Get Ready for iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7 Development with iOS vs. Android Comparison Study

By Chandrajit, Gaea News Network
Monday, November 8, 2010

NEW YORK ( — New Mobile Platforms are on the rise. With every new platform trying to get their market share, the competition is becoming much more intense. But, do you know what makes a mobile platform the defined winner? The answer is “Applications”. Whether it be iOS or Android or the hottest Windows Phone 7, everyone is looking upon the developers to build cool new apps for their platforms. That’s what makes them popular. Even the latest Microsoft Windows Phone 7 is playing the same game. Robert Scoble, a Tech evangelist says that almost every developer he met lately has been approached by Microsoft evangelists. Why? Its simply because Microsoft knows that if its new system WP7 has no apps no one will buy its phones.


A Tit-Bit about App Development

An interesting fact about mobile app development is that most of the guys in this field are first-time app developers. Mobile is the new hot platform and the barriers are also quite less as compared to desktop applications. Not only that, a simple but useful mobile application can bring in a big success without much effort. The existence and dominance of small apps like calculators, flashlights and other apps defines this. And, on the way you should be well informed that developing good apps on these platforms is quite profitable. If you have heard about “Mario Batali’s” cooking app for iPhone you should know that this app developed by High Five Labs has sold more than 15,000 units at $4.99 each within weeks of its launch. Now, that not a bad figure for a start up company with just 3 employees. Anyway, lets get to the core of the topic to show you how to start development for any of the top mobile platforms.

Although, first time developers are laying their hands on these, experience and learning is always profitable. Languages like C, Java or C# can always come to rescue. Furthermore, there are a lot of online and offline resources available for free. Development platforms like Appcelerator’s Titanium has also enhanced the app building process. Transition to Mobile platforms has become more easier. But, it is rather more useful when you are well versed with the programming languages for your own mobile platform. That means if you are getting ready for the iOS, get ready for objective C and Cocoa Touch. When you start with Android, knowing Java is the first issue. But, you also need to be familiar with Android-specific APIs and Frameworks. Talking about Windows Phone 7, it pulls developers back into their own domain. Most of Windows Phone 7 uses Silverlight and so being in touch with C# or .NET is a must.


iOS: Development Resources

Every new platform is sure to come up with something new, but knowing it does not need you to spend bucks. Lots of free resources are popping up explaining you how to develop their respective apps. If you need to learn iOS programming head towards Apple Developer Site and you’ll find yourself amidst Pacific information. Access to developer documents is completely free but you need to pay to become an iOS developer. Paying only $99 annually, you can get your hands on more, tutorials, videos and other utilities. Books!!! There are dozens of them out on the Internet providing lots of information, tricks and stuff regarding iOS app development. But, be advised; every piece of information you gather today is going to be out dated tomorrow. You may have to work hard to be in pace with the emerging technologies and the evolution of mobile platforms. Some of the best educative resources include iPhone App Development: The Missing Manual by Craig Hockenberry, iOS Developer’s Cookbook and the Programming in Objective-C 2.0.

Apart from all this, the Internet gathers all the resources to spell the magic within the iOS Dev center where every information can be found. Apple’s in depth resource library, reference list and sample code library give you a lot lot to learn. The developer forum can also give you lots of information and discussions with fellow developers can speed up your learning process. However, if you want to skip the payment of $99 you may be missing some good stuffs but options are always open. iPhone Dev Forums, iPhone Dev SDK and are some of the active forums and communities discussing on various topics regarding iPhone development and its business aspects. The is from the well known XDA Developers team and its surely a iPhone developers heaven.

Developing for the Second Most Popular Platform: Android

In most cases, apps have been developed for the iOS first and Android versions have followed soon after that. Well, increasing market share for the Android may turn the table but for now it stands second in the queue. Regarding Android App Development Zone, the Official Android Developers portal has lots of information with guides and tools. Software Development Kits and Tools are free and examples and tutorials are just in numerous. As Android entered later into the market, the collection of print or e-books is not much. Moreover, with a roll-out of various versions within a relatively short period of time, Android Development is on the move. Inspite of that, if you are aware of the dessert items and number of books projected for publication next year, you’ll be sure that its big time for you to pay your attention to Android. If you are starting now, I would rather suggest you to start from Froyo and start moving on to Gingerbread keeping your focus ahead for Honeycomb. This would keep you in your best time compared to the market after a few months from now.

