iOS vs Android – where to start with your mHealth app development

Author: Sarah Iqbal

Businesses across industries have realised the ability of applications (apps). They know how powerful an app can be across their internal and external processes. A dedicated Android or iOS app or both can enable an organisation with the quickest means of connecting with all their prospect and people.

Making a mobile app can be complex and requirements to develop it are similar across any industry- the healthcare industry is no exception. Medical or healthcare apps have an enormous potential for improving clinical practice by providing a quick, comprehensive, and up to date overview of current clinical guidelines, making a differential diagnosis, data capturing via mHealth, looking up a patient’s records and remote monitoring, all of which are changing the way healthcare is delivered in this digital age we live in.

Native vs non-native apps

There are two general types of mobile apps, native and non-native. Native apps reside on a mobile device and have been developed specifically for the device software platform. Native apps can use specific coding to utilise mobile device features such as a built-in camera or GPS capability. Non-native apps utilise browser interfaces or other gateways to provide the end user with information through a mobile device. In this article, we assume that you have decided between a native and native app. If not, you can read here about how to choose between them.

Often time businesses found in confusions on which platforms they should prefer over another or do they need to go for both? It’s a common argument and every business planning for an app development must go through it. There are numerous mobile platforms but the two systems that dominate the market are Apple’s iOS and Google Android, which are the ones specifically discussed in this blog.

Other technology companies which also distribute apps are Microsoft Windows, and Blackberry but they only retain a relatively smaller market share.

The table below explains the differences between the iOS and Android platform:




The Apple iPhone and iPad

Variety of mobile devices and tablets

Operating System (Os)

A single OS which means a more streamlined development and a dedicated user base

Upgrades of iOS systems via iTunes

Android users own different devices, but they also run different, often old version of the OS. Developers must face developing for different screen sizes, but also OS version and devices technical capabilities


iOS systems have no fragmentation and every process is highly homogenized. This far reduces problems of compatibility, both for the developer and the user of the app

Android is an open source¹ operating system intended to run on a variety of mobile devices, ranging across different mobile device brands and models i.e. fragmented

Market share

A global reach of 18% market share. Hence a smaller demographic of audience

A global reach of 82.8% of the market hence a wider demographics which can reach more potential customers

Quality Assurance

Firmer and fewer bugs

Android apps are more exposed to bugs and early bug-fixes can affect applications success in the app store


Objective-C or Swift


Time of development

Few lines of code hence quicker development time. However, development time depends on complexity of app

iOS development is more streamlined

Longer to develop due to more lines of codes. However, development time depends on complexity of app

Android development uses a myriad of programs

Development budget and other associated cost

Depend on the complexity of the app

Membership with Apple Development Program, which cost USD $99 a year to feature apps in Apple store

Servers and back-end support. £100/month - If your app relies on a web server to store your user's data then you should expect to pay around £100/month for server support and maintenance

Depend on the complexity of the app but can be more expensive due to longer development time

Google Play Developer Console account supports development and distribution via Google play and is a one-off cost – USD $25

Servers and back-end support. £100/month - If your app relies on a web server to store your user's data then you should expect to pay around £100/month for server support and maintenance

App release time

iTunes has a longer review process due to strict development guidelines i.e. approximately 8 days

Google Play has much more simple guidelines and review systems, it takes less time to feature app to the app store i.e. 2-3 hours to be live to consumers

The Android vs iOS platform debate is not as simple as one being better than the other. Your app’s preferred market is inextricably linked to the content and end goals of your app.

Developing mobile apps in a health care setting is to keep the end-user in mind, as it is always for any kind of app developed. Any mobile app is made for the user and it is that user’s experience and feedback that will eventually decide the success of the app.

Things in app development can be challenging and getting an app version which is not effective for your business or organisation will add more layers of complexities. Going for both platforms may make the process of app development unnecessarily lengthier and of course costlier too. If a single version of the app fulfils your present needs, it is advised you first go for it and then later for others.

Understanding all the above aspects and planning well beforehand will minimise your risks and help you develop a good medical/health mobile app-whether it is used for consumer well-being or in the more regulated clinical trial setting Ultimately the “health app” value should be determined by its impact on outcomes. If there is clear value in the outcome, then it should be paid for in some form.


¹ This open-source code and permissive licensing allows the software to be freely modified and distributed by device manufacturers, wireless carriers and enthusiast developers.

The mHealth opportunity range from simple to complex.

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