Android vs iOS app development…
Which one should I learn first as a beginner app developer?
Well, according to IDC Android devices have more than 80% of the market share while iOS holds a distant second with less than 15% market share.
So choosing the mobile app platform should be pretty easy right?
Clearly Android’s got this, so let’s cut to the chase and say… you should learn Android app development first.
Well, not so fast.
Don’t take these stats at face value… the devil is in the details.
These numbers and percentages are global, worldwide.
But when you get into the details, the market share of Android vs iOS are completely skewed depending on which particular country you are in.
The question of which mobile app should I build first, Android or iOS, puzzles many wannabe app developers.
And it’s usually not a simple decision to make.
Choosing whether to learn Android or iOS app development first can really determine the success or failure of your app development career.
So it is worth a penny to take your time, do your research, weigh all the pros and cons of Android vs iOS before you make your decision.
In this post today, I hope to help you make that decision much easily.
We are going to compare the both Android and iOS platforms from 7 different perspectives and angles.
I hope that at the end of this article you will be more informed and ready to make a decision and launch your career either as an Android developer or an iOS developer.
I know there are other mobile app platforms like Windows Phone e.t.c. but for the sake of this post, let’s just limit ourselves to Android vs iOS apps.
You could even develop for both platforms at the same time using tools like Xamarin, but I’m not going to talk about hybrid apps today.
But you can read more about it in my other post on Native Apps vs Hybrid Apps: Which One Should You Build?
You know, if I wanted to look smart then to the question…
Which one should I learn, Android or iOS?
I’d say, LEARN BOTH.
And that’s actually what I did when I was getting into mobile app development.
But hey, my situation was different – I had all the time and resources to learn… I also was NOT under pressure to make it right financially.
But most people don’t have both these conditions aligned when they are choosing which career path to take.
May be you only have 6 months to learn either platform, get a job and start eaning some money to pay the bills…
Or you want to launch a startup on a limited budget and have to choose between building either an Android or iOS app first.
So I understand your dilemma.
In this Android vs iOS development comparision, we are going to look at:
- Android vs iOS developer demand.
- Android vs iOS development future.
- Android vs iOS development tools.
- Android vs iOS development time.
- Android vs iOS development cost.
- Android vs iOS app demographics.
- Android vs iOS app revenue models.
Let’s get started…
1. Android vs iOS developer demand
Android vs iOS development.
Which one offers more jobs? … and which one pays better?
The supremacy wars between the two biggest smartphone operating systems has come to an end and neither of them will go away any time soon.
And the developer job market reflects this stability.
On Dice, the number of employer postings for Android-related jobs remained relatively level last year, as did the supply of the candidates applying for those Android jobs.
It was a similar situation with iOS: demand among employers for tech pros skilled in Apple’s OS remained pretty even throughout 2017, as did the supply of talent applying for those positions.
But again which operating system will pay you more?
According to the Dice Salary Predictor, an iOS developer with five years of experience can earn an average of $83,500 to $112,500 in San Francisco.
However, for an Android app developer with the same experience in the same city, salaries are a little lower, ranging from $76,500 to $104,000.
This trend is also reflected in other cities that aren’t popular tech hubs.
For example, in Kansas City, Missouri, that same iOS developer could expect to earn between $68,500 and $92,000, while an Android developer’s pay might range from $62,000 to $84,000.
What is evident here is that Android developers can expect to earn a little less than iOS developers, depending on the job and their own mix of skills and experience.
So if you’re are getting into mobile development and have to decide between learning Android or iOS, just know that both are robust platforms, although iOS-related jobs pay a little bit more.
2. Android vs iOS development future
When choosing a platform to learn you should put into consideration it’s ability to keep up with the constant change with technology.
Mobile app development is now going ahead at full steam, and the IT industry awaits the evolution of this sector anxiously.
Some of the new trends and developments that await mobile app development are Internet of Things, Virtual Reality, Chatbots, Artificial Intelligence among others.
And this is where I have give the guys at Apple a pat on the back.
Initially you could only build iOS apps in Objective-C programming. This language was pretty verbose, much to the dislike of many developers.
They realized this and developed a new programming language called Swift and has been very well received in the developer community.
- Android vs iOS Development: Which One Should You Learn?
- 15 Best PluralSight Courses for Mobile App Development in 2019 [Review]
Swift enables iOS developers to implement a lot of features with minimal code and it is THE future of iOS development.
What about the Android, are they really up to task?
For a long time the only language used to develop Android apps was Java.
But lately, the invention of Kotlin, an alternative language for coding Android application, has completely changed the field of Android development.
Kotlin provides a solution to the problems that Android developers face with Java, providing developers with inter-operability, safety, clarity, and tooling support.
Kotlin has also been very well received in the developer community and it is the future of Android development.
So again here both Android and iOS win… if you decide to learn either Android or iOS you are guaranteed a career in the foreseable future.
3. Android vs iOS development tools
When it comes to developing mobile applications, development tools have a significant role on the whole process.
If you are developing on a platform that has a mature & robust set of development tools, your success over other operating systems is guaranteed.
Whether or not an integrated development environment (IDE) is easy to work with can be a major tipping point for most app developers.
The more intuitive and mature the development tools are, the better.
iOS offers the Xcode IDE for developing iOS apps.
Xcode is an awesome tool with very mature features and characteristics since it come much earlier than the Android tools.
iPhone, iPad, Mac OSX, and iWatch applications can all be developed using Xcode.
