What are the key differences between developing for iOS vs. Android?

By Ludo Fourrage

Last Updated: June 6th 2024

Comparing iOS vs. Android Development

Too Long; Didn't Read:

When developing for mobile, consider the critical contrasts between iOS and Android—Android dominates with 71% global reach, while iOS leads in revenue with $155B vs. Android's $80B. iOS development is perceived as simpler and cheaper due to Swift, while Android requires more coding and customization. Target demographics and monetization strategies vary between platforms.

When it comes to mobile dev, you gotta weigh the key differences between iOS and Android – they control like 98% of the app market, no joke. Android's the big dog with over 71% global share, but iOS rakes in more cash for devs – $155 billion compared to Android's $80 bil.

But it ain't just about the numbers.

Dev-wise, iOS is generally smoother sailing with Swift being a straightforward language, and you don't gotta worry about fragmentation across devices.

Android, on the other hand, is a whole different beast – Java and Kotlin mean more complex coding, and you'll be doing a ton of customization, which can get pricey, especially with the shortage of skilled Android devs.

The platform you choose also depends on your target audience.

Android dominates in emerging markets, while iOS rules in places like North America and Japan. So, you gotta decide if you want to cast a wider net or tap into a market with higher in-app spending.

And don't forget the technical chops needed – Xcode for iOS, Android Studio for Android, plus mastering platform-specific design principles and publishing procedures.

Check out Nucamp's guidance on in-demand languages to keep your skills fresh and marketable in this ever-changing app world.

Table of Contents

  • Market Share and Audience Demographics
  • Programming Languages and Development Tools
  • Design Philosophy and User Interface
  • Development Cost and Time
  • App Publishing and Approval Process
  • Monetization Strategies
  • Security and Privacy
  • Future Trends and Developer Support
  • Conclusion: Choosing the Right Platform for Development
  • Frequently Asked Questions

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Market Share and Audience Demographics


Check this out! iOS and Android are like two rival gangs fighting for control of the streets, except the streets are your phone's screen. It's a never-ending battle that reflects how differently people use their phones.

According to some recent research, back in June 2022, the iPhone managed to hold 50% of the U.S. smartphone market, which is the highest it's ever been.

But globally, the story's different. Statcounter says that as of October 2023, Android is the boss with a 69.64% market share, while iOS trails behind at 29.67%.

This divide shows how economics and geography play a huge role in which phones people rock.

In the U.S., apart from that brief iPhone lead, iOS generally owns a solid 57.92% market share in 2023, according to BankMyCell.

But Android dominates the global scene, taking up almost three-fourths of the market, especially in Asia where it holds an 83.53% share. Turns out, over 80% of Chinese folks prefer Android phones.

It seems like iOS users tend to have deeper pockets, while Android caters to a wider audience with more budget-friendly options.

For app developers, this split matters big time.

iOS users are more willing to splurge on apps, but Android's massive market can't be ignored if you want to rake in those numbers. Plus, a study by SOS Support found that 76% of iOS users value device security, while 67% of Android users prioritize functionality.

Different strokes for different folks, right?

So, while Android rules the global streets, iOS holds some prime real estate in the U.S. market, offering devs a chance to cash in despite having fewer users.

It's a tricky game, juggling these regional market shares and user preferences to create apps that resonate with your target audience.

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Programming Languages and Development Tools


When it comes to building apps for your phone, choosing the right coding language and tools is key to getting it done right. For iOS (iPhones and stuff), Swift and Objective-C are the main players, but Swift's been on the rise with its modern, safe, and fast features, making it the go-to choice for newbies and fresh iOS apps.

Although Objective-C's usage has been dropping, it's still important for maintaining older code and even sometimes used for creating binary frameworks since it's been around for a while.

On the Android side, devs usually pick between Java and Kotlin—with Kotlin being Google's preferred language since 2019.

Kotlin's code is more concise, so it reduces the amount of code needed, making it easier to work with and maintain.

Both platforms have solid coding environments, with Xcode for iOS and Android Studio for Android.

Xcode supports Swift's growth into cross-platform development and integrates smoothly with Apple products, offering cool tools like Swift Playgrounds for an interactive coding experience.

