Native vs Cross-Platform Development

Launching your mobile app in a marketplace dominated by 4.4 million applications catering to approx. 14 billion mobile devices can be overwhelming. Moreover, the app should be compatible with both operating systems, which are Android and iOS. All these factors require careful consideration, particularly when choosing between native and cross-platform development.

According to a recent Statista report, approximately 33% of global mobile application developers opt for cross-platform frameworks, reflecting a significant portion of the developer community. However, their counterparts predominantly lean towards native technologies.

In this blog, we’ll clarify the distinctions between native and cross-platform app development. Let’s compare its advantages and disadvantages, highlighting crucial factors to consider when deciding between the two methods and making your mobile app development process seamless.

How to Choose Between Native and Cross-Platform Development

What operating system will you leverage for your next mobile app? To answer this question, you will need to fundamentally differentiate between native and cross-platform application development.

With native mobile development, you can develop apps for a specific operating system, such as iOS or Android. However, with cross-platform mobile development, it is possible to build apps targeting multiple operating systems.

Before we dive into the nuances of creating native and cross-platform applications, let’s thoroughly explore their differences and the pros and cons. It’s also important to consider what factors are crucial in determining which development method to employ, such as the target audience, costs and desired app performance.

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What is a Native App?

To build platform-specific apps, you will need a native app for programming languages for that particular operating system.

Native mobile app developers construct software tailored to operate on distinct devices and mobile app platforms like Android and iOS. They utilize the native programming language of a particular operating system, be it desktops, smart TVs, smartphones, or other advanced digital gadgets, ensuring their applications perfectly align with the chosen platform.

Java or Kotlin serves as the development core for native Android apps, while Objective-C or Swift fulfills that role in iOS. Opting for native mobile app development proves ideal for delivering an unparalleled user experience, ensuring perfect aesthetics and intuitiveness.

Native app developers maintain their toolkit with additional capabilities and features by leveraging primary smartphone hardware elements such as GPS, proximity sensors, camera functionality, and microphones, among others, through meticulous native application programming.

Examples of Best Native App

Native App

Pros of Using Native Apps

1. High Speed

Comparatively faster than hybrid and cross-platform apps, native mobile apps do not generate complex code. They swiftly display most app elements due to efficient preloading in advance. Startups favor native applications for their high development speed and cost-effectiveness.

2. Offline Functionality

Operating flawlessly, even without internet connectivity, is one significant benefit of native apps. Users experience enhanced convenience as they access all app functionalities in offline or airplane mode.

Indeed, offline support within these applications proves essential for those residing in regions with a limited internet connection those dwelling remotely, and individuals constrained by scarce data availability.

3. More Intuitive & Interactive

Emerging entrepreneurs can anticipate a superior user experience from native apps. These apps, specifically crafted for a particular operating system, conform to its guidelines and thus deliver an enhanced experience that seamlessly dovetails with the said OS. 

Furthermore, adherence to these standards allows users proficient interaction through familiar gestures and actions within the application a genuinely intuitive interface!

4. Minimized Scope of Bugs

In native app development, managing two different codebases presents a more significant challenge than a single codebase. Native apps yield minimal bugs, do not depend on cross-platform tools, and have only one codebase.

5. Utmost Performance

Developers who engage in native app development optimize their apps for a specific platform, guaranteeing high performance. They build these native applications specifically for a given platform; as such, the resultant apps demonstrate responsiveness and superior speed compared to others. 

Compiling these apps with core programming languages and APIs significantly enhances their efficiency.

6. Enhanced Security

Thorough data protection on the user’s end hinges upon diverse browsers and technologies such as HTML5, JavaScript, and CSS in native app development.

Cons of Native App Development

1. No Code Reusability

To build native apps separately for iOS and Android, you must code and develop the applications specifically for each mobile operating system. 

This approach necessitates substantial commitments of time, effort, costs, and resources, unlike the convenience offered by hybrid mobile apps with a shared backend code or cross-platform applications that boast reusable codebase functionalities.

2. High Maintenance

Engaging in native app development services incurs substantial maintenance expenses; these costs may surpass the initial developmental investments.

3. Needs More Skills and Talent

Finding back-to-back developers who can create native mobile apps is challenging due to their language specificity.

For instance, if you compare native and cross-platform app development, the former necessitates hiring two teams for its execution; in contrast, only one team is required for cross-platform application development.

What are the Tools for Native Mobile App Development?

Tools for Android App Development:

  • Android Studio
  • IntelliJ IDEA

Tools for iOS App Development:

  • XCode
  • AppCode

When to Consider Native-App Development

A native app can provide an exceptional, unparalleled user experience, making it a worthy consideration for your business.

Your first interaction with your target audience through your app sets the tone: your aim is not just to impress them with an exceptional app experience but to commit to their satisfaction.

One crucial aspect of developing a native app is the need to code specifically for one platform. This approach ensures optimal performance and a seamless user experience.

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What is a Cross-Platform App?

Let’s understand the distinction between cross-platform mobile app development and native app development for our budding entrepreneurs. Each has a unique role: one is in hybrid and cross-platform app development, which are indeed distinct concepts.

From developing on-premise, shareable, and reusable code for app development across various operating systems, cross-platform frameworks offer a compelling solution. The convenience of penning down code once and deploying it on multiple platforms significantly reduces costs and effort invested in application development.

Cross-platform apps bring about smooth implementation, robust functionality, and cost-effective production.

Yet, it remains crucial to acknowledge that the parallel levels of performance and customization commonly found in alternative app development frameworks may not be attainable.

Examples of Best Cross-Platform App

Best Cross-platform App

Pros of Using Cross-Platform App

1. Maximizing Code Reusability:

The significant advantage of reusing code drives the choice for cross-platform mobile application development in enterprise mobile apps. Developers can save valuable time and effort by consolidating the entire codebase in one location, unlike native app development.

