Android or iOS – which is the better MVP platform?

If you’re planning on making a MVP (minimum viable product) app, there’s a good chance your reasoning fits one or both of these criteria – time is of the essence, and/or you have a limited budget. No matter what your reasoning is, however, the benefits of a MVP app’s model of development boil down to one thing: efficiency.

So, other than the generalized buzzword of “efficiency,” what makes a successful MVP app?

  • Lower development cost
  • Shortened development time
  • Consistent, user-driven, and targeted updates
  • Reduced business development cost
  • Streamlined market release
  • Discovering and refining your revenue model through user engagement

Something to keep in mind when developing a MVP app – a MVP is not a prototype. A prototype, by definition, is a preliminary model of something; a MVP is everything (nothing more, and nothing less) that a product needs to both achieve the solution to a pain point, and simultaneously satisfy customers.

Or you can think of it this way; a prototype is what it will do. A MVP is what it does.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get to the main question of this blog post – which is the better platform for a MVP app: Android, or iOS? It stands to reason that if you’re developing a MVP, you want to make sure the development and release of your product are as efficient as possible – and with that comes the need to know which market will be the most efficient for your MVP to live in.

Which is the better MVP platform – Android, or iOS?

When it comes to overall development costs, iOS wins every category other than publication costs and investment in infrastructure – the latter of the two categories is determined by your extant infrastructure (if you already own Apple products, iOS will cost less, and vice versa). While both Google Play and the App Store will skim 30% of profits made from paid app and in-app purchases, the App Store’s publishing fee is annual, whereas Google Play’s is a one time deal.

But there’s much more to efficiency than just reducing costs – this is about the best platform for a MVP after all – not the cheapest.

Development time

Development time is determined by two factors: ease of programming, and ease of testing. Again, when it comes to the time it takes to develop an app, iOS wins the round. Why?

Android is mainly programmed using JAVA – a computer language that saw its release in 1996. While this does mean there are more Android programmers available to hire, it doesn’t equate to faster development. JAVA was written to build websites, and was later adopted by the Android platform as its de facto programming language. Due to this, Android is highly customizable – but leaves room for development inconsistencies that tend to pop up because there aren’t strict standards.

iOS apps, on the other hand, are written with Swift. Swift was made specifically for the development of apps, as well as being designed to run on Apple products only. While this does limit apps built using Swift to devices that start with the letter “i,” it does ensure a much more stable development environment. With Swift, there’s usually a right way and a wrong way to implement a functionality – meaning there’s a lot less time spent trying out different iterations of code.

The same is also true for the time it takes to successfully test your app – again, iOS comes out ahead of Android. This is for two reasons: it is simpler to produce robust code with Swift, and there are less iOS devices than Android devices (this is the main reason for the discrepancy in testing time between the two platforms).

Between the currently used iPhone, iPad, and even Apple Watch and TV, there are about ten iOS devices to test your app on (and that’s if it’s used on their entire range of products). To achieve the same level of quality assurance for an Android app, you’d have to test on 24,000 different devices.

With easier to write and more robust code, paired with a smaller number of available devices to test on, iOS apps will almost invariably take less time to develop than Android.

User engagement

While user engagement is an important metric for any app, when it comes to the development of a MVP, high quality user engagement is essential to your success. This is because MVP apps are basically a shortened version of classic app lifecycle management – rather than building out every feature, testing, and then releasing, a MVPs necessary features are implemented, then the bare bones (minimal, but still very much functional) app is sent to market. After users begin using the app and asking for extra features, the development team then works to implement the requested additions to the app.

It makes sense as to why this method of development is so cost effective and efficient – rather than guessing what features your intended audience will expect from your app, you build the main idea, and give your users the power to fill in the cracks. This saves money and time on two different fronts: you don’t waste resources implementing unwanted features, and you spend less time and money conducting market research. Your users act as both your focus group and your test bed.

The caveat here is that in order for that to happen, your user base must be highly engaged with your app – much more so than the average app user. And this is where, hands down, iOS is the stand-out platform:

  • iOS users engage apps for nearly twice as long as their Android counterparts
  • iOS apps have a higher retention rate than Android apps
  • iOS users download more purchasable apps than Android users and spend more money on in-app purchases:

  • Gaming app average revenue per user: $1.99 (iOS) versus $1.56 (Android)
  • Shopping app average revenue per user: $19.64 (iOS) versus $11.49 (Android)
  • Travel app average revenue per user: $32.29 (iOS) versus $20.47 (Android)

It’s metrics like these that put iOS ahead of Android for the best MVP platform. Without high quality, consistent user engagement (as well as two-way communication between your development team and your users), your MVP will face a much longer road to achieving your goals. This isn’t to say MVP apps don’t work on Android, just rather that iOS lends itself better to MVP development.

We hope you’ve found this guide useful. If you’d like more information about deciding between Android or iOS, check out our blogs about how to decided which platform is best for your app, and which platform costs more to develop for.

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