How to Convert an Android App to iOS or Vice Versa: 4-Step Process [BONUS Video Included]
You have an app, you have a thriving business and now you feel the need to expand. This is probably when you realize that just an Android app or just an iOS app is not enough and it’s time you took the next logical step. It means you need to figure out how to convert your Android app to iOS app or the other way around.
When you started out, it was good thinking to choose one platform so that you can optimize on your time and on money which are both limited at the beginning. Even an app as successful as Instagram began only with an iOS version! Only after the concept was finalized and after it garnered positive feedback, the iOS app was converted to its Android version.
At this point, it is natural for you to ask the question – how tough it is going to be to convert an Android app to iOS or vice versa? This leads to a whole series of questions to pop up like where do you begin, and is there a difference in the process for converting an Android app to iOS and the other way round?
Convert an Android app to iOS or vice versa – Where do I begin?
First and foremost, you must have clarity regarding the pivotal differences between the two platforms and ensure that business logic is differentiated from coding aspects for each platform. So, here’s the breakdown of the process in 4 steps, as promised!
Evaluate the requirements and functionality of the app
Tweak the design according to the new platform guidelines
Customize the coding and architecture components for the new platform
Ensure optimal app testing and app store launch
Reasons for converting an Android app to iOS or vice versa
It is important to have solid reasons for this conversion. To get the desirable results, it is important that your reasons for converting your app is based on the following reasons:
- Positive indicators and matrices for the existing app
There are a number of matrices or indicators that can help you understand the health of the app like the number of downloads, the number of active users, and others. It is important to take a hard look at these numbers and determine whether they are positive before going ahead with the conversion
- Strong market or demand
Whether you want to expand from just Android to both or from just iOS to both, the first thing you must consider is the market. If more than 90% of your audience is on one of the platforms, there is not much logic in investing money and resources on both. So the point is that if you have a strong market or demand for your app in the app store you are planning to get into, only then should you think about doing it.
- New opportunities for user acquisition
The moment you make your app available on another platform, you are effectively expanding the opportunities for acquiring more users. Whether you are exclusively on the iOS platform or on Android, you are missing out on a whole chunk of users who are on the other platform. Android is considered the more popular OS, and iOS is more dominant in some markets. This is why a presence on both the platforms gives you ample opportunities for new user acquisition.
It is true that Android covers 75% of the mobile OS market, but by limiting yourself to just Android, why miss out on the remaining 25%?
- Expand to new markets
If you plan to expand to new markets, having apps for both the major mobile OS platforms makes sense. If you are planning to expand beyond the United States, to countries in South America, Africa, Asia, and Central and Eastern Europe, then having an Android app in your portfolio is a big advantage. However, if you are planning to venture in markets like North America, Oceania, and other local markets including Norway, Japan, Saudi Arabia etc. it is critical that you have an iOS app.
- Garner more profits
The profits naturally depend heavily on the monetization method you may have chosen. However, it is only logical that two apps will generate more profit as compared to having just the one! On the iOS platform the users have a tendency to spend more which means more profit, but on the Android platform the number of downloads is exceptionally high, which means you can earn a lot through in-app advertising.
- Having two apps is better than one
Having two apps will bring you revenue from two sources (more than 1), give you two separate channels for marketing (more than 1), and two platforms to connect with the target users and engage with them (yet again, more than 1). This list can of course keep going for long, but I am sure you get the idea.
- Competitive advantage
It is entirely possible that most of your competitors favor a certain platform over the other, leaving the other open. Creating an app for both the platforms, opens up unexplored territory for you giving you an early mover’s advantage and a definite competitive edge by acquiring majority of this market.
- More data for analysis
Data and analytics are the pillars on which successful apps stand. The more data you have about user behavior, higher are the chances for you to create a product that meets the demands of the industry suitably. Eventually everything boils down to how much of an attention you are paying to the demands of the industry thus maximizing the opportunities to attract new target audiences.
Advantages of converting for the business owner
Opportunities to increase your market share by getting new app users
Potential to add valuable features. The two app stores are innately different as are the operating systems. Hence while converting from one to the other there may be a need for making certain changes. This affords many app owners to add some great features to the new version of the app
Scope for maximizing ROI. Launching a brand-new app lets you implement a whole new monetization model for the app
Online App Converters
There are solutions available online that promise to let you run Android apps on iOS or the other way around, but the fact is – it is impractical. I say that because the native components of the two platforms are created with different programming languages, interface, navigation, and integration process.
Why is it impossible to run Android app on iOS or vice versa?
