Every company on the market needs to scale and create its own digital product. At first glance, it seems simple and trivial, but in practice, it causes some difficulties for businesses.
The mobile device niche has two key audiences: iOS and Android users. According to StatCounter, their ratio in 2022 is 27% vs. 72%, respectively. This is what causes the main dissonance when choosing iOS vs Android development.
Both platforms have been competing with each other since the first releases, competing for the love and wallets of the audience. As a software vendor, it is important for you to answer a number of questions:
How do you want to monetize the app?
How much are you willing to spend on development?
What's more important, quantity or quality?
Of course, you can focus your efforts on cross-platform development, but in this case, you lose all the trump cards of each OS. To help you understand the topic, we've prepared material comparing two key OSs: their advantages, disadvantages, features, and development costs.
Android vs. iOS development comparison
Android and iOS are fundamentally different operating systems with opposite values. Android is aimed at a wide audience and offers users unlimited customization opportunities. In contrast, iOS is a bit more modest regarding its audience coverage and openness, but it offers more functionality and security.
Advantages and disadvantages of the iOS platform:
Stable and "mature" target audience.
Multiple monetization models.
Easy device fragmentation.
Coverage of European and US markets.
Low development time and cost.
Fewer users than Android.
High requirements for software quality.
Dependence on the popularity of the niche.
Advantages and disadvantages of the Android platform:
A huge audience worldwide.
Uniform audience distribution by key regions.
Unlimited monetization possibilities.
Easy moderation in Store.
Low market entry threshold.
Less buying power of the audience.
Problematic adaptation to the model range of devices.
The way of mobile app development for each of these platforms is different. The Android Studio SDK is a flexible environment for creating native software using Java or Kotlin languages. XCode is a similar tool from Apple to work with Swift or Objective-C. Both SDKs offer practically unlimited possibilities for development teams to build a native app for each operating system.
The fundamental difference between Android development vs iOS development is the complexity of the process and skill requirements. iOS, as contradictory as it may sound, is much more loyal to developers. The Swift and Objective-C languages have a simpler syntax than Java and Kotlin, are faster to learn, and are easier to structure, which is reflected in the cost of projects and their payback.
The monetization applications for different devices and operating systems are not so straightforward. Look at the table.
Comparison parameters (worldwide data)
Paid software purchases, subscriptions and internal transactions
Income from paid features, subscriptions (ratio)
Ratio of paid to free software in official stores
Data from sources such as Statista, StatCounter, and BusinessApps.
According to this information, we can conclude that although the audience of iOS is smaller than Android, but is much more mature in terms of attitude towards software. Users of iPhone, iPad, Mac, and other Apple devices are used to paying for quality content and mobile apps. Android users are also willing to invest in digital products, but to a much smaller extent, although this difference can be evened out due to the number of users.
As for in-app ads specifically, this is the best way to monetize in 2022. The thing is that, for example, marketing banners and inserts are not disabled in iOS, unlike Android. Fortunately, not every user does this.
iOS platform features
Apple's ecosystem offers developers a holistic approach to the development process. This means that all the devices' capabilities and OS features can be disclosed in an app for any business segment. At the same time, due to the relatively small lineup of devices, it is easier to optimize it. Moreover, due to close integration between Apple products, synchronization between, for example, iPhone, iWatch, and Air Pods can be implemented, thus obtaining extended functionality and software capabilities.
Features in development
Working on iOS software requires less knowledge and skills from developers and designers. Due to the comprehensive library of information, profile forums, access to mechanics, and sometimes even APIs is relatively easy. This makes it possible to compile software code faster.
Given that iOS devices are limited in number, and their hardware is not very different from each other, it is easier to adapt apps to the entire lineup. This is the hallmark of Apple solutions, making life easier for developers and allowing them to produce quality products for all target devices simultaneously.
In iOS, the emphasis is shifted to functionality, so most developers don't bother with graphics in general. Consumers like this approach and are very enthusiastic about using apps that are simple on the outside but progressive on the inside.
The programming languages Swift and Objective-C are used in software development for iOS. They have a low entry threshold into the industry, but this applies only to simple programs. Large-scale projects use combinations of languages and frameworks, requiring in-depth knowledge of development specialists. Even so, the speed and complexity of app creation win out over similar indicators for Android.
In the Apple ecosystem, the most common working environment is XCode. This environment has a complete set of tools with which software is developed. In XCode, developers can comprehensively solve all relevant tasks: code writing, design creation, and testing. The environment is recognized as the most user-friendly solution for working with native digital products.
Android platform features
Android devices have their own charm. Not only that, there are solutions for every taste and wallet on the market, which differ in hardware, screen size, and technology. You can develop apps of any complexity for such a range of devices. And you will find representatives of your target audience in each niche.