Enabling concurrent work on both the iOS and Android platforms, this unified codebase delivers cost savings. Further, its shared nature reduces potential UI/UX issues and security or functionalities concerns during extended maintenance cycles. Developers can now seamlessly propagate changes to required operating systems with minimal modification.

2. Accelerated Development Time:

Following a single development cycle for deployment on different platforms, cross-platform apps inherently offer faster development times. The reusability of app code eliminates the necessity for dedicated teams to each platform project individually, thereby significantly speeding up time-to-market.

3. Reduced Development Costs:

Cross-platform and native mobile development expenses, when compared, underscore the cost-efficiency of the former. By employing a single development team rather than two for this approach – an intrinsic action that reduces overall costs – we can further emphasize its economic advantage at play.

Using tools such as React Native for both mobile and web applications: this strategy empowers developers to exploit a significant portion of the code as well as essential assets. The result? A streamlined development cycle that directly reduces costs; consequently, when the application starts gaining traction, it delivers superior value.

4. Broad Market Reach and Streamlined Maintenance:

The expeditious and cost-effective nature of cross-platform development enables enterprises to deploy apps seamlessly on both operating systems; this presents a clear advantage for businesses. They can extend their user reach substantially while also testing prototypes, hypotheses, or app ideas across multiple platforms a strategic benefit in today’s competitive market.

Moreover, developers simplify updating cross-platform apps as they contend with a single codebase. They consistently maintain this across every app build, targeting the two operating systems and thus facilitating efficient maintenance.

Cons of Using a Cross-Platform App

1. Performance Trade-offs:

Challenges in performance and speed often confront cross-platform mobile apps. These applications’ requisite additional abstraction layer and rendering process may diminish their speed and performance.

The inclusion of custom runtimes: this indeed further hampers performance. Consequently, enterprises that prioritize high-performing apps may find the native approach more favorable compared to cross-platform development, thus intensifying the debate between these two methodologies.

2. Functionality Challenges:

The key challenge for cross-platform mobile apps involves adapting functionality and design to cater to various devices, platforms, and operating systems; this process requires an intricate balancing act.

Hiring a cross-platform developer requires your team to invest additional effort in addressing individual differences across platforms and devices. These factors, along with reduced app speed and performance, compromise functionality during feature implementation – ultimately impacting the overall user experience.

3. Updates and Feature Delays:

One often overlooks delayed in-app updates while grappling with the cross-platform vs. native mobile development dilemma. New updates or features released by Apple or Google may encounter delays in support from cross-platform mobile apps.

Native apps, receiving quicker SDK updates than cross-platform apps do, can promptly deliver the latest advancements to users. In contrast, because they require a separate update for accessing the most recent features potentially creating a lag in delivery cross-platform applications stand at risk of withholding these cutting-edge advancements from their user base.

What are the Tools for Native Mobile App Development?

Native Mobile App Development Tools

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When to Consider Cross-Platform  App Development

Operating within tight budget constraints, limited timeframes, and a scarcity of resources particularly suits this approach. Code reusability and a unified development process inherently offer benefits that alleviate financial burdens; they also expedite the overall project delivery.

Furthermore, when your target audience includes both iOS and Android users: choosing cross-platform mobile development eradicates the necessity of juggling separate development cycles. This strategy provides an efficient approach and enables you to reach a more extensive user base; indeed, it streamlines operations.

The compelling reason for speed to market arises from two factors: the streamlined development process and code reusability. These contribute significantly towards a faster app development lifecycle, thereby providing a competitive edge.

When you confront a relatively uncomplicated app that necessitates uniform functionalities across platforms, consider the advantages of cross-native app development: it reduces the complexities tied to adapting for platform-specific requirements.

How do you Choose the Best Mobile App Development Platform?

Choosing between cross-platform and native app development hinges on each project’s unique priorities and circumstances. Let’s recap key considerations that will guide your decision:

Native App Development:

  • Superior application performance and speed.
  • Enhanced application security.
  • Customizable and configurable features and UI/UX.
  • Tailored for apps with advanced, platform-specific UI/UX.
  • Faster and quick deployment of new updates and features.
  • Ability to build more responsive applications.
  • Leverage mobile phone hardware, such as the camera.
  • Suitable for resource-intensive apps like mobile games and those with heavy animations.
  • Ideal for apps that are part of a larger suite, sharing some code.

Cross-Platform Development:

  • Faster time-to-market.
  • Cost-effectiveness, limiting or saving on development costs.
  • Reduced work and expenses during app maintenance.
  • Code reusability between iOS and Android platforms.
  • Applications that are lighter and do not demand intensive CPU or GPU requirements, particularly those featuring heavy animation or intricate logic are well suited to this.
  • Particularly when the UI is similar, it ensures consistent interface and navigation across various platforms.
  • Ideal for testing ideas, hypotheses, or prototypes across multiple platforms.

Final Thoughts

Your specific project requirements determine the optimal development approach. Native development particularly benefits certain apps that prioritize performance, security, and hardware utilization.

Cross-platform development holds significant value: it becomes an essential consideration under time and resource constraints or when businesses aim for efficient testing and prototyping of ideas.

Major tech firms such as Meta, Bloomberg, Skype, AirBnb, Walmart, and Pinterest – notably leverage cross-platform frameworks for their mobile applications. This application approach demonstrates the successful utilization of this strategy across a wide range of industries.

If you are looking for a reliable mobile app development company, we’ve got you covered. Our experts hold extensive years of experience in delivering robust and feature-rich mobile apps to businesses globally. Let’s Connect

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