There are numerous operating systems powering our mobile devices today. For both indie developers and large mobile application development companies, there is a crucial question that needs to be answered before development begins: what platform should be targeted first?
For larger companies, with more resources, development can be done simultaneously for distinct platforms, while for smaller shops, it is a very crucial question, which could determine the success or failure of the business.
Native apps are developed using the Java programming language, and can easily be ported to other mobile operating systems like Blackberry, Symbian and Ubuntu. In addition, Android apps can also be ported easily to Chrome OS. Not surprisingly, Microsoft has also announced that it will provide an easy method to port Android apps to Windows 10 devices.
Android Studio is an exceptional IDE, based on the equally excellent IntelliJ IDE. As the name signifies, Android Studio is an IDE designed and developed particularly for Android app development. It is blazingly fast and effective, and you can setup a new Android project for different types of Android apps within seconds. When Android was launched, Android app development was done with Eclipse and the Android Developer Tools plugin. However, that changed with the release of Android Studio. Some key features include:
- Gradle-based build system
- Live-layout WYSIWYG Editor with real time app layout rendering
- Option to preview a layout on multiple screen configurations while editing
- Build variants and multiple apk file generation
- Lint tools (used to catch usability, performance, version compatibility and other issues)
- Supports developing Android Wear, TV and Auto apps
- Enables app integration with Google Cloud Platform (App Engine and Google Cloud Messaging)
Google Play Store
Apps deployed to the Google Play store are available for download by users within a few hours, compared to a few weeks for Apple’s App Store. An app can literally be updated and upgraded multiple times a day on the Google play store, in response to user complaints and/or issues, while on the App store, your app would have to pass through the same lengthy process whenever you submit an update and/or bug fix. For a new app or game that might need to be constantly and instantaneously refined and updated in response to user feedback, the Play Store is the perfect platform.
Another excellent feature of the Play Store has the ability to release an app as alpha and/or beta releases, which would be available only to members of a selected group of testers. With this, you can provide early access to a subset of users, and use their feedback to polish your app before finally releasing it to the general public. You can also perform a gradual/staged roll out of an update. With the staged rollout, you specify what percentage of users should get the update, and you can then monitor the feedback and crash reports before increasing the percentage of users to receive the update.
To develop for iOS devices, a developer must have a Mac. However, Android app development can be conducted on Windows, Mac and Linux. Also, to register as a developer on the Apple App Store requires a yearly fee of $99, whereas to register as a developer on the Google Play Store requires a one time payment of $25. In smple terms, all a developer needs to begin developing and releasing Android apps is a $25 payment, and a computer, while for iOS, you will require a Mac and a $99 yearly subscription.
The generic consent has always been that the iPhone is used by richer and more affluent users, and so, iPhone users are more likely to spend money on apps than Android users. This might have been true in the past, but not any more. In most app categories, Android apps have been found to be as profitable (even more profitable in some instances) as iPhone apps, both for initial app purchases and for in-app purchases. Also, with many apps using a free with ads model, as long as the ads are being shown to app users, the app generates income.
For developers looking to escalate their chances of success, be it from a mobile game or niche app, targeting Android devices first can mean the difference between success and obscurity.