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Over the last few years two clear frontrunners have emerged in the mobile market, outpacing rivals and upsetting some of the previous leaders. These two are, of course, iOS from Apple and Android from Google.

Although each has cornered a significant proportion of the market, they are actually quite different platforms. This means it is necessary for developers to think carefully and choose wisely when creating software for either Android or iOS. Although some teams will work on programs for both operating systems, if you are faced with choosing one over the other there are a number of variables you will need to consider.

The first thing to look at is the type of audience you will be able to reach with your app and the power of the hardware that is at your disposal to create the best possible user experience. For iOS you will know the specific hardware components that exist within each device because Apple is in total control of this aspect, as it is with every other area of its mobile endeavours.


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Because of the cohesive nature of the Apple ecosystem it is easy to build an app that will run on a large number of iPhones because this is a company that works hard to achieve backward compatibility. For example, the iPhone 3GS, which is almost three years old, has support with the newest iOS 5 platform update that arrived with the launch of the iPhone 4S. So, although there are some features you might include that could alienate users with older mobiles, by working sensibly it is possible to open up your app to as broad an audience as possible.

The Android universe is far more fragmented because of Google's open source approach to the platform and the diverse pool of hardware manufacturers that build smartphones using this software. Android 4.0 is the latest version of the software, although this can only be found on the Samsung Galaxy Nexus. Version 2.3 is far more common but there are still users who have version 2.2, 2.1 or even 1.6 installed. The result can be a lowest common denominator approach to building apps. With Android appearing on handsets running the most basic budget hardware right up to dual core superphones, there is room to target specific sectors with apps that are designed to fit their requirements.

Another thing to think about when approaching these platforms is the process of applying to get your software featured on the respective app download services that will allow users to download, rate and review it. Both Apple and Google require that apps are submitted for testing and evaluation by the performance evaluation software. Whilst the actual quality of an app may not necessarily be something that is taken into consideration, you will need to think about the content and the functions it enables.

In general, Apple is seen as being the more draconian of the two companies when it comes to granting an app permission to join the App Store catalogue, whilst Google is less prone to censorship. There have been a number of rows that only a broadband expert might reasonably understand. Some involved the removal of politically charged apps whilst others had more to do with indecent images. For many app developers this should not really be a concern, but you should familiarise yourself with the small print before you attempt to get your app accepted. If issues arise it could delay the launch.

One final point for potential mobile app developers to think about when considering iOS and Android is pricing. Statistics show that the proportion of paid-for applications is higher on iOS, whilst Android is home to a glut of free apps that can be downloaded without an upfront charge to the user. Both Apple and Google support in-app advertisements through their own advertising platforms and there are other ways to monetize your endeavours by using things like in-app purchases to encourage users to get involved for free and then invest money at a later date.

In short, a broadband expert might point out that Apple and iOS are best for those who want access to an affluent, engaged audience using a fixed array of phone hardware but with restrictions on the type of content that is acceptable. Meanwhile, Android is a more open, malleable platform for development with a customer base that eclipses Apple but is less keen to spend money on paid-for apps and has a much less predictable amount of processing power available to it.

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