Appstore and Google Play have 4.4 million applications available, which target 14 billion mobile devices worldwide. One of the most crucial decisions you will have to make if you want to launch a mobile application is whether or not it should be developed natively on one platform and cross-platform on another.
Smartphones facilitate communication through texting and phone calls, offer entertainment, allow administration, and provide utilities to their users via applications.
These mobile apps are accessed through the app store of their choice, be it Apple’s App Store or Google Play Store. The developers build them keeping in mind the operating system of smartphones. Android and iOS are the two main operating systems targeted. Your strategy will be affected by whether you’re targeting the iOS or Android operating systems.
Native development and cross-platform are the two main ways to develop mobile applications. Using native or cross-platform development is crucial for any mobile app. This decision will have a huge impact on the app’s design, the technology used to build it, and the end users who can access it.
What is Native App Development?
Native app development is the process of building an app for mobile devices that are exclusively designed to run on a single platform. The app is developed using programming languages and tools specific to one platform. You can, for example, develop an Android native app using Java or Kotlin while choosing Swift and Objective-C to create iOS apps.
Native apps deliver a great user experience because they are high-performance. The visuals are also tailored to the platform’s UX, which enhances the user experience. Startups are worried about the cost of native apps because they have to develop both platforms simultaneously.
Native mobile applications are apps developed for either Android or iOS. Your applications will be coded using a particular programming language depending on the operating system for which you create them.
Java or Kotlin are the languages you can use to create native Android apps. Java was originally used to develop Android applications. Google added support for Kotlin to Android in 2017. Kotlin is a functional and object-oriented language, whereas Java can only support object-oriented programming.
You use Objective-C and Swift if you’re developing native iOS apps. Objective C is the superset of C. It was the first language to be used for writing software that runs on iOS. Apple released Swift during the 2014 World Wide Developer Conference. Apple claims that Swift is faster than Objective-C and easier to learn.
What is Cross-Platform App Development?
Cross-platform development is the process of developing an app for multiple platforms. The apps can be created using React Native, Xamarin, and Flutter.
Cross-platform development can save time and money, but you may sacrifice quality. The app must be adapted to run optimally across platforms. It will also require an extra abstraction layer, resulting in lower performance.
Cross-platform development is a good choice for startups because it reduces time and costs. You’ll also need to consider that customizing the app beyond the framework’s limitations might be difficult.
From a single codebase, you can create cross-platform applications for mobile devices. These apps are created using cross-platform frameworks that use platform-specific SDKs. (Android SDKs or iOS SDKs). You can easily access different SDKs and libraries for each platform.
Private companies create these frameworks. Private companies create these frameworks.
- Flutter by Google. Dart is the programming language used.
- Xamarin (which is currently being migrated to MAUI) by Microsoft. It is written in C# and XAML.
Cross-platform mobile applications are typically compiled using native UI components that give the app a native feel. They provide abstractions to the SDKs of the platform. The sensors exposed include GPS, battery, camera, and microphone.
Some of the most well-known examples of cross-platform mobile apps include:
- Instagram, Skype, and Walmart (React Native).
- Google Ads (My BMW App), eBay Motors, and the New York Times.
- The World Bank (Xamarin), Fox Sports, Alaska Airlines, and BBC Good Food
Native and Cross Platform: Pros and cons
Native and Cross Platform: Pros and cons
Native App Development: Pros and Cons
Native app development has many advantages.
- Wide Functionality:You will have access to all APIs and tools provided by the platform you are working on. There are no technical limitations on how programmers can work with the app.
- Better Support for Stores:A Native App is easier to publish and ranks higher in the app store of the platform because it offers better performance and speed.
- Improved Scalability:Apps developed for native environments tend to be more scaleable due to the flexibility of resource management and the range of tools available.
- High performance and great UX:The interaction between the code and the resources underlying it results in high performance.
- High security:Native applications can increase the security of user data. They can access platform-specific security features.
- Full feature access:Native apps can access the full set of features and functions on the device. This provides a richer user experience. Also, they gain access to push notifications and other important services for driving engagement.
- Minimum bugs:Native app developers can access the latest SDKs immediately after release. Improvements and new features always accompany these updates.
The Cons of Native App Development
Native app development has some cons.
- Costly: Native apps for iOS and Android can be expensive to build. You’ll have to hire two teams that work on different platforms. Deploying native mobile applications is usually expensive. It is necessary to have different teams of developers working on each platform. You will need Java or Kotlin developers to build a native Android application. For native iOS, you will need additional Swift/Objective C developers.
- Time-Consuming: A separate team will be needed to work on this other version. Having separate teams work on similar apps across different platforms takes time. The maintenance and enhancements require effort as well.
