4 Tips for Android App Developers Who Are Porting Over iOS Apps

Contributed content / By Michael Kordvani / 31 January 2019

Converting your iOS app onto an Android platform can pose some difficult challenges that are often time-consuming and complex. Use these 4 tips to make your development process easier.

Having a great iOS app does not automatically mean you have an app that will perform well on Android devices. 

An Android app developer has to do more than simply copy the iOS app from one platform to the next. This can be a challenge for app developers because a majority of apps are released on the iOS platform first and then released for Android. 

Unfortunately, the two platforms share almost no similarities. Transferring an app from iOS requires a lot of considerations if you want to keep the same content while also making it appealing to Android users. 

This transfer, however, is simple once you know how to compartmentalize and conquer the process. Use these 4 tips to convert your iOS app into an Android app:

  1. Implement design UI elements
  2. Design for a variety of devices
  3. Consider the navigation
  4. Evaluate the differences in coding

Implement Design UI Elements 

Porting iOS apps to an Android platform would be infinitely easier if the two different interfaces weren’t on opposite ends of the development spectrum. 

You can’t reuse the interface between the platforms. Apple uses a flat design, while Android uses Material Design

Flat design prefers minimum stylistic elements that make the design seem three dimensional while only using simple typography and colors. 

Material Design, developed by Google, implements a grid-like layout that has animations, transitions, and creates depth using lighting and shadows. 

Every design element of these two styles is different, including the object placement, text alignment, navigation bar, font, action sheets, and icons. 

As you make your plan for how to create an Android app from an iOS app, the first step you’ll need to tackle is the app’s redesign.

Mobile App Design
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All new Android apps use Material Design, and you should refer to the basic principles to find common UI elements — this will help engineers reduce their time and improve the user experience. When doing this, a lot of the design elements and features may have to be significantly reworked.

It is important to implement these elements while staying consistent with your brand. 

For example, you would not want to use the Uber app on an Android and then look at your friend’s iPhone and see the design is completely different. The results could be confusing, especially when you no longer know what Uber app seems legitimate.

Consistency is important for the user, and you want all users of your app to have the same experience, whether on an iOS or Android phone.

Design for a Variety of Devices 

The second aspect of porting your iOS app is that the Android universe is much bigger than Apple’s. 

Simply taking Android smartphones into consideration, there are many different screen sizes, designs, and menus; then you throw tablets into the mix, and you have an infinite number of variables at play in the display. 

Processing speed may also differ widely across devices. Choose just the top devices to make your app layout for. With the thousands of different Android devices on the market, it’s pretty much impossible to test your app on all of them. 

A large number of Android devices is why many people prioritize Apple’s OS first because there are only three mobile devices that you have to worry about: iPhone, iPad, and WatchOS. 

For Android, it is key to have a strong design with premiere devices such as the Google Pixel, Samsung Galaxy, and OnePlus. Older Android devices are less of a priority depending on your business goals.

Consider the Navigation

One large problem that plagues the average Android app developer when porting from iOS is the navigation differences between the devices. 

While Apple devices have one home button (and they’re doing away with that on some devices entirely), Androids basically have three that control home, back, and multitasking. 

In relation to app porting, for example, the ability to hit the back button on an Android device wouldn’t be built into an iOS app. You will have to code that component from scratch. 

As such, the navigation features make porting from iOS a much more difficult process than expected. 

Evaluate the Differences in Coding

When it comes to code porting, the iOS code can’t just be rolled over. 

Apple’s mobile devices mainly use Swift for their programming language, while Android programming develops in Java and Kotlin. 

Even at the most basic level, the code has to be rewritten for the new platform. This rewrite needs to be done to maximize efficiency and minimize bugs. 

Cross-platform frameworks
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Cross-platform frameworks are increasingly in demand, so developers can cut development costs and workload. React Native is a popular framework that has been used for cross-platform, and Google is taking a jab at it with Flutter

Only time will tell how these frameworks will make transitioning easier for developers, but it’s on a good path thus far.

Apple does a great job of ensuring apps are rolled out on iOS platforms first, even though Android is taking over the mobile world. This common prioritization makes the job of the Android app developer more complex. 

Keeping the above considerations in mind will help you prepare for the many challenges of porting apps to the Android platform. 

How Porting Your App Can Influence Your Business Strategy

Launching your app on the iOS App Store takes longer than getting your app on Google Play. An average review for Apple will take about a week compared to Google Play, which is a couple of days on average. 

Apple’s publication restrictions are a lot stricter than Google Play’s regulations, as well. Many apps get rejected, routinely, as developers try to adjust to what Apple wants. These changes can include app name, content within the app, and more. 

In terms of monetizing on each platform, a lot of this strategy depends on your app. Is it a game with microtransactions? Is it a subscription service? How exactly does your app convince people to pay for its features?

Considering these factors, do not think that launching on iOS will instantly bring in more money than releasing on Android. iOS apps tend to have more opportunity for profit than Android, but a lot of the success of these opportunities depends on the quality of your app and if people are willing to pay for it. 

Android apps offer a lot of benefits to developers even though the development process seems taxing. Your business can benefit from porting its iOS app to Android, but your company must be ready for the challenges of converting to another platform. 

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