There are some decisions to be made now that you’ve finally decided it’s time to build a mobile app.
One of these decisions is deciding which operating system to launch on.
You must select either the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.
It’s not an easy decision.
To begin with, Android and iOS app users behave differently.
As a result, if you launch on the wrong platform, you may miss out on your primary target audience.
If only there was a solution that didn’t force you to make a decision.
There is, in fact, a spoiler.
But more on that later.
For the time being, we’ll assume you’re developing a native app.
In this case, you must choose between Apple and Android. However, app development for iOS and Android are very different.
This is why.
The native app code does not work on both platforms.
If you want your app to be available in both stores, you’ll need to create two separate ones from scratch to meet the requirements of each operating system.
It’s a time-consuming and costly process.
Believe me, I’ve been there.
However, knowledge comes with experience.
I’m here to share my knowledge with you so you can make an educated decision before diving headfirst into the wrong operating system.
I’ll even show you how to launch on both platforms at the same time.
Here’s what you should know.
First, I’ll go over all of the factors you should think about before deciding between iOS and Android apps.
Sets of features
The features are associated with the fundamental functions of your app.
What is the exact purpose of your app?
The answer to this question will be determined by the code written for development.
iOS App Development by Apple
Apple is confined to a single ecosystem.
A closed ecosystem means that Apple controls who can use their platform.
All of the content is limited to specific iOS devices supported by that ecosystem.
This means that iOS developers must make use of Apple’s features, which are numerous.
The benefit of developing your app on a closed ecosystem such as Apple’s is that you have more control and stability.
However, there will be additional constraints for the developer.
Purchasing a device that operates on a closed ecosystem will result in a higher price point for the user.
As a result, Apple devices are generally more expensive than Android devices.
This gives you more information about the user, but we’ll go over that in more detail later.
Development of Android Apps
Android is a free and open source operating system. This simplifies the development of Android apps for developers.
This allows for a plethora of customizations as well as a plethora of functionality.
Open source platforms are inherently less secure.
As a result, mobile network operators may occasionally block updates.
To encourage developer innovation, Android has an open platform.
You can obtain the source code for Android for free and port it to the hardware of your app.
Because there are fewer restrictions, you won’t have to jump through as many hoops to develop your app for the Android system.
How to make money
Isn’t it true that the goal of every mobile application is to make money?
If that isn’t your primary goal, you should reconsider your decision to create an app in the first place.
So, how do you intend to earn money?
Here are a few examples of popular business models.
- In-app purchases Subscriptions
- You can pay per download.
The strategy (or strategies) you choose to implement will have an impact on whether you develop for Apple or Android.
If you intend to charge users to download your app, you should first develop on Apple’s platform.
Examine the distribution of free vs. paid apps on Apple and Android.
As the graph shows, there is a significant difference between the two platforms.
So, if you’re going to charge for downloads, the Apple App Store is where you should do it.
This is because those users are accustomed to seeing more paid apps and fewer free apps when looking for something to download.
Android users, on the other hand, do not see as many apps that require payment to download.
So, if they see yours, they’ll probably think about finding another one that has similar functions and is free.
Just keep in mind that charging Apple users to download your app will be an expensive strategy.
You’ll have a much higher cost of customer acquisition than if you offered it for free.
But, keep in mind, you’ll make more money all at once.
Your users will also be more engaged.
If they’re willing to pay for it, it’s likely they won’t abandon it.
If you want to make money from advertisements and in-app purchases, you should start with Android.
Just don’t expect to spend a lot of money on in-app purchases.
You’ll get less money per purchase, but it’ll be spread out over a much larger number of people.
Android users have the lion’s share of the market.
When we talk about the different types of people who use your app in a little bit, I’ll show you some more specific numbers.
The benefit of making your app available for free on the Android platform is that you will receive more downloads.
However, because they are not investing anything in the download, your users may be less engaged.
So the key to this strategy is to devise a method of collecting money from those who use the app the most.
To improve their experience, you can charge for app upgrades and premium services.
Cycles of release
Here’s something that developers don’t always consider right away when deciding which platform is best for their company.
You must consider the software version that your users are using on their respective platforms.
Naturally, your app must be written in code that is compatible with the most recent software versions.
However, there is a significant difference between Apple and Android devices in this regard.
The vast majority of Apple users are using the most recent version of their device.
In fact, 95% of Apple users use one of the two most recent operating systems on their devices.
This simplifies programming and development because you can estimate what your app will be able to do.
You’ll just have to be ready to release more updates to improve the user experience based on the software they’re using.
However, you won’t have to worry about software from a few years ago for the most part.
Android users are not all using the most recent operating system.
Because these users are dispersed, you may have to develop for older, out-of-date versions.
The most recent Android software versions are Oreo and Nougat.
These systems are used by less than 20% of all users.
Because you must accommodate such a wide range of versions, your development process becomes more complicated.
