Mobile Apps

Android or iOS? How to Pick an Operating System for Your Mobile App

Choosing an operating system for your app tends to come down to one of two possibilities: Android or iOS. But how do you choose which platform to start?

So you’ve decided that your business needs a mobile app. Recognizing that your audience increasingly uses mobile devices to communicate, shop, and search for information, you have realized that the best way to engage your audience and grow your business is to reach them natively where they spend their time. Great choice!

But realizing the need for a mobile app solution is only the first step to success. We have already covered some of the necessary next steps, such as finding the perfect app development partner and strategizing the app development process. But one additional choice remains crucial, particularly for the initial launch: deciding which operating system your app should run on.

Understanding Your Choices

At its core, choosing an operating system for your app tends to come down to one of two possibilities: Android or iOS. The majority of mobile users have either Android or iPhone, so if you build an app for both platforms you’ll cover most of the mobile market.

But don’t underestimate the portion of your potential users who use Windows phones. In addition, apps can be very different for tablets and smartphones; iOS apps, for example, may differ between iPad and iPhone. You may also want to consider a web app, which will work on any device regardless of operating system.

Knowing your options is an important first step; now, it’s time to find the right operating system for your needs and audience. Here are 3 steps that can help you in the process.

1) Study Your Audience

Perhaps not surprisingly, your audience should be the single biggest determining factor for your operating system. It’s quite simple: choose the operating system that the majority of your target market uses. The difficult part is finding out the statistics. Here are a number of indicators that can help you in the process:

  • Analyze your web users. Web analytics tools like Google Analytics show marketers what devices their visitors use when browsing the website. From that data, it’s an easy step to determining the operating system. But what if your current web visitors do not consist of your intended target audience? In that case, additional steps are needed.
  • Study global demographics. Mobile users around the globe use very different smartphones. Android, for example, significantly outpaces iOS in South Korea, but has relatively low market share in China. If you target a global audience, this data can be crucial in helping you understand user preferences.
  • Ask your audience. You should not underestimate the benefits of simply conducting surveys with your target audience to ask them about their preferred mobile operating system. The sample size may be small, but you will still gain important information if you take the time to ask.

2) Understand Revenue in the App Ecosystem

What goal will your app have? If you are looking to gain revenue, you may want to look to iOS; every year, Apple outpaces Android almost 4 to 1 in app revenue. But Android has the upper hand in terms of total app downloads, which means that if you are simply looking to gain brand awareness and exposure, this may be your better choice.

3) Talk to Your Developer

Finally, don’t be afraid to bring up the question of which OS to use in your early conversations with your app development agency. Chances are they will have experience in both major operating systems, which enables them to give you a professional opinion about what you can and cannot accomplish using Android or iOS.

In these conversations, the potential of releasing your app on multiple platforms will undoubtedly surface. Ultimately, to satisfy the majority of your audience, developing your app for both iOS and Android is your best choice. However, you may need to make a priority decision on which OS should come first. Contact us to let us help you make that decision, and we’ll set you on your way to a successful app launch.

Talk to our team to scope your next project.