Where to Publish Mobile Apps: Android vs iOS?
To publish on Android or on iOS? That remains to be one of the most frequently asked questions among mobile app developers. There is no doubt that these two are the main players when it comes to operating systems in mobile technology. Both sides have advocates listing the many reasons why it is the better platform. The comparison often became too lengthy and confusing that mobile app developers are left scratching their heads and eventually decide to pick randomly, hoping for the best.
In this article, we explore 1) mobile apps development, 2) a look at Android, 3) a look at iOS, 4) a comparison between Android vs iOS, 5) Google Play vs the App Store, and 6) which is better: to publish on Android vs iOS?
MOBILE APPS DEVELOPMENT
Phones used to have only one purpose: communication. Over the years, technology has grown by leaps and bounds, and phones became, well, smarter, giving rise to the smartphone era. Along with this change came the increased capabilities of smartphones, and one of the most characteristic changes is the arrival of mobile apps.
Mobile apps are essentially computer programs that are operated or ran on mobile devices, particularly smartphones and tablets. They have all started with an idea, and then the design and development stage follows. Afterwards, it is time to publish the app. The succeeding discussions will address the question on the platform where the mobile app will run. Should it be on the Android interface? Or would iOS be the better choice?
A LOOK AT ANDROID
Android, which was initially released on September 23, 2008, was developed by Google, utilizing an open source model. Among all the operating systems existing today, it has the largest installed base. It is currently available in 70 languages.
Android devices can get its Android apps from Google Play. It was originally known as the Android Market, which then became Google Play Store, until it eventually became known as Google Play.
Interface and Customizability
The user interface of Android is graphical, revolving around the concept of direct manipulation. Objects on the screen are manipulated by simple actions such as a tap, a pinch, a swipe in various directions, and more.
Android is used for smartphones, tablet computers, many types of wearable devices, televisions, and even cars or vehicles.
In order to publish the app to Google Play, you must have a Google Play publisher account and familiarize yourself with the publisher console and various tools provided. Fill out the required information at the Google Play Developer Console, agree to the distribution terms, pay the corresponding registration fee (now at $25) and wait for verification of payment and registration. Once your account has been verified, publishing your app is done directly through the Developer Console, which is an easy-to-use publishing wizard that even beginners and first-time app publishers won’t have a hard time understanding how to go about it.
A LOOK AT iOS
The mobile operating system known as iOS was created in 2007 by Apple for exclusive use of Apple devices, such as the iPod Touch, the iPhone and the iPad. Currently, it is the most commonly used operating system for tablets all over the world and is available in 40 languages.
The official app store for the iOS operating system, on the other hand, is the App Store.
Interface and Customizability
Apple enabled the use of multi-touch gestures in the iOS user interface, so actions are taken by sliding, tapping, pinching and swiping, aside from pressing on buttons and switches. It shares the same direct manipulation foundation that Android is based on.
Since the iOS interface is locked, customization options are severely limited. But there is one way to get around this limitation: the concept of jailbreaking, which is basically a way of hacking into the iOS in order to add or enable features and functionalities that are otherwise not recognized and allowed by Apple. Once an Apple device has been jailbroken, it becomes relatively easier to customize it.
Apps published on iOS are for use in smartphones and tablet computers produced by Apple. These include the 5th generation (or later) iPod Touch, the iPhone 4s and later versions, the iPad 2 and later versions, all generations of the iPad Mini and, recently, the 4th generation of the Apple TV.
Unlike the publishing and application process for Android apps, expect to comply with more requirements when publishing an iOS app on the App Store. The app owner or developer must first create an App ID and a Distribution Provisioning Profile. The application will have to be made and submitted through iTunes Connect, a tool suite for managing iOS application. The application must have been configured or fine-tuned, especially in terms of the detailed information about the app you are aiming to publish, before submitting it to iTunes Connect.
You will also be asked to create and submit the following app certificates:
- Distribution certificate – a one-time certificate, this will be used for all the apps that you will publish on the App Store.
- Push Notification certificate – this certificate allows developers to upload their app to AppsBuilder.
- Mobile provisioning – this certificate is created in every instance where a new app is published in the App Store.
Through the Publication Center, you can then choose the app that you are planning to publish, providing all the required information about the app. There is a checklist provided that you have to completely comply with, then you can publish your app.
There are higher chances of getting rejections when applying for publication on iOS, primarily because they have a lot of requirements that developers find too complicated and too exhausting to comply with.
A COMPARISON BETWEEN ANDROID VS iOS
Android and iOS are currently the two top platforms and most used mobile operating systems in the world. In the United States alone, these two are duking it out for the top spot. Currently, iOS ranks first in the US, but Android is closing in real fast. Also, despite the fact that there are several mobile software and app distribution platforms around, the two largest app stores cater to Android and iOS. It is Google Play for Android apps, and the App Store for iOS apps.
Deciding between publishing on Android and on iOS will surely take a toll on many app developers, because there are a number of considerations that have to be made before getting to make a final choice.
Android wins at:
- Customizability or flexibility, particularly in the design. Developers can tweak, change and manipulate pretty much anything in order to customize the app. Customization options in iOS are limited unless, of course, a “jailbreak” is performed.
- Availability with respect to devices. It can be found on many smartphones, tablets, and similar devices, from various manufacturers including, but not limited to Samsung, Sony, Motorola, HTC, LG, Lenovo, Kindle Fire, Asus, and more. iOS, on the other hand, is only available on Apple products, such as iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, and the later versions of Apple TV.
