IOS vs Android: Which Should You Build Your Mobile App on First
Now that you have finally decided it’s time to build a mobile app, there are some decisions that need to be made.
One of those decisions is choosing which operating system you’re going to launch on.
It’s not an easy choice.
Well, for starters, Android and iOS users behave differently.
So if you launch on the wrong platform, you could be neglecting your primary target audience.
If only there were a solution that didn’t force you to choose.
Spoiler alert – there is.
But we’ll get to that later.
For now, we’ll operate under the assumption that you’re building a native app.
In this case, you’ll have to pick between Apple and Android.
The code for native apps doesn’t work on both platforms.
If you want to have an app that’s available in both stores, you’ll need to develop two different ones from scratch in order to meet the requirements for each operations system.
It’s a long and expensive process.
Trust me, I know from experience.
But with experience also comes knowledge.
I’m here to share expertise with you so that you can make an informed decision before you dive head first into the wrong operating system.
I’ll even show you a way that allows you to launch on both platforms simultaneously.
Here’s what you need to know.
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.
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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.
Hybrid 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.
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.
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?