Native vs. Cross-Platform mobile app development

Native vs. Cross-Platform mobile app development
By , Software Developer (iOS)

The mobile application market is already mature but still shows sustainable growth. According to Statista’s report, worldwide mobile app revenues in 2022 amounted to 428.1 billion US dollars, and by 2026 revenues are expected to grow another 30%. Entering the app market means a lot for both enterprises and ambitious startups. Obviously, before you can conquer the market and fill a desirable niche, you should consider developing an app first. Here comes the dilemma, which approach to choose: native or cross-platform development? Still, let’s try to avoid the “something vs. something” cliche and look at the problem from both the business and the technical perspectives. This way, we’ll explain the relevant pros and cons based on the features and nuances of both approaches.

Native mobile app development

Creating apps for mobile devices using native tools requires specialized knowledge of the platform’s native programming languages. When building an app for iOS, developers most often rely on either Objective-C or Swift to write their code. To create applications on Android, they usually turn to Java or Kotlin as their programming language of choice.

Advantages of Native mobile app development

Businesses that are trying to decide whether to invest in native app development should consider the following pros of this approach.

  • Better Performance. Native apps generally boast superior performance when compared to cross-platform or hybrid solutions due to their direct interaction with the device’s native APIs, thereby eliminating middleware. This results in better responsiveness and higher efficiency as full hardware and operating system support can be achieved.
  • Advanced Customization. Native applications can be tailored uniquely to the specific needs of a user, allowing for more advanced customizations than with platforms that require combining features of different operating systems. This opens up numerous possibilities to developers, such as accessing the built-in GPS and camera on a phone or tablet and/or using the microphone to enable voice control options.
  • Enhanced User Experience. Creating a native mobile application requires careful attention to the UI/UX guidelines of its particular operating system, ensuring that its look and feel remain consistent with the platform. This consistency not only ensures a cohesive design across similar devices but it also brings about a much more intuitive user experience due to the familiarity with the operating system’s typical layouts.
  • Greater Security. The main advantage of native app development is its high level of security compared to other solutions. It allows users to keep their digital data safe as it is encrypted into a single infrastructure rather than being spread across multiple platforms. As such, there are fewer opportunities for hackers to gain access and for vulnerabilities to be exploited.
  • Fewer Bugs. By developing native applications for separate platforms, the risk of encountering technical issues and bugs is greatly reduced. This is because each platform requires its own set of distinct tools, meaning that the complexity of managing two apps in one codebase is far less than that of maintaining two apps in two separate codebases.
  • Improved Scalability. The utilization of native applications provides a robust and reliable platform for businesses to increase the number of customers and accommodate a higher level of site traffic. This scalability opens up numerous possibilities for expanding an organization’s reach and for growing their product in the future. Furthermore, these applications are able to support a heavier workload compared to other web-based alternatives.
  • Easier Launch to Market. The launch of a native application to the app stores is often more straightforward than for cross-platform apps due to their use of a native tech stack and code that is written in compliance with the guidelines from both the Apple App Store and Google Play. As such, mobile developers can develop an app that is optimized for each store’s specifics more quickly.
  • Instant Updating. Native mobile app development offers a useful possibility to receive immediate updates. When new versions of Android or iOS are released, developers have direct access to fresh SDKs that allow them to modify their application quickly and easily - something that isn’t possible with cross-platform applications.

Embrace the countless advantages of native mobile app development and get ready to unlock a world of possibilities! With an array of powerful commands at your disposal, you’ll be able to create amazing apps like never before.

Advantages of Native Mobile App Development

Disadvantages of Native mobile app development

Despite having great potential, native mobile app development has a set of disadvantages that’s important to take into consideration.

  • Lengthy Downloading Process. Native applications can only be used after taking a series of steps, such as finding the app in the app store (it could either be Google Play or Apple App Store), accepting its terms and conditions, and downloading it. This process can take a lot of time and effort. According to statistics, companies lose around 20% of users at every step in the app funnel.
  • No Flexibility. Creating an application specifically designed for mobile devices can be quite a challenge due to the lack of flexibility from developers when it comes to the platform and environment in which they create. Native apps typically require coding for each different type of device, such as Android and iOS, meaning two separate teams of developers will need to be hired in order to fully bring your project to reality.
  • Expensive Development. Native app development is a complex endeavor that requires deep technical knowledge and expertise from coders. The programming languages used for this type of development are often difficult to master and take significant amounts of time to learn. Thus, often such specialists are more expensive. Moreover, developing native apps requires different codes for each platform, making the process even more lengthy and costly. Maintaining native applications is an expensive endeavor - in fact, the cost of maintenance can be up to 15-20% of the original app development cost. This means that a basic native application, with an initial outlay of $25,000 could incur a further expense of $5,000 just for maintenance alone. The more a native app costs to develop, the higher the maintenance costs will be, too.
  • Development is Time-Consuming. Every platform, such as iOS and Android, needs a separate set of codes, which means more time is required, because it’s equivalent to coding for two different apps. It takes about 18 weeks to develop a good quality native app. The time needed increases based on the project’s complexity.
  • The Need for Frequent Upgrades. Developers frequently experience anxieties about the possibility of losing their user base when they introduce new updates or fixes for bugs in their native applications. Submitting the updates to an app store is only the first step - then, they must hope that users will choose to actually install and utilize the new version. However, if users don’t update their app, they will not receive the updates.
  • Native Apps Work for Many Companies, but Not All. Native app development can be a great choice for businesses with larger budgets and more flexible timelines, as the development process often requires a significant investment of both time and money. For those who do not have the luxury of either, cross-platform app development might be a better option.

