Android vs. iOS

The number of mobile phone users, while not growing at an exponential rate any longer, continues at a remarkable pace. 

GSMA real-time intelligence data indicates 5.2 billion people have mobile devices worldwide, which is 66.83% of the world's population. The vast majority of those devices are smartphones, which  had 79.1% of the U.S. mobile device market in 2020.  

Given the numerous devices available, it’s not hard to find a phone with the speed, memory, connectivity, screen size, or keyboard you are looking for. The difficult part is often finding the software that will make the most out of your smartphone experience. The mobile operating system (OS) is the foundation for all mobile software. 

Operating System Market Share - The Big Two

There are currently two major players in the U.S. smartphone OS market: iOS (Apple) and  Android (Google).  While Android and iOS are in a fairly tight race for U.S. market share, it is by no means close on a global scale.  

  • Statcounter (October 2020) shows Android with nearly 73 percent of the world market. 
  • Mobile iOS has 26.5% of the world mobile operating system market.  

This is effectively a duopoly. But the two OS utilize different business models. 

  • Apple controls both the iOS software and the smartphone hardware. Mobile iOS tends to have the market share lead in developed countries.  
  • Google's Android OS runs on devices produced by a variety of companies. Android tends to compete very well in developing countries. 

User Interface

After Steve Jobs died, competitor Nokia’s CEO said that Jobs will be remembered for his simple, elegant designs. Apple's trademark simple elegance certainly rings true for iOS. Given this and the fact that all iOS apps must conform to the iOS user interface (UI) standards, the ease of use for iOS UI is unsurpassed.  

While Android’s UI might not be as elegant as iOS, Android does have its own advantages. Android’s UI is highly configurable. 

The average American checks their phone every 12 minutes. 10% of people check their phones once every 4 minutes. 90% of mobile time is spent on apps.

Mobile Applications 

While the UI may be the foundation of the smartphone experience, most users will spend the bulk of their time using their favorite apps.  

The availability of mobile applications across iOS and Android has exploded.  The top 8 smartphone apps, in terms of number of downloads, looked like this in October 2020 in a list published by TechGig

Top Smartphone Apps  












Google Meet 


Aarogya Setu 



While the UI may be the foundation of the smartphone experience, most users will spend the bulk of their time using their favorite apps. For sheer volume of apps, Android and iOS stand head and shoulders over all others. In 2020, Apple’s App Store had more than 2.2  million apps available and the Android Market called Google Play had more than 2.8 million available. Android users may also download apps outside of the Android market, which increases the number of potentially available apps.  However, the apps which a user may download can also be restricted by carriers, so be sure to check their policies before you assume the app you want will be available on your new smartphone. Apps for iOS generally have to be downloaded through Apple’s App Store. Some smartphone users will “jailbreak” or “root” their phone in order to circumvent these restrictions, but this practice can carry consequences like voiding manufacturers' warranties and violating carrier service agreements.

Application Security 

For security and quality control, Apple’s App Store is the strictest, as all applications are manually reviewed for security, conformance with Apple’s standards for functionality, and adherence to the iOS user interface. In this way, Apple is able to maintain a secure, seamless, consistent user experience for iOS users. Of course, the flip side of this is that some iOS users complain about Apple’s censorship of apps which might compete with Apple’s products. 

Google Play has an automatic review process which is more permissive than the Apple App Store, which is one reason the growth in the number of Android applications is greater than for iOS. Many Android users enjoy the “freedom of choice” they have, but this comes with a flip side as well. Android applications have less consistency in terms of their user interfaces and are more prone to security risks. Google will, of course, remove any known malicious apps from the Google Play store and will also remotely remove them from user mobile devices once discovered. Android users may also choose from a broad range of mobile security apps to help mitigate security threats. 

Mobile Development

For developers, choosing between iOS Development and Android development introduces many aspects to consider. The following table compares some of the key aspects and differences between development on iOS and Android.

Key Aspects



Development Language 


Java, Kotlin



Android Studio

Target Audience 

More valuable 

Less valuable

Design Philosophy


Specified Requirement

Development Complexity 



Development Time

Depends on complexity 


App Store Acceptance

Long app review

Short app review

Deployment Speed

7 days average


To Recap 

The smartphone market has been growing, evolving rapidly, and shows no signs of stopping, but after a bit of research most users can find the one which is right for them.  

  • If you’re new to smartphones or just looking for a simple, elegant user interface with numerous safe apps which integrate seamlessly with it, Apple’s iOS is probably for you. 
  • If you’re a power user or techie looking for maximum flexibility, possibly even the ability to experiment with the OS and the apps, Android is probably for you.  

Every user’s needs are unique. Before purchasing a smartphone: 

  • Make a checklist of your most desired/required functionality and qualities.
  • Research Google Play and Apple’s App Store. 
  • Check out your friends' and colleagues’ phones. 
  • See how the available options stack up against your requirements. 

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