When faced with deciding to choose between iOS vs. Android app development the choice may be somewhat paradigmatic. Creators of both platforms are continuously in the development stage as they work to improve and implement new features on a regular basis. Take a look at the latest news. Another version of Android – Android O is set to be released soon. Meanwhile, Apple is getting ready for its release of iOS 11. These two platforms are constantly competing in terms of accessibility and novelty of features, which reflects both on mobile devices user and developer interests. So, which option should a novice mobile application developer choose?
If you are at the beginning of your programming career, you have probably questioned yourself several times as to which development sphere to select – iOS or Android. This article examines the advantages of these platforms from the developer’s point of view, and also considers prospects for the development of companies’ software.
Differences between iOS and Android development concepts
For starters, let us examine the basic ideas imbedded in the functionality of iOS and Android platforms by their creators. This will help us figure out which principles and ground rules a developer should rely on when creating new apps for a chosen platform. We can then begin constructive analysis of the difference between Android and iOS development.
Basic principles of iOS
Apple’s main goal is to have full control of all its software’s source code. Currently, developers who are not employed at Apple have only partial access to elements of this platform. This setup was originally backed by Steve Job’s authoritative stance and the setup of the company. In particular, Apple’s mastermind made several negative remarks regarding Android’s complete open source, and always, essentially, chose the exact opposite strategy.
iOS is factually based on the Mach microkernel and Darwin system. The system fully corresponds with UNIX SUSv3 specifications but, in practice, the openness of the iOS code is not influenced in any way (considered a feature of the UNIX system). What’s the advantage of closed source code for Apple developers? First and foremost, the ability to have total control over the results of work of full-time and part-time programmers who are busy with new products for the company. In addition, in order to receive some revenue from Apple and upload your applications to the App Store, you will have to spend 99 conditional units. Annually - a sum that may be insignificant to a typical developer but may, nevertheless, be unattractive for some.
What do we think will be the outcome of Steve Jobs’ implementation of radical rules? On one hand, a lot of IT companies ready to work for Apple were confused by the rules; however, by possessing an impeccable reputation and releasing software and hardware of the highest quality, Apple’s creator did not disappoint its dedicated consumers. This is why the source code was originally established as the closed type. Nowadays, apps developed for the iOS platform must go through a set of approvals before being publicly distributed via the App Store. Where uploads of an app on the site used to take up to several weeks, the waiting period is now reduced to a few days. This is an element to be considered by developer teams when scheduling the product’s release by date. On the other hand, the closed code strategy provides users with doubtless advantages; the introduced rules guarantee an accordance of all the platform’s components to the stated quality.
As a result of the Apple founder’s strategy, possessing an iPhone or an iPad today is fashionable and a sign of status. So, what is the basic conception fo the main opponent of iOS: Android?
Basic principles of Android
Android, currently owned by Google, initially positioned itself as an incredibly accessible (which is important) and budget friendly platform for mobile devices, when compared to iOS. Successful releases of versions that could efficiently compete with iOS in all the user parameters took place at the end of 2009, and was supported by such giants as HTC, Samsung and Motorola.
The Android platform is based on Linux core, and is a complete implementation of open source software. Basically, Google allows for the addition of updates and even the creation of one’s own operating systems with the platform’s help.
The mobile devices working on Android OS are considered by many users as budget-friendly alternatives to iOS devices (even though there are currently many options on the market that are more expensive than Apple’s products). Essentially, the pricing component is fundamental when looking at iOS vs. Android rivalry for regular users, which is clearly indicated by the history of sales numbers. As we can see, for the last eight years, Android has been the undeniable leader when compared to iOS in the consumer segment.
It is fair to say, however, that open source code also has its disadvantages. Unfortunately, Android users often encounter various viruses and other hacker software that can be very harmful to mobile devices. iOS, in turn, leaves practically no loopholes for harmful software, which says a lot about the reliability of the operating system.
Let’s consider the rules of apps uploaded to Google Play, individually. In order to publish a new application on the Android market, cost is only $25 for registration, which is quite a competitive price when compared to iOS requirements and costs. On the other hand, the app will not go through any moderation stages with Android. Apart from the “production” section of the software, there are two tabs in the Google Play developer console: “beta testing” and “alpha testing.” Uploading your application through one of these tabs will mean it is only available to testers.
Thus, we have determined the essential differences between the concepts of these two platforms. Now we can perform a more thorough comparison of iOS vs. Android development. Let’s analyze the differences that are most important for developers who wish to create mobile applications.