Consider the disadvantages of native mobile app development to avoid costly mistakes or expensive reworks for your future digital project.

Disadvantages of Native Mobile App Development

Cross-Platform mobile app development

Cross-platform apps may operate simultaneously on several platforms and devices and have a single codebase. Typically, 70% - 95% of code may be reused between platforms, which speeds up and reduces the cost of development (you’ll only need one app instead of two for Android and iOS).

Cross-Platform mobile development advantages

Cross-platform mobile development provides a wide range of advantages to developers, businesses, and users alike.

  • Low Maintenance Cost. Maintaining cross-platform apps is much more cost-effective than native apps as they use a single code which simplifies the process of upkeep. This significantly reduces routine maintenance costs, as fewer resources are required to consistently keep the app running smoothly. Additionally, any updates or modifications that need to be made can be done easier and quicker.
  • Reduced Development Cost. Cross-platform app development is becoming increasingly popular among developers due to the convenience and cost savings it offers. By writing code that can be reused across multiple platforms and devices, developers are able to save a great deal of time and effort while keeping the development costs relatively low. This means businesses can take advantage of having their apps run on different platforms.
  • Faster Development Process. By leveraging the same source code for different platforms, the development process can be greatly expedited and optimized. This not only allows businesses to deliver feature-rich applications quickly but it also removes any pressure associated with tight timelines. Moreover, utilizing a single codebase for multiple platforms significantly reduces the effort and resources required during the development stage, enabling developers to get their job done faster.
  • Seamless Cloud Integration. Cloud integration is becoming more and more simplified thanks to a single source code. Organizations are able to easily integrate their business apps with the cloud, making them compatible with various platforms; this is made possible through the adoption of advanced tools and technologies. The use of such tools allows developers to create cross-platform applications that achieve a similar level of performance to native apps.

Companies increasingly recognize the numerous benefits of cross-platform mobile development, making it a top choice for businesses of various scopes and specializations.

Cross-Platform Mobile Development Advantages

Disadvantages of Cross-Platform mobile development

Developing mobile apps that can be used on different platforms is not without obstacles. To get the best results, take into consideration the following disadvantages of cross-platform mobile development.

  • Performance Issues. The inefficiency of these applications is largely caused by integration challenges that arise when they are used on certain operating systems. As a result, their performance is often inferior to that of native apps that are designed to work optimally on one specific platform. Furthermore, many users have reported that the non-native components included in these apps lack sufficient compatibility.
  • Limited Number of Tools Available. Cross-platform mobile application development can be a challenge for app developers due to the limited number of tools available for creating these apps. While Android and iOS have improved their platforms with increasingly advanced updates, this often means that cross-platform applications are unable to keep up with the pace of change, leaving them behind in terms of functionality and usability.
  • UX Challenges. Cross-platform mobile applications are great for providing users with the ability to access their favorite services and information from a range of different devices. However, it can be difficult to create a user experience that matches the level of performance and attractiveness of native apps, leading to disappointment and frustration on the part of users.
  • Security Issues. Cyber attacks are not at all that uncommon and mobile apps are vulnerable to them. With frequent updates, native apps are able to rectify their vulnerabilities, but cross-platform apps are not up to the same level of that agility in addressing security issues. For apps that deal with a lot of corporate and business data, it’s better to go with native app development.

Cross-platform app development companies are embracing modern solutions and approaches to tackle their toughest challenges.

Cross-Platform Mobile Development Disadvantages

The main players in the Cross-Platform market

The cross-platform market has seen an influx of major players in recent times. With the rise of cloud computing and IoT, businesses are now able to create applications that can be accessed on multiple platforms. This has opened up a whole new world for developers who want to make their mark in the industry. From established giants like Microsoft and Apple to newcomers such as Google and Amazon, these companies have all made significant strides in creating powerful tools that allow developers to build amazing solutions with minimal effort. As a result, commands have become an essential part of developing applications across different operating systems today.