Android Studio, which works on multiple operating systems, is popular with millions of downloads, and has features like a fast emulator and a layout editor tailored for Android's open ecosystem.

When it comes to iOS or Android development, the language and coding environment you choose directly impacts how productive you are, how well the app performs, and the overall user experience.

Devs often rave about:

  • The swift syntax and memory management of Swift, leading to more efficient development and better app performance.
  • The flexibility and reach of Android Studio's cross-platform capability, appealing to a diverse dev community.
  • The ease of adopting Kotlin due to its seamless compatibility with Java, making it easier to migrate existing projects.

In a nutshell, Swift and Kotlin's modern approach streamlines app creation, while Objective-C and Java still have their place in ongoing development.

Mastering the right language and coding environment for each platform is crucial for building killer apps.

Design Philosophy and User Interface


Design Philosophy and User Interface are super important when it comes to mobile app development. It's all about how users interact with your app and whether they find it useful and easy to use.

For iOS, Apple has these Human Interface Guidelines (HIG) that they swear by.

It's all about keeping things clear, adding depth, and making sure the interface doesn't get in the way of the content. They use cool tricks like translucency to make the content pop.

Apparently, around 72% of users care a lot about clarity in app design, which lines up with Apple's low-key vibe.

On the other hand, Android's Material Design is all about giving users a tactile experience with distinct graphics and animations that guide them through the app.

Something like 68% of Android developers are all about this philosophy. The UI elements and navigation are different too – iOS usually has a bottom tab bar, while Android has a side navigation drawer, giving each platform its own unique user experience.

So, the design and interaction differences between iOS and Android lead to some distinct user experiences:

  • iOS: Goes for a cohesive design, standardizing UI elements across apps – users dig the predictability and comfort.
  • Android: Encourages a liberal design language, giving designers the freedom to get creative with different styles and functionalities.

"A seamless experience is paramount—Apple's ambition with its interface guidelines," said a famous UX designer. Apple has detailed specs for things like touch targets (44 pixels square), while Google's Material Design suggests 48dp for the same thing. Both platforms are dedicated to accessibility, just with different approaches.

In the end, if you want to nail cross-platform UI design, you should:

  1. Understand each platform's design language.
  2. Use platform-specific UI components wisely.
  3. Create responsive and adaptive designs for a consistent user experience.

Follow these principles, and you'll be able to build immersive, user-friendly apps that rock on both iOS and Android.

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Development Cost and Time


When it comes to building apps for your phone, you gotta be ready to fork out some serious cash and time. We're talking anywhere from $30K to a whopping $300K, depending on how fancy you want to get.

Here's the deal: developing apps for iOS (iPhones) and Android (everything else) pretty much costs the same.

The price tag mainly depends on how complex the app is, what kind of design you want, and where the developers are based.

Let's break it down further: about 10-15% of the total time goes into project management, 10-20% is spent on making the app look slick, a massive 50-70% is dedicated to actually building the thing, and 10-20% is for quality assurance (making sure it works as intended).

Now, you might think developing for iOS would be more expensive since you need fancy Apple devices and licenses.

But here's the kicker: since there are fewer iPhone models out there compared to Android phones, testing can actually be cheaper for iOS apps. Wild, right?

On the flip side, Android's open ecosystem means developers have to make sure the app works across a crazy number of devices.

That extra testing takes more time and resources, which can drive up the cost.

According to the experts, iOS app development can range from $10K to a mind-blowing $250K or more, depending on the complexity, design, features, and integrations.

And Android is pretty much the same ballpark.

Bottom line: developing a kick-ass app for iOS or Android ain't cheap, but nailing the balance between skilled developers and thorough testing is key to creating an app that people actually want to use on their devices.

App Publishing and Approval Process


Getting your app on the app stores ain't a cakewalk, bro. For starters, Apple's App Store is real picky about what they let in. They've got this thick rulebook called the App Store Review Guidelines that lays down the law on privacy, security, and content.

And starting April 25, 2023, your app better be built with the latest Xcode version, or they'll give you the cold shoulder.

Once you submit, you're looking at around 24 to 48 hours for approval, but it could take longer if they find issues.

On the other hand, Google Play Store is a bit more chill.

