Android vs. iOS: A Developer's Perspective

Posted by jun auza On 3/03/2011
Recent statistics estimate that 300,000 Android devices are being activated everyday. This increasingly growing number of Android users is perhaps the biggest motivation to Android app developers as it provides them with one of the widest markets for users to access their apps. The steady adoption of Android by device manufacturers that produce tablet computers, smartphones, and other gadgets serve as an assurance that the platform is here to stay and developers can prepare for greener pastures in the near future.

As a developer on any platform, you want to develop your applications at the lowest cost, utilizing free resources as often as you can. The Android platform, unlike iOS, is an open source platform and this fact has made developers take a liking to the Android platform, as compared to the iOS platform. Google develops Android and the company has taken huge steps in open-sourcing the technology and knowledge resources developers need to build apps on their platform. This includes Android documentation, which is very extensive and exposes developers to nearly everything. Unlike the iOS documentation that hides important aspects from developers. Furthermore, Android code is Java based, meaning the millions of already existing Java programmers have an easy time adopting the platform. These factors, coupled with the online support that most open source technology enjoys, makes the Android development learning curve much shorter than that of an iOS developer.

There are more than 50 Android phones in the market from more than ten manufacturers. This excludes other hardware that also runs Android, such as tablet computers and televisions. This is a huge number given that iOS, Android's most competitive rival, runs strictly on Apple manufactured devices. Apple's devices are roughly 10 in type. Android users are therefore somehow 'spoilt for choice' and these variations mean there is an Android device suitable for almost everyone. This is a big boost to Android developers since it guarantees that their apps can run on cheap and relatively expensive devices unlike Apple manufactured devices that tend to be rather costly.

For most developers, revenue generation obtained from sale of their apps or from advertisement plans is the reason they develop apps in the first place. They want as many markets as possible and the more users can gain access to their apps, the better for them. The Google Android market is now accessible via the web, a big stride taken by Google to add to the market app that already ships with all Android devices. Furthermore, Android developers can now post their apps to a variety of other popular markets, such as Amazon, where their apps get a global audience. The same cannot be said for apps developed for iOS since they must be accessed from Apple's market, which many consider to be restrictive in ways the Android market isn't.

Lastly, garbage collection is an important aspect of development. When building an app, you want to free up as much memory as you possibly can, given the limited capabilities mobile devices have. iOS development forces a developer to learn the details of memory management and when to free it. Android on the other hand, has efficient and automated garbage collection capabilities.

In a nutshell, Android development is easy to learn, makes use of open source technologies and has a growing online community that constantly provides examples of working code that developers can modify or adopt into their own applications. It is worth mentioning that the Android OS is itself an embedded operating system that is based on the Linux kernel for core system services.

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