Native vs Cross-Platform Mobile App Development in 202210 min read
The debate over native vs cross-platform is an age-old one. It’s a debate that has divided the tech community for years. Many claim to have discovered the ultimate solution, but both cross-platform and native app development technologies are constantly evolving. And, given the ever-changing nature of technology, it’s worth revisiting these topics from time to time to see which of these options is currently in the lead.
Both native and cross-platform apps have a dynamic list of advantages and disadvantages. These factors can impact on everyone involved with the app, including the app’s owner, users, and developers. App developers now have preferences based on the technologies with which they are most familiar. Today, however, we will confine our discussion to app developers and users.
Let’s start with the essentials.
What is a Native App?
Native apps are built specifically for a particular operating system, leveraging platform-specific programming languages. Native app development is the process of developing apps or software that needs to be operated on specific devices and mobile app platforms such as Android and iOS. A key benefit of using native app development is that it allows programmers to create apps that are optimized for a native platform, such as a desktop computer, a smart TV, or a mobile device.
When it comes to developing native apps for Android, Java or Kotlin are used, and in the case of iOS, Objective-C or Swift are used. When it comes to providing the best possible user experience, there is no better way to do so than with a native mobile app. Because native app development allows developers to use primary smartphone hardware elements such as GPS, proximity sensors, camera, microphone, and so on, developers can add more capabilities and features to their apps.
The benefits of Native Apps
In comparison to cross-platform apps, native mobile apps don’t generate as much code, so they run faster. The majority of the app elements are displayed rapidly as they preload well in advance. People who start new businesses like native apps because they can be made quickly and cost-effectively.
Native apps have the distinct advantage of continuing to function normally even if there is no internet connection. This ensures more convenience for the users since they get to access all the app functionalities during airplane mode or in an offline environment. Native apps’ offline support is critical for app users who live in areas with poor internet connectivity, are in remote locations, or only have access to limited amounts of data.
Wider Sensitivity and Interactivity
Entrepreneurs in the early stages of their business can look forward to a superior user experience in native apps. Since native apps are built for a specific OS, they adhere to the guidelines which ensure an improved experience that perfectly aligns with the particular operating system in all terms. Because native apps follow the rules, users can use gestures and actions they already know to interact with the apps.
Minimized the scope of Bugs
Compared to native app development, where a single codebase is maintained, managing two separate codebases becomes difficult. When there is only one code base and no need for cross-platform tools, native apps are less likely to have bugs.
Native app development helps develop apps and optimize them for a specific platform, ensuring high performance. Since native applications are built for a particular platform, these apps turn out to be responsive and comparatively fast. As an added benefit, native apps are built using standard programming languages and APIs.
When Should You Develop a Native App?
It is undeniable that native apps, in general, have numerous advantages. However, CTOs must understand the situations in which they can use Native apps. We have compiled a list of different scenarios in which you, as a business owner, can choose to develop a Native app:
- If you plan to develop a complex application as a business owner, native apps are a great option. They are ideal for developing complex, high-end applications because they can take advantage of all of the device’s benefits.
- Native app development is more expensive than cross-platform app development. So, if you don’t have any budget constraints for your app development, you can go with Native app development.
- In addition to costing more money, native apps take longer to develop. As a result, if you are not in a hurry to launch your app as a business owner, stick with native app development.
- Native apps are a long-term investment. They are bound to rise in the market because they provide a better user experience. As a result, if you have a specific audience in mind and are willing to wait, native apps can yield excellent results.
- If you have a team of experienced Native app developers as a CTO, you must choose Native app development.
Native app development tools differ by platform; for Android, there are Android IDE, Android Studio, and IntelliJ IDEA; for iOS, there are Atom, XCode, and App Code.
Google Maps, Artsy, Pinterest, and Spotify are examples of the best native apps.
The cons of Native App Development
No Code Reusability
If you want to build native apps for iOS and Android separately, you’ll have to code and develop the apps for both mobile operating systems. This would take a lot of time, effort, money, and resources, unlike apps that work on multiple platforms and use the same code.
Native app development incurs significant maintenance costs that are in addition to the development costs.
Needs More Skills and Talent
Due to the fact that native mobile apps are language-specific, it becomes challenging to find developers capable of developing native apps concurrently. When comparing native vs cross-platform app development, you’ll need to hire two teams for native app development, whereas cross-platform app development requires only one team.
What is a Cross-Platform App?
The term “cross-platform development” refers to the process of developing an application that runs on multiple platforms. This is accomplished by using tools such as React Native, Xamarin, and Flutter, which enable the creation of apps that can be deployed on both Android and iOS. While cross-platform development saves time and money, it comes at the risk of sacrificing quality. It’s challenging to tailor an app to run optimally across multiple platforms, and the app will require an additional abstraction layer to run, resulting in decreased performance.