They'll usually green-light your app within a couple of hours to a max of two days after submission. But don't get too cozy – you still gotta play by their Google Play Policy Center rules, which are all about keeping things legal and properly licensed.

Now, getting approved ain't a walk in the park.

You gotta make sure your app works on all devices and navigate those tricky content guidelines that reviewers can interpret differently. A recent survey showed devs struggle with:

  • Platform Updates: Keeping up with constantly changing platform-specific rules.
  • Review Issues: Fixing performance and functionality problems flagged during review.
  • Privacy Requirements: Understanding and implementing mandatory privacy and data usage features.

When it comes to app updates, Apple makes you go through the whole review process again for major changes, so you're looking at another 24 to 48 hours.

But Google Play lets you push updates out fast, making it easier to fix bugs and roll out new features on the fly. As one dev put it,

"Publishing on Google Play is like a sprint, while the App Store feels more like a marathon."

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Monetization Strategies


Let's talk about making some serious cash with your apps, aight? When it comes to iOS and Android, there's a big difference in how users like to spend their money.

iOS peeps are more likely to drop cash on in-app purchases, which means more $$$ per user for iOS apps. A study showed that iOS had an average eCPM (effective cost per mille) of $13.18 for rewarded video ads, while Android was at $12.91.

So iOS is killing it with ads too.

But don't sleep on Android. With its massive market share, especially in places like Asia and Europe, it's all about them ad-based revenue models.

Though, let's be real, in-app purchases and subscriptions are gaining traction on both platforms. Researchers found that 76% of apps make their money through ads, but more and more devs are combining ads with in-app purchases for a hybrid approach.

Subscriptions are where it's at too, and iOS users are more likely to subscribe and stick with it, probably because of Apple's tight ecosystem.

We're talking like 10-20% more likely than Android users.

On the flip side, Android's got that open-source vibe and a ton of devices, which makes it a fave for advertisers.

At least until Apple's privacy policies shake things up. The bottom line is, iOS leans towards direct purchases and subscriptions, catering to users who don't mind paying for quality content.

Android's all about that ad revenue, but it's not sleeping on the in-app purchase and subscription game either.

So when you're planning your app's money-making strategy, you gotta consider your target audience's spending habits and play to the strengths of your chosen platform.

As one seasoned dev put it,

"Choose the right platform, and the money will follow."

Understand each platform's monetization strengths, and you'll be raking in that cash flow.

Security and Privacy


I'm about to share some insights on mobile security for iOS and Android.

Both iOS and Android have security features in place, but they approach it differently.

iOS is all about that closed ecosystem, keeping things secure with sandboxing, encrypting your data when it's at rest and in transit, and users tend to stay up-to-date on iOS updates quickly.

Android's open-source nature might seem relaxed, but it could leave some security holes. However, Google Play Protect scans apps for any suspicious activity, and Google Play services keep updates coming smoothly across devices.

Privacy protection is a big deal, and iOS and Android are both stepping up their game to give you more control.

iOS introduced App Tracking Transparency in 2021, making apps ask for permission before they can track you across other apps. Android has similar controls, and as of 2023, they added Permissions auto-reset to help you manage your data better.

However, security comparisons show that iOS takes app permissions more seriously, requiring consent for sensitive information and letting you know when your camera or mic is active.

Android's permissions are comprehensive, but it's up to you to keep them in check.

When it comes to data protection, both platforms use AES encryption, but iOS keeps it on by default, while Android might need you or the manufacturer to activate it.

Studies show that iOS's closed system tends to have fewer mobile security vulnerabilities compared to Android.

In this ever-changing mobile security landscape, keeping up with security updates and understanding app permissions is crucial – the security experts emphasize that we all need to do our part to protect our data.

Future Trends and Developer Support


The mobile world is wildin' out with all these dope new techs. AI is the ish, making our apps smarter and giving us crazy personalized experiences. And don't even get me started on AR - that stuff is straight , especially with all the folding phones and IoT gadgets coming out.

It's like we're living in the future!

But here's the real deal - as the techs get more complex, we need some solid support from the dev communities. For iOS, Apple's got our backs with their extensive docs and Swift Playgrounds, not to mention all the cool cats on Stack Overflow and Reddit sharing their knowledge.