Its most important features are Code Completion, its UI design interface, managing directories’ hierarchy, profiling, debugging, core data, assets management, and many more.
Android on the other hand has eclipse.
Eclipse has been used by developers for Android app development for a long time but it generally does not provide a good experience as Xcode.
Lately, Android launched the “Android Studio,” an official Android IDE that’s considered to be better than Eclipse.
The Android Studio however still doesn’t surpass Xcode in terms of features and functionality.
So in terms of development tools, iOS has an edge over Android.
4. Android vs iOS development time
The amount of time you need to learn is a very important factor to consider when picking either iOS or Android development.
Although picking any new skill is never easy or quick, and requires effort and dedication, there is a significant difference in learning time between these two platforms.
This is because both Android and iOS platforms have different complexities and standards, which result in different learning times for developers.
Like I mentioned earlier, iOS has pretty good development tools, like the newer Swift programming language.
Swift is a great language to start out in for beginners with little programming experience because it involves writing less code.
This makes its learning time potentially shorter.
On the other hand Android development requires Java, which a take a longer to learn because it involves writing more code.
However, if you’re familiar with Java, Android will be easier for you to pick up and this will shorten your learning curve significantly.
Though a new language called Kotlin, is also gaining popularity for developing Android apps.
In terms of devices, iOS has quite a small collection of devices like iPhones, iPads & tablets that it runs on.
This limited number of devices makes for easier and shorter development time because you don’t have to account for varying screen sizes and densities.
On the contrary, Android has a vast collection of more than 5000 devices from different vendors which run different OS versions, screen sizes, and densities.
This make it harder and longer to develop for because a developer has to account for device compatibility and testing in the development process.
Outputs from the code in Android is also usually a little more complex, which is hard for a beginner to understand without diving into the depths of the code.
So with all this in consideration, it easier to learn iOS if you are a complete beginner.
But if you have some previous experience in Java or HTML, Android will be easier for you to pick
5. Android vs iOS development cost
In order to define the cost of developing a mobile, we’ll look at:
- the amount of time it takes to develop the app,
- the cost of the hardware equipment you’ll need, and
- the cost of publishing your app on the marketplace.
Android app development is much more time-consuming and slow because of OS fragmentation.
It generally takes 30-40% longer for developers to build an Android app compared to an iOS app even with less complex languages like Kotlin.
Longer development time means more costs from the developer.
While developing for Android devices might have a higher cost because of the longer development time, the Android Studio IDE that is used for Android app development can be installed on a standard PC.
iOS apps, however, are developed using Xcode integrated development environment, which works ONLY on the Mac.
Therefore, the investment in buying a Mac as well as an iPhone or iPad can significantly add to the cost of development.
If you own a MacOS machine, you are able to develop for both Android and iOS easily, as both Android Studio and Xcode will run on Mac machines.
It’s possible to rent a mac or run Xcode in a virtualized environment on Windows, but this requires additional effort and may not be worth the time invested.
So in that case I’d recommend starting with Android development.
Additionally, in order to publish your iOS app on the Apple App Store you have to pay a fee of $99, renewable annually.
Android developers on the other hand, only pay a one-time registration fee of $25 in order to publish on the official Google Play Store.
6. Android vs iOS app demographics
What is your target market for your app or app development skills?
Knowing the demographic your are targeting is key when deciding whether you should learn iOS or Android development.
This is because there are key differences in the users Android and iOS apps attract.
For example, while Android devices have the greatest global market share, Apple dominates the App Store for customer spending.
So if your making an app for or intend to work in North American and Western Europe then you should learn and develop for iOS.
However, if you’re aiming for adoption in emerging markets in Africa, Asia and Latin America then it would be better to go with Android.
Another important metric is the user behaviour from these demographics.
According to a study by Business Insider, iOS developers are likely to spend twice as much money on in-app and app purchases than Android users.
Therefore, one important question you should ask yourself is what your target audience that you’d like to reach is in the first place is?
This will help you make a decision on whether to learn iOS or Android and thereby save you time and money.
7. Android vs iOS app revenue models
If app monetization is important to you then, there are some key platform differences that you should know before you choose which platform to learn.
Android users tend to be less willing to pay for apps than iOS users, so free apps with in-app ads are more common.
In fact, the Apple App Store generates twice as much revenue as Google Play, despite having half as many downloads.
These Apple users usually have a higher lifetime value over time because they continue to purchase and spend money inside applications.
iOS app users mainly focus on app purchases while Android app users mostly rely on in-app advertising as a way to make money.
So if you want to develop a free application with ads as your revenue stream, Android is a your option.
So deciding on your revenue or business model will help select the right OS platform to learn or to develop in for your project.
- Android vs iOS Development: Which One Should You Learn?
- 15 Best PluralSight Courses for Mobile App Development in 2019 [Review]
In conclusion to this Android vs iOS development comparision, I’d say it all boils down to you as an individual.
What is your current situation?
What previous experience do you have in coding?
What tools are available to you and what’s your target market with your app or skills?
Both iOS and Android have something to offer in the mobile development world.
Each operating system comes with it’s own strengths and drawbacks, but both are very popular platforms across the world.
I hope this Android vs iOS development comparision has helped you decide on which mobile platform to learn first.
If you are ready to get started then here is a review of the best Team TreeHouse app courses to help you learn both Android and iOS development.
Are you an aspiring or an experienced mobile app developer?
What was your experience when choosing which mobile app platform to learn first?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below.