What To Build For First – Apple Or Android?

Abhinav Girdhar
By Abhinav Girdhar | Last Updated on February 19th, 2024 1:46 pm

App Builder Appy Pie, December 29: It’s been quite a few years now that the question of which platform to choose for your first app has been looming large on the minds of the young app developers or companies that are looking to hire them. The question is gaining more and more relevance today as the mobile usage and the average time spent on them is growing steadily and the dependence and fascination about apps is on the rise among people. This is an era of mobility where the mobile apps are playing an instrumental role. From big business houses to a person with a great app idea, the world of technology is being ruled by mobile applications. It takes a lot to decide to go for a mobile app and once you have decided that you want to build one, the platform you choose for it is extremely important too! The recent rise in start-ups and the current economy go a long way in making this question raise its head even more often than in the past. As Windows and Blackberry are practically pushed out of the picture, the real decision or choice is between android & iOS platforms. However, there is no need to be intimidated with the string of decisions that you might have to make in your process to pick one platform over the other. Like any other choice, this too will have to be based on an intense list of pros and cons for each of the platforms and you would have to choose the one with the maximum pros for your cause. In this post, we would be talking about whether an app can be built on both the platforms, then move on to comparative arguments about the viability of Android or Apple platform for the app, cite the situations when to choose Apple, when to choose Android, or when to choose both, and when to move on to the next platform.

Can you build on both?

Well, why not? Of course, you can technically build on both the platforms, but there is a hefty price tag attached to this. But apart from the obvious cost factor, there are a number of other factors that might indicate that it would be better to choose one platform over the other like – target audience, revenue model, features and so many more.  

Factors to consider

While it might prove to be ideal for you to develop apps for both the platforms, there is a good chance you can only cover the costs for only one right now. In that scenario there would be a number of factors that’d determine the way you finally decide to go.

1. Apple App Feature Set Vs Android App Feature Set

This pertains to the features that are related to the basic functioning of the app. The kind of features and functions that you are aiming for, help you decide the platform that you should develop your app for. It has been established through research that iOS users are 15% time more likely to visit eCommerce apps when compared to their Android counterparts. Apple is restricted to a closed ecosystem which effectively means that the entrance to their platform is regulated quite stringently. The content on this platform is restricted to those specific devices that are supported by their ecosystem. Though developing an app on a closed ecosystem gives the developers a lot more control and stability, but it also means that the developers need to use Apple’s features, of which there are quite a few! There are also a lot many more restrictions for the developer. Android however operates on an open source ecosystem which allows for loads of alterations and lets you add lots of functionality. These however are less secure, hence some of the updates tend to get blocked by the mobile network operators. Android with its open platform actually encourages developer innovation to a great extent. The fact that you can get Android’s source code for free and transfer it easily on to your app’s hardware, just goes on to show how much more convenient is it to develop an Android App, due to lesser restrictions.

2. Apple App Revenue Models Vs Android App Revenue Models

The revenue model or the monetization aspect of the app is one of the most important points to consider, because, the idea of an app is finally to make money. If you are not primarily looking to make money from your app, it is time you stepped back for a bit and reconsider the whole decision of developing an app. How do you plan to make money from your app?
  • Subscriptions
  • In-App Purchases
  • Advertisements
  • Pay Per Download
It is the revenue model that you pick to make money from your app that has a strong bearing on the decision of choosing the app platform for your first app. Apple is a better platform, if you are planning to charge your users for the download of your app, then you need to develop an app for the Apple platform first. The Apple users are more likely to see the apps that are chargeable, hence when you make your app chargeable, the chances of the users coming across your app is higher on the Apple platform than on the Android platform. This also means that since they are willing to pay for it, they would be less likely to abandon it. However, the cost of customer acquisition in this case is also going to ride high. Android is a better platform for you if your revenue model includes in-app purchases or ads. However, it is best not to expect a very high in-app purchase amount either. The amount of purchase per user might be small, but since the Android users dominate the market, the total earnings are sizeable. The number of downloads of a free app over Android platform is a lot higher, but the probability of the Android users abandoning an app is high too. The idea is to make the most of money from users who engage the most, whether it is through upgrades, premium subscriptions, or other in-app purchases.

3. Apple App Release Cycles Vs Android App Release Cycles

This is one of the factors that are oft ignored by app developers. The software versions that your users are using is important when you are trying to develop an app, because your app should be written in a code that can be read by the latest of the software versions. But here too, there is a major difference between Apple and Android versions. 95% of the Apple users have either of the two latest versions of their operating system which makes programming a lot easier by helping you predict the functionality of your app over these versions. All you would need to do here is to be ready with more updates to optimize the user experience based on the software version they are using, but there is no need to worry about the older versions of the same. The Android users however, are not all using the latest versions. Since most of the users are a little scattered and distributed wildly across different versions of the software, your app needs to be developed keeping in view the older versions as well.

4. Target Market or Demographics

The demographics of the users is the ever-important factor that you need to consider while taking the decision of choosing a suitable app platform. In case you have an established business with a strong customer base and are planning to use this app to expand your income, then this existing customer base can prove to be a good reference point for you. However, those who are planning a start-up would need to research and develop a user persona with factors like Age, Location, and Income playing a strong part in it.

5. Location

It is no secret that Apple’s attention leans towards the premium customers with a higher disposable income whereas Android focuses their attention upon the masses. Hence when it comes to the developing markets like Asia, South America, Africa etc. the market share of Android is considerably larger than that of Apple. In case your app has a location specific functionality or relevance, it is wise to keep this factor in mind.

