Signpost with 'iOS' pointing in one direction and 'Android' pointing in the other
5th May 2021

iOS vs Android app development: which one is better for your business?

Developing a native app is no small feat, and choosing between iOS and Android is no different. The operating system you choose could determine whether your app is a success or not. In many cases your app and offering will naturally lend itself better to one operating system, so here’s what you should consider before you decide which platform is right for your app.

User base

Apple users tend to be younger and hold much more purchasing power. Paid apps and in-app purchases do better on iOS as the majority of its users are upper-middle class, based in developed countries. Comparatively, Android users tend to be more cautious about purchasing apps and handsets. Android is more popular amongst developing countries and lower-income households, which explains why Android users average $0.43 per user per app for in-app purchases, compared to iPhone users' much higher average of $1.08. With in-app purchases set to grow to a market of $275 billion in 2025, Apple takes the lead with forecasted consumer spending of $185 billion.

iOS apps will be a better choice if your business:

  • targets Millennials and Gen-Z

  • targets upper-middle class individuals

  • monetises using paid app install or in-app purchases

Market share

Android’s operating system undoubtedly has a higher market share, with a figure of 87% in 2019 and signals of steady growth. Google Play Store had 2.7million apps available for download during the second quarter of 2020, boasting the largest number of apps in an app store. However, this doesn’t reflect the quality of apps on the Google Play Store. Although the quantity is higher than its App Store counterpart, lenient review processes mean the barrier to entry is a lot lower. It’s also worth noting that some companies, such as Huawei and Honor, have started to part ways with the Google Play Store.

With that being said, if your app provides value, good user experience and you have the right marketing strategies in place, Android’s reach will give you the opportunity to get millions of eyes on your new app.

Android holds a much more promising proposition if you’re looking to:

  • reach a global audience

  • focus on growth over in-app monetisation


The argument of developing costs for either Android or Apple apps can easily become diluted. Where one operating system requires more money in one respect, the other will require more money in another. Both Google and Apple take a 30% cut of each app or in-app purchase, but to submit your app to their respective stores carries different costs. Google charges a one-time fee of $25, however Apple has a yearly cost of $99 to be a member of their App Development Program. So is iOS development more expensive overall? Not necessarily.

Android’s system is present across a multitude of handsets and devices with varying screen sizes and dimensions. On the other hand, iOS development is specifically for certain handsets. In theory the development process should be easier and quicker for iOS due to the limited physical handset options.

The jury’s out on this one as the overall cost will depend on your team’s in-house experience or whether you hire an agency to help, the complexity of your app and which users you’re targeting.

Review process

Typically Android apps have a shorter time to market due to a more lenient review process. Their automated tools and designated team search for issues like malware, explicit content and spam. In comparison, Apple’s app review guidelines are pretty hefty, with each app needing to hit all the criteria before it can be accepted. Although 90% of iOS apps are reviewed within 48 hours, only 60% are approved. The rejection rate is relatively high, so it’s advisable to go through the iOS guidelines with a fine tooth comb, as well as researching common reasons for app rejection. When it comes to rejection feedback, Apple provides comprehensive feedback to justify their decision, whereas Google sits on the vague side.

These review processes might not carry much weight when it comes to deciding between iOS and Android, but it’s worth knowing so you can account for any delays before you start your project.

Respective ecosystems

Android is open source, so anyone can access and modify its base code. This leads to more flexibility, but could also be viewed as less secure. In contrast, Apple runs on a closed ecosystem with heightened security and integrations with Apple-only features, like HealthKit and Siri.

Android apps can feel slower than iOS apps, namely due to Apple’s commitment to their set devices and closed ecosystem from day one; apps and integrations are built for their phones, whereas Android apps have had to constantly adapt to fit new devices using their operating system. The decision of which operating system to commit to on this point is down to personal preference. 

Marketing is crucial to an app’s success

Whether you choose to develop for iOS or Android, the marketing of your app is crucial to its success. With a crowded market and over 4 millions apps available to download in respective app stores, simply having an app isn’t enough; you need a considered distribution and marketing strategy in place. 

As a digital development agency, we've been providing measurable success for organisations since 2009. If you want guidance on whether iOS or Android development would be better suited to your business, drop us a message with your details and our team will get back to you! 

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