- Code reusability is not possible:To target different mobile operating systems, you must create separate code projects and maintain them.
The Pros of Cross-App Development
You can gain from creating cross-platform mobile apps in several ways.
- Low cost:Cross-platform mobile development requires only one team of developers. The developers must be familiar with the framework they have chosen. App reaches a larger audience to gain traction and test the market.
- Code reuse:Frameworks cross-platform allow you to work with a single codebase. This will ensure consistency in the logic of business.
- Rapid Development:By improving productivity and reusing code, you can get to market quicker.
- Easy maintenance:Updating an app on multiple platforms is much easier. You are working with a single source code.
- Cons to Cross-App Development
Cross-platform mobile app development services overcomes some of the problems that native apps face. It has some disadvantages, however.
- The digital footprint is usually bigger:Cross-platform apps are typically larger. Attention must be paid to mobile optimization options.
- Difficult integrations:Cross-platform frameworks don’t integrate all platform-specific features. Some hardware-specific features, such as using GPUs, may require native app development skills.
- Lower Performance:Cross Platform Frameworks bundle a customized runtime for your app. It’s responsible for communicating with the platform-specific services. It adds a second layer of computation which reduces performance.
- Delay platform features:SDK updates typically include new features. It would be best to wait until a new update is released to get the latest features with cross-platform frameworks.
Considerations to Make When Building a Mobile App
You can use these points to help you choose the best approach for building a mobile app.
- Application Complexity: If your app is only displaying data from the network, then cross-platform development would be a great choice.
- Cost: Native app development can be expensive but produces high-performance apps. Cross-platform development can be the best option if working with a small budget. You can save between 30% and 40% by creating a single codebase for an app that works on both Android & iOS.
- Development time: In certain projects, you will want an MVP app as quickly as possible. Cross-platform development is a good option. You do not have to create two versions of an app. It is not necessary to develop two versions of an app.
- UI/UX: Native mobile development is the best way to achieve stunning visuals and experiences. When developing in a Native environment, developers have access to UI/UX elements. Cross-platform development will severely limit the UI/UX of an app.
Cross-platform App Development: Advantages
Cross-platform development is a good alternative to native app development but has some advantages. What matters is not which approach to development you choose but which fits your needs and priorities best.
Reusability of Code between iOS and Android Applications
Most developer’s find that using one codebase for iOS and Android is a major benefit of cross-platform software development. Native applications require that code be written for each platform separately. Two different developers or teams usually do this. The entire codebase for custom mobile apps is stored in one location, saving time and effort.
Developers can, for example, code an iOS app and compile it to Android devices (and vice-versa) relatively quickly. The native modules integrated into the app determine the amount of code that can be shared.
Improved Development Speed and Time to Market
The development of cross-platform apps is a simple process that produces an app for multiple platforms. Due to code reuse between platforms, businesses can eliminate the need for separate Android and iOS project implementations. The development process is significantly faster because all the teams, including product design and engineering, work on the same project.
Reduced Development Costs and Value for Money
Building cross-platform apps can be up to 30% cheaper than developing iOS or Android apps separately. This is because you only need one development team instead of two. Those who want to use tools that can create both web and mobile apps (such as React Native) can reuse a large chunk of code as well as other assets. It can reduce the development cost by reducing the time it takes to develop an app.
Consistency of UI/UX Across Platforms
The UI and navigation of native apps differ between operating systems and platforms. This is why different and specialized teams are responsible for the development. These differences are handled by default in cross-platform frameworks. Cross-platform apps have a consistent appearance and feel across all platforms.
It is especially useful for apps whose users are likely to use multiple devices. This allows organizations to maintain a consistent brand across various platforms without much extra effort. The change is immediately visible across both platforms when the development team modifies an app’s visual style.
Talent and the Future
React Native, Flutter and other cross-platform frameworks have been gaining popularity. These frameworks are becoming more popular as developers realize the benefits of learning them. They can develop apps for both iOS and Android by learning only one framework.
In addition, there are plans for more due to the growing interest of startups and businesses in cross-platform frameworks. Cross-platform ecosystems will continue to grow and develop.
Wide market reach for testing and prototyping
Businesses can reach more users or customers more effectively by deploying apps on Android and iOS. Cross-platform development is a good option for businesses still testing ideas, hypotheses, or prototypes.
The Disadvantages of Cross-Platform Application Development
Cross-Platform App Development: Here are some of the disadvantages.
- Lower Performance and Speed: Developers have known for a long time that native apps are faster and perform better than cross-platform applications when it comes to simple applications. Cross-platform apps are slower because they require an extra abstraction layer and rendering processes. There is also evidence that there may be a larger performance gap regarding CPU- and GPU-intensive apps.
