Native App Development vs Cross-Platform

Globally, the mobile app market is currently valued at over $77 billion. The vast majority of these mobile apps run on the Android and iOS operating systems which constitute over 90% of the smartphone market.

Amidst all of this, there is an ongoing argument about the native vs. cross platform app development. People are undecided if a company would do better to invest in a cross-platform application or a native one. For a bit of clarity, let us take a look at the two options.

Native Mobile Apps

Simply put, a native app is one that is built specifically to function on a single platform/operating system. This app would be built to fulfill the requirements of that operating system alone using its SDK, hardware memory, gear, and some other applications that come pre-installed on the device it was built for.

When an app is built for a single platform, it tends to produce a high performance comparative to cross-platform apps, and the general user experience is more streamlined and enjoyable.

Cross Platform Mobile Apps

This type of mobile app refers to any app that is built to be compatible with more than one operating system and can function on any smartphone or tablet running these operating systems. There are two types – The Native Cross-Platform App and the Hybrid HTML5 App. Here’s a brief look:

  • The way native cross-platform apps are set up, each supported operating system has its own separate SDK and tech stack (including Objective-C/Swift for iOS and Java for Android). A unified API can then be created on top of each native SDK, under the same codebase for apps across all supported operating systems. These type of apps are usually built with Appcelerator Titanium and Xamarin.
  • The most commonly used hybrid app development framework is Apache Cordova (known as PhoneGap in the past). The way Hybrid HTML5 apps work, software engineers use WebView to create bits of an application’s Graphic User Interface (GUI) with JavaScript, CSS, and HTML5.
  • The most commonly used dev tools for cross-platform mobile app development are React native, Apache Cordova, Xamarin and Unity. Talking about react native, thousands of apps are using React Native, from established Fortune 500 companies to hot new startups around the world. Xamarin targets iOS-based devices while Unity works with the Windows, iOS, Xbox and Android platforms. Apache Cordova, on the other hand, does a different job. It features CSS3, JavaScript and HTML5 and it provides access to a smartphone’s internal storage, contacts, location tracker, inbuilt accelerometer, notifications, and media. These are all permissions that a mobile app could require to run properly on a smartphone.

Which one should you go with?

Each one has its pros and cons, and it is left for you to decide what is most important to you in your mobile app development journey. Here are the differences:

  • Cross-platform app development takes a shorter time to develop than native app’s. It is expected, really, because the number of tools and resources you would need to build native apps for separate platforms individually will be a lot more than the tools required for cross-platform app building.
  • The cross-platform app is more cost-effective than native app building. With native apps, you must have separate, possibly large budgets to complete the development of an app on two or more separate platforms. You can avoid this by building a single cross-platform app that will cost less. There is also the matter of maintenance costs. After development, you will have to update your app occasionally. If you’re doing this for two different apps on two different platforms, it will obviously cost more than if you only had to do it for one cross-platform app.
  • On the flip side, cross-platform apps tend to develop performance issues. On the average, smartphones have the relatively small computing power, and the rendering of all the components in a cross-platform app may be too much to handle sometimes. This is rarely the case with native apps.
  • Additionally, meeting the UX requirements of two or more platforms at once can be a hassle. There are cases of poor design and bugs with cross-platform apps – and much less so with native apps.

Now, the choice that you make should depend on the feature set and the scope of the application that you’re building. If your app is based on content distribution or something of the sort, then you may want to consider going for cross-platform app development. On the flip side, if you are building a more personal app (something like a fitness app or an entertainment app), then you should probably go native. Whichever path you choose to ply, you have a good portion of the information you need to make a good decision. If you’re still unsure about what to do, you can fill in the below form and we will get in touch to guide you. Have a good one! 

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