The most popular players in the cross-platform market:

  • Flutter is an open-source UI software development kit created by Google. It is used to develop applications for Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, Windows, and the web from a single codebase. Flutter has taken a step forward to effective UI and animation handling showing fairly good results compared to their competitors. It has a reasonably low app build time, which can decrease development time in the long run. Overall, Flutter is a relatively new technology and it still has some bugs. There are not that many professional and experienced Flutter developers in the market yet, and finding one can be challenging. But the Flutter community is growing, and Google spends tons of money on its promotion, which is a positive sign that promises a bright future for the technology.

  • Xamarin is an open-source mobile app platform owned by Microsoft, using .NET technology stack. Xamarin is unique in its own way as it’s a product that works directly with native OS API. It supports a huge number of assembly libraries and services from Microsoft and plenty of available developers in the market. Microsoft claims a 30% reduction in development budget costs, as it smoothes out by time-consuming debugging for Android and iOS platforms. The technology has existed for nine years already and has garnered a massive community along with solid documentation, which means it stands on firm ground.

  • React Native is a cross-platform solution for developing WebView-based mobile apps owned by Facebook. WebView is a component that allows you to use a basic stack of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. The framework also allows you to supplement your API with modules at the native level using native mobile OS languages. Unlike Flutter, React Native uses a so-called bridge between JavaScript and native platforms, which is a bottleneck having a negative impact on animations and UI responsiveness speed.

  • Cordova is an open-source mobile application development framework owned by Adobe Systems. Like React Native, it wraps an HTML/JavaScript app into a native container that can access the device functions of several platforms. This can be helpful for products that are rarely fundamentally updated (for example, for organizing catalogs based on ready-made CRM that provide content for existing web apps). As for downsides, Cordova possesses a common cross-platform problem – poor UI and animation performance. The more complicated the data models are, the slower Cordova-based solutions work.

The cross-platform market is an ever-evolving space, and the main companies that dominate it are constantly changing. This can make it difficult to keep up with the latest trends in technology and marketing. However, by taking advantage of commands like those we’ve discussed today, you can quickly get up to speed on what’s happening in this competitive landscape.

Which is better for Mobile App Development?

So who wins in the fight “native vs cross-platform mobile app development”? Choosing one development approach over the other is not linear but more of a dynamic decision making process. Each project has different priorities and a unique set of circumstances. Based on a wide range of dynamics, here’s a recap of the key considerations to help you guide your decision making process.

Native app development has an edge when it comes to:

  • Speed and Performance of the Application
  • Simplicity and Speed of Deploying New Features and Updates
  • High Responsiveness of an Application
  • Security of the Application
  • Configuration and Customizability of Features and UX/UI
  • Advanced, Platform-Specific UI/UX
  • Resource-Intensive Apps Requiring Heavy Animations
  • Apps that are Components of a Larger Sets of Apps that May Share some Code

Cross-platform app development has an edge when it comes to:

  • Saving or Limiting Development Costs
  • Quicker Time-to-Market
  • Code Reusability within Android and iOS
  • Reduced Expenditures on App Maintenance
  • Lighter Apps that aren’t GPU and CPU-intensive such as those that have Complex Logic or Heavy Animation
  • Consistency in Navigation and the Interface Across Different Platforms when the User Interface is Similar for Both Platforms
  • Testing Prototype, Hypothesis or Idea across Multiple Platforms

Wrapping up

In conclusion, there are advantages and disadvantages associated with both types of mobile app development – native and cross-platform – so it’s important that you do your research when deciding which option is best for your business’s needs. If you want maximum performance but don’t mind spending extra time and resources on developing an app from scratch, then native is probably your best bet. Alternatively, if you are ready to sacrifice some quality and performance, but do everything faster and cheaper, then cross-platform is your choice to move forward. Ultimately, it comes down to what’s best for your individual needs, so make sure you do your due diligence when making your decision.

Frequently Asked Questions

Cross-platform mobile app development can be defined as the process of employing a universal programming language to create mobile applications that work on several mobile devices.

The term “native mobile development” refers to the process of creating an app specifically for an Android or iOS mobile operating system.

A one-size-fits-all answer doesn’t exist. It depends on the individual requirements and specifics of your project.

Since no code is shared between platforms when creating native apps, it takes longer and costs more.

Native and cross-platform app development differ in terms of time, cost, maintenance, audience reach, functionality, UI/UX, speed, updates, and scalability.

React Native, which is one of the most popular mobile app frameworks in the IT industry.

Aliaksandr Liashchuk Author
Software Developer (iOS)
Alexander Liashchuk graduated from BSTU earning a bachelor’s degree in Artificial Intelligence. He has over 9 years of professional experience in software development with specialization in Objective-C, Swift, C, and C++. He helps start-ups and established businesses build great apps for their brands.

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