- Adapting Code to Platforms can Limit Functionality: Cross-platform apps must adapt their functionality and design across different operating systems, devices, and platforms. Developers must therefore put in much work to handle the differences between each platform and device. It can be especially difficult for complex features. This difficulty in implementation can affect functionality.
- Wait for New Updates and Features: When Google releases an update for its respective operating system or introduces new capabilities, cross-platform applications take a little time or extra effort to support it. New SDKs are released for native apps much more frequently than cross-platform frameworks.
Native App Development Advantages
Native app development has many advantages. Native mobile apps are faster and more stable than cross-platform applications.
Application Speed and Performance
Native apps are faster and more efficient than non-native and cross-platform apps. They were developed to meet specific platform requirements. Native apps are designed to run exclusively on specific devices.
They run faster because they have exclusive components and APIs optimized for different screen sizes and operating systems. Native apps are also smaller and can be downloaded faster from the app store.
Stability of Maintenance and Updates
Android and iOS are both developed by Google and Apple. This gives user’s confidence and trust that they will continue enhancing and supporting their mobile operating system. Google and Apple, for example, provide developers with Software Development Kits, interface elements, and other development tools.
SDKs speed up development and give developers direct access to the latest features. This means that natively-built apps for Android and iOS will benefit from a stable maintenance and update process. The new features are available immediately after release.
As cross-platform frameworks can be created by organizations, companies, or even developer communities, there is a risk that the development or upgrade of these frameworks will be inconsistent, slow, or stopped.
Customization of Features and UX/UI
Native apps are faster and easier to customize or configure because they don’t depend on versions of an app that run on different operating systems. Since the user interfaces of iOS and Android apps are so different, it is easier for developers familiar with the platform to follow the standard. This allows them to be more creative and effective.
Native apps are also more flexible and have better UI capabilities. They come with pre-set interface components and libraries that developers can customize.
Maximizing Hardware Functionality
Native apps are better able to take full advantage of the hardware features of mobile devices, such as their camera and GPS. Apps with augmented reality features are better developed as native apps than cross-platform. It is partly because iOS and Android offer their respective developer community exclusive APIs.
Native app developers can usually implement features such as file encryption, fraud detection, and intelligent fraud detection through the respective platforms’ libraries and resources.
It’s also easier to update native apps than cross-platform ones, as it is harder to predict when the frameworks for cross-platform apps will be updated after patches and other platform-specific releases.
Talented Individuals Who Are Highly Specialized and Have Mastered the Platforms they Use
The talent pool for developing on both platforms is limited. Native development allows businesses to tap into a vast talent pool with experience and expertise in the respective platforms and frameworks.
The Disadvantages of Native Application Development
The disadvantages of native application development are:
- Time-Consuming and more Expensive: As you can imagine, using two teams to develop the same app on both iOS and Android will require additional financial resources. Further, even though the teams work in parallel, coordination to align UI/UX is a major factor that extends development cycles.
- No Code Reuse: Your engineering teams must code independently if you build separate native apps. They will not be able to reuse code between OSs. Comparing separate native and cross-platform apps with reusable codebases requires more effort, time, and money.
- Native apps will increase your costs for maintenance. Many businesses forget that the costs of an app do not stop after it is released. Most of the work is often done during the maintenance and support phase. Maintenance costs can reach 20-50% of an app’s budget.
This extra work can also slow down bug fixes. Updates to native apps can take longer when the development team finds an urgent and essential update.
Users may be forced to use a suboptimal app in terms of its UI/UX or functionalities. Cross-platform apps have a lower risk of this problem because they share a codebase. It is a shared codebase that allows changes to be instantly propagated across all operating systems.
Considerations to Make When Building a Mobile App
You now know the different approaches and their advantages and disadvantages. The next step is to make a choice. Find out how to select the right development approach for your company.
Here are some suggestions.
Consider Your Budget
It would be best to start by developing natively or cross-platform. The latter will be more cost-effective and take less time.
Consider Your Hiring Capabilities
This factor will affect your financial capability, but also consider the following. You’ll need to hire two teams to create native apps. It may take some time for you to find the right specialists. Native development also requires specific skills and knowledge.
You can quickly create a team of experts who will work with accessible technology by using a cross-platform strategy.
Consider Your Time to Market
Is your business strategy requiring an immediate release of a mobile app on the market? A cross-platform solution will be the best option for you. It’s important to also keep in mind native applications. You might, for example, build a product first for Android and then expand it to iOS.
Take Note of the Performance of your App.
