More Android apps are being downloaded than ever, and are now starting to overtake figures from the iOS platform (including iPhone), but still the debate over whether to prioritise iOS or Android continues. It’s partly due to the differences between iPhone and Android customers, but there are also other considerations to make in terms of development time, device capabilities and user experience. We’ll look at some of the reasons why it’s still not that easy to make apps that cross both platforms successfully.
Number of Devices to Support
Making sure your app works on all active Android devices is near impossible, and even making sure it works for a majority of active devices can be difficult. The problem is the sheer number of different android devices (some sources suggest almost 11,868 different kinds of android device), and many of them are not running the same version of Android. Compare this to iOS having less than 10 smartphones currently in circulation, the choice might seem simple.
The fact that Android has so many options is exactly the reason that it attracts more customers, with more diverse tastes and behaviours. Plus, with the statistics showing that Android app download figures are just taking over iOS apps downloads now, this could change the current trend of iPhone first.
Even if your project doesn’t have a strict deadline, time schedules can play a big part in choosing between developing for iOS and Android. Since Apple has strict guidelines on developing apps and have only a handful of devices, it’s much easier to make sure apps work well for all potential users.
Android’s more open policy has been great for democratic app development and allowed people to make apps that would not be possible on iOS. But it does increase the number of bad apps, reducing people’s trust in the quality of the Google Play app store. The variability between Android phones in terms of size, processing power, features and OS version also makes it more difficult to make sure interesting technology not only works, but is a pleasant experience for users. Things are getting better, as higher quality Android phones are becoming more readily available, but as the market is still saturated with hundreds of other devices, the time it takes to test and fix Android apps can still be quite high.
Making Money from Apps
Recent figures suggested that iPhone apps are still raking in more money than Android apps are, and historically, iPhone customers are more likely to spend money on apps and in-app purchases. This, of course, doesn’t disqualify you from releasing a paid-for app on Android, but it can certainly persuade some developers to at least lead their app launch with iOS.
The idea of leading release on one platform, then following on the other is another tactic you can take. iOS customers are more likely to be early adopters of new trends, so this can be a great launching pad to test the market, gain feedback, and revise your app before launching it into the growing Android market.
As always, any decision you make about developing your app should come from an understanding of who your customer is, and how much time you’re dedicating to development.