Native vs cross platform app development

IDAP Group
Published on Dec 06, 2017 in App Development
Native vs cross platform app development

The global app market never stops improving and brings new challenges for the mobile app development companies all over the world. Most of the modern smartphones run either on iOS or Android and here is the stumbling point. What platform to reach first? What app to build a native or a cross platform one?

Both of them have their own perks and drawbacks that may influence the end product of the app development. It seems to be a good idea to highlight their pros and cons as well as discuss the deep-seated stereotypes surrounding the process of mobile app development.

At IDAP, we’ve already found the answer to the biggest question: the most viable app development approach. We are going to shed more light on two distinct app development approaches: native and cross platform.

NATIVE APPS

Native mobile apps are built for one platform using its specific programming languages. For example, Swift or Objective-C are native languages for iOS and Java, or C/ C++ are native for Android apps. These apps are as a rule built from scratch taking advantage of the platform SDK along with hardware memory, gear and even other third-party apps installed on the device. In other words, native apps use all services and features of the phone including camera, geolocation, microphone, calendar, media files, etc. Native apps feel and work like home.

Pros and cons of native apps

However, each app type has its highlights and challenges and a native app is not an exception. Speaking of the advantages, native apps look and feel like home since they can be seamlessly integrated into the platform they are created.

The user interface seems familiar to the user as it iterates the platform navigation. Such “home” feeling encourages the users to run the app again and again. And the performance of native apps is much better when compared to cross platforms apps thanks to the seamless platform integration. And it’s obvious that native code for more sophisticated apps will bring all the risks to the minimum.

Taking into account the fact, native apps are usually ranked higher, and as a result, they have greater visibility in the app stores.

Speaking of the drawbacks, developing native apps takes more time as well as efforts. Note, the same code cannot be used for different platforms. It means that mobile app development teams have to spend more time converting the code or in some cases, the code cannot be converted at all.

More time spent on the development results in the increased costs of the app. But not only the mobile app development time influences the end price of the software product. To develop a great native app, you have to hire more skilled mobile app development companies with higher hourly rates.

Pros

  • User Interface
  • Performance
  • Platform integration
  • Greater app store visibility

Cons

  • Time-consuming
  • More skilled app developers
  • Expensive

CROSS PLATFORM APPS

Whereas native apps are developed for one particular operating system, cross platform applications are compatible with multiple platforms and can run on any smartphone or tablet.

Generally, there are two types of cross platform apps: native cross platform and hybrid.

Native cross platform mobile apps: As you know, each operating system has its own tech stack and SDK. However, a skilled mobile app developer can create a unified API that can be used for several platforms. Such apps, as a rule, take advantage of a native Software Development Kit and use the same database for iOS and Android. Xamarin and Appcelerator Titanium are used for building native cross platform mobile apps.

Hybrid HTML5 apps: Hybrid apps feature a so-called write-once-run-anywhere approach. In other words, hybrid apps, like cross platform ones, can run on multiple mobile operating systems. Assuming that most of the apps are developed for smartphones and tablets, its backend servers handle app logic either on-prem or in clouds. And software engineers often take advantage of WebView to form components of the GUI (Graphical User Interface). Apache Cordova is the most popular framework for developing hybrid apps.

Pros and cons of cross platform apps

When compared to native apps, developing cross platform apps requires a single code for multiple platforms. It means that a single code saves companies time and money. Assuming that cross platform app development takes less time, businesses can mow down the development costs.

As it has been noted, the write-once-run-anywhere approach leads to an efficient development process. Along with being time and cost-efficient, cross platform apps have a higher visibility due to the exposure to multiple app stores. Additionally, all the updates and changes to the app can be rolled out for several platforms at the same time. Subsequently, the app launch can be performed on multiple platforms simultaneously.

All the advantages are as clear as day. Now we will focus on the disadvantages of the cross platform app development. The mobile app development companies often have some difficulties when integrating the cross platform apps.

The main challenge is to write a top-notch code that won’t lag or free like any other non-native code. It’s a well-known fact that apps with write-once-run-anywhere code don’t always fit the platform flawlessly.

Cross platform apps cannot adopt all the customizations peculiar to native apps, and no matter how you slice it. And as a result, the users get an app that cannot take advantage of all device features. But since the mobile app developer know what pitfalls may occur while developing a mobile app for multiple platforms, they have knowledge of how to overcome all hidden pitfalls.

Pros

  • Time-efficient
  • Cost-saver
  • Easy to launch
  • Profitable

Cons

  • Performance delay
  • Limited number of features

CHOOSING BETWEEN CROSS PLATFORM AND NATIVE APP DEVELOPMENT

The choice between native apps and cross platform ones greatly depends on the features and scope you intend your app to have. Of course, there are hardly any solid differences between modern cross platform and native apps in many aspects. But still, there are many things you should consider before going for mobile app development.

Going native is a wise choice if you are going to develop an app that will become a business like any popular fitness, healthcare or language-learning apps. Speaking about the development of an informative or content distribution app, a cross platform approach is a clear winner.

Getting back to 2012. Facebook released a native iOS app and labeled their hybrid HTML5 app as “the biggest mistake”. Just as Mick Johnson, former Facebook iOS Product Manager, pointed out, going for native app development managed to solved three biggest challenges related to the app’s UX:

  • Its launch speed
  • Scrolling through the News Feed
  • Image tapping

A native app for iOS has greatly increased the user experience providing them with a flawless app performance. However, the company hasn’t refused using HTML5. This technology still powers the mobile website of Facebook.

SUMMING UP

Even if cross platform app development hasn’t satisfied the need of the world's largest social networking company, it doesn’t mean that it will fail to meet yours. As considered above, every app development approach has its perks and drawbacks.

Business is always in need of native app providing top-notch user experience, but such apps incur higher development costs. And cross platform development is a preferred approach when you are on a shoestring budget but need to reach out several platforms at once.

To successfully release new mobile applications, enterprises should make sure that they partner with an app development company that can provide them with great native and cross platform app solution. Hiring well-skilled and devoted mobile app developers with a clear understanding of what tools and features to use while developing a top-notch mobile app is your first step to become a successful app entrepreneur.

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About the author
IDAP Group
IDAP Group
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IDAP provides technical experience in building web and mobile app solutions for enterprises, brands, and start-ups. The app development team has helped nearly 200 companies worldwide. At IDAP, the professionals know how to develop software products bringing to the table technical knowledge along with usability, engagement, and monetization strategies.

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