A personal question here: Are you married? No? Wedding in your bucket list? Yet no? Well, chuck it. I am sure you can answer this —
How would you choose a husband?
The guy has to be sweet, sexy, should understand you, should be resilient to the devil in you, should be thick-skinned to take all your terrific tantrums, should have a visibly good gene pool (that’s biology, don’t take it personally please!), most importantly, should have the capacity to hold up your soul in its naked nature, no matter how you go on with your life.
Well, if you are making a mobile app, choosing between Android and iOS is like choosing a husband for your app. It solely depends on the nature of your app.
Despite the prediction of Android being the priority platform for app launches quite soon in the decade, it has not happened. There was a fancy hoopla around it and a lot of developers were a mixed bag of excitement and resistance.
There are two clear advocacies — for some iOS is the way to go, for some others, Android is green for a reason. I wish the choice had been that easy! I wish there were a user manual of app launch that would tell me, in non-diplomatic language, where I should be releasing the first version of my app initially. Pitifully, there is none of that sort.
And for good reason.
Here is a list of stuff, I found out, I must be considering, while planning the platform for my app’s release. And I am guessing, the knowledge would be helpful to you too.
Which part of the globe are your customers in? How old are they? How affluent are their social circles?
Apple is a cult brand. There are people who would swear by it. And those are the very same people, who either are in the financial scale of buying an iPhone, or are atleast aspiring to get one, as soon as they step into that scale.
So if my neighbor has been liberal enough a parent to gift his teen daughter an iPhone, I am assuming, he would not have issues including $50 extra in her pocket money, if she gave out a little fuss over getting that quick make-up app that her best friend has.
People who are financially well off enough to afford a cult product would hypothetically, have reached their late twenties atleast. That sets your demography clear.
If it is a premium app that you are planning (I shall talk about this, later in the article), is of use to young adults with a little family, if the user is placed in some part of the US (or any other such part of the globe, where Apple is a tech-oxygen), iOS is the way to go, atleast from your end user’s perspective.
How do you plan your app to yield bucks for you?
Even if your app is right now, not a premium one, but you want to make money out of it in the near future, launching it first on iOS, makes more sense. You see, people who have paid for an iPhone are people, who are more likely to buy and application and make in-app purchases.
Here is a statistical data for you to get a clearer idea of the whole iOS — Android situation.
It’s apparent that Android rules when it comes to market share. There is a reason for it. There are tons of free apps built for Android. There are tons of people using these apps. So very obviously, market shares soar high for Android.
Data shows, your app gets downloaded more, not sold more, when your perk it up on Android. You reach a larger audience, you don’t reach a larger revenue.
That happens when you are present on iOS. As I mentioned earlier, people who tend to buy more apps or make more in-app purchases from iOS app store.
That sets the tone for you — if your are trying to make money out of your app, Android is not a very good platform for you. If, however, you are trying to reach a lot of people, make your app really famous, and then place a buying model, Android first rocks for you.
How long can you wait, and how soon do you need to iterate? More importantly, do you need to test?
By long here, I mean, the length of time post your app-development efforts have been complete from your team’s end and is ready for review at app stores.
Android follows a complete de-humanised method of app approvals. So basically, if your application is ready and meets a few guidelines, you are through. The process takes about a couple of days and post that, it all depends on your app’s loveability and your luck, of course.
It’s not that easy for iOS. To start with, you app has to rest in a long queue, before it dances on its chance to be reviewed. When it does, it is sure to bump into their guidelines, which are, by the way, stricter than those of Android app review process.
For example, if your app requests sign ups, you are risking rejection at the first go by the iOS app store review team. Further, there are humans who would be testing your app, before approving it. This ushers in softer factors. So if any reviewer thinks that your app should have been better to suit i-users’ tastes, well, you are in for changes then! Redoing stuff here and there will take more time and then re-sending it for review will eat away more of your time.
Iteration and testing are important parts of your app’s success cycle. Doing iterations on Android is easier when compared to iOS. Furthermore, Google has a reliable alpha-beta testing methodology in place. So you get to open your app for testing to a selected group of users, before you are confident enough to order a mass release.
The same principle applies, when you have upgraded your app and need a specific chunk of users to give you real time feedback, before declaring version x.
On the contrary, getting your app tested in a stratified manner if slightly more complicated on iOS. Worse, publishing your app among your testers, needs approval and your testers might have to download the version that is specifically meant for them.
Mike Chan, co-founder at ribl app describes crisply why Android first workedfor them. One of the core reasons, however, for them to prefer Android over iOS, was that, they had used Java to create the back-end of the app. Using Objective C or Swift(released around when the app was in process) for creating the front end would involve context shift, which is not a very good thing, when you are in hurry to let your app out.
