The mobile app market is enormous, with over 6 billion smartphone users worldwide. Yet it keeps growing, and the number of users is expected to reach 7 billion by 2024. According to Statista, over 2.5 million mobile apps are in the Play Store and almost 5 million in the App Store. iOS and Android are the most popular mobile operating systems (OSs).
Whether one trumps the other is often a contested topic. Android holds the majority of the market share. Yet, iOS provides a higher Return on Investment (ROI). But that is the tip of the iceberg. When deciding to launch your mobile app in one, the other, or both, there are many things to consider.
In this article, we'll review the development differences between these two mobile OSs. Further, we'll review the pros and cons of each platform. But first, let's look at iOS and Android mobile app development basics.
iOS Mobile App Development
Here, we’ll review the language and tools used for iOS mobile app development. Also, we'll cover some tips on how to learn to develop in iOS.
What Language does iOS Development use?
iOS development applies the Swift programming language. Swift is an open-source general-purpose programming language launched by Apple in 2014. This language incorporates Objective-C, Python, Rust, and Ruby features. It’s worth noting that, in the beginning, iOS apps used Objective-C. Thus, you may come across some old apps developed with it.
Is Swift similar to Python?
Yes, Swift does share some similarities with Python. Both languages have comments, Unicode strings, and similar conditional statements. Moreover, a semicolon is not required to finish statements in either language.
What Do You Need for iOS Development?
When developing iOS mobile apps, you don’t need many tools. A Mac computer with the latest version of the Xcode IDE will suffice. But we recommend you have an iPhone or iPad to test your app. We’ll look at this more deeply in the section on learning iOS development.
Xcode is Apple’s integrated development environment (IDE). Xcode serves as the graphical interface for Apple development for both iOS and macOS. This IDE includes everything you need to develop, test, and distribute your app. Its features include the iOS software development kit (SDK), compilers, and frameworks.
You may be wondering what are the chances of iOS Development in Windows OS but, unfortunately to develop an iOS mobile app, you will need to use Xcode. This IDE has the downside of only running on macOS, but there are a few workarounds.You can rent Mac in the cloud, use a cross-platform tool, or use a virtual machine.
Android Mobile App Development
Like iOS, we’ll review the language and tools for Android mobile app development. Also, we’ll go over some tips to learn to develop in Android.
What Language does Android Development use?
Up to 2019, Java was the default language for Android mobile apps. In 2017, Google introduced Kotlin as an alternative language. Two years after, it promoted it to default. Java is an object-oriented programming language released in 1995 by Sun Microsystems. Nowadays, it's owned by Oracle.
Likewise, Kotlin is a cross-platform, general-purpose language designed by JetBrains in 2011. The programming language is interoperable with Java. Also, it's able to call Java libraries. Kotlin is more concise and type-safe than Java. The language also offers smart-casting and higher-order functions. You can also add C++ (and C) to your Android development project. Yet, you'll need to use the Android Native Development Kit (NDK).
What Do You Need for Android Development?
For Android dev, a computer and Android Studio are the essential tools you’ll need. You should also have at least one Android device to test your app. What's more, you might need several to ensure your app works well for all or most users. This testing process has two.
That's due to the many Android OS versions on the market. On the other, these devices have a variety of sizes and resolutions. Knowing your way around Java, Kotlin, and Android Studio should be the top priority. We’ll look at this more deeply in the section on learning Android development.
Android’s official IDE is Android Studio. Google built the tool on top of the IntelliJ IDE. Android Studio offers support for the most popular Android SDKs. Further, it includes code completion and code debuggers. Unlike iOS, there is more than one option on IDEs for Android development. As Android is open-source, a macOS Android Studio bundle is available (as well as one for Linux).
iOS vs. Android Mobile App Development Differences
1. Programming Languages
As we’ve seen above, native iOS mobile apps get developed using Swift. Meanwhile, Android ones apply Java or Kotlin. The different languages make a difference in productivity and cross-platform development. iOS requires less coding so that projects can complete faster. Meanwhile, unlike Swift, Java is used for mobile and web app development.
2. Development Environments
Here we have Xcode for iOS and Android Studio for Android. Both IDEs have their pros and cons. Android Studio includes background compilation to help highlight errors and high readability. Moreover, it has a wide range of debugging tools. On the downside, it is not light or weighted, and its emulator is slow. Meanwhile, Xcode is easy to set up and has an excellent source code editor that is easy to set up. Also, it includes a variety of bug-fixing tools. Its drawbacks include no pull request assistance. Besides, there's the fact that there's a smaller online community to turn to for help.
3. Development Time and Costs
It's easier to estimate how long it will take to create a mobile app after considering a specific project. Yet, Android development tends to take longer, by 30-40%. This is due to code complexity and device variety. Cost is also challenging to estimate, but Android apps tend to be more expensive. This also concerns the wide variety of devices needing more resources. As a result, developers can adapt to different screen sizes and OS versions.
4. Design Processes
With limited screen sizes and resolutions, iOS can have a cohesive design strategy. This strategy goes throughout all devices. In this context, Apple carefully curates aesthetics for its User Interface. Meanwhile, due to device fragmentation and variety, Android requires more flexibility. There are also differences in User Interfaces and navigation to take into account. Differences include the placement and color of navigation bars and menus. Further, they contemplate how pop-up notifications and the back button work.
5. Target Audiences
According to StatCounter, Android holds almost 72% of the market share worldwide. Meanwhile, iOS has a bit over 27%. It’s also worth noting that, in the US, iOS holds the majority, with 55% of the market share. As we’ll see below, these figures don’t necessarily correspond to the money mobile apps in each OS bring in.
iOS apps mostly make money by selling the apps themselves. Yet, Android mobile apps turn to ad monetization. But both iOS and Android apps have solid in-app purchasing systems. As we’ve seen, there are fewer iOS users. Yet, they tend to be older, generally have higher annual incomes, and spend more time on their phones. This leads us to the fact that, when it comes to revenue, iOS brought in 63% of the $133B that mobile apps amassed in 2021.
iOS vs. Android Development Pros and Cons
Developing your app for iOS or Android will depend on many factors. For instance, the type of app, your target audience, and your team's skill set. Also, it would be best if you considered your preferred monetization strategy. We can't say either platform is better; they have specific strengths and weaknesses.
Your app should be available to the most significant number of people possible. In that case, you could create a mobile app for iOS and Android. What's more, you can decide to go cross-platform to save costs. We hope this article has given you a comprehensive overview! Not only what iOS and Android mobile app development entail. Also, about the differences between the two.