Some of the handpicked Android Development stuffs can be found at the XDA Developers and A few recommended ebooks or tutorials include Learn Java for Android Development and Building Android Apps with HTML, CSS and Javascript.

iOS vs Android: A Comparision Study

The latest released Android 2.2 (dessert-named Froyo) is a direct competitor to the iPhone. With Froyo and iPhone 4 fueled for a heated fight developers need to keep a tap on both these parties. Although, Millenia Media’s Mobile Mix report shows that Android is gaining in developer adoption, Apple is the one who continues having the biggest shares in the smartphone arena.
When compared to iOS development you may find Android Development a step easier than iOS as Android is open source. According to the Mobile Developers Trends, 11% belongs to Multi-Platform whereas 89% are working on single platform. The single platform developers are distributed with 57% as iOS developers, 31% Android developers, 8% others and the remaining 4% for RIM or Blackberry Devices. So, I hope you have got a glimpse of the most competitive and demanding fields.

Now lets see the requirements for the respective platforms.

Both Apple and Google offer a free SDK (software development kit) to the developers. You can download this software and make your applications immediately at no cost. However, certain things need to be kept at hand before you get stuck in. Let’s take a deeper look at Android vs iPhone.

  1. You need a Mac running Leopard Mac OS X. If you don’t have one, the initial investment is quite big.
    You can develop for Android on a PC.
  2. Need full access to resources and want to sell your app. The first step for you is to sign up as a developer.
    Getting full access to the resources and selling your app through Android Market needs you to sign an agreement and pay $25 as a registration fee.
  3. You can’t release your app without testing. If you want to test your app on an actual iPhone the developer program demands that you be its part. Pay $99 and sign a contract with Apple. You are ready to go.
    Quite the same goes with the Android Dev Phone needed by developers for testing. It costs $399 and you can test on any Android phone provided it supports the version of Android you are working on.
  4. Have an app ready to be released? You still need to wait. Apple will verify and then approve it before it is available in the App Store.
    Its easier when you are on Android. If you meet the guidelines, you can publish it on Android Market directly.
  5. If your app is free, there are no further costs. If you are planning to sell it, wait. Apple takes 30% of your revenue to cover their costs and rest of it is left for you.
    Free apps neither cost anything here. But if you want to charge for your app then 70% moves to your pocket and the rest of it is left for the wireless carriers in this case. So, it does’nt matter for developers like us as to who gets the remaining 30% in both cases.
  6. For developing on iPhone, you’ll need to use ObjectiveC.
    Android developers will be working on a Java based environment.
  7. iPhone now has almost 150,000 apps available, whereas there are somewhere over 100000 apps available for Android. So, the competition seems to be lower in the Android Market.
  8. In both the App Store and Android Market, popular apps are very well publicised and featured lists held them prominently. Of course there are many apps that go unnoticed.
  9. Android’s platform and developer tools are great and are easy to use. Implementing Java and the Eclipse IDE are major plus points for an Android developer.
    Apple’s developer tools are not upto the mark when compared. The Objective-C language and platform APIs are quite poorly organized. Such factors have made application development way more expensive for iPhone developers. Apple’s developer tools excels only during profiling and heap analysis.
  10. The App store from Apple is better from a user’s view. The worldwide coverage standpoint is also better when compared to Google Android.
    The key factors in this arena have made a weaker market for Android.
  11. Apple has a minimum payout of $250 whereas Google sets its payout limit to $1. So, keep that in mind before you start.
  12. iPhone App Store has an estimated sales figure of more than $1 billion every year while the Android Market makes less than $100 million sales annually.
  13. Android Marketplace allows you to try out an application and uninstall it within 24 hours and obtain a refund respectively.
    iPhone App Store doesn’t allow that. So, be advised. All your Marketing Hype can sell your iPhone app forever but curb your Android app within 24 hours if its not worth the price.
  14. iPhone App Store is completely controlled by Apple. After submitting your app to the Store, you cannot guarantee that it will get published. Apple has rejected many applications on flimsy and whimsical grounds. Your app may get rejected if it copies the core OS functionality, has a poor performance or vulgar.
    Android is quite open and eases developers pains. Almost all the submitted applications are published provided youdo not infringe copyright policies. Oh yes! It also lets you publish pornographic apps. So, there goes a huge section of users having no way but visit the Android Marketplace. So, as you can see Open and Closed systems do have a lot of differences making developers worry and think about their creations.
  15. 5 versions - iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4 and 4 major OS releases are backward compatible have support similar resolutions leaving the iPhone 4. With similar hardware they leave little space for the developers to worry about an app created for the earlier versions.
    Cupcake, Donut, Eclair, Froyo, Gingerbread, Honeycomb, Ice Cream. Wow! So many mouth watering desserts together. Its really going to be pleasant for the end users. But for a developer it starts with 1.0, then 1.1, then 1.5, then 1.6, then 2.0, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 3.0, 4.0. Oh! I’m tired. And yet there are more than 60 devices running them and each of them in a war with different display resolutions, different hardware specifications. So, now you understand the exact definition of “application incompatibility”. Are you an Android Developer? Then follow the Android News everyday and start worrying about supporting devices with older Android OS versions, devices without cameras, devices with cameras, devices with or without physical keyboards, devices with varying display resolutions and UI element orientation on each one of them. That adds upto a huge amount of work left for you even after you create the best Android App ever.