Are you targeting businesses?
If so, I recommend hopping on to iOS without a second thought. There are a number of reasons for the take, the foremost being that enterprise applications generally demand a more secure and reliable access. The Apple environment is generally considered to be closed. Android, is after all based on an opensource thing!
Moreover, Apple is being swift at partnering with organisations like IBM for mobile enterprise apps. There is also a ‘Volume Purchase Plan’, which makes Apple more desirable for enterprises. It took me by surprise though! (Apple’s loyalty programs sound better when they are more interesting)
Is updating your app one of your exciting points?
If no, stick to Android. If yes, iOS is your best bet. More than that…..updating your application according to the newest versions of iOS is a mandate, not a choice.
Alternatively, you will find, on Google Play, there will show up a lot of apps, that are not supported on Lollipop. Why? The makers were not quick enough to upgrade their application. Similarly, there will be a lot that are not supported on earlier versions. Android’s backward compatibility is narrow.
Users have a better experience, your app is more polished and it reaches people with its essence intact, on iOS app store. When you are required to give your best, you get the best in return too!
To top this off, it has been found out that iOS versions see a quicker adoption than Android versions. Explained more clearly, iPhone users tend to upgrade their phones to the latest OS, quicker than Android users.
Let’s talk about developers’ dilemma a bit now
Screen sizes? Ringing bells? Android is used by zillions of devices all across the world. So if you are building an app for Android, you have to keep in mind, those zillion screen sizes, and how your app experience will differ all across them (or consistency for that matter).
I don’t know about you, but I would have been happier writing an app out for iOS. It is definitely a daunting task for a developer to consider the plethora of screen sizes that devices that use Android.
Apple, additionally, stay a safer bet. iOS has been, is being and will always be used exclusively by Apple devices. So a lower number of screen sizes almost remains a promise.
This issue has been faced by messenger app, Emu. They were quick to step into Android first, while launching their app. And after 6 insightful months of beating and learning, they learnt a few lessons and quickly shifted to iOS. Although Emu faced a lot of other issues while being present on Google Play store, screen size discrepancy was a huge setback for them.
Apple wins here, any day, atleast up till now. The very fact that Apple’s SDK demands that you use the Apple environment exclusively for developing an application, means, the result you get, is more polished, closed, more secure and offers a better user experience (atleast on the psychological level). Your app is better protected from hacks and malware (great news for whoever would be using your application).
Going by a widespread adoption of the Apple culture, you will find out, iOS is considered to be a more secure Operating System, both in personal as well as professional use panorama.
So if you have a gaming app right on the plate, and there are a lot many windows through which the user might connect with other gamers, it makes more sense, having it on iOS. Data shared, thus, will be accessible to those using Apple cloud. The very fact that Apple has such a close and defended environment, makes users a lot more comfortable.
And definitely, you don’t want to miss the spotlight, do you?
A good app on Apple, sets influencers chirping about it. Trust me, most of them carry an iPhone or iPad along. So your app is more likely to make news on the Apple stage, when compared to the Android one. The ones published on Android at an early stage, face difficulty in glowing in limelight. If you have your app already on iOS, and it is making some cool buzz there, you will hear Android users saying, “Hey! When are you planning to come on Android?” You will seldom ever hear the opposite.
Is Android First the New Normal
I would say no. Semil Shah put it in a better manner — Android is much, much later. Although the scenario differs from one application to another, the overall scenario remains the same even today — Go on Apple first. When your app has the sheen and shine there, launch it to Android. But maintain a spacious distance of time between the two launches.
When should you go on both simultaneously?
When you want to do both things together — earn money and get popular. I would recommend that to app developers, whose apps need to and should, by all means, reach majority of the globe, quickly. That is the case when either your product is doing something for as crucial an issue as climate change, or when you have enough budget to ensure an unhindered flow on marketing, or when your product is so damn simple, it does not need iterations at all!
Ideally, iOS first is still, the way to go. Android has to go a long way, before it can become Android first, although it has already undergone a lot of improvements.
Google is doing a lot to make things easier and better accessible for developers to publish their applications without hassle on Google Play Store. Thing is, the more severe those norms are, the more polished apps come out to be, which is the case with Apple. And no way, in the near future, is Apple going to unfasten its strong restrictions on app publishing.
User experience is not an option, but a mandate with Apple. Isn’t that all you want for your app? To promote experience so well, uninstalls are hardly a possibility? Apple, indirectly, promises you that.
To my knowledge, maintaining a good retainer ratio is the second most important thing, the first being earning revenues, for every app.
Talking about revenue and user experience, Android apps tend to push in advertisements, to earn money. It’s irritating, and turns off app users — another reason for mindful uninstalls (which you don’t want to happen).
So, iOS first is my take!
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