Since inception, the mobile application market has witnessed exceptional growth rate owing to excellent market penetration of smartphones, growing market share of IoT, and high adoption of mobile apps. According to the latest study published in the Mobile App Development Market Research Report, the Global market for Mobile App Development is expected to grow at an impressive rate of more than 14% during the period between 2016 and 2022. Given the opportunities available in this space, there is no dearth of Mobile app development companies. This has made it difficult for businesses to find competent Mobile App Developers or companies.
If any aspect of your business is online, there is all reason why you should have a mobile app for your business. This is especially true when all your customers have easy access to smartphones with high speed internet 4G connectivity. Prudent businesses understand that if they have to maintain the pace with exponential growth of app development market, they have to pick the best platform for their business app.
But things are not as black and white as they appear. It is extremely important that you drill down to a specific platform for business app, even before you think of development. That’s because only when you know the best platform for you business app, you pick the right one from among thousands of other Mobile app development companies.
This post will outline the points crucial for determining the right platform for a mobile app development. The post will also try to help you understand the problems and issues you may face if you fail to choose the appropriate platform for your application.
Let’s accept the fact that building a successful mobile application is difficult and demands plenty of planning and development efforts. In a bid to pick the right platform you need to first start with the mobile operating system. I am sure you would want your app to fit the operating system like a glove. So let’s start with iOS and Android operating system.
iOS and the Android market
A decade back there where more than half a dozen operating systems including Microsoft, Symbian, RIM, Android, iOS, plus several smaller ones. At that time it appeared as if the market would never stop expanding. But today market had consolidated to two operating system i.e. iOS and Android operating system.
From the chart above we can see the decline of all the mobile operating systems while a majestic rise of Android mobile app. iOS has maintained a stable market share over the last few years. Even though the user base of high end mobile devices has increased exponentially, iOS hasn’t gained anything substantial and remained more or less at the same position or the same number of user base.
On the other hand the adoption rate of Android operating system skyrocketed in 2009, and went out to outgrew iOS.
The geographic location of the target audience
Based on the operating preference, geographic locations can be divided. iOS and Android cater to different target audiences. Affinity to iOS and Android operating system among target audiences differ based on the geographic location.
iOS Operating System
If the Target audiences are located in Canada, United States, Japan, Australia and the Western Europe, high chances are that they must be using iOS operating system on their mobile phones. Therefore in such situation it is better to go with those Mobile App Development companies that have experience in iOS development.
Android Operating System
But if your target audiences are located in Central and South America, Eastern Europe, Middle East, Africa, India, China and a few other countries, all chances are that they must be using Android Operating System on their mobile devices. In this case you should be dealing with Mobile app development companies that have experience in Android app development.
The target audiences are divided based on their Operating System usage in different geographic areas. Therefore it is important to identify the geographic location of your target audiences. For example if the majority of your target audiences are located in the United States, your should build an iOS app, but if India or Middle East forms the majority of the targeted audience base, you should do good with Android App. When you decide the operating system for your App based on the geographic location of your target audience, your app has higher chances of adoption and success.
Technical Specification of App
Your decision for the operating system should be based on the geographical distribution of users. The second most important thing is the technical specification.
Android Operating System
If you have decided to go with Android operating system depending upon the geographic location of your target audience, you should follow Google’s Material Design Guidelines. It lays down the foundation for design specification and governs fine details such as the table sizes, color palette recommendations, icon spacing, among a few other things.
iOS Operating system
If you are working with iOS operating system, you will have to follow Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines.
These details are not ironclad rules but rather present a recommendation for the best result and performance for achieving intuitive design. Some people argue that Apple’s guidelines give designers more freedom than Google’s. But this kind of discussions are inconclusive because if your target audiences are located in a geographic location where Android devices are used predominantly, you will have to choose Android Mobile app development companies. However still it is good to have an understanding of the differences between the Material Design Guidelines and Human Interface Guidelines, between Apple and Google’s Android.
- Depth and perception – The material design in Android resembles sheets of paper stacked on top of each other. While in iOS you will observe that thin lines and blurred margins make the elements appear as if floating in their own spaces.
