iOS App Store vs. Google Play Store

Which is better for app developers?

When creating a mobile app, developers must decide whether to use iOS or Android, or whether to create two versions of their app. It's hard for developers to make this choice without taking the app stores into consideration. Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store are very different platforms through which to market and sell apps, each with advantages and disadvantages for developers. We looked at both to give mobile app developers an idea of which would suit them best.

App Store vs Google Play

Overall Findings

iOS App Store
  • High visibility.

  • Reasonable cost for submission.

  • Good feedback from App review team.

  • Getting approval can take long time.

  • Lots of competition.

  • Users more inclined to pay for apps.

Google Play Store
  • Submission process is less tedious.

  • Costs only $25 to submit an app.

  • Good way to create a following for your app.

  • Less guidance when an app is rejected.

  • Platform can be fragmented.

  • Android users tend to want free apps.

Despite a long, drawn-out approval process and intense competition, Apple's App Store is a great investment for developers, with a reasonable registration fee and a high percentage of sales going to the developer. Developers for the Google Play Store enjoy a much less tedious approval process, and it's very affordable to submit apps. Both app stores have wide audiences, ensuring good visibility for an app, but you may have to work a little harder to make money with a Google Play Store app, as Android users tend to prefer free apps.

Apple paid out more than $100 billion to developers since the App Store was created in 2008.

Approval Process: Google Play Store Is Easier

iOS App Store
  • Approval process can be long and drawn out.

  • Developers need to be patient.

  • Developers must be creative with their apps.

  • Must be aware of all the rules and ensure app is error-free.

  • Review team gives good, if hard-hitting, feedback.

Google Play Store
  • Easy approval process.

  • Developers are free to experiment and be more creative.

  • Less high-quality apps can head out to users.

  • With so many apps let in, it can be hard to stand out.

App Store

When developing for the iOS App Store, the biggest problem developers face is getting their app approved. It's not easy to get your app into the App Store. Apps can be rejected for the slightest errors, which can be incredibly frustrating for developers who have specific ideas about how their apps should look and function. Developers have to take a great deal of time and care to make sure their apps fit Apple's standards and rules.

Many apps get rejected on the first try, but this isn't necessarily a bad thing. The App Store's efficient app review team gives the developer clear feedback about why their app didn't make the cut. Developers might be frustrated in the short term, but ultimately become more skilled at mobile app creation.

Google Play Store

Getting an app into the Google Play Store is a much easier process. Apps actually have a fairly low chance of being rejected on the Android app platform. This avoids the frustration App Store developers face and leaves developers free to experiment with their ideas. The only downside to this freedom is that it boosts the chances of buggy apps heading out to users, causing frustration on their end, as well as security concerns. It's also hard to stand out in a field of so many apps, and since apps aren't getting the kind of feedback the App Store provides, apps with a lesser chance of success go live and don't always succeed.

The Google Play Store generates more than double the downloads of Apple's App Store, but the App Store makes about twice as much money as the Google Play Store.

Visibility: Pluses and Minuses for Both Platforms

iOS App Store
  • Hugely popular platform with great visibility.

  • Amount of competition means your app has to stand out.

  • Keyword search model might limit visibility.

Google Play Store
  • Good visibility in terms of number of potential customers.

  • Amount of competition means your app has to stand out.

  • Search function model boosts visibility.

App Store

The App Store offers developers incredible visibility. Once you've gone through the grueling approval process, your app has a good chance of being promoted via multiple channels, such as being featured on the Popular App category, App of the Week, and more.

Maintaining visibility, however, can be difficult. With such high competition and newer and more exciting apps coming in all the time, developers have to get creative to get their app to stand out.

Part of your app's visibility is reaching the right target audience. When you submit an app to the iOS App Store, you check off various keywords that match your app in the submission form. A user conducting a search would have to search for one of those keywords to find your app. This is helpful if certain keywords are obvious and fit your app well, but if keywords don’t match well, it could hurt your app’s visibility. 

Google Play Store

Once an app is live on the Google Play Store, developers can work to build a customer base with good customer service, updates, and, of course, an app that provides a useful service. But just like the App Store, maintaining visibility is hard within such a sea of competition.

The Google Play Store’s model doesn’t rely on keywords you select. If a user conducts a search, the Google Play Store acts more like a search engine, matching a query with everything from an app’s name to its description. This makes it much easier for users to find your app.

The Android platform is highly fragmented, with many different manufacturers and devices, which is an issue Android developers should consider.

Costs and Monetization: Google Is Cheaper Initially

iOS App Store
  • $99 per year developer fee.

  • Developers get 70% of app revenue.

  • App Store customers used to paying for apps.

Google Play Store
  • One-time $25 developer fee.

  • Android customers prefer to download free apps.

  • Developers get 70% of revenue.

When you enroll as an App Store developer, you pay $99 per year, and you get a plethora of developer resources at your disposal. A developer receives 70 percent of the sales of the app, so the more popular your app is, the more you'll make.

The Google Play Store charges a one-time $25 fee to become a Google Play developer, and then the Google Play Console walks you through the app-creation process. Developers also receive 70% of app revenue, and you can publish as many apps as you want. However, most of the apps on the Google Play Store are free apps. Android users seem more inclined to download free apps, as opposed to iOS users, who are used to paying for good apps. This forces the Android developer to think of alternative ways to make money with their free app.

Final Verdict

The iOS App Store and the Google Play Store are the big players in the app industry. Both have wide audiences and popular platforms, and both have formed excellent developer resources and user bases.

While Google powers a bigger mobile device market than Apple, the App Store brings in more profits and has more monetization opportunities for developers. Many developers prefer to launch an app first on the App Store, and then create an Android version if all goes well.

Both the App Store and Google Play Store have excellent developer support resources on marketing, promotion, app launch, monetization, and much more. Taking advantage of these resources will boost your chances of success.