How to Convert an Android App to an iOS App (and Vice Versa)
Many businesses rely on the same mobile strategy: they aren’t ready to cover both iOS and Android at once so start with one platform and then gradually scale. In most cases, it happens due to this 2 reasons:
- They either don’t have enough resources to deploy an application for both platforms at the same time;
- Or they just experiment with new channels of reaching customers and aren’t sure about the outcome, yet.
But some time later many of them get to the point when it’s reasonable to convert their Android app to iOS (or vice versa).
Seems like a familiar story, doesn’t it?
Many well-known Startups and Businesses also scaled gradually. For example:
- Instagram was launched on iOS in 2010 and guys converted the app to Android only 4 years later.
- A similar story happened with Airbnb. 14 months passed between releasing the iOS version and launching the Android one.
So if you’re into expanding your mobile presence, this article is just for you!
💰 4 Reasons Why Porting Android to iOS or Vice Versa Will Help Your Business Grow
If you’re already familiar with all the benefits that you can get after covering both platforms, jump right to the part where we explain how to convert an Android app to an iOS app.
# 1: turn the whole world into your potential users
It’s no exaggeration to say that the mobile market is shared just between Android and iOS. As of November 2018, platforms have the following achievements:
- Android owes almost 68% of the world’s mobile market;
- iOS is more than twice as far with 30.5% but still leaving all the other platforms out of the competition.
After porting your app from one platform to another you will get access to а bigger market than you previously did. Sum Android’s market share with the one that iOS has and you will get about 98% of the world’s mobile users as potential fans of your app and business.
# 2: reach new markets
By converting your app to another platform you will get the possibility not only to attract one-third or two-thirds of the world’s mobile users but also to expand to new cities and even countries.
Thus, if you convert an app from iOS to Android, you may find a lot of new users in such regions as Central and Eastern Europe, Asia, South America or Africa, where most people use Android devices.
On the other hand, if you port an Android app to iOS, you have a chance to get many new users from Western Europe and North America since, as you already might have guessed, they commonly prefer iOS devices.
# 3: provide yourself with a higher profitability
We won’t jump into the details of your monetization model, but on a high-level - having 2 apps instead of 1 means that, eventually, you can make more money with their help. How can they boost your income?
- Android apps usually have more downloads (and the reason is pretty obvious) and get you more money from the in-app ads.
- iOS users tend to spend more money in apps, so you can expect a higher rate of in-app purchases.
Surprisingly, but having a half as many users, iOS apps manage to generate almost 50% more revenue. So a decision to convert an Android app to iOS can noticeably increase your revenue.
# 4: two is better than one
What are the advantages of having 2 applications? It is profitable from any point of view:
- you will have 2 sources of additional revenue instead of 1;
- you will have 2 marketing tools to promote your business instead of 1;
- you will have 2 channels to communicate with your customers instead of 1.
I can continue this “... instead of 1” list for a long time but I hope you caught the main idea. No matter what kind of business you’re running - from a retail store or a restaurant to a home cleaning company or a gym - in a long-term perspective you will gain significant benefits.
But what does it take to port an Android app to iOS? How does the whole process go? Check the next paragraph for such insights!
💭 How to Convert an Android App to iOS App (and Vice Versa): Basics
Let’s start with the key question: is there any Android app to iOS Converter in which you can put your source code, press a button and get a code for another platform?
Unfortunately, no. Platforms’ features and differences make it impossible to convert an iOS app to Android with just a few taps. Your best solution is to build a second application as a separate product (unless you’ve developed the initial app using React Native or a similar framework).
|Our Case Study 🗂|
|We had a similar task when working on the Voya Project (a Germany-based travel Startup). To put it short: when the guys from Voya first contacted us, they’ve already had a rather successful iOS application. Our task was to help them grow their business by deploying an Android app with the same functionality. The whole work was done by a single developer in 5 months.|
Porting Android to iOS is not the same as making a copy of a JPEG image or converting MP3 music file to WAV. It has much more in common with building a house. If there are 2 separate pieces of land (which are our Android and iOS platforms) and you have a built house (an app) only on one of them, you can’t just “copy” it to another with a snap of your fingers. You have to build the second from scratch.