Fundamental difference in app lifecycles in the system
Fundamental differences in app screens lifecycle within the app
Fundamental differences in approaches to data access
It is worth considering that the Android system uses ByteCode – the instruction set of the Java virtual machine or JVM, whereas iOS implements the compiled code. Also, on iOS it is impossible to install an app directly to your phone without the App Store’s authorization.
Hence, if someone is telling you that they have some kind of an online converter that would let you use your app on a different platform – you are definitely being misled!
In short, if you are looking to convert your native Android app to iOS or vice versa, the only way to do this is to develop the new one from scratch. Doing so requires a dedicated software development team so that your new app can match the existing one or be even better!
However, the only exception would be if you had used a DIY app builder platform like Appy Pie which will let you develop apps for the new platform in a cost-effective manner in no time.
Key differences to consider while converting Android app to iOS or vice versa
Let’s take a deeper look at the differences between Android and iOS to understand the real scenario of carrying this conversion out.
- OS version fragmentation
Operating systems get updated all the time; hence the latest app project needs to support the newest OS version. However, you must also consider that not everyone opts to change their mobile device, hence it is prudent to support the most widely used OS versions.
Android is notorious for multiple prevalent OS versions, whereas in case of iOS the number of prevalent versions is lower.
- Device size
The way your app looks on different screen sizes is important; hence this must be taken into consideration before starting work on development. Just like multiple Android OS versions, Android device screens come in multiple sizes as well. On the other hand, Apple devices are available only in 4-5 core screens. Hence when you are converting Android apps to iOS versions or the other way around keep the screen size in mind.
- Buttons and navigation (on Device)
The buttons and navigation on the device must be kept in mind when you are planning to convert an Android app to iOS or vice versa. The buttons on the device have a strong impact on the way users interact with any app. For example, Android users commonly use the soft keys to move back to a previous screen, whereas iOS users use the back button, or the new gesture of swiping left to right for moving back.
The latest development in these devices is worth mentioning here as the latest Apple devices and some of the Android phones come without buttons. This has a huge impact on the way the users interact with a device and the way they use apps. The apps need to be designed keeping this in mind. The interface design is affected by the fact that Android mostly uses vertical elements whereas iOS includes both vertical and horizontal elements. Additionally, care must be taken so that the taps within the app should not duplicate the functionality of the device’s buttons.
- Programming language characteristic traits
It is a common misconception that to convert an Android app to iOS all that needs to be done is translate the code. Programming languages, like spoken languages have their own syntax, semantics, rules, algorithms etc. The programming languages are different for both the mobile operating systems.
For Apple products Swift and Objective-C are used and for Android Kotlin and Java are used.
You may think that a feature on one platform is working the same way on the other, however in reality the situation might be really different. It might take a lot of time to developing the same app functionality on the new version of the app.
How to convert an Android app to iOS and vice versa – the step-by-step process.
Step 1: Evaluate the requirements and functionality of the app
The process of converting an app from one platform to the other is pretty complicated, hence, it is important that a suitable plan is formulated. This way the chances of any element slipping through the cracks is minimized.
The process begins with bringing together all the available material related to the existing app including the functional specifications, design of the app, the source code. Once all this material is collected, it needs to be studied in detail. This process will make sure that the functionality and the business logic are aligned. It is possible that you may need to change some of the technical components like content adjustment, 3D touch on iOS, push notifications etc.
In doing so the whole conversion project would be broken down into two perspectives – business and technical. This is why, at this point, it is wise to involve two types of specialists like a Business Analyst and a Software Architect while performing the gap analysis.
Here’s a little tech related checklist that you must consider:
- Look into ways of optimizing the app and figure out ways to improve upon it
- Look into the existing business logic (in the app) and then try and apply it to the new project
- Check and approve compatibility with included 3rd party frameworks
Following is a list of deliverables that you can expect to accomplish from this first step:
- In-depth market analysis (where applicable)
- Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)
- Mind-mapping the project
- Functional specifications with description
- In-depth code review
- In-depth design review
Step 2: Tweak the design according to the new platform guidelines
We have established earlier that the app would need to be developed from scratch, it is only logical that the layout of the app and the user interface would need to be changed as well.
There is a good chunk of people who attempt copying the whole interface from one app version to the other, instead of making the necessary changes. In doing so, they end up with an app that looks strange and is awkward to navigate through.
Material Vs Flat Design Pattern
Google and Apple have fundamentally different design patterns. The practical implication of this difference is that when you are converting an Android app to iOS you need to use material design and when you are converting an iOS app to Android you need to apply flat design patterns. As the names suggest, material designs appear more three dimensional and the flat design patterns are flatter and more direct.