Features in Development
Developing an app for Android is a relatively difficult but profitable process. You can realize all the technical and technological potential, open source code, both relatively old and modern devices. Unlike Apple, where the emphasis is on functionality, Android solutions look more progressive and fresh.
Since there are much more Android devices, and their TX is more diverse, optimization and adaptation of software for all of them is an impossible task. This is partially solved by a piecemeal restriction of support in the last 4-5 versions of the OS, between which the difference is not so significant.
Java and Kotlin are used as development platforms for Android. They do not have the simplicity of Swift but offer a more structured approach to work. Kotlin is a relatively young language, which is actively developing and may soon become a full-fledged analog of Swift, but for Android.
The threshold of entry into the industry is higher than in iOS, so both the development cost and its speed are inferior when creating software for Android. Because the audience is 2.5 times larger, the enterprise's chances of success are higher. Accordingly, there are more monetization opportunities.
Android Studio is a comprehensive set of development tools that allows you to structure your application code and graphics in one environment. You can also use the system to test, upgrade, and optimize your software. Thanks to Gradle in Android Studio, you can create different versions of programs faster and easier to deploy.
Which IDE (Integrated Development Environment) is better?
There is no clear answer to this question, as well as to iOS vs Android app development. The fact is that both XCode and Android Studio have advantages and disadvantages. Developers give preference to those tools which are easier and more comfortable to work with.
In terms of comprehensiveness and efficiency, both environments are roughly equal. The key difference lies in the target platform, namely XCode – for Apple systems and Android Studio – for Android. It is possible to compare them with third-party environments, but it is incorrect because only these two tools are considered native and have maximum potential.
System-specific design differences
iOS and Android use fundamentally different ways to control devices and apps. This is why cross-platform app loses to native solutions in terms of comfort and raises a number of questions on the topic of Android vs iOS app development. The second significant difference is the size of the interaction area, which is 44 pxl for iOS and 48 pxl for Android.
Features of iOS design:
the app architecture is tab-based;
browser-based display of content is used;
there is a viewer controller;
each action is written in XML;
overlapping elements can occupy a small portion of the screen.
This all combines to give the developer maximum control over functionality and controls, reducing the risk of errors and problems.
Android design features:
one action – one screen;
large number of actions;
The more functions and elements there are to interact in an app, the more difficult it is to set up communication between them. In addition, each screen requires different graphics files. This increases the size of the app due to a large number of graphics and also reduces performance on older devices.
App Design Differences
The design priorities of both mobile systems are constantly changing. For Android, the breakthrough was Material Design, which saw the light in 2014. Over the past eight years, it has undergone many changes, becoming more adaptive and visually "clean." Now the emphasis has shifted to the adaptivity of elements, which adjust to the style of the background picture. This adds a certain charm to the visual design.
Apple designers chose to keep their OS authentic to the understated graphics. Despite this, iOS devices are perceived more holistically due to perfectly matched icons, fonts, and graphic solutions. The layering of effects is also used for the design, where shadows and simple effects create an appearance of depth of the image.
Each of these operating systems is perceived distinctively and uniquely, causing more and more comparisons between iOS development vs. Android development for those wishing to launch their product on the market.
Navigation bar placement
Apple devices use centering of the displayed information in the navigation bar. In Android, the same data is shifted to the left edge of the screen. This minor difference is significant for the end user, as it affects the usability of the software.
In iOS before version 14, the topic of widgets was irrelevant because they simply did not exist. Apple specialists have corrected themselves and introduced their support first on a separate screen, and since version 15, everywhere. With Android, the situation is quite the opposite. Widgets appeared in one of the first revisions of the OS and are still developing today.
The difference between the platforms lies in the principles of interaction with the widgets, their design, and their practicality for the consumer.
The main stumbling block in choosing iOS or Android development is fragmentation. Yes, strange as it may seem, but more is not always better. Especially in the case of app development.
Apple is more conservative in its product strategy: one or two lines of devices in different categories are brought to market each year. Support for each lasts at least five years, and the range of specifications is not as large as for Android. For example, there are classic iPhone lines: 13, 13 Pro, 13 Mini, 13 Pro Max, and SE (2022).
A total of five devices with +/- the same cameras, processors, RAM. The key difference is the types and sizes of the screens, but even so, it is quite easy to optimize apps for them, which cannot be said about Android.
In Android, the problem of fragmentation is very prominent. There are more than 10 major smartphone manufacturers and about 100 niche manufacturers targeting markets in China, India, Japan, and several other countries.