However, there is some good news, too:
- The development process is noticeably easier and faster in this case since developers have something to lean on - your mobile app for another platform.
- During the iOS to Android migration, developers don’t just copy the initial app but can also improve the second Product’s UX or smoothness.
- If you’re afraid that the post-release support of 2 applications may be a problem - it won’t. Professional development agencies (like Stormotion) can support and improve both applications as long as you need it.
As we already mentioned, the development of the second application is usually faster and easier. Here are a few tips that we use at Stormotion to achieve this!
Tip # 1: We use modern programming languages
As you may have already known, Objective-C and Swift are programming languages for iOS development while Java and Kotlin are used for Android one. Both Swift and Kotlin are relatively new programming languages. That’s why they have a lot in common:
- Of course, we can’t say that Swift and Kotlin are totally identical but it’s possible to copy some parts of the code and just correct them a bit.
- Moreover, they share a similar syntax. Therefore, developers who know Swift have rather high chances to understand the code written in Kotlin (and vice versa).
It means that if your first app was written in either Swift or Kotlin, developers can reuse some parts of its code and will require less time to convert an app from iOS to Android (or contrariwise).
Tip # 2: We separate your business logic from the platform-specific code
To let the first advice become fully operational our developers distinguish features that are common for both platforms from those that are relevant for only one of them.
A platform-specific code relates mainly to a UI - a visual part of your application.
It helps to prioritize the tasks, prepare more accurate estimates and get an objective view at the scope of work. On the other hand, without such specifications, it would be impossible to make an application look native.
📲 How to Convert iOS Code to Android: Porting Tips
To provide you with a clearer picture of what it takes to convert an iOS app to Android, we decided to list main pitfalls and ways to deal with them.
What is to be done with different programming languages?
We already know that the ones who google “how to convert iOS code to Android?” won’t find a magic tool that can “translate” the code written in Swift into Kotlin or contrariwise.
Every programming language has its own syntax. That’s why the amount of time and efforts to build the same feature for different platforms may vary.
The good news: We can’t say that modern programming languages are identical but they’re similar enough to let you copy some parts of the code and just correct them a bit.
Moreover, Kotlin and Swift have comparable syntax. This means that Kotlin developers have quite a good chances of understanding the Swift code (and contrariwise).
How to handle the difference in operating systems?
First of all, pay attention to versions of the operating systems. It’s not a secret that many mobile users don’t update their devices to the latest OS for some reasons. Whether you like it or not, but the only thing you can and should do with it: make sure both your apps work well on all operating systems that are actively used now.
If you need to port an Android app to iOS, the situation isn’t that scary at all! According to the recent statistics (as of December 2018), about 76% (remember this figure when we talk about Android) of users has switched to the latest version of the Apple devices’ operating system just in 3 months since it was released.
And only about 18% are still using iOS 11, the previous one. It means that you, actually, may pay attention only to 2 versions of Apple’s operating system (or even only one - iOS 12) and you will leave most users satisfied!
The situation is more difficult for ones who plan to convert an iOS app to Android. According to the statistics (as of Decemver 2018), there are at least 4 operating systems that are used by 10% (or more) of Android users. Take a look:
The good news: that will require a bit more time and efforts for you but don’t be afraid - professional developers won’t have any troubles adjusting your app to every operating system you need.
The more OS versions you will cover, the wider audience will be able to use your application.
Moreover, you don’t need to cover all the existing operating systems: for iOS, it would be enough to cover the last 2 or 3 versions, and for Android developers recommend to start with v. 5.0 (Lollipop).
What about different screen sizes and resolutions?
When building a second application, your developers should take into account the difference between screen sizes and resolutions of iOS and Android devices. The situation here is often almost the same as with OS.
