Table of Contents
So, you've decided to build a custom mobile application and get stuck between Android and iOS app development. In this article, we’ll figure out the particular features of both mobile operating systems starting with market share, geography and target audience, moving on to development and design differences, monetization and launching in stores, finishing with security issues, time-to-market and development costs. Moreover, we’ll suggest what to consider while planning mobile app development for iOS and Android.
In the beginning, you should determine several things for your future project:
Custom mobile app development is often complex and time-consuming, but it can also be advantageous. While there are many nuances to remember, one of the significant challenges remains the choice of a mobile app platform.
Android and iOS are completely different platforms, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. They arise from platform-specific requirements and encapsulate Apple’s and Google’s vision, philosophy, and message they deliver to the target audience.
The initial differences are the following: Android was developed by Google in 2008. It has open-source code, which means it is shared publicly and can be used and modified by any user. iOS is the product of Apple, released in 2007. Though some parts of iOS are open source, licensed under the Apple Public Source License and others, Apple has tight control over it.
The distinctive features of iOS and Android app development can be nominally divided into two broad categories: technical and commercial. Nevertheless, technical and commercial differences remain intertwined and impact each other.
Technical differences include programming languages, development environment, app design requirements, app launching in stores, fragmentation, knowledge base for developers, etc.
Commercial differences include market share, development cost, revenue potential, time-to-market and other things.
Now, it's time to look closer at the platforms to answer the question: What are the pros and cons of Android development vs iOS?
Approximately 99% of all mobile apps run on either iOS or Android. In the third quarter of 2023, the market share for Android and iOS mobile operating systems amounted to 70.5% vs 28.8%, correspondingly.
Let’s take a look at the fresh statistics for mobile operating system market share:
The iOS platform is quite popular in the US, Australia, and Europe with its excellent visual performance and bug-free user experience.
Top-5 countries using iPhone in 2023 include:
Android dominates in Asia, Africa and South America, where Android devices comprise more than 80% of the market. It is widely used in Europe, too. The distinction here is diverse and remarkable: for example, in Denmark Android market share is 30.34% vs 69.33% for iOS, in Poland the proportion is 82.12% Android to 17.76% iOS, in Austria – 56.45% to 42.6%.
Top-5 countries with more significant Android popularity include:
iOS has a greater market share in North America, Australia and Europe, while Android is widely spread in Asian, African, South American and also European markets.
Considering Android and iOS app development, the target audience is one of the primary and significant factors to look into.
iOS target audience is middle-class and upper-class customers who value user experience and are willing to pay for a premium. Apple also targets professionals in creative fields, such as music, video, photography, and design, who rely on Adobe's Final Cut, Photoshop, and other editing software that works well with MacBooks and iPads.
Here are some more iOS audience facts:
In the US the iPhone is most popular among 16- to 24-year-olds, with most people in that age group preferring it to Android. About 75% of iPhone users are over 35.
While iOS has a loyal following among users who value Apple's brand and ecosystem, Android is more popular and accessible to people from all walks of life. Android is more prevalent among lower-income and middle-class users, especially in developing countries – 37% of Android users have a moderate income.
Let’s get acquainted with the Android audience: 70% are pretty young, on average 18-24 years old. 57% of Android users look for discounts when purchasing, showing a thoughtful approach to consumption. Those Android users who live in the US place greater importance on living an honest and respectable life than the average consumer.
Overall, Android users are more concerned about the costs and value accessibility of Android devices. The target audience for both platforms is quite young, with core differences coming from occupation and income fields.
The mobile apps market has shifted from paid apps to free apps with in-app purchases, such as subscription plans, unlockable content or features, and expendables (like coins in games). In 2022, subscription revenues increased to $17.1 billion, 77% of that revenue gained by iOS. Monetization remains one of the critical factors when it comes to Android vs iOS development.