Consider how quickly and efficiently your app will work. Is it a complex solution or something simpler? In terms of performance, it’s best to build a native app.
Consider Your App Security
The security of your application is an important consideration when choosing a development method. Native apps provide a high level of security. However, some examples of cross-platform solutions offer the same level of protection.
Consider your App’s Customization and UX.
Users today place a high value on a great user experience. You can achieve this in iOS and Android application design. Native application development provide more customization options and tools.
Which is the Best for Your Next Project?
It is not easy to choose one approach to development over another. Each project is unique and has its own set of priorities. Here’s a summary of the key factors to consider based on various factors.
Cross-Platform Apps have an Advantage When it Comes to:
- Faster time-to-market
- Cost-saving measures for development
- Maintaining an app requires less work and less cost.
- Reusability of code between iOS and Android
- Apps that don’t require a lot of CPU or GPU power, such as apps with heavy animations or complex logic.
- Consistency of the interface and navigation on different platforms (when the UI is the same for both platforms).
Native Apps Development is a Better Option than
- Performance and speed of application
- Application Security
- Customization and configuration of features, UI/UX
- Apps with a platform-specific, state-of-the-art UI/UX
- Build a responsive application
- Please take advantage of the hardware on a mobile, such as its camera
- Resource-intensive apps, such as games for mobile phones and apps with heavy animation
- Apps that may be part of an application suite (which could share code).
Top Five Frameworks for Cross-Platform Mobile App Development
The software development process can be different depending on the tools you choose. It is important to choose the right framework if you want to create an application that looks native. Here’s a list of the five best mobile app frameworks for cross-platform development.
React Native offers engineers a feature called hot reload, which allows them to see the result of their changes instantly. It supports a variety of third-party plugins and libraries, which makes it simple to add new functionality and features to a mobile app.
Flutter is a freely available, open-source UI Toolkit that allows you to build natively compiled apps for desktop, mobile, and web platforms using a single codebase. Google developed it, and its performance and ease of usage have made it popular among developers.
Flutter supports the development of cross-platform mobile apps and desktop and web applications. It is, therefore, a very versatile tool for cross-platform development. Flutter’s Dart is a new language for engineers, so adopting the framework can be challenging.
As with React Native’s hot reload, Flutter has the same feature. Developers can make changes in the code and see the result immediately. Flutter’s widget architecture also allows developers to create custom UI elements that can be reused in different parts of an app. This further improves mobile development speed.
.NET MaUI (formerly Xamarin)
.NET Multiplatform App UI is a free and open-source platform that allows you to build cross-platform mobile applications. It is a development of the Xamarin Framework. This popular Microsoft cross-platform mobile app framework is based on C# and . NET. It’s available as part of Visual Studio under the MIT License.
The following components are included in the development toolset for.NET MAUI:
- MAUI Project Templates
- XAML is used to define UIs and layouts.
- Styles and themes for UX/UI customization.
- Device APIs allow you to access device-specific features such as the camera, GPS, and sensors.
- Hot Reload
Cordova (Adobe PhoneGap)
This hybrid framework for mobile apps also includes native containers and plugins for each platform. C++ developers can create additional features to gain access to the device’s functionality (cameras, microphones, accelerometers, file systems, etc.). Cordova apps are created and run inside a WebView container in the native platform.
Ionic, a popular UI SDK is also one of the best frameworks for hybrid apps. It bridges all the desirable properties: it’s open-source and easily maintained. It is also scalable and easy to understand. The ionic library includes HTML, CSS, and JS components to help you build visually stunning and interactive apps.
Ionic offers a wide range of features and tools, including native-style mobile UI layouts and elements and support for the material design. It provides regular updates from the developer community.
Ionic-based hybrid apps can offer powerful features and customizable tools to enhance the user experience. They all depend on wrappers like Cordova to run on devices.
Cross-platform and native development have pros and cons. The choice between native and cross-platform development ultimately depends on the project requirements and the developer’s skills.
When it comes to performance and user experience, native apps still win. They are more expensive, but you will be at ease knowing they have a lower defect rate and better visuals.
It would be best to decide which operating systems to make your mobile app compatible to create a stable and successful application. While both cross-platform and native development methods are available for Android and iOS, it is important to consider the benefits and drawbacks of each when creating a mobile app.
You must create your app with security, performance, and scalability, regardless of whether your users use Android or iOS. It is impossible to cloud based application development that fits all users. Cross-platform or native development is not the best option for every mobile app and use case. Even when starting, you should constantly assess each project to see if native or cross-platform development is the best option.
Creating cross-platform apps is easy, but delivering the same user experience on each platform takes more work.