Android, on the other hand, is all about that open-source life, with devs collaborating in virtual meetups worldwide and sharing dope tools and resources. It's a whole vibe!

Speaking of the future, Android is killing it with its massive market share, catering to all kinds of devices and users.

But iOS ain't no slouch either, with its loyal fanbase and mind-blowing features like the M1 chip that's giving us mad computing power. And the dev support is leveling up too - iOS devs got the Apple Developer Program and GitHub, while Android homies got Google's Android Developers space and all kinds of interactive courses to level up their skills.

At the end of the day, it's not just about the tech itself - it's about how we use it to create sick apps that change the game.

So let's keep pushing the boundaries and show the world what we're made of!

Conclusion: Choosing the Right Platform for Development


When it comes to building apps for your phone, the big question is whether you wanna go with iOS or Android. With Android expected to snag around 87.4% of the market in 2023, you can reach a ton of users.

But iOS, even with its 12.6% share, has users who tend to spend more cash on apps, 'cause they're ballin'.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Who's Your Target?: iOS is huge with the fancy people in places like North America and Western Europe, while Android dominates in up-and-coming markets, so you can hit up a massive audience.
  • Dev Life: iOS dev is usually quicker since there are fewer devices to worry about. But with new coding languages and tools, as discussed in this article on key dev differences, building for Android has gotten more efficient too.
  • Show Me the Money: iOS users are more likely to pay for apps, so if you want that premium cash flow, it's a sweet spot. But with Android's massive user base, you can rake in serious dough from ads, as this market analysis shows.

But it's not just about the numbers.

You gotta understand each platform's design philosophy – from iOS's slick Human Interface Guidelines to Android's flexible Material Design.

And while iOS has been known for tight security, Android has been stepping up its game too.

"Knowing each platform's unique strengths is key to your app's success," says Jessica Perez, a seasoned app dev.

The bottom line is, your choice should be based on your biz goals, your target audience, and a solid grasp of Apple's controlled ecosystem and Android's open-source vibe.

And in this ever-changing mobile world, a killer dev needs to be able to rock both iOS and Android – skills you can level up with coding bootcamps like Nucamp's.

Frequently Asked Questions


What are the key differences between developing for iOS and Android?

When developing for mobile, consider the critical contrasts between iOS and Android—Android dominates with 71% global reach, while iOS leads in revenue with $155B vs. Android's $80B. iOS development is perceived as simpler and cheaper due to Swift, while Android requires more coding and customization. Target demographics and monetization strategies vary between platforms.

What are the differences in market share and audience demographics between iOS and Android?

Android leads globally with 69.64% market share, while iOS follows at 29.67%. iOS has a stronger presence in the U.S., while Android dominates in regions like Asia. iOS users tend to have higher incomes, whereas Android attracts a broader demographic.

Which programming languages and development tools are commonly used for iOS and Android development?

For iOS, Swift and Objective-C are popular, while Android developers often choose between Java and Kotlin. Xcode is the preferred IDE for iOS, and Android Studio is commonly used for Android development.

How does the design philosophy and user interface differ between iOS and Android?

iOS emphasizes clarity, depth, and deference in its design philosophy, while Android focuses on tactile surfaces, distinct graphics, and purposive animation. iOS UI elements are standardized for predictability, whereas Android encourages diverse design styles.

What are the cost and time considerations when developing for iOS and Android?

Development costs can range from $30,000 to over $300,000 for iOS and Android apps. iOS development may be perceived as less costly due to lower testing expenses, while Android development requires more testing time and resources due to device fragmentation.

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Ludo Fourrage

Founder and CEO

Ludovic (Ludo) Fourrage is an education industry veteran, named in 2017 as a Learning Technology Leader by Training Magazine. Before founding Nucamp, Ludo spent 18 years at Microsoft where he led innovation in the learning space. As the Senior Director of Digital Learning at this same company, Ludo led the development of the first of its kind 'YouTube for the Enterprise'. More recently, he delivered one of the most successful Corporate MOOC programs in partnership with top business schools and consulting organizations, i.e. INSEAD, Wharton, London Business School, and Accenture, to name a few. ​With the belief that the right education for everyone is an achievable goal, Ludo leads the nucamp team in the quest to make quality education accessible