One of the ongoing questions in the app development world is whether it’s better to develop an app for Android or iOS. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so it’s wise to carefully consider your specific situation.
Many choose Android because it’s highly accessible to markets all around the world, more cost-effective in terms of development, and can be easier to use, especially for less tech-savvy users. On the other hand, iOS apps can be more sophisticated, can lead to higher profit margins, and are more popular among young users. So, how do you choose which to target? Or should you develop for both platforms?
Android vs iOS: Development
There are some differences between the two platforms in terms of the actual development process. For Apple devices, your app will be created using the Xcode integrated development environment (IDE) from the iOS software development kit (SDK). Xcode can support a variety of programming languages, but many choose Swift because the language is specifically geared towards iOS devices, helping reduce errors and shortening the amount of time needed for development. So, because of Xcode, the development process may be easier for iOS.
Android, in comparison, requires an IDE in Android Studio. In this case, Java is used to code with the Android SDK. Many developers say Android Studio is a little clunkier compared to XCode, but the development process for Android is improving. In many ways, developing for iOS and Android are very similar, so it may come down to mostly whether your developer prefers to work with Swift or Java.
Android vs iOS: Design
Choosing which platform to design for can be challenging as there are clearly defined parameters for iOS user interfaces that don’t work for Android and vice versa. Still, there are some similarities between the two in their design guidelines, as both have moved towards flatter designs and away from drop shadows.
Android design parameters are often more clearly defined and more specific about the preferred user experience. To keep it simple, Android developers create UI elements that appear to have been birthed from paper, while shadow gradients, animations and other interactions provide an intuitive idea of how to use the app.
In contrast, designing for iOS requires more use of negative space, transitions and other elements that are harder to define. Plus, iOS design is usually flatter because Apple devices’ operating systems don’t have a back button, meaning that capability needs to be included in the app’s UI.
iOS development requires a higher degree of sophistication and more buttons and other elements that can fulfill functions that Android naturally includes. As such, designing for Android sometimes makes more sense because Android devices already have some of the functionalities that an app requires, while iOS devices necessitate more planning. However, developing for iOS paves the way for more creative freedom since the design parameters are less clearly defined.
Android vs. iOS: Fragmentation
Another factor to consider is fragmentation. Because Android is open nature, developing an app for one Android device does not necessarily mean you’ll be developing for every Android device. A variety of elements need to be taken into account here, including a multitude of screen sizes, aspect ratios and the density of particular devices. Plus, the version of Android that users are on will affect all these elements. In this regard, Xcode supports responsive designs with better accuracy than Android Studio.
However, Android has some advantages too, as some of its hardware can run for a variety of devices, including smartphones, smartwatches, TVs, video streaming devices and more. Going the Android route can help you expand the reach of your app, but the fragmentation may cause headaches for developers.
iOS developers have an easier time in this regard because iPhones are constantly evolving. However, recent research suggests that iOS has fragmentation issues as well, since users who don’t have the latest version of iOS may not be able to run their apps at the same capacity as those who are up-to-date. So while fragmentation is generally less of an issue with iOS, it may be something your development team will have to tackle either way.
The Benefits of Hybrid Apps
If you are trying to pick between developing for Android vs. developing for Apple, you are likely planning on creating a native app. But there’s another option: a hybrid app. While native apps can only be used on one platform, hybrid apps are designed to function well on both Android and iOS devices, eliminating the need to pick just one platform.
At first, developing a single hybrid app is more time-consuming and expensive than developing a single native app. However, many companies make the mistake of creating a native app for one platform, then deciding they want to branch out to the other within a few months. This means they end up building two natives apps from scratch, which is considerably more expensive and time-consuming than if they had developed a single hybrid app in the first place.
The biggest advantage of creating a hybrid app is that you can reach a much wider audience in one fell swoop. While the per-app cost and time expenditure may be higher, that initial investment will pay off in the form of an expanded user base. And while some apps are best suited to just Android or just iOS, it is often wise to target both in order to get maximum exposure for your app and yield higher revenues.
Both Android and iOS have their positives and negatives, so there’s no easy answer as to which one to choose. At the end of the day, though, you want your app to reach as many people as possible, so your best bet for optimizing your resources and increasing your ROI may be by developing a hybrid app that will play nicely with both platforms.
Whether you want to develop an app for Android, iOS, or both, you will need a skilled development team by your side. At SevenTablets, we specialize in hybrid app development, although we are also proficient in developing native apps for both iOS and Android. In addition, we provide services related to a range of cutting-edge technologies, such as augmented reality, virtual reality, blockchain, artificial intelligence and natural language processing.