Even if we consider only global brands, in this case, developers have difficulties because of the abundance of TX:
diagonals and screen types;
That is, it takes much more time and resources to adapt and comprehensively test the development process than it does with iOS.
What about Complexity?
In this respect, Android is significantly inferior to iOS in a number of factors:
more tools for QA are required;
the speed of development is slower because of the specifications;
a huge range of devices that need to be adapted;
an abundance of screen sizes and resolutions;
a large number of current OS versions;
complex development in Java or Kotlin.
Therefore, the process of creating apps for iOS is much easier and faster because the number of target devices is much smaller than for Android.
How to choose which platform to start with?
In cases where the choice is difficult, it is recommended to resort to cross-platform development. This way, you can reach a large target audience simultaneously but lose support for key features of the OS in your applications. The cost of such development is higher than the native one, and the process itself is longer.
What factors should you consider first?
You need to look at this question from a business point of view and consider such factors:
audience size and loyalty by a device;
target geolocation of the job;
value of the app and offer;
competition in the market and the chosen niche;
development goals: monetization, marketing, scaling;
potentially allowable budget for development;
brand development strategy.
Consumers who use iOS are more loyal to paid content and apps, but their share in different markets is very small. With Android users, the situation is the opposite – the coverage is huge, but they are not ready to pay, yet they are more tolerant of advertising in software.
Google Play Market vs. App Store
When choosing iOS app development vs. Android, it is also worth considering the features of Play Market and AppStore – the key software stores for iOS and Android. They have slightly different practices for publishing digital products, sales, and internal transaction fees. Let's break it down in order.
Four software distribution models currently dominate the market:
Free (with an abundance of ads).
All are popular among iOS users, but 1 and 3 predominate. A one-time payment is purchasing software for a fixed price (not including discounts and sales), while internal transactions give access to the most important features or content.
The situation with Android users is a bit different. They prefer to use ad blockers along with free apps, which is not really fair to developers.
For this reason, the iOS market is more robust and mature in terms of monetization.
Revenue per platform
When choosing Android vs. iPhone development expected revenue plays a major role. According to a report by BusinessOfApps, of the $133 billion in mobile app revenue for 2021, iOS accounted for 63%. Given the difference in audience, this is the most promising market for 2023
Number of free/paid apps hosted
According to Statista, 96.9% of the 3.5 million apps on Google Play are free, while only 3.1% are for sale. On iOS, the situation is similar: 94.2% of 1.6 million vs. 5.8%.
In terms of categories, both systems have parity, according to Statista. The gaming segment leads, followed by learning, business, communication, and shopping apps.
Friendliness to developers
Both platforms charge a fee for registering a developer account. It's $25, and it's a one-time fee. After that, the developer pays a transaction fee of 15%. As for software moderation, it is manual on both platforms, but the approval time varies from a day in GPlay to a week in AppStore. It depends on the app's compliance with the requirements and the moderators' workload.
Because of the peculiarities of iOS, the closed nature of the system, and more finicky moderation, this OS is more reliable to work with than Android. Access to each function can be configured separately, and software permissions can only be obtained for critical operations.
So, if you are still undecided about the OS to start work, then let's summarize.
The Android platform is promising due to:
a large number of users;
wide coverage of regions;
personalization of solutions.
The iOS platform is better because it is:
amenable to development;
If you want to reach the entire target audience, you may need cross-platform development, but it's more expensive, longer, and riskier.
In general, focus on the needs of your business, your plans for scaling, and the overall market picture. If you need a consultation or direct development – assign these tasks to the professionals of Lampa.
Need professional assistance gathering all the required artifacts to build a mobile app? Order product ideation services from Lampa!
1. Is there a difference in the cost of creating mobile apps for iOS and Android
The cost of creating software on Android is somewhat higher than on iOS. The reason for this is the complexity of developing, adapting, and testing the app on many devices or emulators.
2. What are the most significant differences between iOS and Android development?
Cost, timing, and profitability. The latter is a very relative concept. Another difference lies in the values of the OS, their design and the set of technologies required for the development, and the skills of specialists.
3. Is iOS development more profitable than Android?
If iOS apps are better monetized due to the audience's maturity, Android apps are better monetized due to advertising and the number of consumers. Even so, it is difficult to assess the profitability of software simply by OS. Additional factors influence profitability: market congestion, the demand for a technical solution, and the value of the product.
Table of contents
- Android vs. iOS development comparison
- iOS platform features
- Android platform features
- Which IDE (Integrated Development Environment) is better?
- System-specific design differences
- What about Complexity?
- How to choose which platform to start with?
- What factors should you consider first?
- Google Play Market vs. App Store
- Bottom line