You decided to develop an app. Now you need to choose from one of the common development approaches – native or cross-platform. Both have strong sides and weaknesses that you should study before making your final choice. Here we will tell you about all these nuances and help to make the right decision.
A native mobile app is developed solely for a specific platform. This means that it fully corresponds to the mobile operating system’s requirements.
But what’s more important, a native app can use all the smartphone’s features. Native dev approach is considered as the standard of mobile development. It can show outstanding performance and this is a big advantage.
Mobile developers build native apps using platform-specific programming languages. There are two leaders on the global mobile OS market – Google and Apple. So, a native application is usually developed either on Java or Kotlin for Android and on Objective-C or Swift for iOS.
Native development is the process of implementing a mobile app using official tools provided by the developers of the system for which the app is being written. It is aimed at one specific mobile system. For example, Apple provides an integrated Xcode development environment for native iOS app development. And you cannot write an Android app using Xcode. Everything is very simple: one code – one system.
The Pros of native dev:
- High performance and good integration with devices. Native apps run smoothly on the current OS.
- Great and intuitive user experience and user interface. Native apps follow specific design guidelines. So there are no limits to possible improvements and customization.
- Broad functionality. This type of apps has access to all the device’s features and native APIs. It uses other native applications and services functionality.
- Store’s support. Mostly, both Apple and Google feature native apps in their virtual stores and help to increase downloads.
The Cons of native dev:
- Difficulties with updates and maintenance. You will have to manage different builds on separate platforms.
- Slow development speed. It will be slower. You can’t reuse native code for another platform and create mobile apps from scratch.
- High cost. A native app is a complex project that requires professional development and support. This could increase costs.
The native approach is great for apps with unique interfaces and complex business logic.
Cross-platform development is a way to create an app with the ability to adapt to multiple systems. By analogy: one code – many systems.
A cross-platform app is compatible with different mobile platforms – both Android and iOS. Usually, developers use sophisticated tools like Flutter or React Native for cross-platform dev. But sometimes it means web apps and hybrid apps that use web technologies in app creation.
The cross-platform approach is useful when writing a simple app in which there are few screens and many common elements for different platforms. The ideal task for cross-platform is mobile game development.
The strong sides of cross-platform dev:
- Faster development. It’s a lot quicker to reuse code than write it from scratch. And that’s what cross-platform development is all about. Mobile devs use the same codebase for several platforms. With this type of dev, you can enter the market more quickly.
- Lower cost. Essentially, cross-platform dev is much cheaper than the native one. You have only one mobile team that develops one app to run on multiple OSs.
Weaknesses of cross-platform dev:
- Low app speed. Cross-platform apps may not have the quality you’re looking for. But such an app like Facebook is a very popular cross-platform product. And does it have poor performance? Not at all. The only problem is that these apps are slower than the native ones.
- Limited functionality. Cross-platform apps don’t have access to all the native APIs. They have limited access to OS features and often can’t work without an Internet connection.
- Frameworks and plugins. This type of apps relies on frameworks and plugins. It affects application performance and design since it puts limits on what your app can do.
Instagram – this is a nice example of a great cross-platform app. It retains its unique look and functionality on both platforms – iOS and Android. At the same time, it takes all the best from each of them.
As you should already have noticed, the differences are pretty obvious. And it all depends only on your goals and preferences in development. We can say more – it really depends on the functionality to empower your mobile app.
If the work of your app requires the devices which maintain a large amount of functionality or information processing rate is very important, you need to make a native app. If your app interface isn`t created for complicated animation and doesn’t perform calculations and you need to quickly enter the market to test your product, you should choose a cross-platform app.
Despite the fact that cross-platform tools can save a lot of time, native development among programmers is more popular. This is the result of a combination of advantages and disadvantages of both approaches.
In any case, the final decision should be based on the goals of your project. You must clearly understand the expected result and select the tools that work best in your case.
If you are still in doubt – write to us. Our team develops both app types. Be sure – we will find the best solution for you.
Also, read about types of apps – “The whole world is in our smartphones: modern types of mobile apps”.