Startups will prefer the time and cost savings associated with cross-platform development. However, it would help to remember that customizing the app beyond what the framework allows may be more difficult. Cross-platform frameworks are driven by the goal of creating shareable and reusable code for developing applications for various operating systems. Development costs and effort are reduced by writing code once and reusing it across multiple platforms.
Cross-platform applications will ensure easy implementation, robust functionality, and low production costs. However, do not expect a high level of performance or customization from a cross-platform application development framework.
The benefits of Cross-platform Apps
Effortless and Rapid Development
Obtaining reusable code accompanied by increased productivity and efficiency is a significant long-term benefit for developers and business owners. This is where a cross-platform application development framework distinguishes itself from alternatives.
Outstanding Product Maintenance
Because cross-platform application development uses a single codebase, businesses can rest easy knowing that their output will be flawless. Since there is only one codebase, testing and deploying fixes and upgrades becomes quite simple, resulting in more accurate and high-quality mobile applications.
Cross-platform app development frameworks can support a wide variety of platforms, ensuring global market reach and brand popularity for startup businesses seeking rapid market traction. Additionally, cross-platform apps result in lower upfront costs.
When developing cross-platform applications, developers do not need to write unique code for each operating system. A shared codebase can be used to migrate code between platforms.
When Should You Develop a Cross-platform app?
Cross-platform apps, like native apps, have their own set of advantages. The following are the primary reasons why CTOs should choose cross-platform application development:
- Cross-platform applications are cost-effective. Therefore, if you are a bootstrapped business seeking a maximum return on investment, cross-platform apps are a better choice.
- Cross-platform applications require less maintenance. As a result, it has no adverse effect on the overall revenue of the business.
- If you are an IT business owner with limited time for app marketing, cross-platform application development is a better option.
- Cross-platform applications are easier to implement and maintain. Thus, as a chief technology officer, cross-platform applications create a ‘win-win’ situation for you.
Popular Frameworks for Cross-Platform Application Development: React Native, Xamarin, and Flutter.
The following are some of the best cross-platform applications: Insightly, Bloomberg, Reflectly, Skype, and Slack.
The cons of Cross-platform Apps
Complicated Development Lifecycle
You will need a team of skilled developers to create apps that can be adapted to various platforms. When implementing complex functionalities and interfaces, you must carefully consider the minor differences between operating systems and the hardware on which they run.
It is frequently difficult for developers to integrate cross-platform apps into local settings, and the code of HTML5 cross-platform apps is complex due to callback-style programming.
Native vs Cross-platform App Development
Making a final choice regarding the mobile development approach to use can be a difficult task. Now that we’ve gained a better understanding of how the major native and cross-platform mobile technologies work, let’s look at the impact of choosing either approach.
In general, the following are the primary areas where native and cross-platform application development differ:
- Performance and Speed: The performance and speed of the app are critical in determining the app’s future. The IT business owner does not have to worry about its performance or speed with Native apps. This is because these applications are responsive, quick, and less prone to crashes. However, the situation is different for cross-platform applications. These apps frequently experience performance issues and are significantly slower than native apps.
- Development time: As a trade-off, native apps take significantly longer to develop due to the requirement for separate teams to build for different platforms. Cross-platform applications shine here due to the ease of duplicating code across multiple platforms.
- Development cost: The same logic applies here. Increased development time and personnel costs translate into increased development costs. This ability to develop for multiple platforms with a single team will save you a significant amount of money.
- Product lifetime: The approach is different if you’re developing a mobile application that will be used for the next 8 years (mobile banking, telco, etc.) or a prototype for a startup. Native development is more secure for long-term projects, as the tools and frameworks are more stable.
- Access to hardware resources: If your application requires complete access to all of the resources and services available on the target device, native development is the way to go. Though cross-platform apps attempt to compensate through plugin integration, compatibility issues are frequently encountered, and the app often consumes a large amount of space.
- User interface/user experience design: Finally, cross-platform development lags in terms of UI/UX experience. Because developing in a native environment provides unrestricted access to UI/UX components, native apps typically deliver more stunning visuals and an exceptional UX.
- Background processes: The ability for the app to perform tasks when it is not in the foreground must be native.
- Push notification: While cross-platform push notification handling is tricky, native handling is much better.
- Operating system updates: It takes time (a few weeks) for cross-platform to catch up with the latest operating system updates.
- Debugging: Cross-platform development does not provide the same debugging capabilities as native development.
- Customer reach: Native apps have a smaller customer reach because they are platform-specific. Cross-platform apps also make it easier to reach a larger audience by promoting one app across multiple platforms.
Consider them all when selecting the right technology for your app.
We can find the benefits and disadvantages of both native and cross-platform app development. It all comes down to the business’s specific needs before deciding on a framework for app development. Before deciding on an app development framework, IT business owners need to know exactly what they want. And the decision should be based on consideration of both the immediate and long-term implications.
At Groove Technology, we are a group of highly skilled developers, testers, and business consultants who strive to provide nothing but the best. Do you want to create a completely secure and efficient application? Contact us to hire Dedicated Developers.