Choosing what platform to develop your app for first can be tricky. It’s more involved than simple intuition.

Take the time to learn about the nuanced differences between iOS and Android. Speak to potential users, understand what platforms they use, and which one you think will help your startup get a product off the ground faster.

  1. App Store vs. Play Store

    App stores have become competitive. Getting discovered by simply placing your app on the store doesn’t work anymore. You have to spend more time and effort getting your initial downloads. As your app starts picking up momentum, it will become easier to get discovered on the App Store (iOS) or Play Store (Android).

    Typically, iOS apps tend to be easier to monetize. Data shows that iOS users spend more money on app and in-app purchases. Android is slowly catching up but iOS users still dominate spending on and for apps in the US.

  2. iOS Design vs Material Design

    Over the past few years Google has tightened up its design language and built a robust design library. Android is making an effort to consolidate design across different manufactures and devices, however; this is difficult to completely accomplish since it is an open platform.

    Apple has always stuck by its strict design principles. iOS apps must follow guidelines provided by Apple and be intuitive to use. Since there are only a handful of iPhones and iPads that designers need to tailor interfaces for, it’s much easier to design robust experiences for iOS apps.

  3. Closed Platform vs Open Platform

    On Android, it’s much easier to install apps that aren’t from the Play Store. You can download third party app stores or simply install apps downloaded from a website. Android Oreo has given users more control over what third party apps can access on the phone (it’s potentially easier for your app to be discovered and downloaded in some cases but most successful apps stick to the Play Store).

    Apple doesn’t allow any type of third party apps or app stores to be installed on iOS devices. Apps must be approved by Apple before being made available on the App Store. There’s no way to download apps that haven’t been approved by Apple, unless you jailbreak your phone (not many consumers do because the process isn’t trivial).

  4. Adoption of Updates

    iOS leads the pack when it comes to consumers updating their iPhones and iPads to the latest version of iOS. For example, iOS 11 has close to 65% adoption compared to Android Oreo which is at 0.7%. This means that app developers are able to leverage new iOS features much quicker than Android because most iOS devices run the latest OS.

Find out what devices and operating systems your customers use before making a decision. Developing iOS and Android app have their own unique challenges. Weigh all of your options carefully before moving forward with the project.