Deciding between Android or iOS for your upcoming minimum viable product (MVP) project can be daunting. Both platforms are massively popular and have generated billions of dollars in revenue. So the answer should be simple, right? Why not release on both platforms? Yes, but only if it’s financially feasible and in line with your goals.
But you could be wondering why financial feasibility plays a role at all. Aren’t MVPs supposed to be cheaper and quicker to develop than full-fledged apps? Unfortunately, that’s a common misconception when considering the funding and work required to complete MVP projects.
There’s still a considerable cost involved, between $5,000 to $35,000 if you hire a company. It’s best to be prepared from the get-go to ensure that the project won’t run out of funding during development. Furthermore, it’s vital to understand what the development process entails and what you’ll need to consider when deciding on an MVP platform.
1. Choosing The Most Feasible Platform For Your Project: Android or iOS
In the mobile development space, there are only two choices worth considering. That’s either Android or iOS, the two platforms that have redefined smartphones for more than a decade. And even with the emergence of Linux-based smartphones, these are too niche to make a dent in the market.
But must you choose between these two market leaders? Ideally, you should develop for both platforms for maximum reach. The benefits of making your app available in both the App Store and Google Play are immense. Both digital storefronts are established, organized, and quality-driven. Moreover, both facilitate the efficient and safe distribution of apps to over two billion users globally.
And while it’s wiser to release on both platforms, we understand that’s not always possible. Your team may not have the capabilities or resources to release on both platforms simultaneously. After all, cross-platform mobile app development costs could easily exceed your budget. Or perhaps, you’re developing a custom enterprise app that only needs to be made available on one platform.
However, it’s not necessarily a bad idea to target one platform when commencing a project. And this is especially true if you’re planning on developing an MVP. Your team may want to test an idea and deliver it to a territory where one platform enjoys market dominance. For example, your upcoming video chat app will do much better on Android if you’re targeting the Indian market.
Market forces will almost always play a primary role when deciding on a platform. However, there are other factors that you should also consider before coming to a decision.
2. Apple’s Flagship Programming Language Saves Development Time
In most cases, your mobile app development costs will directly correlate with the amount of time it takes to complete your project. And if you’re a startup, it’s crucial to keep costs down to remain feasible in the long haul. So, you’ll want to target the platform that facilitates a speedy development process. But does one platform offer this distinct advantage over the other? Well, the answer is not as clear-cut as we’d like it to be, but we’ll aim to provide one.
Several years ago, you’d be hard-pressed to choose Android over iOS if development time was at a premium. And there’s a good reason for this, given how well-thought-out Apple’s ecosystem and development tools are, compared to its rivals. With Swift, Apple’s flagship programming language, developers can craft impressive native apps in record time. The language is modern and slick, making it easy for developers accustomed to object-oriented languages to pick up quickly and be productive.
And when compared to Java, the language commonly used for Android development, Swift seems like a breath of fresh air. That’s because Java feels cumbersome since it’s an older, more complex, and verbose language. Thus, Java developers often need to write more lines of code than their Swift counterparts to achieve similar results. From a productivity and time standpoint, the clear winner is Swift. At least, that was the case until now.
3. Google Moves Beyond Java
At Google’s I/O ’17 developer conference, the company announced that it would officially support Kotlin for Android development. And in 2019, Google took things further by announcing that Kotlin would become the preferred language for Android development moving forward. Undoubtedly, this news was met with much fanfare by Android developers, who welcomed the introduction of a more modern language.
And Kotlin is indeed a great alternative to Java because it’s far more expressive and allows developers to achieve similar results with less boilerplate code. Not only that, Kotlin is similar to Swift in that it offers an easy-to-learn syntax, plenty of built-in features, and a more functional feel. Moreover, both come with excellent declarative UI toolkits: Jetpack Compose and SwiftUI for building native UI quickly and efficiently.
Ultimately, this means that the time and productivity gap between creating an Android or iOS app has narrowed significantly. The introduction of Kotlin has been a game-changer, and Android developers no longer need to lag behind their iOS counterparts. Therefore, choosing one development environment over the other is more a matter of preference than enjoying real productivity gains.
4. The Challenges Of Testing And Deploying On Multiple Devices
While Kotlin makes life easier for Android developers, they still have to jump through hoops when testing, profiling, and deploying on multiple devices. Unlike Apple, which produces a limited range of iOS devices and models, the Android ecosystem is an entirely different beast. A few brands that come to mind include Google, Huawei, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung, and Xiamoi. Yet the actual list of manufacturers is much longer than that, pushing the range of Android models to the tens of thousands.
Undoubtedly, Android developers have their work cut out of them. It’s a Herculean task to test and deploy when so much device fragmentation exists. Furthermore, this can increase mobile app development costs significantly if not handled diligently. And the hard truth is that no developer will have access to every Android device in the marketplace for testing purposes. Fortunately, there are tools available that make testing and profiling possible without having all these devices on hand.
Android Emulator, Android Virtual Device (AVD), and Genymotion make it easy for developers to set up and run virtual devices of any specification available. And while these aren’t the perfect solution, they’re incredibly accurate at emulating real Android hardware. But this doesn’t mean that developers should skimp on testing on actual hardware, regardless of platform. Nevertheless, iOS is the better platform for a quicker and more hassle-free testing and deployment experience.
5. Deciding On An MVP Platform Based On User Engagement
Before settling on an MVP platform, you should consider a crucial factor, namely, user engagement. The level of user engagement of your app will play a critical role in its success. If too few users engage with your MVP regularly, it means that they don’t find it interesting enough to warrant extended use. And, you won’t achieve the goals and return on investment (ROI) that your MVP was supposed to deliver.
Therefore, you must minimize risk by focussing on the platform that has the most engaged users. In this regard, iOS is the clear winner with an overwhelming difference. iOS users are not only incredibly engaged, but they’re big spenders too. According to AppleInsider, the App Store earned a whopping $72.3 billion in 2020 — almost double the revenue generated by Google Play. And games performed impressively, managing to generate $47.6 billion throughout the year.
Also, iOS is the better performing platform for apps offering registrations, subscriptions, in-app purchases, and one-time purchases. But you may want to consider Android if your MVP is an anti-virus, utility, or performance app, as these often do better on the platform. And while both Android and iOS users love discovering new content, iOS users engage and purchase more of it. So, keep these factors in mind when deciding on an MVP platform that best serves your goals.
Choosing to go with either Android or iOS for your next project will be a vital decision. It’s necessary to consider your goals and what your MVP is supposed to achieve before concluding. In many cases, choosing iOS seems like the obvious choice, given the benefits the platform brings to the table. Its tightly integrated development tools, limited range of target devices, and high-quality users make it a platform you can’t ignore.
But Android is no slouch either, boasting a rapidly improving developer experience and an ever-growing user base. It’s also worth considering if you want to create an antivirus or utility app, which Android users download in droves. Whatever your decision, do consider teaming with a professional development studio for the best results. Contact us today to learn how NS804 can help you develop a phenomenal MVP on Android or iOS.