6. Apple iPad Apps Vs Android Tablet Apps

It has been observed that whenever it comes to building apps, it is mobile apps that we tend to think about and miss out thinking about the entire tablet market. In the past few years the tablet market has tilted in the favour of iPads by a considerable margin and looks like the trend is going to continue for some time to come. People prefer to use iPads because they are user friendly, sleek, easy to use, and appeal to all age groups whether it is children, young adults or the seniors. The use of iPads is more for the entertainment quotient where the users watch movies, play games or other such things. The Android tablets however are used more for technical purposes, whether it is for a project or at work. It is common to see an Android phone user to be using an iPad, but an Apple phone user is more likely to stay loyal to the brand and use an iPad.

7. Apple Enterprise Apps Vs Android Enterprise App

The enterprise applications or apps need to be characteristically a lot more secure than any other. There was a time when Blackberry used to be the preferred device for the enterprises, but that was a really long while ago. Today, iOS has manged to replace Blackberry and quite commendably so. In this matter Android with its open system stands nowhere close to Apple with its high reputation and regard for safety. However, it is worth noting that the higher the security measures, fewer would be the number of features on offer.

8. Fragmentation On Android Platform

One of the biggest disadvantages of having an open environment on the Android platform is the lack of standardization, as there is a great number of handset hardware variants to be taken into account. The fragmentation comes as a challenge for the developers not just due to the wide variety of devices, but also due to the wide variety of components that may be used in these devices. It is for this reason that bug testing and testing the app for crashes takes a lot longer for the Android apps.

9. Review Process

Apple has a strict process of carefully reviewing each and every app that has been submitted, and might take even more than 10 days. If after 10 days, your app is rejected, then you will have to re-submit the whole app once more and then go through the whole review process again. Google Play, however does not have this barrier and offers a separate Google Play beta app store for test releases. This makes it easier for your developer to build apps a lot more easily and conveniently for Android in comparison to iOS. Though there are some test platforms for the iOS platform that help the developers circumvent the long wait times for review in the main App Store, but these test environments are a lot more trickier if you look at them practically as the testers have trouble installing the apps on their iPhones.

10. Apple App Development Speed Vs Android App Development Speed

It is a wide and strong misconception that the Android apps take 2 to 3 times longer to build. In fact the development speed on both, Android and Apple platforms are more or less the same. The time becomes a factor when it comes to release and approval times. The stringent approval process at Apple means that you can only update the app 3 to 4 times in a month, however on the Android platform you can do that in a single day. It’s true that iOS app can get to the market faster, an Android app would help you send out updates to the users a lot more regularly.

11. Piracy

It is common knowledge that iOS is a closed platform which means that Apple has complete control over its devices and software and the way they interact with each other. Android on the other hand is an open platform, which means apart from the fact that there is a wide range of devices and versions on the market, the issue of apps piracy is quite a common problem. The rampant issue of piracy has the potential to eat into the profits of an Android App Developers offering a safe platform and more earnings to those that use the Apple platform.

12. App Store Visibility

On the App Store, the apps are organized into suitable categories and are ranked with the help of a specially developed algorithm that takes into account total downloads, recent download volumes, and user engagement. The Apple Apps may only be downloaded from the App Store, but Android apps may be downloaded from a number of different stores including Google Play Store, Amazon App Store and many more. This might be great for Android users and consumers as they are able to download their apps from multiple stores, but it also creates an innate inconsistency in rankings and reviews. It is this inconsistency that might lead to your app getting a lower ranking on Google Play and further affect the number of downloads.

13. Fuschia

Rumors are doing rounds that the search engine giant, Google, is secretly working on a software project, which is all set to replace Android as its successor. Fuschia is still a developmental OS but the risk of it taking over Android remains a legitimate concern. Keep your eyes and ears open for this factor and move with either accordingly.

When should you go for Apple first?

To be very honest, it is better to for the Apple platform when you are developing your first app, as an Apple App development will be quicker and a little cheaper to develop. An Android app will probably be about 30% more expensive than developing an app for the Apple platform. It is true that the rules and guidelines on the Apple Store are a lot more stringent, but it is still the preferred platform as it is the best way to make fast money when you choose the right kind of demographics. In short, if you are planning to charge people for downloading your app then Apple App Store is the clear choice.

When should you go for Android first?

It is a good idea to develop an app on Android first when your app needs to access specific phone features that are not allowed on the Apple platform. The open source Android platform offers to the developers a lot more room for innovation with a lot fewer restrictions. It is a good option when you intend to keep your app free, are not particularly catering to a niche segment, and are planning to have users from all over the globe. The money you would make per user may not be as high as that on Apple platform, but the sheer number of users might actually help you make it into a profitable deal.

When should you go for both?

When you have really, and we mean really deep pockets and you can afford to hire two separate development teams, then it makes sense for you to go for this proposition. However, this may not be a possibility for most. In that case, it is a good idea to opt for a Hybrid app which may be launched simultaneously on both the platforms.

When should you move from one platform on to the next?

This decision is one of the crucial ones and you must do so only after giving it a good thought. It is only after you have perfected the one platform that you are already “live” on, that you should think about moving on to the other. If you have growth on your mind, it is the right time to consider moving onto the other platform. When you have data to support that you have already hit the critical mass on one platform, you would need to target the audience on the other platform in order to increase the size of your total user base.

Concluding note

There’s not one particular answer to which platform should you build your app for, first. In fact, it depends largely on what you are planning for the app to be able to do. Everyone who is planning to develop an app would have their own unique situation and it is only them who can finally take the decision or make the choice.App development is an expensive affair and you would definitely not want to start building your app on the wrong platform where you might not even make a good return on your investment. We hope this blog helps you understand the nuances and take an informed decision.

Related Articles

Abhinav Girdhar

Founder and CEO of Appy Pie