You may have started out thinking you’d have your mobile application developed for both iOS and Android from the start. Then someone, maybe you, had the idea to start with just one platform.
Depending on your budget and target audience, developing for only one platform may make complete sense. For instance, you’ll reduce the initial development cost, and the ongoing maintenance costs. Then, if you decide to develop for a second platform later, you’ll have lessons learned and feedback from users that you didn’t the first time around.
Here are some questions to consider when you’re deciding whether to develop for iOS or Android first.
1. What device does your target audience have?
A large percentage of the mobile apps we develop at Big Fish are used by our clients’ employees or contractors. When this is the case it’s easier to know, or be in control of, the brand of smartphone they use to do their job. For example, you can give each of your field technicians an iPad and develop your app for iOS only.
We have a client who planned to buy a rugged Android phone for each member of their field team. The phone itself could withstand harsh outdoor conditions such as rain, snow or being dropped on the ground. And, it had larger buttons that were designed to be easier to press while wearing gloves. Knowing their entire team would have this Android phone, they only needed to develop their app for Android.
If your app will be used by the general public you won’t know what type of phone they have (see question 3 below for a tip). Yes, if you develop only for iOS you’ll miss out on potential users that have an Android phone. But it could be a worthwhile trade off, at least in the beginning.
Another trick, if you know the group who will be using your app (ex. contract employees), is to simply ask them if they have an iPhone or an Android. You can then develop your beta app for the majority, and take the feedback you receive to the table when developing for the second platform later.
2. How will your app be used?
Like the client we mentioned above that wanted a rugged Android device for their team, sometimes knowing how your app will be used is enough to steer you towards one platform or the other.
For example, if the app will be used in a doctor’s office by employees entering patient information, you’ll want to steer towards a tablet app so those using it will have a larger screen to work with. And once you’re in the tablet space we always recommend iPad – you have a trusted brand, frequent security updates, reliability, speed and ease of use all going for you.
3. Which brand, iOS or Android, has the largest market share?
In many cases it just won’t be possible to know whether your app users are more likely to have an iPhone or an Android phone. Nor will your company be able to dictate what device they use. If your target market is the general public, choosing which platform to develop for first will most likely come down to which device has the largest market share.
As of February 2018, in the United States, iOS has a 54% market share and Android has a 45.5% market share.
This paints part of the picture why you’ll often hear that iOS is recommended to start with.
But there’s another reason as well.
iOS is the operating system you’ll find on iPhones made by Apple. At any one time there are only a handful of iPhones on the market. Right now we have the iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 7 and some people still have the iPhone 5/5s.
Android, on the other hand, is an operating system found on thousands of different smartphones, made by many manufacturers (ex. Samsung, LG, Motorola).
Developing an Android app, and ensuring it’s compatible with thousands of devices, is more complicated than ensuring an iOS app is compatible with 4 or 5 different devices.
For this reason, companies will often start with iOS.
Here at Big Fish though, we aren’t so quick to say “start with iOS because it’s more popular in the United States”. As explained in this article, there are other factors that may be more important to your decision than a mass-market popularity contest.
Our team is very experienced in developing secure, reliable Android apps. In fact, our past projects are about 50/50 iOS/Android.
Is your company looking to have an Android or iOS mobile application developed? Please contact us, we’d love to learn more and help you make this important decision.