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Android App Developer Tips: How to Convert an iOS App to Android

The smartphone sector is split into two polarizing groups: iOS and Android users. While many of your favorite apps might be available on both platforms today, there was likely a time when this wasn’t the case. For instance, a number of companies strategize to develop and release an iOS app before porting it over to Android. Despite this, Android makes up a whopping 87 percent of the global market, while iOS stakes claim to just 12 percent.

Therefore, any app developer will want to know how to create an Android app from a pre-existing iOS app. There are plenty of reasons why developers may want to convert from iOS to Android, such as the ability to expand market research, add unique features, get a better ROI, and reduce future development costs.

Unfortunately, there’s no simple or automated method to fully transform an app from iOS to Android. You can imagine the conversion from iOS to Android as if you’re trying to build the same house on two drastically different plots of land. You can’t just copy and paste the structure from one spot to another. In fact, the foundation will probably have to be individually optimized to fit the two distinct platforms.

However, there are still a number of tips and tricks that will make the app conversion process easier for developers.  

Recognizing the Differences Between iOS and Android

The process of converting an iOS app to the Android platform takes a significant amount of work and time. Porting an app over to Android requires extensive redesign work, as the two ecosystems are completely different from one another. If an Android app developer wants to keep the same content, structure and aesthetic of the app, they will need to first recognize the differences between platforms before diving into the porting process.

The most important aspects to keep in mind are differences in architecture, UX considerations, code and components, testing processes, as well as customers and business model. In order to properly convert an app, the developer should have experience with both mobile platforms,  particularly in regard to platform adaptation, analyzing the business logic of an app, as well as programming and testing.

Converting from iOS to Android

One of the first steps to converting an iOS app is to define the minimum Android version supported by the app. Android app developers should set the app at 4.4 KitKat (or a newer version), which will help ensure over 90 percent mobile device coverage. However, it’s important to conduct an analysis to set a proper version limit to successfully integrate certain app features.

Next, the developer must review the app architecture and features, analyzing the differences between iOS and Android. This is an important step because each operating system has specific platform properties that could end up altering the intended functions of an app.

Design Considerations

The same is true with design considerations, as there are stark differences between how the two operating systems look and behave. App developers should avoid directly copying design elements when porting an iOS app to Android. There are a number of factors that app developers should consider during the porting process. For example, the Android platform has its own library of icons, a different standard font, two types of buttons, lists that behave differently from iOS, among other design elements.

Check for Compatibility

During the mobile app building process, developers tend to use certain external tools and libraries. Therefore, when converting an iOS app to Android, it’s critical that app developers check the compatibility of those tools across the two platforms. Most iOS apps are developed with Swift language, while Android apps utilize Java or Kotlin. Since these are completely different programming languages, developers will likely have to rewrite the app in order to convert to Android. How long this will take is fully dependent on the app complexity, architecture and libraries.

Quality Assurance

The last step in converting apps from iOS to Android is testing for quality assurance. This final stretch can take up around 30 percent of the total app development time, and for good reason too. After converting the app with both design and functionality in mind, you will be left with a raw app that will need testing and refinement to ensure the optimal experience for your users. In order to confirm that you’ve successfully ported an app from iOS to Android, you’ll need to test the app and fix any bugs that surface. Once you’ve completed the quality assurance check, you should have yourself a working app that is converted from iOS and optimized for the Android platform. Congratulations!

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