I’m often asked by people who want to learn how to code or develop apps should they start with Android or iOS (Apple). It’s entirely your own decision but here’s a few thoughts …
Do you have a Mac or Windows machine?
First off you should know that to make iOS apps you need a Mac. The software used to make iOS apps is Xcode (see here for my guide to installing) and it’s only available on Macs. You can also use a Mac to make Android apps (using the Android Studio application, installation tips here) but on a Windows computer you can’t get Xcode.
There may be some slightly dodgy ways around this, but for the most part, if you only have a Windows machine, your only option is Android Studio.
You also should check the minimum specification required for Android Studio, see the official ones here. One thing — they recommend:
2 GB of available disk space minimum,
4 GB Recommended (500 MB for IDE + 1.5 GB for Android SDK and emulator system image)
but in my experience, you need way way more space — more like 30GB at least. Android Studio (and Xcode) eat up disk space at a remarkable rate, so it’s not something you can skimp on.
Note also that there are cross-platform tools like Xamarin and Phonegap that allow you to build apps for both, but for the beginner, I’d recommend going “native” — Xcode or Android Studio.
It’s all about the Benjamins
Not classic 90’s rap, but cash — Macs are expensive. If you’re just looking to try app development out, to try something new that you may not keep up, it may not be worth the $€ to pay for a Mac so you can get Xcode when a less expensive Windows machine will allow you to develop Android apps instead.
If you have the spare cash, or just want a Mac anyway, knock yourself out!
What phone do you have?
Both Xcode and Android studio provide virtual devices (the iOS Simulator or the Android Emulator) which allow you to test apps without an actual phone. At some stage however you’ll most likely want to use the app on your own phone — so I’ve seen students with Macs learn Android first because they don’t have an iPhone or iPad.
Do you have a target market?
Do you already have an market in mind already for an idea and if so, have you done any research into that market? For example, what is the ratio of Android to iPhone distribution? Or what is the revenue difference? Different countries / areas have different ratios of Android & iOS usage so it could be worth considering. Services like App Annie can provide insight into markets and trends.
Which is easier to learn?
A controversial one here and highly subjective! It’s just my opinion of course, but also from seeing my students learn Android and iOS — creating apps for Apple is probably a bit easier.
I think that Xcode is more user-friendly than Android Studio, in the same way that I think an iPhone is easier to use than an Android phone. Plenty of my friends disagree with me on that one though so maybe I’m wrong about the coding aswell!
Android can be just as rewarding as iOS however — I’ve seen my students struggle initially then thrive with both platforms, and I’ve seen the same looks of wonderment on their faces when they see an app they’ve created on their own phones.
Where to start learning?
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