2. Animation – Android uses animation to enhance the user experience and enliven the design. That’s the reason why you will find lights and vibrations being used to create a more hands-on user experience. But Apple on the contrary uses animation as a pure utility. The animations are simple and discrete in Apple.
3. Navigation – Android takes a laid back approach towards navigation. That means they can be just anywhere from design perspective. Designers and Mobile App Developers can use this freedom to maximise the creativity. But this also means that the designers can sometimes come up with designs that might not be very user friendly. iOS on the other hand limits the option for navigation. This restricts the developers to think what functions to include and what they just can’t. However this restriction works in their advantage and leads to designs that are comfortable and intuitive.
From design perspective you should keep these things in mind. It will help you develop right expectations with your app development based on the operating system you choose.
The issue with open source
Unlike Apple’s iOS, Android is an open platform. As a result the developers can tweak the Android source code to customize the Android operating system. In many scenarios this has its own advantages but such freedom can make mobile development problematic. Here are a few reasons why open environment is not a good idea:
Smartphone manufacturers take this opportunity to customize the Android platform to fit their devices. However this forces the developers to tweak apps to make them work on particular smartphones and tablets. This is not a good idea since the app developers will have to test their app on several android devices to check functionality issues or devices related bugs.
Some low cost devices use cheaper components (such as processors and cameras) to control the cost. But this can lead to bugs or slow down apps and make your app less appealing to users using devices with cheaper components.
Here is Google’s official chart listing down 2018 updates on the status of Android platform fragmentation.
However since iOS is not an open platform, it has little to no issue with fragmentation. The below graph shows that more than half of all the Apple devices are running iOS 11. This is significant.
The biggest advantage is that the Apple’s iOS applications will run smoothly on more devices while requiring less development time compared to the Android apps.
Time to market
App development timeline is another big factor that needs to be considered. Factors such as how fast do you want to take the app to the market, should be considered? The longer it takes to develop the app, the higher will be the cost of Mobile Application Development. Since android app is open platform, it will take more time to build the app that is compatible with a wide range of Android devices. However this might not be always true. There are a great variety of android gadgets with variety of screen sizes and OS versioning running.
The development skill set is yet another factor that dictates the timeline it takes to get your mobile application to the market. Regardless of whether you develop an Android app or the iOS app, the skills and the expertise of the mobile app developers play a significant role in the development timeline. Highly skilled and experienced mobile app developer will take much lesser time to finish the development. Therefore before you hire a developer or development company make sure they have the right knowledge, expertise, and skills to enhance and speed up the release process.
User behavior greatly differ based on the OS and the country. If you are developing a free app without any monetization model, you don’t have to care about geographical location of the target audiences. But if you want to build an app for monetization, you will need to know where people are inclined to buy apps and make in-app purchases. Android users are more inclined to use free apps and generally don’t prefer to spend money on mobile apps from the Google Play Store or make any in-app purchases. But Apple users on the other hand tend to spend money on applications.
Developing an app and its continuous maintenance is an expensive affair. Therefore a viable business model is where you also make money from the app you have got developed. Business model with defined revenue goals become very important in this case. Before you start out the development you will have to decide whether you wish to offer your mobile app for free or with a freemium model, or you want to charge for your app from the app store.
Majority of android apps are free and are supported by advertising. While iOS has more apps that must be purchased and clients are more willing to pay for them. A study published by the Wolfgang Digital, found that Android users on an average spend three times less than the iPhone users. Therefore if you have a revenue goal, that will greatly affect your initial stage, you should start with iOS app. But if you want to start with the free app and monetize it later or support it through advertising revenue, android app development should be your preferred route.
Both Android and iOS operating systems have made significant contributions to mobile app development. Nevertheless, each operating system comes with its own list of pros and cons yet both are highly favored platforms and are the only choices for mobile app development. It won’t be right to say that one is better than the other. Since customers are the king, your choice should be based on the target audiences and their preferences.
Having said that, if budget is not a constraint, you should get your app developed for both platforms since its is highly unlikely that all your target audiences are using only a particular type of operating system on their devices.