iOS vs. Android, discussion on this topic are very frequent. Today I will try to convey why iOS development is better than Android Development.
With more than 5 billion mobile phone users around the world, mobile app development has become a strategic imperative for businesses wanting to go digital and reach a wider audience. With their ubiquity of use, mobile apps are the best way to go where your customers are, as well as provide information about your products and services right in the palm of your prospective customers’ hands.
Before developing an app for your business, an important point to consider is the Operating System (OS) on which to develop your first app. iOS and Android are the Operating Systems which, together, comprise 98% of the market share. The competition, therefore, is chiefly between these two giants. For your first app, which one should you choose? Which one would provide an excellent user experience while keeping development costs under control?
iOS and Android differ significantly in terms of the technology stack they employ. The majority of Android development is done with Java (or Kotlin, as an alternative). iOS relies on Swift or Objective-C.
Swift is a programming language introduced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in 2014. Java was created at Sun Microsystems in 1995. Although both are powerful and enable fast applications, it is important to remember that iOS has closed-source code. This means that iOS runs only on Apple devices, and Swift has therefore been created to cater specifically to Apple. Therefore, it fits seamlessly with the larger Apple ecosystem. Swift is concise and enables developers to implement many features with minimal code.
The general consensus is that programming languages written for iOS have a much shorter learning curve than those written for Android development. Some say that building Android apps requires 30-40% more time than in iOS, perhaps because of the ease of use of Swift and the smaller number of screen sizes and resolutions on which to test. Java is comparatively verbose; it requires more code to be written than Swift.
Integrated Development Environment (IDE)
XCode and Android Studio are the development environments commonly used for iOS and Android respectively. XCode is a proprietary tool that supports all Apple devices, is easy to learn, and provides many bug fixing tools. If considering layout builders, XCode is superior in terms of usability and has a wider range of available features. Many developers consider XCode easy to use with an intuitive user interface and shortcuts for applying in-app controls. However, opinions are mixed.
The opinions on Android Studio are also mixed. Some developers think that Android Studio is more stable, faster to use, and has more robust documentation available. Others believe that understanding Android Studio is exceedingly difficult and continual changes made by Google make it hard to navigate the IDE. Therefore, there’s no clear winner here.
iOS and Android have different design philosophies.
Before diving into the details, it is prudent to mention first that, iOS wins by a small margin in the case of the smallest clickable area – 44px for iOS and 48px for Android. This means that Apple devices will be slightly more accurate in terms of the area/portion of the device that can be clicked or tapped.
In terms of navigation or structure, the views of iOS and Android devices are organized differently. On iOS, navigation is done with the help of view controllers. A view controller controls an entire screen or a part of it. There are many types of view controllers, including tab controllers, page view controllers, navigation controllers, split view controllers, etc. The view can be programmed in code or by storing the requisite elements in XML files.
The screens of Android are organized in terms of activities and fragments. Activities correspond to a screen, and fragments are parts of activities. Android also uses XML files.
It is found that the iOS architecture is more manageable for developers and not as prone to errors as that of the Android architecture. Therefore, in this point as well, iOS takes the win.
Android devices come in a variety of screen sizes, resolutions, and aspect ratios. In contrast, iOS devices come in a few defined, standardized formats. This means that for Android, the size of (for example) a single button will need to be modified and tested for each device. This makes it an extremely time-consuming activity, thereby also driving development costs higher. Costs of development may also add up in terms of backward compatibility.
For iOS, in contrast, the defined number of standardized formats make it easier for developers to build and test apps. This process is made even easier with the help of the proprietary iOS-native tools available for building, testing, and development. Therefore, iOS is the clear winner in this regard.
App Development & Costs
The cost of app development depends on a variety of factors, including the app purpose, platform, features, server/database costs, tech used, third-party integrations, developer fee, and app maintenance/promotion costs. On average, basic (simple) apps cost up to $4,000 while the most complex gaming apps cost anywhere between $10,000 and $250,000.
Once again, because of the large variety of Android devices available, Android app development is more expensive as compared to iOS app development. Because of Apple’s well-defined set of device standards and guidelines development costs are controlled on iOS devices.
Due to the multitude of Android devices available in the market, and the fact that they run on different Android versions and have varying hardware specifications, testing a new app on these devices takes more time and money than testing on iOS devices. This drives up total costs and if not done properly, may create backward compatibility issues.
Although Android phones dominate the market at 80% of smartphone users (versus 16% for iOS, and 4% for others), it is important to note that the average app earns 4 times as much revenue on iOS as compared to Android. This is in spite of there being half as many total app downloads as the Google Play Store.
This is because iOS dominates in North America, Australia, and Western Europe, where consumers are on average more affluent, younger, and more likely to have achieved higher education levels. Data suggests that they feel more comfortable spending upfront on downloads. Another reason is customer loyalty; consumers demonstrate 92% loyalty to the iPhone (as measured in an AlphaWise survey by the number of iPhone owners somewhat or extremely likely to stick to iPhone) and 77% (maximum, at the higher end of the phone spectrum) for Android.
Therefore, through the perspective of monetization, iOS is clearly superior.
Apple has a high bar for accepting apps submitted to the App Store. While this means stringent quality checks, it also means greater security for your app. Quality checks imply that the probability of others plagiarising your app, from the idea to screens to functionality, is reduced on the App Store.
iOS is therefore the best choice for app development. With better monetization opportunities due to an affluent user base, as well as well-defined device standards that solve fragmentation problems to control development and testing costs, iOS is the best choice for developers wishing to build their first app.
Start developing your app on iOS – the returns will follow! Happy building!