One of the biggest trends we can notice in modern technology is that computing power is increasing, and the size of devices is shrinking by the seconds. The most obvious example we can come up with is mobile phones. There was a time when the size of these cellular devices was as large as our entire face, and now it fits in our palm easily. As a result, smartphones are one the most commonly used technologies with mobile app development.
One of the biggest reasons for the immense popularity of smartphones is their applications that solve the problems we face every day. From helping us with our homework to booking our plane tickets, everything has become convenient since Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone to the world.
There are almost 5 million apps in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store altogether. So when a company or a client decides to develop an app, the first question that crosses the mind is, ‘cross-platform or native; which one is better?’ Now, there are many ways to go around this question. This article will present both sides of the picture, and then you decide which option is better for mobile app development.
Feel free to learn more about the August 2022 stats from my resource with interactive charts and diagrams below:
Google Play and App Store Statistics in 2022
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Native App Development
Native app development means creating a mobile application for a particular operating system. The two most popular mobile operating systems are Android and iOS. To develop an app for either of the platforms, you need a specific set of development tools, known as Software Development Kit (SDK), and an environment to build an app, known as Integrated Development Environment (IDE).
For iOS, the languages employed for development are Objective-C or Swift, and the most commonly used IDE is XCode. Similarly, on the Android side, either Java or Kotlin is used as a programming language for development, and the IDE preferred by most developers is Android Studio.
Native app development offers a robust experience overall. Since the focus is only one operating system at a time, utilizing features of a specific platform is well-executed. As a result, native apps offer better performance, providing secured features, liberty to developers to fully extend their usage of the device’s features, and delivering a seamless user experience.
However, the App development Cost is not economical. Moreover, due to the lack of code reusability and time-consuming development, it is a point of concern for both; small startups and big corporations.
Pros of Native App Development
A developer has a wide range of functionalities to choose from when developing a native application. There are no limitations on using any library, tool, or API related to the particular platform. That is the reason why native apps promise better performance, security, and stability.
- Performance and UX
The speed and the performance of a native app are always top notches due to the direct integration of the application with the host operating system, giving complete access to the device’s features. Also, the UX of a native app is more desirable as it is developed specifically for a particular device.
- Ranking on App Store
It is more convenient to publish native apps on a specific app store and are usually ranked higher due to their better user experience, speed, and performance. As a result, chances of broad exposure in the market, more downloads, and high-profit increases.
Cons of Native App Development
- Cost and Time Consumption
The quality of security, speed, and performance comes with costly development and time consumption in native mobile app development. For example, if you decide to build an iOS application, you write code in an iOS-specific language, using iOS-specific frameworks and IDEs. The problem arises when you have to develop the same app for Android from scratch, employing completely different technologies from the get-go. Instead of using the same code base, a set of two development teams is required.
Since you have to build two different projects for two operating systems, ultimately, it will be high-priced and takes more time to develop. Updating an app is an integral part of keeping the app in the competitive market of mobile applications. It means that for updating the app, you have to rewrite code for multiple platforms again.
Cross-Platform App Development
Cross-platform app development allows developers to code reusability. In addition, they get to take advantage of such technologies, which help them run a single code base on multiple platforms, allowing the deployment of Android and iOS.
Cross-platform mobile app development saves time and resources but at the cost of sacrificing quality in the development process. For example, making a robust, powerful, cross-platform app and perform efficiently on various platforms. Additionally, the app requires adding an abstraction layer at the time of running those results in a lack of performance.
Companies with low budgets or startups will lean towards cross-platform app development as it causes a reduction in time and cost in the development process. Still, due to lack of flexibility issues in cross-platform development, it can be hard at times for development companies to customize the app in a way that is out of frameworks’ functionalities.
A few of the technologies used for cross-platform mobile app development are React Native, Flutter, Ionic, Xamarin, etc.
Pros of Cross-Platform App Development
The most important advantage and reason for using cross-platform technologies are to build mobile apps that reduce the financial burdens on companies. The approach of cross-platform app development is “write once, run anywhere,” meaning that once you have written the code for your application, you can run this source code on any platform without worrying about differences in operating systems and their features.
This technique ultimately results in the reduction of cost and lessens the mobile adevelopment time. Instead of hiring two teams for development, you will only need one.
- Fast Development and Deployment
Since there is a need for only a single cycle of app development that can run on various platforms, cross-platform app development offers a faster development and deployment process than native app development. The reason behind rapid development and deployment is the availability of a small set of tools and technologies. Therefore, it results in quick build time and faster deployment.
The changes required about updates and scalability of the applications are also done once for all the operating systems.
Cons of Cross-Platform App Development
- Functionality and Performance
Since the apps built using cross-platform technologies focus on multiple platform development, the developers have restrictions as they cannot leverage every feature a platform has to offer, unlike native app developers. Few of the functionalities that cross-platform app developers have issues accessing smartphone microphones, cameras, etc.
Moreover, additional abstraction layers and rendering processes are a part of cross-platform to overcome the issues regarding interoperability and platform independence resulting in the slower performance of apps built on cross-platform technologies.
Cross-platform can’t benefit from native UX components. As a result, the users end up with a UX that is not accustomed to the specific platform.
Regardless of the trade-offs, there is no denying that both technologies are here to stay for a long time. And there are countless technologies you can go with when building an app. Whether you go for a native app and decide to make a native Android or iOS app with their powerful tools like Android Studio and Xcode or you think that cross-platform mobile app development is a better idea where you have powerful technologies like React Native, Xamarin, Ionic, etc. that bridges the gap of multi-platform app development, they are both phenomenal. It depends on your requirements and implementation of the app.