“Many companies have only focused on iOS and ported over the same app interface and design to Android. When approaching each platform, design for the platform. For Android, excellent design considers how people use the Android platform – for example, how to navigate, back button, home button, the menu.”
– Mina Radhakrishnan, Uber’s Head of Product
Image source: Flickr, user: George Thomas
Let’s catch up to speed: you’ve designed a mobile app with these expert suggestions in mind. Now, you’re determining which platform will help you achieve the most success. Here are a few tips.
There’s a reason that developers at bigger companies are hired based on experience in iOS or Android; each platform requires different proficiencies. To develop an app for iOS, you must code in Objective-C or Swift. To develop an app for Android, you must use Java. However, smaller app development companies have just one or two developers who might program for platforms in which they are unfamiliar. The first step to building native apps: If you’re coding alone, get familiar with the devices. Learn how the capabilities and interfaces differ on iOS vs. Android apps – from notifications to navigation – so you can create platform-specific designs that feel intuitive to users.
Even if you’re considering selling your app in multiple marketplaces, it’s generally a good idea to launch in just one first. This way, you can catch any bugs and optimize the app before it’s live in multiple stores. For a few reasons, it’s common to launch first in Apple’s App Store:
- On average, apps on the App Store make five times as much as apps on Google Play.
- Apps can receive higher visibility through multiple channels in the App Store, like the “App of the Week” category.
- Apple has fewer screen resolutions to keep in mind compared to Android.
After the app is live in one marketplace, you can optimize the app based on user feedback and analytics. Comments in the marketplace will guide you to what users like and don’t like about the app; for instance, the app could take too long to load or advertisements could be intrusive. Analytics reveal in-app behavior, so you know the retention rate, uninstalls, etc. and can begin to understand what makes the app successful. Once you’ve optimized, it’s safe to redesign for new platforms and launch in Google Play or Windows Store without repeating the same mistakes.
A note for those who currently have only one app live, from Arash Hadipanah, Rue La La’s Senior Mobile Product Manager. “It’s important to have a mobile website for the platforms you might not be ready to invest in. For example, if you only have an iOS app, you need to have a mobile website to complement in order to cater to users on Android or Windows.”
Each store has different rules about what kind of apps they will accept. Apple’s are much more detailed, and it’s common for it to reject app submissions based on low quality or offensive material, whereas Google allows apps more creative freedom. This process will be covered in more depth later on, but for now, you can see the full list of Apple’s guidelines here and Google’s guidelines here. Brush up on these first to avoid implementing a feature now that will get your app rejected and waste time down the road.
Just as the platform guidelines differ, the user interface (UI) varies. Icon sizes and navigation are just a few examples of the differences on each platform. “One design fits all” does not apply, as users won’t find iOS-designed apps easy to use or aesthetically pleasing on Android. Native apps require learning platform-specific design rules. Here’s a cheat sheet to get started.
Android & iOS cheat sheet source: Kinvey Backend as a Service
This is part of Kiip’s ongoing Developer Success Guide.
Kiip is a leader in the field of app monetization. We enable developers to reward their users with advertising they enjoy. We want all developers to be successful in their ventures, so we’ve compiled a comprehensive guide with industry observations, best practices and expert advice.