How to Convert Android App to iOS App (and Vice Versa)
If you’re a lucky owner of one app, you have probably thought about growing and expanding your business. The easiest and proven way is to convert Android app to iOS or vice versa. How to do it at a lower cost and achieve the best results? That’s what you’re going to find out in this article!
We often take for granted that our favorite apps are available on both platforms. For example, you can easily chat with a friend using Snapchat or Facebook on your iPhone while your companion is typing messages for you in the same app but on his Android smartphone.
Yet, few know that it wasn’t like this at the beginning. For example:
- Instagram was launched on iOS in 2010 but only 4 years later guys converted the app to Android.
- A similar story was with Airbnb. 14 months passed between releasing the iOS version and launching the Android one.
As you can see, even today’s market leaders have started with something smaller than they’re now. If you want to follow in their footsteps and have a mobile app that you need to convert (and probably you do or will in the nearest future, if you’re still reading) we are here to help.
Keep on reading to find out everything you should know about this process!
💭 How to convert Android app to iOS app (and vice versa): things to consider
The converting process is not as easy as falling off a log. During it you should pay attention to differences between iOS and Android platforms. In the following paragraph we’re going to discuss:
- tools that can automatically convert your app (spoiler: they’re none);
- programming languages used by Google and Apple;
- the fragmentation issue;
- top 6 design differences of iOS and Android apps;
- the importance of quality assurance process.
What tools can convert your mobile app?
Many people mistakenly believe that there is such an Android app to iOS converter - a website, a computer program or a mobile app - that allows doing all the work with a few clicks. So if you expect me to share with you some magic tool which is named the “AppConverter” or something like this, I have to disappoint you: there is none.
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.
The same thing is with apps. To convert an app from one platform to another you have to hire developers that will build a new app (which, actually, will have the same or almost the same functionality and interface) specifically for the chosen platform.
However, there is one thing that can help you. Our developers prepared a few tips on how to develop an app for the first platform so you have fewer troubles converting it to another platform in the future.
Tip # 1: Use modern programming languages
As you may already know, Objective-C and Swift are common languages for iOS development while Java is used for Android one. But few know that Kotlin programming language can be used for Android development too. Moreover, it’s even more preferable choice since it has many advantages in comparison with Java. But now we’re interested in ones that can help us to easily convert your app.
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 they’re similar enough to let you copy some parts of the code and just correct them a bit.
So you can develop the first app using the appropriate modern language. A significant part of the created code then can be reused for the second platform with a small adaption.
Tip # 2: Separate your business logic from the platform-specific code
To let the first advice become fully operational you need to distinguish features that are common for both platforms from those that are relevant for only one of them. Without it code copying makes no sense for you.
A platform-specific code is related mainly to a UI and a visual part of your app. Therefore, try to leave as few tasks for a separate development as possible.
What is to be done with different programming languages?
If you’re wondering “how to convert iOS code to Android” I have an answer that may not fit your expectations. As I have already mentioned, you can’t just translate the code of iOS app into Android’s one. Why? Because of the difference in programming languages:
- For writing iOS apps Swift and Objective-C are usually used.
- In the toolkit of Android developers you can find Java or Kotlin instead.
Each programming language and platform has its own unique characteristics and rules. That’s why it takes a different amount of time and efforts to build the same feature for different platforms. It also means that you should optimize your app according to the language you use during the development. Otherwise, your users may forget about a convenient interaction with your app and say “hello” to a poor performance.
Fragmentation: is it as terrible as people say?
You should also remember about differences not only between coding languages but between devices as well. What am I talking about?
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 your converted app works well with all operating systems that are in active use now.
Yet, if you need to port Android app to iOS, I have good news for you! According to the recent statistics, about 91% (remember this figure when we talk about Android) of users has switched to the latest version of the Apple devices’ operating system with only about 6% left using iOS 9, 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 10) and you will leave the most of the users happy!
The situation is a little bit more difficult for ones who plan to convert iOS app to Android. According to the statistics, there are at least 4 operating systems that are used by 10% (or more) of Android users. Take a look:
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.
