Should you get an iOS app, Android app, or both?

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Now that we've launched our branded REW IDX app and our clients have taken notice, we've started to receive questions about the two different versions of the app. One of the biggest questions is whether a real estate agent needs an iOS app, an Android app, or both. In this post, we're going break it down and answer that question.

When one app is actually two

First, let's explain why we have two separate apps. When an app is created for both iOS and Android, the app is created twice—one for iOS devices like iPhones and iPads, and then again for Android devices like Galaxy phones and generic tablets.

That's because the iOS and Android operating systems use entirely different languages, which aren't compatible with one another. Apple has chosen one set of languages, while Android chose another. Looking at REW's branded apps, for example, the iOS version is coded in Objective-C and Swift, while the Android version is coded with Java and Kotlin. (Imagine two people trying to have a conversation when one person speaks only English and the other speaks only Swahili.)

Apps typically try to achieve "parity", which is a state when both Android and iOS versions have the same features. The buttons and functions may be slightly different to accommodate the unique attributes of Apple versus Android devices, but the core features will be as near identical as possible. That's what we've done with our IDX apps and, as a result, they often look like the same app from the surface.

Most companies and people who say they "have an app" actually have two apps—an iOS app and an Android app. It's just a colloquialism to refer to both apps as a single entity, likely due to how well developers pull off parity and the fact that most people never really need to understand that their beloved Instagram, Snapchat, and Tinder apps are all coded twice.

iOS apps versus Android apps

Now that we understand an app is usually coded twice, for two different operating systems, let's start to answer the question of whether you really need both.

Mobile apps are quite the investment, so it's understandable that many real estate agents look for shortcuts and consider only an iOS or an Android app. However, catering to only one operating system can be a costly mistake for any business.

Market share data adds quite a bit of clarity here. So, let's take a look at iOS versus Android use in the United States:

As of April 2018, 53% of mobile users in the United States were on an iOS device, while 45.7% of mobile users were on Android.

Meanwhile, the results in Canada were even tighter, with Android matching the percentage of iOS users twice in the past year. The overall average was 52% of users on iOS and 46% on Android:

What this essentially tells us is that iOS devices are more popular than Android—but only barely.

Should Realtors choose an iOS or Android app?

We already know that mobile apps are a huge competitive advantage for real estate agents. They provide a superior home search experience for consumers, improving engagement, loyalty and business opportunity.

Based on the stats above, it also seems apparent that Realtors and brokers will benefit from having both iOS and Android versions of an app. With the population split nearly 50/50, there's a near-equal amount of people using Apple and Android devices. Having only one app automatically excludes nearly half the population, instantly cutting your opportunity to convert leads into clients by half.

Mobile apps continue to climb in popularity because people simply love to use them. Your potential clients are on their phones for over 4 hours every day, and mobile apps give you the opportunity to put your company where those people are spending their time. Advertising doesn't get much better than that.

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Considering your own app? Discover REW's branded real estate apps and find out how we'll help you dominate in your local market.

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