Jan 27, 2021

about 4 min read

Android VS iOS: Which Platform To Build Your Mobile App On First In 2021

If you are building an app, choosing between Android and iOS is one of the first decisions you’ll make. For starters, the code for native apps doesn’t work on both platforms. If you want to have an app that’s available in both stores, you’ll need to develop two different ones from scratch in order to meet the requirements for each operations system. It’s a long and expensive process. And as users on those two platforms behave differently, you will need to strategically opt for either one of them to have your team focus on first. There’s a way to publish on both platforms too, we’ll discuss that matter later in this article.

First, we’ll go through the differences on Android and iOS to further evaluate which platform is best for your business

#1 Technical aspect - Apple is a closed ecosystem while Android is an open-source ecosystem

Apple - Restricted

Apple regulates entrance to their platform. Your developers technically cannot build features themselves but will need to choose from a myriad of Apple’s features. But don’t worry, there are a lot of them. In addition, Apple devices are often more expensive, so we have a different segment of users right there to consider.

Android - Open for innovations

Android’s ecosystem encourages developers to add modifications and a lot of functionality. But there’s a drawback - open source platforms are less secure, it sometimes will get blocked by mobile network operators.You can get Android’s source code for free and port it to your app’s hardware. This means that there are no restrictions and you can freely develop functions in your preferred ways.

#2 Earning methods - You will need to choose the platform based on which earning methods you’re using

The main earning methods of all apps will fall into these categories: 


  • Subscriptions
  • In-app purchases
  • Advertisements
  • Pay per download


Apple: If you are to charge per download: it’s smart to pick iOS first. Let’s take a look at this distribution graph of free vs paid apps. Many others are picking Apple for their paid apps too, that’s why users will find more paid apps on iOS then free apps when searching and they will end up finding that reasonable. You will also find that customers are more engaged than if you were to introduce the paid app on Android - where users don’t really care to pay for apps.

Distribution of free and paid apps on Android vs iOS


If you’re going to make money off of advertisements and in-app purchases, then you should build on Android first. (Just don’t expect your in-app purchases to be too significant). 

Average in-app purchase per user per app - Android vs iOS

Android users dominate the market share, and that makes it quite an ideal space for ad slots. You will also get more downloads on Android.

Mobile OS market share in 2019

You might also want to check out the cost of creating an app in 2021 to have a broader view on financial aspects of building your mobile apps.

#3 Release cycle - Most iOS users have the most up-to-date versions, while it’s drastically different for Android users.

For each operating system version updates, you will need to write codes that fit the system. About 95% of iOS users have their latest operating system installed on their devices. With Android, you may have to code for older OS versions as users are often not up-to-date with the latest versions. Oreo and Nougat are the two most recent versions of the Android software. Less than 20% of users are operating on these systems. This makes the development process more arduous, complex and time-consuming.

Current system versions distribution among Android users

#4 Audience Nationality

If you’re targeting a broad global audience, Android may be your best bet.

If your audience is in Western Europe or North America, or if you’re an e-commerce or enterprise app, Apple may be a better choice.

Android & iOS users country locations

#5 Users background and behaviours

Android is Best for Audience in Up-And-Coming Markets


  • Android is dominant in global up-and-coming markets, such as Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
  • Android users are more likely to work in technical jobs.
  • Slightly more men prefer Android than iOS.


iOS Best for Affluent, Young Audience in Western Europe, Australia, North America


  • iPad & iPhone users tend to be more affluent, earning 40% more than the average Android user.
  • iOS users tend to be younger, with a greater share of the 18–24-year-old market.
  • Women are more likely to use iPhones than Android.
  • Apple users are more likely to have higher education degrees.
  • Apple users tend to be in professional and managerial jobs.
  • iOS has more penetration in the enterprise market, thanks to a reputation for better security. Which means big corporations like IBM use iOS hardwares officially for their enterprise. 
  • iOS leads in Western Europe, Australia, and North America.
  • Apple users tend to be more engaged with their devices and spend more on apps.
  • iOS users are more likely to shop and make purchases using their mobile devices.


#6 Hybrid Apps - A third way

If you don’t really want to choose between iOS & Android for a first move. You can always develop hybrid apps which can be coded on both operating systems at the same time. Using HTML5 & Javascript, you can build a hybrid app without much advanced coding. For more contents on building your mobile app, check out 7 common mistakes when developing mobile applications to avoid

Golden Owl can help you choose the matching platform where you should build your native app first and we also offer hybrid apps solutions and IT consulting if you have questions about which type of apps to build. Contact us for a quotation & proposal.

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