Differences between iOS and Android mobile application development: 7 technical distinctions
Let us examine a set of essential technical differences featured in the software development process for iOS and Android.
- Coding language. The basic language used in the development of Android apps is Java. In turn, programmers use Objective-C and Swift to create software for iOS platforms. Regardless of which language you choose, the vast web-community of developers is going be an undeniable advantage for you. Should you encounter certain problems during software development, it is practically guaranteed that you will find a solution on the internet. What is important to note, however, is that you will have to possess an original Apple device (e.g. Macbook) in order to learn to program for iOS - a fact that limits the possibilities of many beginning programmers.
- Applied IDE. iOS and Android utilize various tools for mobile app development (IDE). Google, being the official owner of Android, introduced the multifunctional and incredibly accessible IDE Android Studio (switching from Eclipse ADT, which utilizes Java, C and C++). This significantly helped optimize the process of app development for the platform. On the other hand, Apple is far more consistent in regard to this question, with software developers using XCode for the past number of years. New versions are released from time to time, the latest of which support Swift (one of the most advanced coding languages for iOS).
- Relevance. As noted above, Android production has been leading sales on the market of smart devices for the past eight years. If we analyze tendencies in sales, we can see that the popularity of Android-based devices is growing yearly, even though the market share of iOS had decreased by 21% at the end of 2016. Such readings, however, cannot significantly affect the popularity of certain mobile applications, due to advancing cross-platform developments.
- Differences in design. iOS and Android both feature many essential differences in design. In particular, we can note that the general feature of Apple’s pictograms, icons and buttons is their minimalistic, concise design. Android web designers are inspired by an almost identical Material Design idea. In that way, the absence of grotesque, massive icons and lines is similar for both iOS and Android development. Furthermore, the desire to apply a sensory panel on mobile devices (excluding the need to use physical buttons) can be clearly traced in the latest versions of Android OS. Let us also note the appearance of multitask panels on the two platforms. iOS has separate miniature windows; Android has interchangeable tabs that fit across almost the entire screen. The platforms also have different styles of buttons, with floating buttons that cast shade on Android devices, and the more stylistic simple and aesthetically modern design of iOS. This rule also applies to icons: iOS creators demand the lines used in icons to as thin as possible (as opposed to Android).
- Specifics of distributive platforms. Suppose all developmental stages have been accomplished and you have uploaded your app to the respective online market. What’s next? In order for your iOS app to be made public you will have to wait for a couple of days. This approach reduces the chances of software with a huge amount of bugs or restricted content being posted in the App Store. The equivalent process for Android developers takes only a few hours, with the project being uploaded directly afterwards. While this option gives the IT company more freedom, it is, in fact, less safe for standard mobile devices users. Fortunately, to date, Google has implemented a special Bouncer system into Google Play that automatically searches and removes Android market software, that is potentially harmful and inappropriate, from user access.
- Updating online mediums. The process of uploading updates for existing apps in the App Store is also a time consuming process that requires at least two weeks of wait time. This, alone, can negatively influence an IT company’s plans and delay the supposed release date of a product. It is, however, worth noting a number of frameworks for mobile software development; frameworks that provide the ability to update while bypassing Apple’s policies. What can we say about Android’s side of this spectrum? Developers can update their software products every two hours so, if you have a coordinated and sufficiently experienced team of testers, Android rules will prove more appropriate for you.
- Developers’ income from monetization of apps. iOS applications, mostly, bring in more revenues and provide for bigger incomes, as compared to similar Android solutions. This can be explained by the solvency of most iOS device users. This information, of course, greatly benefits the platform’s native developers; however, their opponents – creators of Android solutions - can also receive steady revenue from their software products, simply based on the colossal number of Android gadget users.
What can we find out from real developer experiences?
Let’s consider some of the comments from real professional developers. Obviously, the opinions of professionals who have only worked with one of the discussed platforms cannot be completely reliable. That is why we studied the comments of only the people who associated their work with development of apps for both platforms.
