In Part 1 of this thread we started exploring the differences between the iOS and Android operating systems. These differences mean an application coded for one platform cannot be ported to the other without some serious code work. This makes it difficult to launch a mobile app across both of these platforms.
Perhaps you only want to market a single-OS app. Obviously, this limits your potential market, but it may be the best path for your particular situation. If, however, you’re considering multiple operating systems, you should consider the differences in the various systems as you start the development process. This could minimize recoding issues and make a multiple platform roll-out go much smoother.
Our last post summarized the first five differences you need to consider if you’re looking at multiplatform development. Here are five more:
- Editable ROMS: The read-only memory of Apple iOS devices is inviolate. That doesn’t mean it can’t be “jailbroken” to run unapproved apps – it can – but it cannot be fundamentally altered to change basic functionalities of the device. Devices running the Android OS can easily be reconfigured through a complete replacement and rewriting of the device’s system BIOS.
- Settings changes: Changing an Android OS device’s settings is much easier, as all control sliders and switches are easily available directly from the operating system’s home screen. Many iOS users struggle with basic settings. For example, something as simple as connecting a Bluetooth device is a multistep foray into the device’s settings menus.
- Google integration: Google is the big gorilla in the room. It began with search, where Google remains the king, and branched out into many other realms, from maps to e-mail and other cloud computing services. Of course, Google created the Android OS and many of its web functionalities interface seamlessly with Android devices and their applications. Apple, on the other hand, has long been at loggerheads with Google and Google integration into the iOS platform lags the Android OS, which can make coding applications that access Google services through iOS occasionally problematic.
- Cost: Consumers have long complained about the “Apple Tax,” the perception that Apple products command higher prices simply because they bear the “chic” Apple brand. Here’s a link to a 2008 post from Gizmodo on the Apple Tax. While this disparity has decreased in the past few years, iOS remains the more “upscale” of the two leading mobile operating systems. Obviously, this impacts the market characteristics for moble apps and should be considered if you’re targeting only one OS.
- Choice of carrier: The last difference was more important in the past than today. When the iPhone was first introduced, you could only get it on AT&T. If you wanted to develop an iOS app, this meant you were excluding from your potential customer base on those folks on Verizon or other carriers. Android devices were available on all the major carriers and thus had a much larger potential reach. Of course, this all changed with the recent announcement that Verizon would begin offering iPhones to its subscriber base. Customers locked into long-term contracts with other carriers are still locked out, but perhaps that, too, will change. The latest rumors are that Sprint could be the next carrier to offer the iPhone.
Some of the differences between iOS and Android development can be more important than others, depending on the characteristics of your app idea and the market you want to reach. Hopefully, this two-part article gave you a feel for those differences and how they might impact development of your mobile app idea.