User Interface Design (UI Design)
There are multiple differences in the UI design components for Android and iOS. Here’s a detailed comparison.
Fonts that must be used for conversion
The native fonts for the operating systems are different. iOS uses San Francisco and Android uses Roboto.
As you convert an Android app to iOS or vice versa, you can opt to apply custom fonts if it is absolutely necessary
User Interface (UI) Mirroring (for RTL languages)
This is important if your current app supports the right to left languages like Arabic or Hebrew. This essentially means that you would have to think about the direction in which your content is moving or being displayed. It is important that you pay attention to this aspect particularly when you are converting an Android app to iOS.
Android inherently supports RTL interfaces which means that in case your app uses native controls on a larger scale most of the things will work smoothly. In case of iOS, right form iOS 9 onwards there is comprehensive support for the right to left language making it simpler and more manageable for creating a mirrored user interface as the standard UI Kit control automatically flip in a right to left context.
However, when it comes to the custom UI elements, you may still have to do some additional development work.
Design Slicing before iOS to Android conversion
Before starting with the development process, it is important that the app design is sliced into assets. Doing this can help the developers place the corresponding design into the code. When you are converting an iOS app to Android, these assets are sliced into the next resolutions like mpdi, hdpi, xhdpi, xxhdpi and is provided in .png format.
On the other hand when you are converting an Android app to iOS, the design is sliced in 1x *.pdf which is a vector form and if needed can be resized easily to 2x or 3x by developers.
Step 3: Customize the coding and architecture components for the new platform
Like we mentioned earlier, while converting Android apps to iOS, the code needs to be written entirely from scratch. You can’t really just recompile the code. The app probably uses some external solutions, libraries, and third-party integrations; hence it is imperative that you check the compatibility of it all with the new platform you are planning to launch it on! In fact you may have to replace some of the alternative tools to fit the functionality.
The table below can give you a good overview of the critical components when you decide to convert your Android app to iOS or vice versa.
In spite of these differences there are some points where both the operating systems are aligned and compatible.
- Payment Gateways – Paypal, Braintree
- Analytics – Google Analytics, Crashlytics, Mixpanel, Fabric
- Social Networks – Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, SinaWeibo+
- Postal Service – EasyPost, Fedex
In my experience of working in the app industry, I have witnessed people make all kinds of mistakes, but there are some common pitfalls that I have seen people stumble upon. Let me list them all out for you.
- If you have a multilingual app, make sure that you check the relevant development work necessary
- Particularly when you are converting your Android app to iOS, make sure that you check the app localization functionality thoroughly
- In case you are using any out-of-the-box solutions, make sure that you check the related work
- Make sure that you check the system’s backend for any possible adjustment needed.
- Make sure that you create a Google or Apple developer account in advance.
The basic idea is that whether you are converting an Android app to iOS or the other way around, the development time is going to pretty much the same. It is a good idea to review the existing app’s code particularly if there are some complex algorithms involved.
Step 4: Ensure optimal app testing and app store launch
Only when a product has been tested thoroughly and in a planned manner does it stand any chance of achieving any measure of success. Of course, there is coding and designing involved in converting an Android app to iOS or vice versa, but then there is the matter of quality assurance. This part of the process may take up to 30% of the development time and the quality assurance team needs to test the app in terms of code functioning and the UI and navigation within the app.
Following is a list of tests that you may need to conduct during your testing process.
- Functional testing
- Security and access
- Control testing
- Performance and load testing
- Usability testing
- Validation testing
- User acceptance
How much does it cost to convert an iOS app to an Android app or vice versa?
Converting an iOS app to Android app or the other way around is pretty similar to creating a whole new app from scratch. The conversion process entails tweaking the features and design to meet the new platform’s specifications, building a corresponding backend, applying monetization models and more.
It is easy to get intimidated by the kind of cost and time investments needed in converting an Android app to iOS app. However, there is an easy way out for you! Creating an app (Android or iOS) with Appy Pie is affordable, needs no coding, and takes only a few minutes.
We haven’t forgotten our promise, here’s the BONUS video we talked about earlier in the post.
Whether you are converting an Android app to an iOS app or vice versa you would have to work on planning the technical and business details and requirements. This process takes up almost as much time as creating an app from the scratch. However, Appy Pie, the no code platform has just the right solution for you. You can create your own Android and iOS mobile app without any coding or burning a hole through your pocket.