The battle between Android and iOS begins

Although casual mobile gamers don’t necessarily require the same performance requirements as hardcore desktop and console gamers, they still increasingly want engaging and immersive experiences on mobile devices. Whether they’re sat at home in the living room, on the beach on holiday, or even on the early morning commuter train, casual gaming provides a much-needed release for smartphone and tablet owners. According to Statista, the global mobile gaming industry is expected to generate almost $75 billion by the turn of the next decade; up from just $34.8 billion in 2015. If you’re looking to get involved in the casual gaming hype, let’s take a look at whether Android or Apple’s iOS operating system suits mobile games best.

Traditionally, casual gaming developers have tended to design and build mobile games for iOS devices first and then tweak them for Android later. Both Super Mario Run and Alto’s Adventure were both available from Apple’s App Store way before the Google Play Store. Even most of the part-time, casual gaming developers tend to test the water in the App Store first before venturing over to Android. One industry where mobile games seem to favor Android over iOS players is the iGaming sector. One of the leading online poker rooms, PokerStars, sees Android users requiring only the Android KitKat (4.4.2) operating system to run their client software. Meanwhile, iOS users must have the iOS 9 operating system – launched two years later than Android KitKat – which means that more Android users have the chance to download and play. The latest iOS 12 operating system was made available in September.

What’s the main reason why casual gaming developers tend to favor iOS over Android? Ease of development. At any one time, iOS will support no more than half-a-dozen devices at once within the smartphone and tablet market. This pales into insignificance when you consider Google’s estimate of there being 18,000-plus Android-operated smartphone and tablet ranges available worldwide. The biggest issue for Android app developers is that each different Android smartphone or tablet range is built using alternative hardware. Screen sizes tend to vary greatly, and many devices will offer different button combinations for user access and gameplay. Furthermore, the processors within each Android smartphone and tablet can also differ. Some will still use the Snapdragon 821 processor, while the latest Snapdragon 835 processor is slowly being phased in, offering 25% better 3D performance and 40% reduced battery consumption.

It gets even worse for Android developers when you consider that even the operating systems can differ from range-to-range. Samsung smartphone owners can, therefore, get a very different viewing and gaming experience than those with Google Nexus smartphones. This makes app testing virtually impossible for Android developers. How can they possibly make sure their games will offer the best user experience on all 18,000 Android-powered devices? That’s why, when you buy an iOS casual gaming app, you can be far more confident in its quality. User testing on just a handful of iOS devices is far easier than making sure an app works on a low-end budget Android handset sold on the other side of the world.

In terms of casual game choice and availability for users, both the App Store and Google’s Play Store both offer over a million apps, of which more than a quarter are games. Generally, iOS gamers tend to be happier with the overall quality of the games available in the App Store, with more games achieving 4.5-to-5 stars, compared with the Play Store, which sees more games in the 3.5-to-4 stars region.

So, which platform is most suitable for casual mobile gaming? The truth is that both platforms have their benefits. Android has a greater choice of games due to developers being able to build and upload games for free on the Play Store. Meanwhile, iOS offers a slicker, more refined user experience as it only serves Apple products. If you’re not fussed about every game looking and playing to its optimum, you can go cheaper with an Android mobile device, but those with higher expectations and demands should stick with iOS.

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