iOS vs. Android App Platform

Although much of the debate between mobile app platforms results in “fanboy” or “elitist” rhetoric, there are simple ways to understand what is involved as a user/consumer or an app developer on the iOS and Android platforms.

Let’s focus on app development for now, and discuss the pros and cons of using either. The eternal struggle rages on!

As an app developer, you may find that most apps often come to the Apple platform first. Even with a small market share, iOS seems to be ahead of the game on app releases. If you are working on a client project, one factor to consider is engagement of mobile visitors – what do the numbers say? If your stats indicate that you have a higher percentage of Android visitors versus iOS visitors, it might be best to start with Android first. And as always, play to your developer strengths. In reality, if your team is far more experienced with the iOS platform, start with iOS, and vice versa.

Apple has a much stricter policy on what becomes available on the iOS platform. This means that the overall quality of the apps will remain high. This is obviously great for consumers, but what it could mean is that Apple can decline your app or remove it from the app store whenever it deems necessary. You might spend a lot of time in development, only to be rejected when trying to get into the party.

iOS development tends to allow less customization, something that more advanced users might loathe due to the inability to personalize their experience. Also, you are essentially bound to a few device sizes for the iPhone and iPad.

Android is available on a large number of devices, which can allow each manufacturer to run their own tailored Android experience. However, many of them still use an older version of Android such as 2.3.x Gingerbread. Some of the best or most desirable features are not available on these older versions. You might be forced to decide if you are targeting newer devices, leaving the older behind. The majority of iOS users tend to upgrade to the latest operating system upon release, making it easier to create a development strategy.

Android is also utilized outside of phones and tablets. By spreading itself out across so many manufacturers and devices, Android can suffer on app quality as it does not have a strict policy akin to Apple’s, making it harder to guarantee quality. However, this does lend itself to innovation and flexibility, as you might find Android powering your car display, for example.

Both platforms offer robust SDKs and APIs, and Android’s open source format could allow for some truly unique development ideas.  With a massive hardware selection, Android can take advantage of varying capabilities, screen sizes and features.  This also allows higher customization of the user experience, as the home screen can be customized with widgets as well as app icons.

iOS offers an enormous app ecosystem but is limited on its user experience customization.  However, if you are not tech savvy and prefer a consistent experience, iOS might be the better choice.

As the years go by, the gap between the two platforms will likely grow larger, but for now it’s just best to select what works for you.  If you are familiar with iOS, its home screen, and the quality app selection, stick with Apple.  If you are a tech nut and love to customize your experience as finely tuned as possible, Android could be your go to platform.