How to Port an iOS app to Android in 5 Steps

If you’re reading this article, you must be the one who chose iOS as a primary platform for the development of your future app. And this choice is truly justified for a number of reasons, as well as Android development. Though the battle of iOS vs Android is going to last for ages, no matter which side you choose. Each of the platforms has its own winning points, to know more about them read the dedicated post on our blog.

iOS and Android –  the two giants

Android is an open-source Linux-based operating system and is one of the most widely-used OS in the world, with a close to 73 percent share. The apps are built on Java or Kotlin and are convenient in any aspect concerning either developers or end-users. Thanks to accessibility, user-friendly and customizable features and rich functionality building the Android-based app is a great strategic move allowing to win the attention of a big number of users.

iOS is an OS build mainly on Swift or rarely Objective-C. The source model is closed including open source components. iOS is occupying the leading positions on the market offering seamless experiences and has already gained the trust of billions of users. However, its biggest disadvantage is that the apps build on iOS operate only on Apple devices.

Among the Android and Apple users, there is a big number of those, who would like to have similar apps on different operating systems. With growing demand, users wonder – is porting Android apps to iOS and vice versa possible, and how to convert Android apps to iOS?

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Difference between iOS and Android app market

Briefly, Apple users are known to spend more money on in-app purchases or buying apps in bulk. For that reason, apps like Instagram, Clash of Clans, Nike+, FuelBand and many others first launched in App Store and were unavailable for Android users for a certain period of time.

On the other hand, Google Play market has its own benefits. For instance, being cheaper, Android devices are more widespread, so you can reach a larger audience. According to the latest statistics, around 70% of mobile devices worldwide run Android while the rest 30% use iOS.

Despite that huge difference in numbers, iOS apps’ revenue is 75% higher than Android apps. The reason is that iOS has higher popularity in North America, Australia, and northern European countries, which have higher GDP and per capita income. At the same time, Android devices have a larger market share in developing countries of Asia, Africa, and South America. Consider this fact when choosing the monetization strategy for your future iOS or Android app.

objective c to android

iPhone to Android app conversion – key points to consider

Porting Android apps to iOS is not an easy task, and you need to be ready for a lot of work, management, and supervision. Here is the list of the main aspects to take into consideration before starting to convert the android app to iOS or vice versa.

  • App architecture

Define the OS version supported by your app to set the proper version limit. Next, consider the differences and peculiarities of the two operating systems. Some app platform characteristics may require adding new functions to an app.

  • Design specificities

Two various app environments act differently. You need to take into consideration as well as metric differences. While porting iOS app to Android, bear in mind the differences in screen resolutions, various icon sizes, 48DP rule dominance in UI design, etc. On Apple platform fonts and icons, sizes are measured in points (pt), instead of pixels.

  • Tools and libraries

iPhone to Android app conversion requires taking into account the code specificities. Moreover, arises the need for a developer to check the compatibility of tools and libraries. In the best case, the app should be rewritten in another programming language. 

As you can conclude, porting the Android app to iOS is a challenging task and requires advanced tech skills and knowledge of both OS. Platform adaptation, logic analysis, writing the code, and testing stage are also needed. Let us now move closer to the nuances that should for sure be taken into account by a developer, aiming to port iOS app to Android or vice versa.

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5 steps of porting an iOS app to Android

Shortly, if you have an app on iOS app, creating the second version for Android is less stressful, as you have already done a part of work. You don’t need to provide marketing research to understand whether your app will be on-demand. If you possess resources for the development of a second app, meaning it already brings you money.

But don’t underestimate the scope of work needed to create an Android clone of your iOS app.

Step 1. Design

The first and foremost step for porting iOS apps to Android is design development. If you think that, using the same old design from your iOS app will be just fine – you are absolutely wrong. The reason is that both operating systems have their own design rules – you can’t convert from iOS human interface guidelines to material design standards Android has.

In order to make users feel natural and avoid any confusions when using your app, you need to redesign it for the new OS. Otherwise, users will misuse even common navigation elements and get frustrated. Which consequently lead to the bad rating on Google Play.

To get along with the Google UI, check out the material design guidelines, that are recommended for Android apps.

The main differences between two major OS designs are:

  • Buttons
  • Lists
  • Tabs
  • Navigation Elements
  • Widgets
  • Date and time sectors

Starting with wireframes and mockups, make sure that all the listed elements are redesigned for “Android look”.

design from ios to android app

Nevertheless, it’s up to you whether to make a single design for both platforms like Instagram did, or create customized design, matching the platform UI/UX.

Step 2. Android fragmentation

What iOS developers totally hate about Android is fragmentation. Due to the fact that there are a huge amount of devices running Android, you have to support all the screen sizes and OS versions when developing an app. However, you can simplify the task by choosing up to 10 devices you are going to target by your app, draw the line between old and new Android versions and be just fine. But screen sizing is a common issue for Android porting.

Keep in mind that the content would be rendered on the screens of different ratio and both horizontal and vertical position.

Step 3. Coding

Since most of Android apps are written in Java, you can implement some of the elements from your iOS app if it’s made on Objective-C. But be careful with recompiling parts that include time-sensitive characteristics. The reason is lower performance of Java compared to compiled Objective-C. Moreover, Android possesses fewer libraries for the C code and they also need to be ported.

But don’t underestimate Android. This OS has some benefits iOS can only dream of. For example, you can never connect your iPhone via Bluetooth to any other smartphone that is not iPhone. Android owners can send data using this technology to any device they want. Or, Android allows direct access to NFC. You can also set any app as default for some kind of task, while iPhone users miss that opportunity.

Step 4. Testing

As we said before, the number of Android supporting devices is almost uncountable, so the more versions and devices you choose, the more tests you’ll need to run. But don’t panic, there is a scope of frameworks for “bulk” testing on multiple Android devices at once.

We, in GBKSOFT usually provide testing after each milestone and another one at the end of development process. We never start a new milestone without fixing the bugs found previously. You can find more detailed information about quality control and assurance in this dedicated post.

android smartphones

Step 5. Release

If you passed through an exhausting process of approving your iOS app to the App Store, you can relax. Google Play is less strict and the process of releasing applications is not that stressful.

The approval process only takes a few hours in Google Play! Do you remember waiting for weeks when trying to approve your app to App Store? We bet you do. The reason for such a long period is manual check by Apple developers who look through the code of each app individually.

Another side of the coin is that Google Play is full of apps of low quality, while App Store gives the way only to apps that preserve high-quality standards.  

Convert iOS to android  – is it worth the efforts?

These two market leaders have already conquered billions of users and will remain popular on the market for years. However, the process to convert Android app to iOS and vice versa is time- and effort-consuming. The team of developers actually has to build the app for another OS from scratch. But, is it really worth the efforts taken? Here is the list of reasons, why it is good for your business to consider iPhone to Android app conversion:

  1. High download rate;
  2. Market demand;
  3. New user acquisition opportunities;
  4. Cross-platform app creates great competitive advantage;

Conclusion

Having passed the process of developing an iOS app, you would surely feel more comfortable and aware when porting it to Android. Though Android app development has its own dark sides, it opens a new market and new possibilities for your business.

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