It’s safe to say that mobile devices have almost replaced desktops.
Mobile usage has grown exponentially over the last several years. Mobile apps are becoming prevalent in most mobile marketing strategies today. While most businesses are choosing to develop an app to better serve their audience and grow their customer base, the real decision is which mobile platform to build their first app on? Should a native app be built on iOS or Android? Why those two platforms?
The best platforms to consider building an app on are iOS or Android should you want to develop an app. Windows and BlackBerry are losing market share in this niche. Unless you are building an app for a specific audience, consider skipping both of these platforms.
The debate between Android and iOS
Before you choose which platform to build your app on, it’s important to assess the following factors:
The main thing to consider is where your initial app adopters, the people you want to beta test your app, are located. If they are outside of the US, Australia or Europe, then it’s advisable you consider using Android since it dominates smartphone volumes in South America, Africa, and Asia.
However, Apple’s iOS continues to dominate the app market considering the app revenue generation developers enjoy direct app sales and in-app purchases and indirect in-app advertising. The iPhone and Apple are premium brands, which means the average iPhone user/owner may be more inclined to spend some money downloading apps compared to Android users/owners.
Consider your target demographic and their specific geographical location. This way, it will be easier for you to know which devices they’re using. Younger smartphone users, for example, are more likely to use Android since these devices are relatively inexpensive compared to Apple.
The biggest drawback of Android’s open environment is that it lacks standardization.
Image-The Next Web
There are a number of considerable handset hardware variants that need to be taken into account. Android developers face a major fragmentation hurdle and not just at the device’s level, which is amazingly extensive, but also at the components level within the different devices (that is, cheaper processors run much slower).
Once you get to the software level, the fragmentation is even greater than the different versions of operating systems Google produce. Each Android version Google releases is adapted and tailored by the hardware manufacturers, and in some cases, by individual mobile carriers, making software fragmentation more complicated than just factoring in the different versions of KitKat and Jelly Bean operating systems.
Because of this, testing Android apps to remove crashes and bugs takes way longer than a corresponding iOS app. Android app developers can handle this challenge by limiting an app’s release to specific hardware by designating factors such as size and screen resolution, and specific operating system versions such as Jelly Bean V4.2 and above. Without such parameters, creating an Android app may take two to three times longer to create compared to building a similar iOS app.
The Review Process
While Android’s open platform is one of its main weaknesses, it is still an advantage, especially if you are building your first app. Apples take time to review and test all apps before they can release them in their App Store, and the wait times can sometimes take more than ten days. If your app does not pass, you will have to make the necessary changes, resubmit it, then wait again for it to be reviewed.
Google Play, on the other hand, does not have this restriction. Google offers app developers Google Play Beta app store through which they can release beta apps for testing. This means that developers can deploy and iterate builds easily and faster for Android than for iOS.
Sadly, the absence of pre-release screening on Google Play means that there are lots of low-quality apps in the store; with some even containing malware. Android’s apps are also susceptible to getting copied fast, especially if they generate revenue or are popular.
There are several test platforms for iOS like TestFlight, which is owned by Apple and is now fused into the operating system, and HockeyApp, which is owned by Microsoft, that circumvent the very long waiting in-store app review times. However, they can be quite tricky to use from a practical perspective since most would-be testers could encounter issues when installing the apps on their phones.
Mobile app design
Your app should be designed with your end user in mind. That’s why Android has developed a clear and precise plan for how developers should design the app specifically.
There are fewer specifications for an iOS design; the use of negative space and large images are fairly straightforward elements to avoid.
From a navigation standpoint, it’s harder to navigate away from an app since there is no back button on iOS devices. Therefore, back button options/features need to be included in the design process.
With Android apps, however, a back button is not necessary. Android developers need to work harder to ensure they can keep up with the specifications being requested.
Once your app has been tested and available to the public for download, it’s time to get your users using the app. The Google Play Store lets users download apps within hours. However, Apple’s App Store lets you download new versions of an app within weeks. Apps built on the Android platform will get feedback much faster, therefore able to make updates faster. iOS developers will have to wait weeks to diagnose and fix any problems once feedback is received. Google Play is more flexible in that regard.
Before deciding if your first app will be iOS or Android, make sure that you spend time carefully studying your demographic market and geography; weight all the advantages and disadvantages of developing on either platform before deciding. It’s also worthwhile to speak with the web developers who will be doing the legwork to see what they prefer and how best to handle the development process.
Bio: Nicole Wilson is a freelance writer who specializes in mobile app development for the purpose of educating local businesses about improving their brand awareness.