Apple has quite a limited number of devices running on iOS so it’s a piece of cake for many developers:
On the other hand, more cluttered Android is used on many different devices (from Samsung and Xiaomi to Huawei and HTC) with a bigger number of possible screen resolutions:
The good news: Because of the Android’s screen density system you have no need to adjust an app to each of 20 or even more possible variations of screen sizes and resolutions. It’s enough to take care of 5-7 main resolutions and the mentioned system will automatically adapt your app to similar screens.
Yet, operating systems and screen resolutions are not all the differences that you should consider while porting Android to iOS. Let’s talk about such an important part of any application as its design.
Android design vs iOS design: top 6 differences
Google’s and Apple’s interfaces are totally different so you can’t just reuse the interface of your first app and port it to another platform. The main conceptual difference lays in companies’ approaches: Apple uses HIG (Human Interface Guidelines) while Google prefers material design. What does it mean to your apps? Let’s take a look at a few examples:
- One of the biggest differences lays in the object placement. The material design implies a hierarchical arrangement of objects while Apple tries to make objects look flush.
- Android’s lists usually have custom icons and don’t have arrows on the right side.
- Navigation bar in iOS has a lower height and a centred title. Android’s navigation bar has a bigger height with titles placed on the left.
- Data pickers are different, too.
- Also, pay attention to the typography. iOS uses San Francisco as a default font while Roboto is more common on Android.
- Another noticeable difference that should be taken into account if you want your apps to look native is tab bars.
In Android, tab bars are usually located at the top of the screen. Moreover, users can switch between different screens within the app by swiping right or left.
In iOS, tab bars can be found at the bottom of the screen. Moreover, this UI element is often supplemented by customized icons.
- Last but not least. You also can’t use the same icon on both platforms since iOS has strict requirements (especially with regard to a shape) while Android provides designers with more freedom.
Finally, we’re done with differences. But there is still one last thing you can’t avoid if you’re going to convert an app from iOS to Android. And it’s testing.
Testing: don’t underestimate the final step
Testing is essential at Stormotion. It’s needed to hone the app and make sure that everything mentioned above is considered (different operating systems, screen resolutions, devices’ features and so on).
Without it, your users will get a raw product. A raw product = unsatisfied users = they will just leave your app. You don’t want it, do you?
How much time can a quality assurance take? Expect about 30% of total time spent on the development.
So we’ve just reviewed a classical way to convert an Android app to iOS (and vice versa) or, if speaking more correctly, to build the second app with minimal effort and resources.
However, if you’re still looking for the solution that relies on a shared codebase, we can provide you with it, too!
👨💻 Cross-platform development: kill two birds with one stone
All the major mobile OS have their own software development kits which are also known as SDKs. Moreover, SDKs have preferred languages that we’ve already mentioned before (Swift and Objective-C for iOS and Java for Android). Generally, so as to build a mobile app developers use these programming languages and official SDKs. That’s how native apps are born.
But there’s another solution that allows you using a single codebase to create an app for several platforms at once. For this purpose, you will need a cross-platform framework. We at Stormotion have experience working with React Native which was created by Facebook developers and use it on most of the Mobile Products we create for SME’s and Startups.
It’s also possible to create a hybrid “HTML5” cross-platform app using PhoneGap and similar tools. Yet, we strongly recommend you to avoid such a solution. Why? The apps created this way don’t meet a high bar of the UX set by native apps. Moreover, hybrid HTML5 apps usually face a poor performance, a sluggish UI and a higher battery consumption.
Let’s summarize the key points of this article:
- You can’t convert an Android app to an iOS app in one click.
- For this purpose, you need to develop the second app separately or initially write both of them using the cross-platform framework. This will take less time and efforts than building an application from scratch.
- We’d recommend you to choose a mobile development agency as your partner. They’re usually experienced enough with both platforms so the iOS to Android migration isn’t a big deal to them. They can also provide you with the post-release support of your both applications.
- Cross-platform development is a great solution to avoid porting.
If you’re looking for a Tech-Team, which will help with the iOS to Android migration or vice versa, feel free to reach out. We’ll be happy to port your business app from one platform to another!