The recent trends show that iOS users are more open to spending money on apps and making in-app purchases. Android users tend to enjoy free content. Nevertheless, in 2023 Play Market introduced a set of new tools and features to help businesses raise the monetization for Android apps. They include Google Play Pass, Featured Products, Price Experiments, User Choice Billing and others.
The other widely used monetization practice is in-app ads. It prevails both in the US and worldwide. Advertising generated the largest share of app market revenues in 2022, with almost $268 billion generated compared to $205 billion for in-app purchases. In 2023, app advertising remained the most popular monetization method, with 36% of global publishers using it.
iOS and Android users spent a combined $129 billion on apps in 2022, with iOS accounting for 67% of that spending. Games accounted for 63% of all app spending. Google Play contributed approximately 38% of the total ($37.3 billion).
Nowadays, monetization strategies for both platforms are almost the same, as both have paid and free apps in the stores. While iOS users are more financially secure, Android also has smartphones of middle and high-price segments with users willing to pay for apps. Android's audience is way more significant than iOS and looks promising, making it a good platform for long-term investment.
The difference between Android and iOS development lies in the very basics of the platforms: their programming languages.
Android works on Java and Kotlin programming languages. Java is a widely known and widespread language in the top 3 of GitHub language statistics in 2023. Kotlin emerged in 2011 and is fully compatible with Java. In 2019, it was announced as the preferable language for Android mobile app development.
Over 60% of developers use Kotlin for Android development because Kotlin is expressive and concise which means you can express more with less code. Also, it is 100% interoperable with Java. Furthermore, Kotlin code reduces Android app crash rates by 20%.
iOS runs on Objective-C or Swift. Objective-C is quite a complex language to learn. Swift was introduced as the new and simplified language for iOS development in 2014. It makes development less time-consuming and more manageable for new developers.
Swift is a modern programming language that builds on the strengths of C, C++, and Objective-C. It is fast, safe, and less prone to mistakes, with clear syntax and Objective-C and C++ interoperability. Swift is already supported on all Apple platforms and Linux, and the community is working hard to port it to even more.
Google and Apple have introduced less complex and easier-to-learn solutions to the original programming languages for Android and iOS. Both Swift and Kotlin have taken iOS and Android app development to the next level, offering simple yet effective solutions for the developers.
Platform guidelines ensure that third-party apps provide a consistent user experience, preventing users from learning a new interface for each app. Design differences between Android and iOS development are predefined by their design guidelines: Material Design for Android and Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) for iOS.
iOS app design must be straightforward, multi-layered, and bring the feeling of depth.
The navigation bar in Apple devices is usually placed in the center. The left action is usually a back button, either to the previous or parent screens. However, it can also link to a different destination. The page title is always present and starts large but shrinks as the user scrolls. The right page actions can be displayed as text or icons.
Widget support was previously unavailable but is now supported on iOS 14 or later. Because of the absolute control over screen sizes, the designer always knows how their products will look.
Color and motion are the leading Android design features coming from real-world inspiration. Here, the developers can widely use color, light, and motion.
The navigation bar is placed on the left of the screen, so the page title is left-aligned. A hamburger button can follow it if the page is a top-level page or a back button if the page follows another sequentially.
Android has fully adopted the widgets feature and uses them more broadly.
More comparative elements in Android and iOS design include:
Google Play has over twice as many apps as the Apple App Store, with 3.72 million apps compared to 1.8 million. Google Play releases about 2,200 new apps every day, while the App Store releases about 1,200 new apps per day. Google Play has more app categories, with 49 distinct categories, compared to the App Store's 26.
Due to strict product requirements, publishing iOS applications in the App Store takes more work. It takes time and can result in the rejection of the mobile app. According to Apple, their App Store rejected 1.7 million apps in 2022, mainly for privacy violations, spam, or being misleading.
Before the submission, the developer must thoroughly test the app, ensure the correctness of app data, and check whether the app complies with all the documentation requirements. Launching in stores is a crucial phase in the mobile app development process for iOS and Android, regarding the passing of all the regulations and the risk of rejection.
