Apples to Androids Part Two: Application Compatibility

Apples to Androids Part Two: Application Compatibility

App Store

App Store

Apples to Androids is a series on the site that goes through and breaks down what you need to know if you plan on switching from iOS to Android. Looking at it from an analytical standpoint to help you decide if the switch is right for you. View the introduction post here.


People ask me all the time about making the switch from iOS to Android. Being an Android enthusiast, I guess my knowledge of the OS and development makes me an easy go-to for others wanting to learn more. Perhaps the biggest thing I get asked about is application compatibility. Will my apps be available on Android, and if not, are there comparable alternatives?

App History By the Numbers

Apple was not the first company to have an app store. Both Microsoft and Palm were already there. But it didn’t take long for Apple to outpace the competition to become the most used app store with 100 million downloads in its first 3 months. Android would be introduced the following year in 2008 and it would take six years before the PlayStore would carry more apps than the Apple AppStore. Growth for both app shops have been steady over the last few years and Android maintains its lead as it has become the most popular mobile platform.

App Store Comparison

Image via AppFigures

Developer’s Take

Though Android remains the most popular mobile platform to date, you will still see a lot of apps come out for iOS long before they are available for Android. This isn’t some conspiracy or an attempt by Apple to pay developers to develop for them first. iOS is actually easier to develop for, and success of an app, especially in the terms of revenue generation, can often hinge on how well it does in the App Store.

iPhone is generally seen as more of an attractive accent to someone’s life than an Android phone. Users on iOS are more likely to pay for apps than those on Android. A lot of this is due to the open source nature of Android, users with root access, and the easy ability to side-load applications. Either way, if you want to make a name as a developer, you judge your success on iOS sales, and therein lies a major focus.

Major Production Apps

In this part of the post I want to discuss compatibility between iOS and Android with a focus on major production apps. What do I mean by that? We’re talking your big name, everyone has them on their smartphone applications. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat. I’m also going to include most of the major productivity apps like Gmail, Outlook, Evernote, and If (formerly IFTTT). When it comes to the bulk of your mainly used applications, you are going to find them in both application stores.

Proprietary Applications

ios 11

Image Courtesy of Apple

This is where things get a little… Well, a LOT different. Proprietary software, in this case apps that are owned by the respective manufacturers of a mobile device, are things that you won’t find cross-platform. Apple is well known for its features that include its proprietary iOS software. Apps such as iMessage and Facetime have become absolutely second nature to iPhone users. And what makes these kind of apps better, for Apple anyway, is that they are available across devices like iPhone, iPad, and iPod.

Android is a bit different. Most of Google’s major apps are also available on iOS. Where you end up with proprietary applications comes from the individual device manufacturers. Samsung, LG, HTC, and others have their own apps that you will usually find pre-installed on your Android device. However, most of these apps are seen as annoying as opposed to beneficial.

Comparison and Contrast

Now, at this point in the post I figured it would be good to use a visual of some kind. Below I have constructed a table. In this table you will find apps you probably use on iOS, their availability on the Android platform, and if there is no availability, the apps that have the closest comparison to them.

[table id=7 /]

I can add more apps to this list as they are pointed out, but this gives you a basic look at some of the most used apps on iOS, and whether or not they are available on Android, and the alternative to them.

That’s it. That’s your quick look at app compatibility between iOS and Android. Hopefully this gives you a bit of a glimpse into what you will be looking at when making the switch from iOS to Android.



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