The debate over Android vs. iPhone is a long-standing one.

Each side has its loyalists. Each phone has its tradeoffs.

In our mobile app development process, we tend to put Android development first because it’s easier and cheaper to acquire users – but after initial user testing, we’ll release the iOS version of the app.

But beyond the merits of one platform or another, how do the users themselves of iPhone and Android apps stack up? Are there any differences between those who prefer iOS and those who prefer Android?

According to new survey data from time-tracking company TSheets, the answer is yes.

Their new study explores the relationship between smartphone ownership and time-wasting, and it yields some interesting results.

Productivity Differences by Smartphone

On the whole, iPhone users were more likely to put off important tasks until the next day. 69% of iPhone users admitted to doing this at least a few times a month, compared to 62% of Android users.

But looking more specifically, Android users were twice as likely to procrastinate on important tasks on a daily basis. So while iPhone users may procrastinate more on the whole, a higher portion of Android users procrastinate more frequently.

The survey also found differences in how each group procrastinates.

Android users, for example, are twice as likely to waste time playing video games, while iPhone users are 3 times as likely to read magazines or newspapers.

When it comes to getting distracted by a phone during another activity, iPhone users fared worse across the board.

iPhone users were significantly more likely to get distracted by their phone while at work, while socializing with friends, or while talking to someone else.

iPhone users were also nearly twice as likely to get distracted by their phone while driving – which may shed some light on iOS 11’s “Do Not Disturb While Driving” feature.

What This Means for Mobile App Development Companies

So what’s the significance of all these numbers? For mobile app development companies, it’s data that can be used to inform the development process.

For example, the study shows that iPhone users are more easily distracted by their phones – which could mean that push notifications are more effective for iOS users.

Accordingly, a mobile developer might lean more towards relying on push notifications to increase user retention and usage time in an iOS app vs. an Android app.

The study also finds that Android users procrastinate with video games twice as much as iPhone users, which may translate to Android users being more amenable to video games across the board.

As a developer, that means you may have more success launching your game on Android than iOS – or even better, a winning strategy may be to launch on Android, perform user testing to iterate the app, then launch on iOS to expand the user base.

Conversely, iPhone users seem to have a larger appetite for news and written media. A news aggregator or an app based on written content may perform better among iOS users.

Data Matters

Ultimately, the specifics of the data aren’t what’s important – it’s the concept of gathering data and using it to test your assumptions about your product that’s key.

In mobile app development, the user is king. The more you can center the product and app development process around your end user, the stronger your app will be and the faster you’ll hit traction.

Using information like the data from this study is a good way to start that process. It lets you get out of your own head and move past building purely on your own assumptions.

But all the market research in the world will never be enough.

Because at the end of the day, market research is inherently devoid of context.

Studies like this can give you a broad, general overview of what direction to go with an app, but ultimately you need to collect data directly from the people using your app.

The most useful, highest-value data comes from your own users.

When you collect data from users directly in your app, you can be confident that the data applies to your app – because that’s exactly where it came from.

Why In-App Testing Is Key

In research, this is a concept known as external validity.

External validity denotes “the extent to which the results of a study can be generalized to the world at large.”

So in our example, we might look at the distraction data and infer that a video game app will do better among Android users than iOS users.

But that’s only the case if the study has high external validity. It’s possible that in reality, Android users prefer console gaming, so a mobile game wouldn’t fare well with Android – meaning that the study data doesn’t have external validity in a mobile setting. 

This is why the best data comes from your own users.

If you collect user data within your app – say, based on the conversion rates of one CTA button versus another – you can guarantee that the data is valid for your app because that’s where it came from.

General market research on user color preferences may or may not be valid for your app specifically – but if you A/B test directly within your mobile app and find one color outperforms another, you can say with confidence that that will apply across your user base.

The lesson here isn’t that you should pour over market research to fine-tune your app.

The lesson is that you should collect data directly from your users and optimize your app based on that data.

That’s how you validate a concept, create a high-growth app, and build a thriving business – and it’s these same principles that help our Roadmapping alumni succeed.