Apple reviews 90% of app submissions within 24 hours. Developers are notified of status changes by email. Review status can also be checked in the App Store Connect My Apps section or on the App Store Connect app for iPhone and iPad. Incomplete submissions may be delayed or rejected. One of the most common reasons for app rejection is performance issues.
Google Play can review the app from several hours to days. For certain developer accounts, Google may take up to seven days, or longer (in exceptional cases), to thoroughly review the app to help better protect users.
App Store submission guidelines are arranged into five sections: Safety, Performance, Business, Design, and Legal.
Google Play uses Developer Program Policy similar to App Store submission guidelines. The document determines restricted content, financial services, privacy, data use and storage, deception and device abuse, user-generated content and intellectual property regulations. The Developer Program Policy is very detailed and comprehensive.
In general, Apple’s guidelines are better structured, while Google gives more examples of common policy violations and pays particular attention to country-specific regulations. Nevertheless, guidelines for app development on Android and iOS are clear, specific and cover the main areas of both OS.
On iOS, Apple charges a 30% fee for apps and in-app purchases, except for free apps. Subscriptions are charged at 30% for the first year and 15% for subsequent years. Developers can apply for the App Store Small Business Program, which reduces the fee to 15% for businesses that make $1 million or less annually. If a business's income exceeds $1 million, the standard 30% rate applies for the rest of the year. However, businesses can re-qualify for the program the following year if their income drops below $1 million.
Play Store charges 30% for earnings over $1M (annually) and 15% for the first $1M revenue earned each year. The Store has a 15% yearly subscription fee, regardless of developer’s annual revenue and 15% or less for eligible developers who qualify through programs like the Play Media Experience Program.
App Store Optimization (ASO) is similar to search engine optimization but for applications placed in app stores. Apple and Google use different algorithms to rank apps, so you must use different strategies to maximize visibility and downloads.
App name is a critical ranking factor in both stores, so include relevant keywords in your app title. Both Android and iOS stores allow 30 characters per app name.
The subtitles and short description have different purposes in each Store, so tailor them accordingly. Google uses keyword density in the long description as a ranking factor, while Apple doesn't. Apple has 30-character subtitles, while Google allows short description up to 80 characters.
Visual elements like screenshots and videos are crucial for attracting clicks and downloads, but the two stores have different requirements. You can upload up to 10 images in the App Store, 3 of which will appear in search results. Play Store offers a maximum of 8 screenshots, and they will appear only on branded search terms.
The role of long description is quite different. While there is a 4000-character limit for both marketplaces, the App Store does not consider long description as a ranking factor.
What about videos? App Store allows 3 videos (Apple previews) created for 30-second autoplay (on mute), while Play Store offers the upload of 1 YouTube video regardless of its length. Apple forbids promotional content in videos. For Google it is OK to use promotions in videos as long as monetization is off.
Google Play's algorithm also considers backlinks to gauge an app's authority, which Apple doesn't.
Overall, Android and iOS apps can be published in an hour or a week, depending on the apps’ complexity, the number of apps submitted simultaneously, and the volume of additional work the application needs.
While the App Store is generally considered a safer source of apps than the Play Store, let’s get into the details and see how accurate this statement is.
Android’s security vulnerabilities mostly come from open-source code and non-universal OS support. Google is constantly working to improve Android’s security, releasing security patches and using additional programs, like Google Play Protect.
Most users can secure their Android phones by keeping them up to date and avoiding apps from unknown or dubious sources. For businesses, newer Android devices support Google's Android for Work, which protects workplace apps and data. Recent Samsung Android devices also support Samsung's Knox security technology.
iOS is tightly controlled by Apple, including the apps available in the App Store. This control gives Apple devices good security "out of the box," but it also has some user restrictions.