It is expected that iPhone developers may breath easy when tools like iphonical (MDD for iPhone) and objective eclipse (Eclipse plug-in for Objective-C) come up. On the other hand, a shake-up in the mobile market can be seen with at around 25 more Android handsets being released this year. Moreover, adaptation of the Android OS for most tablets seems to pull the rope towards Android in this tug of war. But, thats a look into the future. Till then, iPhone remains a leader and developers must strive with XCode and Objective-C for adapting to the current scenario. Regardless of the platform you are developing some online promotion always brings a few more bucks in. You can also choose to get your app reviewed or offer a free demo to lure in potential customers.

Comparison at a Glance

Apple iOS Android from Google Remarks
Need a Mac running Leopard Mac OS X Can develop for Android on a PC High Initial Investment for Non Mac users
Just sign up as a developer Sign an agreement and pay $25 as a registration fee Extra investment for an Android Developer
Pay $99 and sign a contract with Apple for testing Pay $399 Android Developers pay more again
Apple Verifies before publishing If you meet the guidelines, you can publish it on Android Market directly Chances of rejection are much more for iOS developers
Apple takes 30% of your revenue Wireless carriers take 30% of your revenue It does’nt matter much to the developers as long as 70% is in their pockets
Use ObjectiveC Java based environment Depends on the developer’s comfort
150,000 apps available 100,000 apps available Competition is less at Android Marketplace
Popular apps are very well publicised and featured lists held them prominentl Same for Android Marketplace Many apps go unnoticed due to the sheer volume
Developer tools are not upto the mark; Objective-C language and platform APIs are quite poorly organized. Platform and developer tools are great and are easy to use; Java and the Eclipse IDE are major plus points application development way more expensive for iPhone developers.
Better App Store from a user’s view. The worldwide coverage standpoint is also better when compared to Google Android. The key factors in this arena have made a weaker market for Android. Its only due to less number of Android users at the present moment.
Minimum payout of $250 Google sets its payout limit to $1 You might not get paid if you never reach $250
Estimated sales figure of more than $1 billion every year Makes less than $100 million sales annually Apple has entered into the market much earlier and number of users are much more
Sold your App? The money is your forever. You may rejoice. Sold your App? Wait for 24 hours to ensure to rejoice Developers get less advantage when its Android
Applications are rejected on flimsy and whimsical grounds. Almost all the submitted applications are published provided youdo not infringe copyright policies. Open and Closed systems do have a lot of differences making developers worry and think about their creations.
Apps are backward compatible having support for similar resolutions 10 OS versions with more than 6o devices with different resolutions A huge amount of work is left for developers after creating the app to make it compatible on popular Android Devices

The Hot Cake: Developing for Windows Phone 7

This brand new platform is showing a lot of promise. It has just launched and has already bathed the market in WP 7 news. Microsoft has already spent a billion in advertising this new system and many app developers have been approached to port apps to their system. When compared to any other company, Microsoft provides developers and interested persons with more resources and development tools. Since, the platform is new development tools are is the process of modification and adjustment. My advice to first time programmers would be to wait for a few months before they jump into developing apps for WP7. A lot of changes are going on in this field and new comers would find it hard to adjust with these fast changes. However, do you have C#, .NET, Silverlight or WPF experience? If yes, developing apps for Windows Phone 7 is going to be a cakewalk for you.

You can get more information of Windows Phone 7 development at App Hub which is Microsoft’s portal for Windows Phone and Xbox 360 developers. Whether it be tools, forums or documentation, App Hub is the one stop solution for all these. Silverlight for Windows Phone cannot be ovelooked. It offers lessons and training on using Silverlight to build Windows Phone 7 stuffs. XNA Framework 4.0 for Windows Phone contains lessons and videos for using the XNA Framework to build games for Windows Phone 7.

So, whether it be iOS, Android or WP7 every platform has its own advantages and disadvantages. However, the Android market is growing and is expected to put up a good fight against its competitors. The best option would be to remain well versed with all these platforms and build apps for the one which has an increasing market trend.

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