Choosing between native and cross-platform app development is no easy task for a business. Let’s go over the basics and choose the best option for you.
Starting off with the basics, a mobile app is a program that provides users with an interactive experience. These come in various shapes and forms, with the most sought-after usually having the following features:
- The ability to solve a problem
- High performance under pressure
- Focus on a single purpose
- Downloaded and installed directly from the respective stores
- Offer regular updates
- Offer offline capabilities
Both the App Store and Google Play have millions of apps available, aimed at billions of smartphone users throughout the world. Choosing between native and cross-platform mobile development is one of the most crucial factors to decide upon for anyone intending to build a mobile application.
The decision to go with one or the other will have long-term effects on budget, timeline, and performance. In this article, we will examine both possibilities and discuss the benefits and drawbacks associated with each one.
Native App Development
Native apps are built to work with a mobile device’s operating system (OS). For example, if you have an iPhone, you can only install apps built for iOS, not for Windows or Android. It’s not possible to mix and match native apps.
Because of the previous, native apps are coded in a platform-specific programming language. If being built for Android, Java could be an option. With regards to a Windows phone, it will use C#. And finally, an iOS phone will use Objective C or Swift.
Since most native apps are specifically designed for use on particular devices, they have the advantage to access hardware and use features that are present on the device. These may include the phone’s camera, contact list, GPS, and Bluetooth, among others.
Pros of Native App Development
Creating an app with a particular platform in mind allows the developer to take full advantage of all the possibilities it offers without having to make concessions for other types of devices. Native apps are known as the most stable and secure as well as provide the best user experience. They also allow developers to access the full feature set of devices, whereas cross-platform development has its limitations.
Native mobile applications tend to perform better, and this is because the app code itself runs directly on top of the operating system. This type of development also gives developers access to platform-specific tools and libraries to optimize performance.
Another advantage of a native app is that it may utilize the native UI and UX components of the target platform. A non-native app is tougher to make look native than you may expect. An everyday user can feel uneasy if there is even a small variance because it will seem unauthentic. The bottom line is that native apps can mimic the appearance and use of iOS or Android, providing a practical shortcut for achieving a high user experience.
It’s also important to note that the creation of native apps includes some features and benefits that make security simpler. One excellent example is the code itself, as native programs are compiled to assembly language and hence do not have as much access to the source code. Native apps can also make use of the platforms’ tried-and-tested security measures. Additionally, the two main app stores, Google Play and Apple’s App Store, have stringent screening procedures in place to guarantee, among other things, the safety and security of all apps housed on their platforms.
Cons of Native App Development
However, there are several drawbacks associated with the development of native apps. One of these is that there is less flexibility since the code for these applications is written specifically for one operating system, meaning that it cannot be adapted to run on any other platform. This implies that the design also has to be different across platforms, with each of them having its own guidelines for user interface development.
Furthermore, a lot of effort is required to maintain native apps, especially enhancements and security updates. They also cannot be easily loaded onto the server, especially when compared to a web app. Mistakes and bugs in the source code could be a nightmare for the developer and user.
Developing for multiple platforms necessitates a greater investment of resources, which is only natural for native apps. For each OS you want to develop, you must create a separate code base, which is the most obvious cause of this. That also entails assembling distinct teams with various specialties. More maintenance and support are required as a result. It will require time to update numerous native apps whenever a crucial and urgent update is discovered. Users are forced to use a subpar app in the meantime, which may negatively impact their UX or even introduce risky vulnerabilities.
Cross-Platform App Development
Cross-platform mobile development allows developers to build applications that work across multiple mobile operating systems and devices. Before, building cross-platform mobile apps was a big undertaking due to the complexity of developing and maintaining a backend that works across multiple platforms.
Recent advancements in this area have allowed developers to create apps capable of running smoothly on iOS, Android, and other platforms too. Newer approaches include:
- Rapid Mobile App Development (RMAD) – Developers employ code-free programming tools.
- Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) – Websites that mimic the user experience of a mobile app.
Pros of Cross-Platform App Development
Cross-platform mobile app development is in high demand since businesses are currently looking to provide their customers with applications that can be used on multiple devices with a single codebase.
Cross-platform support ensures fast and accurate app delivery and enables increased revenue opportunities. It also creates a better experience for consumers through more consistent ventures, shared data models, and features. Furthermore, cross-platform support simplifies the maintenance of applications over time.
Only one source code is used to develop the app, which reduces the cost of development and timely delivery of the product. Easy product maintenance ensures long-term robustness and also cuts down on money spent on the app’s development. This means that cross-platform apps will result in faster development with lower costs while also giving businesses the ability to reach a wider audience. In such cases, it doesn’t matter which platform has the more significant market for the brand.
Cons of Cross-Platform App Development
One of the primary cons of cross-platform apps is that these are inclined to be slower than native ones. The main reason is that they are typically built on open-source frameworks. These frameworks are designed to work with different platforms, so they might not be as optimized as native technologies.
The second disadvantage is that cross-platform apps tend to have more bugs than their native counterparts because of their complex nature. These bugs can lead to poor user experiences and even security issues if the developer doesn’t take enough time during testing and debugging processes (or doesn’t test at all).
Naturally, the complexity of the code base increases with cross-platform mobile app development. To build a single application that can work on multiple platforms, developers need to write more code, which can result in a heavier application that takes longer to load, uses more storage space, and consumes more battery power. Testing becomes harder since such apps consist of many components working together – with each needing its own set of examinations covering different behaviors depending on its particular usage scenario within this larger framework. Additionally, something that functions properly on one operating system might not function properly on another.
Native Vs Cross-platform App Development: What You Should Choose?
When choosing software, it is essential to analyze your business to determine if a particular application meets your needs. There are many factors to consider:
- Target audience and financial resources
- Time availability, functionality desired in the software
- Integration options
- The user’s device
Multiple internal aspects must also be considered when it comes to choosing a particular development strategy. Take into account your company’s aims and objectives, the required functionality, and the development languages and technologies that your staff is familiar with. Now, let’s examine in greater detail the primary justifications for selecting one development strategy over another:
Top Reasons To Opt For Native Development:
- If you want to create the best-performing, stable, and reliable application.
- If you require an application that utilizes multimedia, geolocation, payments, fingerprint recognition, and cameras.
- If you have full freedom to complete the project. Technically, there are no restrictions on how developers could work in regards to their choice of technology.
- If you have a large project and can afford to delay deployment for a few months.
- If the app must allow for simple and efficient user interaction.
- Whenever you require feature customization, UI/UX configuration, and customizability for a particular OS.
- Resource-intensive apps such as mobile games and those with heavy animations.
Top reasons to choose cross-platform development:
- To test a product idea and determine its viability.
- Your team consists solely of novice front-end developers. ( consider outsourcing, perhaps?)
- You want to shorten the time it takes to get to market.
- You wish to develop applications compatible with various operating systems.
- Constraints imposed by the budget
- Lighter applications with less CPU and GPU demand, like those with complex logic or lots of animation
- Consistency in the interface and navigation across different platforms.
Finding a secret recipe for a successful app launch may seem like a daunting task for businesses, given the steadily rising number of apps being continuously developed. However, it becomes much simpler to choose the approach that is best for your company and what will set you apart from your rivals once the key characteristics, advantages and disadvantages, and features of each development type have been clarified.
We’ve previously established that cross-platform development isn’t always the best option for every project, while at the same time, native development isn’t always the best fit. The goal of the application you want to develop, the tools you have available for the job, and the target demographic must all be understood before choosing a strategy to utilize while developing an app.
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