Smartphones have impacted every facet of our daily lives, immensely. We could choose to accept this fact or argue it all we want. However, smartphones would not be completely smart without the use of software applications(apps) running in them. The apps we install on our smartphones help to define the experience we derive from our mobile phones.
It is estimated that adults spend an average of about 4 hours on their phones on a daily basis. This report indicates a 30% increase in the amount of time spent on smartphones and mobile apps.
A report published by Techcrunch estimates 34 billion app downloads on the Google play store to attract about $34 billion in user spending.
An average of about 50 thousand apps is released on the Google play store monthly and an average of about 30 thousand on the Apple app store as postulated by Statista.
These facts and figures reveal that the mobile app market holds mouth-watering potentials that are yet to be tapped.
This means that there is a huge market for mobile developers who can build apps especially now that businesses have begun to move their businesses online – A shift necessitated by the Pandemic.
Indeed places mobile application development as one of the top 10 tech skills in demand in 2021.
Despite the promises this market holds, it could be tricky to choose which platform to start building for first.
In this article, we are going to consider different factors to help you decide which platform would be better for you, whether you’re a beginner or a more advanced developer.
We are going to consider the strengths and weaknesses of the two platforms, laying everything out to enable you to choose better.
Why Should I Consider Building for Android?
Android is open source:
The Android operating system is open-source and managed by Open Handset Alliance led by Google.
This means that Android developers, software engineers, and Android phone manufacturers can have access to the Android Standard Development Kit(SDK) and tweak the system to their needs.
This provides Android developers the flexibility to customize their apps and build the features they need.
Maturity of the ecosystem:
Since Android is open-source, it enjoys a wide range of support from engineers and software developers all over the world. Therefore the community continues to grow with tons of learning materials online for Android development.
This eases the process of learning Android development and introduces a low entrance threshold as anyone can pick up its documentation and start learning how to build apps for the platform.
Ease of App distribution:
It only takes a $25-lifetime fee to own a Google publisher’s account. Also, the review period of mobile apps submitted to the google play store is considerably low which is about 7 days.
Affordability of Development:
It’s far much less costly to develop and distribute Android mobile apps. This stems from the fact that the Android SDK is open source and can be easily accessed.
Wide Market Reach of Android:
Android market reach is really wide. About 3 billion devices run on Android worldwide with about 1.6 billion active users. This places Android as the most popular operating system in the world with about 73.84% of the mobile global market share as stated by Statista.
Android Runs Beyond Smartphones:
Android operating system powers other smart devices such as Smartwatches, Smart glasses, home appliances, Android-based infotainment systems in cars, home security systems, smart TVs, and cameras.
This means that Android developers will continue to be in demand as they can extend their Android development skills to develop for these devices which have mammoth opportunities.
Android Developers Are well Paid:
Android is a highly needed skill that pays lucratively.
The Google play store generated approximately $34 billion in 2020. You can build your personal business apps or games and launch them on the play store. If done right, you might as well be cutting yourself a piece of that $34 billion pie.
You could choose to become a freelancer and charge money to build apps for clients. On average freelance Android developers charge about $150 per hour for their work. This could be a viable career option if you’re cut out for it.
However, if you choose to work with a company as an in-house Android application developer, there is room for you too. Indeed rates Android development as one of the most paying computer science skills in 2021.
According to Indeed, entry-level Android developers can earn about $70,000 per year while mid
level Android developers can earn about $90,000 over $121,000 for senior Android developers.
Generally, Android development is a fulfilling career path with lots of limitless opportunities for anyone who is interested.
Disadvantages of Developing for Android
Ease of learning:
Android applications are built with Java, Kotlin, and C++ which have steep learning curves on their own. This compounds the time used in learning to build Android apps.
Android devices come in different shapes, sizes, screen resolutions, and versions. This fragmentation causes untold frustration during Android app development and testing.
There’s no one size fits it in this case. Therefore, Android developers spend quite a great amount of time developing and harmonizing apps behavior across different Android devices.
Cost of Quality Assurance:
If you are intentional about your user experience and want your app to stand out, then you might have to spend quite a bit on testing and quality assurance.
Low Revenue Generation:
Android users are less likely to spend on premium apps. Therefore, Android development would require strong investment if you intend to generate good revenue from your apps on the Google play store.
Advantages of Developing for iOS
Smooth UI/UX to die for:
Apple provides iOS developers with tools, systems, and guidelines to help them craft smooth and flawless designs for their iOS apps. This ensures an uncommon user experience for all users.
Ease of Learning and Development:
Swift is the programming language used to build iOS apps which has a low learning curve and is more welcoming to beginners.
Furthermore, Apple provides many of the tools and APIs you may need to develop your Android. Therefore, there’s no need to rely on third-party libraries or APIs to build your iOS apps.
Apple’s cybersecurity standard is not a walk in the park. Companies are often concerned about the safety of their users’ data.