Usage of tablets
People immediately think of cell phones when they consider developing mobile applications.
However, tablets must also be considered.
Take a look at the current state of tablet ownership.
In the United States, we saw a 42 percent increase in tablet ownership over a five-year period.
This figure is steadily increasing.
As a result, when developing your app, keep tablets in mind.
Most people prefer to use iPads because they are easy to use.
These tablets are stylish and simple to use.
They are a popular choice among both young children and older generations.
Apple tablet users will watch movies, play games, or engage in other enjoyable activities.
People who own Android tablets, on the other hand, are more technically savvy.
They may be working on a project with one of these devices or own one because it is required for their job.
Overall, Apple tablets appear to outperform Android tablets.
Some people may even have an Android phone but use an iPad tablet.
However, iPhone users are far more devoted to Apple’s tablets and other products.
An iPhone user with an Android tablet is far less likely to be seen than an Android smartphone user with an iPad.
Remember when Blackberry used to dominate the workplace market?
It seemed like everyone wearing a suit and holding a briefcase had a Blackberry in their hand as well.
But those days are over.
Apple devices are known to be more secure.
We discussed this earlier when we talked about their closed ecosystem.
That’s why you’ll see major corporations like IBM partnering with Apple for their corporate devices.
But with increased security comes fewer features.
Since Android is open source, it’s less secure.
But with that said, there are way more devices and even more features.
Apple users have to get an iPhone or iPad to access your mobile app.
While there may be different versions of those devices, you can’t compare that to the number of devices that operate on the Android platform.
That’s probably another reason why Android dominates the global market share.
Why there are two platforms
To avoid any confusion, let’s start with the basics.
Apple devices run on iOS software and Google devices run on Android’s operating system.
On a global scale, Android dominates the market share.
But in the United States, it’s closer to an even split.
Apple users access the mobile store through their iPhones and iPads.
While Android users have more options with phones like the Google Pixel, HTC, Samsung Galaxy, as well as more phones and various tablets.
The variety of devices may explain why Android has more users across the world.
But that doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for your development and launch strategy.
It all comes down to the primary function of your app and your company’s target market.
Mobile apps are a business.
This statement holds true whether you’re building a new app from scratch or launching one to improve your existing company.
But running a business, or in this case, a mobile app, means you’ve got to have a marketing strategy.
It’s much easier for those of you who already have a business with an existing customer base.
Look to those customers to tell you which operating system they prefer.
If you’ve never built an app before I know what you may be thinking.
Why can’t I just develop both?
Well, in theory, you can. But it’s going to cost you a lot of money.
If you’ve got a minimum of a few hundred thousand dollars to spare and up to a year of time to invest, you can probably build two native apps at the same time.
But for everyone else out there you’ll have to choose between Apple, Android, or the third (and probably most reasonable) option.
When to develop for Apple first
You’ve got to find some common connections between your customers and the behavior of Apple users.
So do some research.
For example, men spend more money on Apple products than women.
The graph shows that there is a significant difference between the two genders in this category.
Does that mean you should develop your app for Apple first if your company’s primary target market is men?
I included this graphic for a reason because it’s a perfect example of misleading information.
While the research may be interesting, it doesn’t necessarily translate to your marketing strategy.
I do lots of consulting with companies and see this mistake all the time.
Someone on their marketing team comes across something like this and starts making assumptions.
Don’t jump to conclusions.
This research just says that men spend more on Apple products. It doesn’t say that more men have Apple devices than women.
In reality, it’s the opposite.
There’s a greater chance of a woman having an iPhone than a man.
But 5% isn’t enough of a significant difference to develop your marketing strategy around.
Plus, this doesn’t account for tablets.
You need to dig deeper.
What about annual income?
On average, users who have an Apple device make 40% more each year than Android users.
So if you’ve got a company that targets a wealthier demographic, the iOS platform may be a better place for you to start.
In addition to their economic status, Apple users also:
- Have more engagement
- Spend more money per app
- Have higher educational degrees
These are some valuable pieces of information that you can use to your advantage when making this decision.
Here’s something else to consider.
95% of Apple mobile users are running their devices on iOS 10 or iOS 11, which are the two latest software versions.
You want to make sure that your app is running smoothly and fully optimized at all times.
So iOS development isn’t a bad idea for your company if you have the ability to make constant updates for your app in order to keep up with Apple’s latest software requirements.
When else is the best to develop your app for Apple first?
If you have lots of time and money.
Despite everything else we’ve just covered about iOS users and how their behavior is related to your company, that’s the reality of the situation.
Developing an app for Apple is expensive.
It’s also going to take a really long time complete the process.
Once it’s built and your app finally launches, it will continue to cost you lots of money.
Regular maintenance isn’t cheap either.
Plus you’ll need to pay for third party subscriptions, server space, and other hidden expenses associated with development and maintenance.
