As a business owner or an entrepreneur, you may have considered investing in a mobile app. However, you may be clueless about which development method is best suited for you and your business.
Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!
In this article, we will discuss both native app development and cross-platform app development along with the pros and cons of each approach.
Let’s dive right in.
What is a Native Mobile App?
A Native Mobile App is specifically developed for a certain operating system. Such apps meet certain operating system requirements through its Software Development Kit (SDK), primary technology stack, camera, sensors, and other programs. For instance, Android uses the Android Development Software Kit while iOS uses the iOS SDK.
Moreover, native apps don’t run in the browser but they need to be downloaded from platform-specific stores like Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store.
How are Native Mobile Apps developed?
Native apps use specific programming languages according to the platform. Swift and Objective-C are used for iOS app development while Java, Kotlin, C++ are used for Android app development, and C# is used for Windows Mobile app development.
Advanced development Tools for a Native Android Mobile app includes Android SDK (software development kit), Android Studio, official IDE (integrated development environment) for Android. In addition, Firebase (comprehensive mobile development platform) and Android Jetpack (pre-built Android components) are also incorporated. Similarly, iOS development tools include iOS SDK, XCode (the official IDE for iOS development). Furthermore, Swift Playgrounds (an educational tool for Swift development) and TestFlight (app for beta testing) are also used.
Pros of a Native Mobile App
1. High Performance:
Since Native apps utilize the best resources and the platform’s maximum capabilities, these apps are fast, responsive, and less likely to crash. If you hire an expert developer that has enough knowledge of various platforms, they can optimize your native app by incorporating additional features of the platform to your advantage.
2. Robust & Offline Functionality:
These apps have robust functionality since they employ the platform-specific native features. Further, native apps are accessible offline so if you have limited to no service (like on the subway or an airplane) you can still use a native app.
3. Enhanced User Experience:
Developers and designers have high creative freedom so they can build an intuitive and smooth operating app with an innovative design. This improves the overall UX.
4. Increased Flexibility:
Due to the availability of native tools, these apps have improved flexibility as opposed to cross-platform apps.
5. Better App Store Compliance:
Cons of a Native Mobile App
1. Expensive Development:
Native apps are costly to develop since their programming is tricky and their developers are scarce. Not only that, its maintenance cost is also high. It amounts to 15-20 % of the total development cost. For instance, a basic native mobile app that costs $25,000 will include an additional maintenance cost of $5000. Besides, different platforms need different codes thus increasing the overall cost.
2. Slow Development:
A native mobile app takes about 18 weeks to be fully developed. This is because every platform requires separate sets of codes, thus increasing development time. Development time increases based on the project’s complexity.
What is a Cross-platform Mobile App?
Conversely, a Cross-platform Mobile App is developed to function on various mobile platforms since they are compatible with several OS thus can function on any smartwatch, PC, tablet, mobile device.
How are Cross-platform apps developed?
These apps are developed using a ‘shared operating environment’ like Xamarin, Cordova, Flutter, React Native, to name a few. Not only are cross-platform apps universally accepted by various platforms but they are also profitable. Stack Overflow’s 2019 survey states that the top cross-platform frameworks used by developers were Flutter, Xamarin, Cordova, and React Native.
Pros of a Cross-platform mobile app
1. Quick Development:
If you choose the right project plan and tech stack, you might be able to reuse 80% of your original codebase, thus reducing your overall development time. Your codebase can be re-used at both UI and back-end stages. This saves your development firm around 10-20% of your project time. Additionally, this means faster app launches in the market.
2. Tapping a Larger Audience:
You have the advantage of tapping a larger market as cross-platform apps are compatible with iOS, Android, Windows, Linux, macOS, and many other OS.
3. Low Maintenance Cost:
For most mobile apps maintenance costs can absorb a huge amount of app revenue. However, cross-platform apps don’t have this issue. As they are developed through a single codebase, their maintenance cost is comparatively lower than native apps. Similarly, performing routine maintenance is also easier.
4. Reduced Development Costs:
As stated above, having a single base codebase has various advantages. Not only does it significantly reduce development cost but it also allows developers to start the development cycle by excelling in a few technical skills. In addition, development teams are not expected to invest money and time in mastering various technologies.
Cons of a Cross-platform mobile app
1. Substandard Performance:
Due to integration issues with various OS cross-platform apps face performance issues. This is due to the lack of compatibility between the device’s non-native and native components, thus resulting in a huge performance gap between native and cross-platform apps.
2. Limited User Experience:
Cross-platform apps are unable to meet and exceed a native app’s seamless and tailored UX as they’re not exclusive to a particular platform or screen layout. They may also entail slow loading times and performance issues, etc. Conversely, native apps provide coherent app functionality, thus boosting the UX.
3. Limited Functionality:
Every SDK and the third-party library does not sync with cross-platform apps, resulting in limited functionality. Thus, developers have to integrate desired functionality using additional tools. Not only does this make your code more inefficient but also takes up additional time.
Final Verdict: Native or Cross-platform?
We recommend choosing Native Mobile development if:
- You want a more responsive app with great performance
- You want an app that offers better UX
- You’re not heavily constrained by tight budgets and timeframes
Conversely, choose Cross-platform Mobile development if:
- Low responsiveness is not an issue
- Your app is simple and does not include complicated animations and design
- Your priority is to reduce time-to-market (TTM), thus capturing a larger market share. Statistics have shown that the first software in the market captures 70% of shares while the rest can get a minimum of 20% share.
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