Having analyzed a number of themed forums, we made a conclusion. Developers that work on apps for both iOS and Android almost unanimously claim that software posted in the App Store sells more than that from Google Play. An implicit majority of forum dwellers back their arguments with the statement that Android-based device users are used to get “everything at once, and for free.” In most cases, users do not see a reason to invest their hard earned money into useful but, nevertheless, paid apps. On the other hand, there are numerous methods for monetization in the modern world of IT and, because of this, one can regularly receive passive income from free apps (for example, through advertisement, creation of template code, etc.). We can say that beginner programmers do not require that much money to choose a suitable platform. Its objective inconsistency is supported by the fact that total sales of Android-based devices are higher by several tens of percents than those of iOS-based devices. What can novice Android developers take from all this? Basically, it is not necessary to sell expensive products in order to receive a desired income, and money can be earned due to the estimated number of potential consumers who will use the solution.
What can we say about reasonable remarks? We noticed the fact that some developers complain about the wide variety of manufacturers and screen sizes of Android-based devices. This makes the process of adapting interfaces to all existing devices on Android OS quite complicated. iOS, in turn, paints a much clearer picture in this regard, as there are not a wide selection of gadgets and formats, and it will not be difficult to figure out if your app’s interface will fit on screen. In addition, there are special device emulators (e.g. Apple iOS Simulator – an official product which is launched via XCode) that provide the ability to test applications using various combinations of OS versions and hardware.
We should also mention that cross-platform development is rapidly gaining popularity nowadays. It lets the developers create software solutions for both discussed platforms simultaneously. This method of software development has its disadvantages, though; particularly its insufficient performance and the inability to perfectly adapt to the design of a certain platform. That said, it is still too early to discuss its superiority over native development options.
What does all this mean? In the end, both platforms serve as a good foundation for the commercial promotion of your IT-company’s software on similar levels.
Further prospects for platform development
Let’s consider further prospects for developers working on both platforms. We’ll begin with Android.
As we know, almost a year ago, Android publicly introduced a new version of its operating system, Android Nougat 7.1.2. This version literally blew us away with its embedded hardware support of virtual reality apps. What does this mean for developers? Firstly, there is now a huge opportunity for creation of new VR-based software. Fortunately, today, mobile gadget users need not purchase expensive VR viewers with integrated processors, screens, cameras and sensors. In 2014, Google presented Google Cardboard - a budget solution that is, essentially, a simple build made with cardboard, optic lenses, magnets and velcro fasteners. It enables you to view virtual reality objects through your smartphone screen. Android Nougat is planned to use an identical accessory – Google Daydream VR. Thus, Android software developers can focus on the implementation of this technology in their solutions.
Let us consider the general prospects for development of the iOS. A new iOS 11 version is prepared for official release this fall (you can also read an article from our blog: iOS 11 vs. iOS 10: What’s New and Comparison Review). Among its main features are enhanced apple pencil capabilities, ARKit support, SDK for Machine Learning and updated functions and camera modes. From our point of view, ARKit support is most applicable to developer innovation. It is an advanced tool for creation of augmented reality apps that utilizes powerful Apple A9 and A10 processors. It includes three fundamental technologies: visual inertial odometry, accelerated rendering and more precise in frame recognition of scenes and lighting levels. Together, these technologies provide the ability to develop even more realistic AR-based solutions than was ever possible before.
In summary, we can see that the further development and potential of development for iOS and Android promises some incredible commercial benefits. That is why we strongly recommend you study the most current and promising technologies of AR and VR, in order to compete in the services market of mobile application development.
When faced with the ongoing competition between iOS over Android, arguing which option is better is absolutely pointless, considering how accessible and multifunctional both platforms have become from the user point of view. It is unlikely that, in upcoming versions of OS Android and iOS, one will discover revolutionary changes in design & performance. The features present in them now were perfected by leading teams of developers, web-designers and marketers.
Let’s talk perspectives. Apple’s and Google’s teams of developers work hard on the creation of default functionality, which would apply trendy and innovative technologies to their full extent, including technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality and artificial neural networks. What we can expect from the two giants in the IT sphere include advanced software tools which are not limited by currently available mobile gadget capabilities. Such tools may as well start a new era of development in the field of artificial intelligence and 3D graphics.
Our team of developers do their best to keep up with the times. We are constantly improving our skills in the creation of mobile apps for iOS and Android. Our apps are inspired by the latest tendencies in the IT sphere, with a focus on cross-platform development, which is especially popular nowadays. This gives us the ability to create software that functions on both platforms in the shortest times, and with limited budgets. You can also order a native project, which will be fully dedicated on a certain platform and feature high performance functionality, which is important in apps that fully utilize complex components of smartphones and tablets (cameras, GPS, accelerometers, step counters etc.). We are looking forward to working with you on your next project!