- Audience size. The number of Android users is exponentially growing, so developers can expect to have more potential downloads and users when they choose to publish their apps on it instead of on iOS. If you also compare the language capability, Android is clearly the winner, being available in 70 languages compared to iOS’ 40.
- Ease of access by users. Anyone wanting to get their hands on an Android app can go directly to the giant Android app store, Google Play. Aside from that, they can also get Android apps from other app stores such as Amazon and Getjar. iOS apps, on the other hand, can only be downloaded from Apple’s app store.
- Ease of approval and publication. iOS is known to have a more stringent and tough guidelines for any app applying for approval in being published. There are a lot of distribution profiles and certifications involved, and they are not all that simple or straightforward, either. Many mobile app developers actually find it relatively easier to have their apps approved on Android, since all it takes is signing the developed app via a simple wizard.
iOS wins at:
- Design quality. App design standards in iOS are generally higher, because they have stricter guidelines that mobile app developers have to comply with before their app gets approved for publication.
- Ease of app development. According to many app developers, developing apps specifically for iOS publication is easier than on Android. This is because iOS makes use of user-friendly development tools and software. Apple’s Xcode is particularly getting a lot of thumbs up. Part of the reason that it is easier to build apps for iOS is because the app is being designed only for Apple devices. It is much more difficult to develop for Android because there are a lot of technical considerations to take into account, such as the brand or manufacturer and even the model of the device.
- Faster media transfer. It is easier in iOS since all that is needed is a desktop application to transfer media and other files between and among devices. In Android, however, there are compatibility limitations. The ease of the transfer of files will largely depend on the model, and even the version, of the devices involved.
- Social media Integration. Users find it much easier to post status updates, tweets, or share posts on social network sites such as Facebook and Twitter when using iOS. This is a great tool for those who are aiming to reach a wider audience or have more people find out about their app and download it from the App Store. Android is also starting to improve its social media integration features, but there is no doubt that iOS already had a headstart.
- Privacy and control. The users will have more control on which app can have access to their private information, and the level of access that they are willing to give these apps. Developers publishing on iOS will already have addressed an issue that concerns many users in terms of their privacy.
- Protection of proprietary rights. Apps published on iOS and released at Apple’s App Store tend to have more protection in favor of the owner or developer. Copy protections are more in place and more solid than in Android’s Google Play.
- Profitability. If mobile app developers want to make profit, publishing on iOS is the preferable option. Revenue is considerably higher in the Apple marketplace because Apple users are generally more willing to spend money on apps than Android users.
GOOGLE PLAY VS THE APP STORE
When choosing between Android and iOS publishing, we cannot help but make a comparison of the two giant marketplaces where these apps are distributed. For the longest time, iOS has been the leader, in terms of revenue, number of app offerings and number of developers. But that is no longer the case, as Android has been making a major surge forward in recent years.
Granted, the App Store is still the more profitable option, as discussed earlier. Compared to Android, it is the cash cow. Many apps on Google Play tend to be free and are supported by ads, and many users do not really like seeing ads on their apps, and that is partly the reason why they are willing to pay a premium to get rid of those.
There is also a general perception among the general public that apps distributed at the App Store are of higher quality, thanks to the quality filter that Apple has set up in place. This means that poorly made apps will not be able to be distributed in the App Store. The relative ease with which apps can be distributed and approved in Google Play means that low quality apps can slip through the cracks.
We have already discussed how a majority of Android users belong to the lower income demographic. That means they are happy with smartphones that have the basic utilities, and they will look for apps that do not require them to pay money.
Google Play, on the other hand, is found to be more developer-friendly. Developers have an easier time rolling out major updates, and they can respond better to users who leave their reviews or testimonials. Download stats for apps are also shown, so the developers can track download history of their apps, and users can view the popularity of the apps before they download them.
One strategy employed by developers, especially the new ones, is to publish on Android first. That is where they will get attention for their work and, once they have built a following or have obtained a feel for the market and their audience, move on to publishing on iOS once they are ready to make some money.
The general consensus among experts is that iOS is the better marketplace, for developers and app users alike. It is certainly more profitable, and it offers more top quality apps. That does not mean that all apps on Android are crap, because there are actually many outstanding ones. It’s just that the App Store has more of them.
Therefore, choosing between the two marketplaces will depend on the goal of the developer. Is it for profit? Is it to obtain exposure? Does the developer just want feedback on his app?
WHICH IS BETTER? TO PUBLISH ON ANDROID VS iOS?
At the end of the day, the decision on whether to publish on Android or on iOS will hinge on the target audience, or the users whom you want to download your app. Apple users are generally seen as the more affluent and, therefore, willing to spend top dollar for very good apps. That is why app developers who are purely or largely looking to earn a big profit off their app will generally look towards iOS. With that said, your app should give a good value to justify the investment. The Apple customer base was also often seen in the past as the larger one, although that is now up for debate since the number of Android users is steadily increasing, thanks, in large part, to the fact that there is now a massive amount of Android devices that are available in the market today. They are available at various price points, mostly in the low to mid-price range.
This is most likely the reason why the audience for Android is seen to belong to the lower-income demographic. Developers, especially the newer ones who are still aiming to establish a presence in the app world – without necessarily making money off their app – may also not mind publishing their app for free on Android.
There is one option that many mobile app developers are now taking: publishing on both platforms. Developers are now able to design apps that will work on both Android and iOS, so deciding whether to publish on one or the other is no longer an issue. If you look at the top apps on both platforms, you will find that they are basically the same. That is because the developers have managed to walk that fine line and reconcile the differences between the two. As a result, they are getting the best of both worlds.
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