iOS app definition: Android comparison, distribution & more

What is an iOS app?

An iOS app is a mobile application developed specifically for mobile devices like iPhone and iPad. These all run on Apple's iOS mobile operating system. iOS apps take advantage of native Apple features like the touchscreen, camera, microphone, GPS and accelerometers to deliver seamless and consistent user experiences.

There is a diverse range of iOS apps, fulfilling a range of different user needs, including:

  • Social networking apps
  • Ecommerce platforms
  • Productivity tools
  • Entertainment platforms
  • Educational resources
  • Health and fitness trackers
  • Games

How are iOS apps downloaded?

To download an iOS app, you need to visit Apple's official mobile app store, the Apple App Store. This is populated by users who submit their apps in accordance with Apple’s guidelines. Top-performing apps employ sophisticated app store optimization strategies, allowing them to appear at the top of the search results.

iOS app development

What are the main iOS programming languages?

Objective-C and Swift are the two main programming languages app developers use for iOS app development. Swift is newer than Objective-C and is the primary language, providing a user-friendly environment while operating on an open-source model. Objective-C is a legacy language and is increasingly used to maintain existing products

What are the differences between iOS and Android apps?

Although there are some similarities between iOS and Android apps, there are also key differences. Compare them below 👇



Integrated development environment (IDE)


Android Studio

Programming languages

Swift, Objective-C

Java, Kotlin, C++

App distribution

Apple App Store

Google Play Store, Amazon

App monetization

Pay per download, in-app advertising, freemium, data monetization

Pay per download, in-app advertising, freemium, data monetization

User interface elements

Follows Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines (HIG)

Follows Material Design


Developed for a select few devices and screen sizes for optimal performance

Developed for a wide range of devices and screen sizes, making consistent performance challenging

How do you create an iOS app?

When you make an iOS app, you have four main options:

  • Code it yourself - in other words, create your app from scratch, using online tutorials to navigate through the process
  • Use a no-code app builder - choose pre-packaged templates and themes and get simple apps live fast
  • Hire a dev agency - pay a retainer to an outsourced iOS app development team and build more complex mobile apps
  • Use an app platform - get the flexibility of a dev agency and the reliability of a no-code app builder

For a deep dive into each of these iOS app development routes, check out our guide on creating an app 👈

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