For example, only one copy of an app can be installed on each iOS device. Additionally, Apple's smaller platform means that even older iPhones can often run the latest OS and apps, benefiting from new security fixes.
Another factor that contributes to the App Store's reputation for security is Apple's sandbox environment, meaning they are isolated from other apps and the iOS operating system.
Is iOS more secure than Android? Statistically, yes, iOS devices are less prone to viruses and data breaches. However, iOS is not invulnerable to malware attacks. If Apple misses any vulnerabilities or chooses undesirable security approaches, users have little to no control over this.
Regarding iOS vs Android security, each system has its own security vulnerabilities, coming exactly from their particular characteristics. Android devices are generally more vulnerable, while iOS devices have more severe vulnerabilities.
Time-to-market (TTM) is the time it takes to bring a product from idea to launch. TTM is another criterion to consider when comparing Android vs iOS app development.
iOS has a limited range of devices and a universal ecosystem, which helps to develop and maintain mobile apps faster. Nevertheless, iOS apps seem more complicated to publish in the App Store.
Android is supported on many devices (also named device fragmentation), making it harder to adapt the software to different screen sizes. More devices also mean more time for testing; therefore, only popular and new models are subjected to thorough quality assurance. At the same time, Android apps are easier to add to Google Play.
Overall, there are several factors contributing to TTM.
If you have any questions about choosing the right platform or time-to-market evaluation, feel free to contact us. We can prepare estimates and navigate you through the mobile app development process to implement your idea in the best possible way.
Mobile app development for iOS and Android is a multi-step process that requires careful planning and a manageable schedule based on prior experience. Globally speaking, the cost of developing a mobile app can range from $10,000 to $150,000, with complex custom apps costing upwards of $500,000.
According to multiple pieces of research conducted by established app development companies in 2022, the cost of developing iOS and Android apps is virtually identical. On average, an Android developer earns $122,529 in the US annually, whereas an iOS developer gets $125,946 a year. It means that for iOS development, labor costs will be slightly higher than for Android.
The main factor that determines the cost of app development is its complexity. The other factors include features and functionalities, design, size and location of development team, third-party integrations, number of screens etc. Some additional costs for Android and iOS app development may include quality assurance, support services, infrastructure costs (such as data storage), app publishing, etc.
Licensing costs for developers are also differing. For Android, to place your app in Play Store, you should only pay a registration fee of $25 once, while the Apple marketplace demands $99 yearly. Moreover, the Apple Developer Enterprise Program costs $299 a year.
Overall, when it comes to mobile app development costs, it is not much about the platform but about careful planning and desired features. Many factors influence final expenses, including app complexity, type, development team seniority, location, and others.
Which is better: iOS development or Android development? The choice depends on your target audience, budget and time available, design requirements, monetization strategy and so much more.
To determine whether to choose iOS or Android for your app, you should ask yourself:
Then, consider the main advantages and disadvantages of iOS and Android mobile app development.
Android's significant advantages are open-source code, which enables great flexibility in development, easy app submission to app stores, and huge market share. Disadvantages include also open-source code due to security issues, weaker monetization, and complicated maintenance due to device fragmentation.
iOS is outstanding in terms of security, monetization opportunities, and simplicity of development. Nevertheless, iOS apps are more challenging to add to the app store as Apple has strict security requirements and a thorough checking process. iOS has much less market share with a more peculiar target audience.
Ultimately, the best mobile platform for you depends on your individual needs and preferences.
Regarding iOS vs Android development, sometimes it takes an effort to choose a suitable OS, even with all these facts and figures in mind. Both Android and iOS offer distinctive features, smooth design, and unique user experience, as well as prospects for your business growth. Both have disadvantages and limitations. The good news is that you can always count on a helping hand!
If you still need help deciding what OS you need and where to start when implementing your idea, do not hesitate to contact our specialists. Please share your thoughts and get the answers to all your questions from our business analysts. Intro calls are free. NEKLO is always here to help!