS apps holds true, you could potentially start seeing a return on your investment on an iOS app faster than you would an Android.
The Best Option
The best option of course, for a successful app, is to port it to both Android and iOS platforms (and maybe even Windows Phone). You may also want to consider cross-platform development. There are a number of tools these days that allow you to build once and deploy everywhere. Xamarin and Apache Cordova (PhoneGap) quickly come to mind. Just make sure you explore the pros and cons of cross-platform development as well before you go that route.
Every app developer wants to build that ground-breaking and successful app, but you should start wisely by carefully choosing the platform that best fits your development and advertising budgets.