Your company has a successful iOS app that has generated revenue, brought new traffic to its website, and increased its profits overall. However, your company’s CEO still thinks there’s a segment of customers the business isn’t reaching and there’s strong potential to garner more profit. What can be done to address this issue?

Your company has a successful iOS app that has generated revenue, brought new traffic to its website, and increased its profits overall. However, your company’s CEO still thinks there’s a segment of customers the business isn’t reaching and there’s strong potential to garner more profit. What can be done to address this issue?

As an app developer, your answer is simple: build an Android app. But while apps on the Android platform can be profitable and offer advantages, building one to look and perform like its iOS counterpart is not as easy as it sounds.

Operating System Background

A key benefit of iPhones and iPads is that the devices come with an operating system (iOS) built by the same company that made the device, Apple. In fact, this is true for all of Apple’s products because the company develops both hardware and software.

Microsoft and Google, on the other hand, are primarily software companies, so they build products to run on any hardware that supports it. This has always been the case with the Windows operating system and is also true of the operating system that runs on both Android phones and tablets.

iOS Developers and Android Apps

The major question for developers who wish to create an app for Android that mimics an iOS app is, of course, should they? The answer is a resounding yes. With over 1.2 million apps on the Google Play store and over 50 billion downloads, the Android market is definitely relevant.

Most people seem to think if you already have an iOS app, it can easily be converted to Android, or that both can be developed at the same time. Truth is, there is no real conversion process, and developing more than one app at a time can be risky. So, developers really have no choice but to become Android app developers and learn how to create an Android app from scratch.

Programming Languages

One major challenge facing a budding Android app developer is that the programming languages each operating system uses are quite different. Android is primarily written using Java whereas iOS is a combination of Objective-C and Apple’s newest language, Swift.

These dissimilarities in the operating systems may make it seem that moving an iOS app into the world of Android is impossible. But in 2011, that problem was partially solved with the introduction of the Kotlin language, which is based off of Java. While no app-to-app conversion is truly possible, Swift and Kotlin are similar enough to give developers the ability to copy code from an iOS app and then make some adjustments where needed in Kotlin. But even with this handy tool, an Android app still requires a developer to know how to handle Java (and even Kotlin) code and build the app anew.

Layout for Screen Sizes

The next major aspect an Android app developer faces is in app design and layout. Android definitely desires to differentiate itself from the look of iOS, and anything that looks too much like an iOS app will be turned down by the Google Play Store, even if the app performs well.

But there’s really more to it than that. Android has a distinct look and feel. Here are the key areas in its design that makes it different from iOS:

  • Buttons
  • Lists
  • Tabs
  • Date/Time Selectors
  • Navigation
  • Widgets

Additionally, the close button and a left-aligned title bar with a built-in search function all make it different from iOS. Another point an Android app developer has to keep in mind is screen sizes. With the iPhone, for instance, current sizes run 4.0”, 4.7” and 5.5”. For an Android device, a larger number of screen sizes exist with more than 20 variations in the 24,000 devices available.

Other Top Design Differences

The visuals a user sees on the device are another differentiating factor. On iOS, icons are rounded with rich colors that flow with the shape of the device itself. This is called Apple’s Material Design. With Android, colors are flatter and icons are more simplistic with little or no color. Both of these considerations affect object placement.

Also, Android uses custom icons and doesn’t use lists. Android’s navigation bar is higher with left-displayed titles. For the calendar functions, Android uses more taps and iOS uses scrolling. Android uses a Roboto Font and iOS uses San Francisco, but they look pretty similar. As far as the devices themselves, most of the main functions on an iPhone and iPad are controlled by one button. On Android, three buttons can be used for “home,” “back” or “multitask.”

Conclusion

The differences between iOS and Android may not seem apparent on the surface, but under the hood, they are clearly two distinct operating systems. Both try to make their use simple and their commands intuitive. However, Android has not only claimed a large user base in North America but also in Central and Eastern Europe, Asia, South America and Africa. So, despite the effort, time, resources and expense for a developer to create an Android app based on an existing iOS app, the payoff could make it worthwhile.
 

About the author:
Michael is a professional tech writer and content strategist with an app development background. He specializes in Android & iOS app design, as well as blockchain & dapp technology.

Ever since he was a child, Michael was captivated by technology. When the opportunity arose to spend his life writing about it, Michael didn’t hesitate. He now spends his time exploring and writing about captivating new technologies to introduce to the people.

His work has been published on various technology blogs across the web.