Take a look at the Android and Apple marketplace. Some smaller developers are only able to put out apps for one market, while larger players in the game are cross-developing their apps to be compatible with both Android and iOS. Do you have to choose which SDK to build your apps on as a small-fry?
Or can you, too, cross-develop onto both Android and iOS? It really comes down to the platforms themselves, and what you’re wanting to accomplish. If you’ve never developed an app, you probably need to concentrate on one platform, first. Look at some of the differences between the platforms to decide if a single solution is right for you, or if putting in the time to learn both SDKs will pay off in the end.
Android – The Android SDK, as well as the developer community, are much more user friendly than with the iOS. This makes developing your first app much easier.
iOS – Developing for the iOS requires you to own a Mac, which has a learning curve in itself. If you don’t own a Mac, plan on developing for Android until you get one.
Android – Developers typically choose Android because of it’s relatively low cost of entry and ease of app development. In general, apps cost much less to develop for Android and will take less time (which equates to dollars saved) to develop, publish, and begin seeing a return on your investment.
iOS – iOS takes longer to develop for, and because of this it costs more money to get an app onto the marketplace. The development software has a steeper learning curve than the Android OS. Android may be better for beginning users to learn development on, but iOS will help them expand their knowledge base and is a perfect synergy for Android.
When it comes to app support, developers know that the community will always provide better information than the original platform developers will. Because of this, app support becomes less and less important, so we are judging the platform’s communities on how friendly they are to beginners, and how well documented the platforms are.
Android – Android apps can be developed on any operating system, which tends to grow the community of developers that are available to help beginners.
iOS – You have to use a Mac to develop apps for the iOS, so the amount of people who are available to help quickly dwindles down. This makes it easier for beginners to get help, though, because seasoned developers know exactly what is happening and the steps necessary for fixing any errors.
Why develop apps if you can’t get them out to people? A lot of developers complain about being able to effectively market their apps once designed, so we took a look at the size of the markets for Android and iOS customers, as well as the different channels provided for you to market the software once it’s ready for market. Both markets currently have more than 800,000 apps available so comparing the two metrics is pointless.
Android – Just over half of all apps downloaded are downloaded for the Android OS.
iOS – iOS had around 40% of the total downloads for the past year, making the market for new customers substantially smaller than Android’s.
You don’t necessarily have to choose between Android and iOS if you are developing an app. If you have the money, time, a Mac computer, and the patience to learn both operating systems, you can develop for both. However, if you are putting out your first app, I’d advise you to focus on Android. If you already work on a Mac, start with the iOS and then learn Android later. You’ll thank yourself for it.