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iOS or Android. How to Choose the Right Platform for Your Mobile App?

You plan to take mobile application development. Here is the question you face  –  Android or iOS? to get instant access to high revenue user base and monetize quickly you feel like starting on iOS. On the other hand you don’t want to miss a huge Android user base which keeps growing every second. Appstore restriction and submission process are also something too much for you to handle. But perhaps working on Eclipse makes you dizzy? Too many pros and cons against each major platform (excluding the others for now). Should you develop an app for iOS or for Android first?

The former experiences go in favor of iOS and Appstore. Practically all of most famous apps such as Instagram, Snapchat,Facebook for Mobile, Whatsapp were initially built for iOS and then moved to Android after establishing significant and self-sustainable user base.

Does this mean that the question is practically closed? Not at all. There are several other variables you need to consider. Not all successful mobile ventures have to start on iOS.

Type of app.

The type of app you plan to build will largely determine the platform you are going to choose. For example, gaming (in particular graphically intense OpenGL gaming) is probably much easier to develop on iOS, as the libraries for such are more mature and easier to pick up for existing game programmers.

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On the other hand Android provides many advantages in terms of building “connected” apps, namely apps to connect to cloud services.  The native sync-ing framework is very sophisticated and allows you to easily integrate into the contacts of the phone, and utilize data in a standardized way.  Android has many ways to integrate directly into the phone like AppWidgets, contact syncing, and the native accounts framework.

Business model

If you plan to monetize your app by in-app purchases then, no doubt, iOS is the platform to start with. iPhone users are usually financially more powerful (if they have paid small fortune for smartphone device, they surely will be more eager to pay few extra dollars for good mobile app). Android users tend to belong to the lower purchase classes. The fact that most OEMs tend to conquer demand of higher-end low cost smartphone devices (the example of Amazon’s Fire Phone and Microsoft’s Nokia X) by offering Android phones is a solid validation for this assumption.

If you plan to go with ad based monetizaton method and have enough patient and time for that then developing on Android first will be good decision. New Android devices keep getting activated (around 1.5 million daily) as we speak and so the probability of launching a mobile app that will go viral and bring good revenue along.

Device fragmentation

Most developers look on device fragmentation as a disadvantage. When it comes to Android or iOS choice it is definitely not easy to customize app to be compatible with thousands of Android powered devices. If we talk about Apple iOS, they are in positive side as there is no fragmentation issue in iOS environment. But ever since the iOS7 has launched it is also going down on the path of fragmentation. For example Airdrop for iOS7 will no longer work for iOS5 users.

What is the best course of action in these circumstances? Make use of fragmentation.  For example Android voice recognition feature was introduced onto Jellybean onward. So if you want to develop application that works with voice recognition then no need to customize it for the lowers version of Android Devices. Customize it for the devices running Jellybean.

The main idea behind it is look onto the application features before deciding the platform. Many of you may admit that this is not the outlook they have given to their platform decision.

Your target users

What type of market you are going to target? Like if you want to target business individuals try going for the iOS application development. As we said above, they will definitely never mind in spending few dollars . And one factor also come that iOS powered phone are not cheap, so no doubt the users with iOS are more willing to pay. If we talk about Android market, it has larger number of shares. But the users in Android environment are not willing to pay for your app.

Try getting more information about the user by searching in the app website like Appbrain, and Appannie. This will help you in your awareness about the recent trend in the market.

Platform usage

Traditionally Android has dominated the market share and the number of new installs compared to iOS. However usage statistics were always in favor of iOS. iOS users tend to be more active and engaged compared to Android users.

Well not anymore. The latest data from Net Applications show that smartphones and tablets powered by Android were used more than iPhones, iPads, and iPod touches powered by iOS this July. While iOS usage dipped from 45.61% in June to 44.19%, Android’s increased from 43.75% to 44.62.

All this means that developers should no longer consider usage statistics as important indicator in their platform selection efforts.

Are we asking the right question?

Before the advent of hybrid app development and interpreted app development platform, this question which many have called it another techno-religious war held far higher importance and relevance. Today almost ever developer decides for cross platform approach in order to reach maximum number of users from both platforms. Let’s see what statistics say:

  • When asked their preferred approach for developing apps that support multiple platforms, only 15% of the more than 5,000 surveyed would use Native-only (a Kendo survey)
  • 87% of those surveyed are primarily focused on using HTML5 to build desktop websites/web apps, followed by mobile websites (53%).
  • the market for cross-platform mobile development tools exceeds $1.6 billion right now, and is expected to reach $8.2 billion by 2016  (Smiths Point Analytics)

Overall, most developers are using a good mix of hybrid, Web, and native technologies when developing apps for more than one platform. Cross-platform mobile app development tools are seen as extremely useful not only for developers with limited resources who wish broader reach, but also as leverage for developers looking to augment their skill set. To me it seems that based on all this, the question of which platform to develop on is no longer valid, and thus is time to be closed.

Before that your comments and opinions are invited and highly appreciated.

Do share your thought over the question whether a developer should still scratch his head in selecting one platform over the other and whether the cross platform approach closes this question permanently.