Large corporations can afford this, but these costs aren’t reasonable for the average person.
When to develop for Android first
As we just discussed, there are definitely some circumstances where it makes sense to develop on the iOS platform first.
Well, the same holds true for Android.
While statistically speaking, Apple users may have more money and higher education, Android users just completely dominate global web traffic from mobile devices.
So the chances are higher that you can find your target market somewhere within this group.
But saying that you can’t go wrong by developing on Android first would be an overstatement.
As I said earlier, the split between Android and Apple is closer to 50/50 in the United States.
So if you have an American business and you’re building an app to enhance the customer experience, Android won’t always be the clear winner.
But here’s a scenario when it will be.
Do you plan on using push notifications to keep users engaged?
It’s a great strategy to drive sales and increase ROI.
3.48% of Android users open push notifications, while only 1.77% of push notifications get opened on Apple devices.
Android users are also more likely to opt-in to receive additional notifications.
So if this is part of your marketing strategy when it comes to targeting users after they’ve already downloaded the app, I’d lean towards starting with Android.
Here’s something else to consider when it comes to your marketing strategy.
Before you can entice users with push notifications, you’ll need to get them to download your app in the first place.
What’s your budget for cost per install (CPI)?
Well, the average CPI for Android is nearly half the cost of iOS apps.
So not only will you have a larger audience to reach, but it’s cheaper to get those people to download your app as well.
But those downloads won’t necessarily translate to money, depending on your business.
Android users are less likely to make an in-app purchase than Apple users.
So that’s not good news for ecommerce apps or for those of you who plan to offer paid apps.
However, if you have a great strategy set in place for mobile ads, developing on Android first could benefit you.
That’s the leading source of revenue for the Android platform.
Due to the points that we just talked about, it’s more expensive for you to develop a long term customer relationship on Android.
But even though that cost is higher, you have a better chance of getting more long term customers, simply because there are so much more Android users out there.
Remember earlier when we talked about how Apple users stay up to date on their operating software?
Well, here’s how Google stacks up.
Less than 20% of Android devices are running on Nougat and Oreo, which are the two latest operating systems that were released.
You will obviously still need to make changes and improvements to your app after it launches.
But you won’t need to do this in order to keep up with new regulations based on the most recent Android operating system.
You’ll just need to make sure that your app is compatible with older versions of the Android software as well.
It’s also easier for your app to get approved on the Google Play Store.
Basically, it’s a quick process that just makes sure you’re not violating any of the policies.
The approval process is automated and mainly focuses on violations such as spyware, malware, copyright infringement, and sexual content.
It’s a much more lenient approval compared to the iOS App Store.
Similar to Apple, if you’re going to develop on Android first, you need lots of time and money.
Actually, you’ll need even more money.
The Android development process costs 30% more than Apple.
It takes a long time too.
So if you’re in a financial position where you can afford to tie up the majority of your funds in development for the next year, go ahead.
But this isn’t realistic for all startups and small businesses.
There’s a third way: hybrid app
If you don’t want to go through the trouble of having to choose between Apple or Android development, building a hybrid app is the solution.
Hybrid development allows you to develop on both operating systems at the same time.
One of the best parts of a hybrid app is that it doesn’t require any complicated coding skills.
Anyone can do it.
Since you can build these without code, it’s not necessary to hire an app developer.
This cuts down on costs tremendously.
It also significantly speeds up the process.
You won’t need to wait a year to launch your app like you would through native development.
It’s all about finding the right platform to customize your hybrid app on the web.
I know that I’m a little biased, but I highly recommend BuildFire’s system.
Look at how affordable the pricing options are.
Now compare these numbers to the quotes you got from various app developer agencies.
There’s really no comparison.
What you pay for a month using BuildFire would barely cover an hour of work from a developer.
Cross platform apps are ideal for people who don’t want to choose between iOS and Android.
You can launch your app on both operating systems simultaneously without having to build two separate apps.
It’s also the best option for people who can’t reasonably afford native development costs and want their app available for users to download as fast as possible.
Final Thoughts on Android and iOS Development
So, which is the best operating system to build on first?
There are certain scenarios that favor Apple, like if you’re targeting an American audience with higher education and a substantial annual income.
But there are circumstances where Android development makes more sense too.
Like if your target market is global and you’re planning to drive sales through ads instead of in-app purchases.
Both of these platforms have one thing in common. Mobile app development isn’t always easy.
It’s going to take a long time to develop your app, and it’s going to cost a ton of money.
Not everyone has unlimited time and funds.
That’s why hybrid apps are the solution.
Services like BuildFire can help you build your app without worrying about the operating system.
It’s less expensive, faster to build, and easier to maintain.
This will help you focus on the user experience and get more customers on both the iOS and Android platforms.
Will you develop on Apple, Android, or decide to build both simultaneously with hybrid development?