iOS vs Android vs Cross-Platform: Which Platform Should You Build Your App For?

There has never been a stronger case for mobile app development. With the likes of Google Assistant, Apple Maps and other highly-used applications, mobile use is up 35 per cent since 2017.

Of course, developing an app is no mean feat – it throws up a number of questions, from the functionality of the app to monetisation. Another key consideration is choosing the right platform. With Android and iOS taking up the biggest global share of the mobile operating system market, each offer their own benefits.

What’s the difference between iOS and Android app development?

While both operating systems offer the same level of functionality in terms of messaging, browsing and user convenience, there are some core differences. Start-ups should consider their target market before committing to one mobile operating system over another.

Audience

Depending on your industry, Android may be the OS of choice when it comes to customer preferences. Research from 3 billion geo-tagged tweets, for example, shows that Android phone users tend to live in less affluent areas. 

This could be a key insight for those trying to target customers with a smaller disposable income, or for cost-saving services like train ticket splitting and voucher code apps.

Conversely, for business users, iOS devices are on the rise. This is ideal for file-sharing or other business-focused apps, particularly when we consider security. iOS offers a sandboxing system, which means every app runs off its own protected space. This means iOS apps can’t typically interact with others beyond a certain threshold, offering users the assurance that they cannot be hacked.

Other considerations for your users include how they are likely to be using the device itself. Android phones, for example, tend to have a longer battery life – ideal for gamers.

Monetisation

We all want our mobile app development projects to offer a return on investment. From in-app spending to native ads, there are many ways to monetise our apps. However, some users are more inclined to spend than others. 

Findings from App Annie revealed that those with Apple devices were more likely to spend money downloading apps, or with in-app purchases/upgrades. The general consensus is that, for those who want to generate revenue in the short-term, Apple should be your first choice.

Device features

Android has often been hailed as the operating system that provides the most flexibility to customise your app due to its open-source nature.

However according to our Lead Mobile Developer Jack Colley:

“It's now possible to achieve comparable levels of bespoke functionality and design across iOS and Android. This is due to Apple & Google wanting the best apps on their platforms, so they are constantly adding and updating their API's which allow us to push the limit of what's possible and take full advantage of the ever-increasing power of mobile devices"

The Samsung Galaxy features custom home screens, for example, which could be incorporated into your app logo design. New developments in Apple devices include CarPlay and other handy features, like dark mode. This is your opportunity to be creative with your app.

Ecosystems

Depending on the kind of app you want to develop, you may require a larger ecosystem. Beyond the likes of tablets and phablets like the Galaxy Note, Android systems are mostly limited to smartphones and tablets. 

iOS, meanwhile, offers the Apple Watch, iPad and TV – ideal for sharing content across multiple platforms, or using tracking devices such as fitness apps. Again, however, be mindful of Apple’s restrictive system versus Android’s open-source.

Software updates and release cycles

Often, the onus is on your users to get the best from their apps. This is especially true of Android apps – unlike iOS, users have to manually download updates unless they actively enable auto-updates. This could mean your customers are potentially losing out on the benefits of your latest content, or could even cause users to go dormant. 

You can benefit from testing with both Android and Apple. Both stores offer a ‘staggered release’, which limits some users from seeing updates, or rolls them out gradually over a few days. This is great for ironing out any issues and seeing how your customers interact.

Again, however, this can depend on customer interaction – while some users may see a new version of Android app content, it does require them to update.

Restrictions of the App Store versus the Google Play Store

If you’re likely to roll out updates often, you should be wary that Apple has a strict approval process. A team of humans need to ensure your app follows guidelines, meaning it can take 24 hours for updates to roll out. The Google Play Store is a little more flexible: releases usually take no longer than a few hours to be published.

Which apps make more money: Android or iOS?

If the bottom-line is your main concern, you’ll need to have a monetisation plan for your mobile app. You can approach this from a short-term or long-term perspective. 

For example, if you’re looking for a long-term investment with uncapped global potential, Android may be a better choice. Android has the largest market share globally, giving you a wider reach of customers. Specifically, it’s also showing promising trends in the Asian, African and Latin American markets, so this could be incorporated into your long-term strategy. 

However, for a quick return on investment, Apple users spend more money on apps. They’re also more engaged with their apps and spend more time with their phones. However, it’s also worth noting that Apple takes 30% of your revenue from paid downloads and subscriptions. 

Remember: you need to consider this from an investment point of view, as well as revenue generation. iOS apps may take more time to develop or release due to quality guidelines, so consider the financial implications of time as well. 

Can I develop for both Android and iOS?

As seen above, there are benefits and drawbacks to developing for both kinds of mobile OS. If you’re looking for the best of both worlds, you should consider a cross-platform framework

The cross-platform framework allows developers to share code between iOS and Android. It’s available through mobile app software development kits (SDKs) like Flutter – an open-source platform. 

What are the advantages of using a cross-platform framework?

In addition to reaping the benefits of Android and iOS, you can also:

  • Share code from a single base, without having to duplicate for two programming languages
  • Ensure consistent design and interactivity across both operating systems
  • Inject new files into the app as it runs, without having to test and start over
  • Develop apps at greater speeds.

Platforms like Flutter and React Native have helped the Netsells team propel brands to greater success thanks to their scalability. While the operating system will depend on your goals, target audience and long-term strategy, a cross-platform is a great place for both start-ups and established companies to digitise their brand.

For more tips on your mobile app development, contact the Netsells team today