On Which Platform Should You Release Your App First?

On Which Platform Should You Release Your App First?

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The mobile app world first truly blossomed on the iOS platform. Despite Android quickly gaining ground on iOS, for a number of years there was no question on which platform developers should release their apps on first. It was iOS because it had the most early adopters, overall users, better monetization rates (although this isn’t an immediate concern when first launching the app), the devices were better, and there was an aura of coolness associated with iOS.

In recent years, Android fully caught up to iOS, surpassed it in total devices on which the operating system is installed, and many early adopters switched to Android. The decision of where to first release your app has become a less clear one. Let’s go over the pros and cons of each so when it comes time for you to make that decision, you will be better equipped for it.

In the case of my apps, I released them on Android simply because I owned an Android device at that time, and it was easier for me to test the apps as I developed them. I made my decision based on that, but I learned many of Android’s advantages along the way. This kind of decision making may seem too simplistic, and it probably was. But it was very practical, less risky, and more affordable. It goes to show that there are very basic criteria on which it is ok to base your decision. Now let’s get into more complex decision criteria.

The biggest development advantage that Android has over iOS is that Android has absolutely no review process. You can update your app multiple times a day if you want to. Since there is no review process, your app can be as bad as you want it to be when you first release it to the GooglePlay app store. Of course, no one wants their app to be bad, but this nuance allowed me to release an extremely early version of the app very early in my development. I wasn’t too worried if I got bad reviews because I could always have just taken the app off the app store, improved it, and released it again as a new app. The early bad reviews wouldn’t hurt the app, so I didn’t have to worry about that.

Advantage Of Releasing Your App On Android

The advantage of releasing early and being able to update the app whenever I wanted to was tremendous. On a typical day, I would wake up, observe how people used the app the night before, figure out the next strategy based on that data of how users were using the app during the previous day, update the app according to my deductions from that data, and release a new version in the evening. Next morning I would observe how users used this new app, and make a new set of deductions from monitoring how users used the app, and make appropriate improvements again. Sometimes I was able to do this cycle a few times per day if the app changes were simple. As you can imagine, this allowed me to improve the app very rapidly, and quickly get it to a point where users really liked the app.

This is something that is much more difficult to do well on iOS. Whereas my development cycle on Android was sometimes as short as half a day or a day, on iOS it was averaging about a week or slightly less than that because of the lengthy app review process that is a part of releasing app updates in the Apple App Store. On Android I was able to improve the app and experiment many times faster than on iOS, and that made all the difference. Once I got my Android app to a good place where users liked it, I took all the features enjoyed by my users that took me many experiments to hone in on, and added it to the iOS app in one update. So if your goal is to iterate on the app, and rapidly improve it based on market and user feedback, Android is a great way to go.

Advantage Of Releasing Your App On IOS

On the other hand, if you want to have a big launch with pizzazz and publicity, iOS is probably still the cooler platform that is more hip. Many developers I know still release apps for iOS first, and think about Android next. If you have an app that uses hardware like the camera, it can be much simpler to develop apps for iOS because there are literally thousands of different kinds of devices for Android. Those devices have very different hardware, and it can be a nightmare to develop apps for hardware that can be so varied. In such cases, iOS offers a more reasonable platform.

Mobile App Marketing Book

This tutorial is just one section of my mobile app marketing book. Check it out on Amazon. It is available on the Kindle which means that you can read it on the Kindle app of any smart phone.

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