Apple provides high-security standard tools out of the box ensuring the protection of users against potential security threats such as phishing, virus attacks, breaches, hacking, etc.
Apple has taken intentional steps to curb the problem of fragmentation. Apple seems to be doing well here since they control both the hardware and the software and the iOS operating system.
Therefore, Apple delivers easy and timely updates and ensures users update their iOS to the latest update.
iOS Developers are well paid:
Mobile apps launched on the Apple app store tend to generate more revenue compared to their Android counterparts because iOS has a filtered audience(tech-savvy audience, more educated and richer) that are willing to pay more for good software. This means that iOS developers can earn substantial revenue from their apps.
iOS developers also have the option of freelancing – Being paid to make mobile apps for businesses and clients.
iOS developers can also choose to work full-time for companies as there is a huge demand for iOS app developers.
Glassdoor places the average salary of iOS developers at 99,000 per year, while payscale places it at $91,000. Ziprecruiter places the iOS developer’s average salary to be $93,000.
Disadvantages of Developing for iOS
Tight Development Environment:
iOS apps can only be built with Xcode, the integrated Development Environment(IDE) which only runs on Mac machines.
This means that iOS developers must own a Mac machine to be able to build their apps.
Ease of App Distribution:
Apple is very strict with the apps accepted to be published on their app store platform. Therefore, applications submitted to the app store must follow Apple’s development guidelines and policies strictly.
In some cases, apps are rejected for the most ridiculous reasons.
iOS is Closed Source:
Unlike Android, Apple owns both the iPhone hardware and the iOS operating system which makes it difficult for developers to customize their applications especially when third-party libraries and APIs are needed.
Which platform should you choose?
The choice you make depends on what you have in mind and tend to achieve. However, there are a lot of factors to be considered while making this decision. Let’s consider some factors.
What machine do you have?
Android apps could be built using Mac, Windows, and Linux machines while iOS apps can only be built on mac. Therefore it makes more sense to go for Android if you already own a Windows or Linux machine and do not plan to purchase a Mac machine.
What device do you have?
You need to test your mobile applications on a real device and not just on the emulator. Therefore, the device you currently own could help you choose which platform to learn about first.
How much time do you have to learn?
It is important to note that it takes good effort to master any of these two platforms.
As stated before, Android has a very low barrier to entry since it’s open-source and does not cost much to purchase a play store account to host your apps.
However, it has a more steep learning curve than iOS because of Java, the programming language used in building Android apps which takes quite some effort to master.
On the flip side, iOS is built using the Swift programming language which is relatively easy for beginners and could get you up and going in less than no time.
What is your target audience?
Your target audience could help you define which platform to choose first. Despite Android having a bigger share of the global mobile market share and being used by a lot of people, it is important to note that iOS holds sway in the following countries:
- United States of America
- United Kingdom
- Saudi Arabia
- New Zealand
While Android has a very strong user base in the following countries:
- Nigeria, and
Therefore, it would be more profitable to develop for iOS if your target audience is the USA and UK.
Are you building a business app?
The revenue model of Android and iOS differ in so many ways. Since Android users tend to adopt free apps, Android has proven to do better through in-app advertising.
Therefore if you intend to launch a free app, it would make sense to develop your app on the Android platform.
iOS, on the other hand, has been shown to generate better revenue through in-app purchases and premium subscriptions.
Therefore if you plan to build a high-quality app with tons of features and premium plans, it would make more sense to move towards developing for iOS.
Do you care about the trends?
The rate of adoption of new software updates varies greatly between Android and iPhone users.
Apple releases both hardware and software updates of iPhones together and enjoys a high rate of quick adoption by iOS users. Apple reveals that about 80% of iPhone users update their software to the latest release by Apple in just a couple of weeks.
However, things are different in the Android ecosystem as the adoption rate of new software releases and updates is really low. According to Google, just about 20% of Android users adopt software updates released by Google even after a year.
This creates fragmentation in the Android ecosystem which affects Android developers immensely as they struggle to make their app adept to all Android devices.
Therefore, if you care about developing your apps with the latest tools and trends without the cost of excluding some users, then iOS is better for you, otherwise, Android will do.
What if I’m still confused?
If by now you still have not been able to make up your mind on which platform is best for you to start with, then you should consider using cross-platform tools such as React Native and Flutter for your app.
What is React Native?
This tool was launched in 2015 and has seen an increase in its adoption by engineers and businesses around the world.
What is Flutter?
Flutter is Google’s response to React Native built by Facebook. It’s an open-source cross-platform UI toolkit that can be used to develop applications for platforms such as Android, iOS, AndroidTV, AndroidAuto, Linux, Windows, Google Fuchsia, and the web, all from a single codebase.
This tool picked great momentum in adoption since it was first released in 2017 and is currently one of the most sought-after skills for mobile development in 2021.
Do not get caught up in choosing the right platform. Just pick one and get started already as there is a space large enough to accommodate you in this field. See you at the top.
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