Bringing up the topic of Android vs. iOS as the better mobile operating system is generally a bad idea. Few things other than politics and religion cause arguments as impassioned as those relating to operating systems. Yet in the interests of open-mindedness, it is time to honestly assess whether Android is beginning to show an edge over iOS for app development.
Apple is the clear leader in terms of the number of units sold for both smartphones and tablets. But that is not necessarily because iOS is a demonstrably superior operating system. The fact is that iOS is the only operating system that will run on Apple mobile products.
On the other hand, the number of products running Android is now easily in the hundreds when you account for all the mainstream products and the cheap alternatives coming out of China. With so many more manufacturers involved in the Android game, no single device is able to establish the same kind of dominance as the iPhone or iPad.
Android Market Share
Does Android have any kind of edge? Let us start by talking market share. In 2016, Android commanded 86.8% of the market. Android is to mobile devices what Microsoft Windows is to the PC. Right from the get go, that gives Android developers access to a market more than six times larger than iOS.
It is not arguable that there are far more devices running Android than iOS. The numbers are not even close. That does give Android a slight edge. Another thing to consider is that if iOS was exponentially superior, big-name developers like iTexico would not devote equal time to both iOS and Android development.
The Development Process
The nature of iOS dictates that developing mobile apps for Apple products requires developers use Mac computers. There is really no way around it given that non-Mac machines cannot run the software. Android is entirely different. Developers can use any PC they want during the development process – even a Mac if they so choose.
Publishing Finished Apps
Where enterprise apps are concerned, publishing is not an issue. Those apps go directly from developer to customer straight up. But publishing for the retail market is different. Google charges a one-time fee of $25 to publish in the Play Store while Apple charges an annual fee of $99 for the App Store. Apple also takes 30% of the developer’s of revenues.
The Benefits of Java
Java is one of the most widespread programming languages in the world of mobility. The use of Java is that which allows Android apps to be developed on Windows and Linux. But it gets better. Android apps written in Java are easily ported to iOS, Chrome OS, and even Microsoft’s mobile operating system. An iOS app has to be rewritten from scratch if it is to be used on any other platforms.
Of course, one way around this issue is to embrace cross-platform development right from the start. There are cross-platform tools out there that make it possible to simultaneously develop for Android and iOS without overly complicating either one.
In closing, the point of this article is not to disparage iOS for the benefit of heaping praise on Android. It is simply to say that there are a lot of great reasons to pursue Android development at both the retail and enterprise levels. New app developers should not fall victim to the false belief that iOS is the be-all and end-all. It is not. The development pool is big and the water is warm. Jump right in no matter what platform you are developing for.