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“Should we build for Android or for iOS first?”

That question is still one of the first ones we get from developers. Given mobile’s importance to many companies’ very lifeblood, we’ve taken pains to answer it properly.

The answer will vary for different developers; it all depends on facts unique to their situation, prevailing trends, and statistical data (which we’ve collected over time with help of other data aggregators).

To begin? Money.

Making money: Android and iOS revenue models

Parent companies Google/Alphabet and Apple approach the “money making” concept differently: iOS encourages the standard “pay once and never again” as well as the in-app purchase model. Android opts more commonly for an ad-supported format. Despite the increasing popularity of microtransaction-centric apps, iOS still has a higher percentage of apps that use a one-time purchase revenue model. Without a doubt, iOS skews towards higher profit margins overall.

Demographics: Android users and iOS users

Boasting the largest total users globally, Android has a higher reach into lower income locations (think developing nations). From a purchase power standpoint, iOS users spend more on average after they’ve downloaded an app because those on iOS tend to be more educated and come from wealthier backgrounds.

Open source: Android vs. iOS

With Android’s open source nature comes a few benefits: You can mod the system itself with add-ons like SlimRoms; these benefit the user and gives developers better/fuller access to the system. Apps are still commonly built for these custom operating systems, which are only available on Android. There’s a ton of reasons to build for an android mod:

  • You never have to wait for a nightly
  • You can add or remove as-yet-uncommitted features with ease
  • You can utilize C, Java, or C++ and learn a lot about the build system
  • You can personalize Android – make your own tweaks, replace kernels, modules, graphics, add or remove projects, overclock, underclock, etc. Basically, you have control over every aspect of your device’s functionality. Your build is custom to you.
  • You can audit the code for potential security issues such as backdoors or Trojans, as opposed to just trusting a random person who posts a build. You can examine every commit, and there are many eyes looking at the code
  • You can contribute features/fixes upstream
  • You can start ports to other as-yet-unsupported devices

Tablets: Android and iOS difference

Despite the slowdown in tablet sales, Apple-created tablets are currently dominating the market in 2016, especially in the enterprise market. Controlling about 2/3 of the total market share of tablets, even Android phone owners commonly carry Apple’s tablets — they simply carry a better reputation.

Enterprise popularity: Android and iOS apps

Once upon a time, Blackberry was the top choice for workplace-enterprise operating systems. Since its decline, iOS has become a prime competitor for this market and has gained a reputation for being more secure. iOS also has a more refined and advanced enterprise development platform, and it will only be getting more powerful with Apple’s partnership with IBM.

Should I build for iOS first?

More often than not, we find ourselves advising developers to start out on iOS first. There are usually 3 big reasons for this:

  1. They need to get the app to the market quickly
  2. Because that’s where their target market resides
  3. Their app offers a feature that the Apple store can sell more of because of its pricing structure.

We also don’t recommend launching on both iOS and Android simultaneously — learning from your mistakes and successes is so much easier if you can focus on one system at a time.

Should I build for Android first?

Android first does make sense from time to time, usually because of your app’s target user. When most of your users will end up being lower income users or you can’t justify in-app purchases, Android is probably the way to go. Many, including us, are of the opinion that Android development is a lengthier process that will end up costing more overall… (at least most of the time). Thus, our previously mentioned recommendation.

Can I start with both Android and iOS?

While some enterprises can accomplish both simultaneously, starting out that way carries certain implications. We generally advise against this because you need to learn from feedback and constantly change the app over time. This way, you can introduce your app to the new store with a much more refined start – increasing your chances of success.

How to know you’re ready to move

There will come a time in your app’s life when you realize the majority of the bugs have been removed, users are rating it highly, and it’s looking like the app has a bright future. However, this point may be further out than you realize. Because of that, ideally, you should wait for the maximum user base to adopt on one platform before moving over. That way, you will profit immediately after moving.

Feel free to drop us a note if you think we missed something or you want to chime in with your opinion!

Comments

One response to “Your top question answered: “Should we build for Android or for iOS first?””

  1. Nick Carter says:

    Thank you for this tips. They will be helpful as for beginners as for pro!

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