Screen sizes and resolutions
When building an app you should also be sure that it’s correctly displayed on screens of different sizes. The situation here is almost the same as with operating systems.
Apple has a limited number of devices so the range of possible sizes and screen resolutions is not so wide:
Android again makes things more complicated so you will have to deal with a bigger number of possible screen resolutions with which your app should smoothly work:
However, there is good news too! Because of 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 adapt your app to a similar but a bit different screens.
Yet, operating systems and screen resolutions are not all the differences between Android and iOS that you should consider while porting your app. 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 flat design while Google prefers material design. What does it mean in practice? Let’s take a look at a few examples:
1) 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.
2) Android’s lists usually have custom icons and don’t have arrows.
3) Navigation bar in iOS has a lower height and a centered title. Android’s navigation bar has a greater height with titles placed on the left.
4) Datepickers are also not the same.
5) Also, pay attention to the typography. iOS uses San Francisco as a default font while Roboto is more common on Android.
6) 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.
All about buttons!
There is also one huge difference that you should keep in mind as well. It greatly influences user’s behavior patterns and therefore can’t be neglected if you want to successfully convert Android app to iOS or vice versa. What am I talking about?
What a difference can you notice? If your thought was “buttons!” you are right.
iOS has one main physical button (at least for now) that brings you to the home screen whenever you push it. Android, by contrast, offers its users as many as 3 buttons to manage their work with a smartphone. These are “home”, “back” and “multitasking” buttons.
“So what?”, you may ask me, “How does this relate to an iOS to Android migration?”
Firstly, it influences apps’ interfaces. Thus, iOS apps often look like a mix of vertical and horizontal elements while Android apps are usually more vertical.
Secondly, keep in mind that Android users already have a bottom bar with buttons so make sure your in-app tabs aren’t located there too. Otherwise, it would be difficult to tap the right button, and you don’t want to provide your users with a terrible UX, do you?
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
I guess I won’t lie if I tell you that it’s impossible to make a perfect-working app at the first attempt. So as to hone your app and make sure it works well considering everything mentioned above (different operating systems, screen resolutions, devices’ features and so on) they have to test the app and fix all the bugs. 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.
Congratulations! Now you know everything you should so as to successfully convert Android app to iOS. But if you’re thinking “oh no, thanks, I don’t want it anymore since it’s much more difficult than I expected” hold your horses. I have 4 cool reasons for you in favor of this decision. Check it out!
🤔 4 reasons why you need to convert Android app to iOS or vice versa
# 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 June 2017, platforms have the following achievements:
- Android owes almost 65% of world’s mobile market;
- iOS is almost twice as far with about 33% but still 20 times more than Windows Phone which is located on the third place.
After porting your app from one platform to another you will get an 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.
# 2: reach new markets
By converting your app to another platform you will get a possibility not only to attract one-third or two-thirds of world’s mobile users but also to expand to new countries and regions.
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 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
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 90% more revenue. So if you’re planning to convert an app to iOS, your second app may turn out to be even more profitable than its Android version.
# 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 income 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 an app you have - a retail or restaurant one, a music service or a fitness tracker - in a long-term perspective you will gain significant benefits. Otherwise, why all the most popular and successful apps are available on both platforms?
I also have a little secret for you. What if I told you that you can get all the profits mentioned above but without the need to port Android app to iOS or vice versa? The solution is a cross-platform development!
👨💻 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 you can do a little trick and use a single codebase to create an app for several platforms at once. For this purpose you will need a cross-platform framework. For example, like ReactNative which was created by Facebook developers. It allows you to write the biggest part of the code in JS and only write device-specific code in Java or Swift. Depending on the app, it’s possible to reach as much as 50% to 80% of a code reuse. However, on the device it will run as completely native code. But this is another topic which we will discuss in the next article :)
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 that you can’t to convert Android app to iOS app in one click. As you could see, porting Android app to iOS app is not a one-click action but possible outcomes definitely worth it. For this purpose you need to develop second app separately or initially write it using the cross-platform framework.
Let’s together remind the key takeaways of this article:
If you need any professional help with the iOS to Android migration or vice versa, feel free to contact us. We would be happy to answer all your questions or port your app from one platform to another!