Anyone who is planning to develop a mobile app will often face this question: whether to adopt native application development approach or go for cross-platform method. In this white paper, we highlight the key differences between native and cross-platform applications, the advantages and disadvantages of both approaches and which option is better to choose in a particular situation. We also compare some of the popular frameworks used in mobile development.
Deciding between native and cross-platform development approach depends on a number of factors such as your business goals and ideas, the application’s user interface (UI) and user experience (UX), desired functionalities of the app, its availability on the preferred OS (Android or iOS), the type of audience that will primarily use the app, expected longevity (life) of the application, how intuitive the app should be to its users, database structure, security features that need to be implemented, and ultimately the development cost and time.
You should also know the functionalities supported by both native and cross-platform methods and understand the technical requirements your current system should fulfil in order to support the selected development platform.
Each method of mobile app development has its own strengths and challenges. With careful planning and strategic technology decisions, you can help ensure a successful launch of your mobile app and encourage its adoption among users.
A native mobile application is developed to work on a particular device or platform. Native applications are coded in specific programming languages such as Objective C or Swift for iOS applications and Java for Android applications. Since a native app is built for use on a specific device and its operating system, it has the ability to utilize device-specific hardware and software. Compared to web or cloud-based applications that are generic across multiple systems, native mobile apps fully take advantage of the device’s OS and technology to provide optimized performance.
As the name implies, a cross-platform mobile application works across platforms using a single code base which makes it compatible to run on different operating systems like Android, iOS, Windows, or BlackBerry. Some of the common frameworks that support cross-platform application development include Sencha, Adobe PhoneGap, React Native, Ionic, and Xamarin.
It’s challenging for many organizations to hire app developers specialized in individual operating systems (such as Android or iOS) for building, maintaining and updating mobile applications and their future versions. That’s when you need to consider hybrid and cross-platform apps that can operate on more than one platform at a time, without the need for developers to create discrete versions of the app code. This allows organizations to save their development cost and time.
If you’re thinking of building a mobile application for your business, you must understand the differences between native as well as cross-platform development approaches, and also identify how your selection is going to impact your business.
Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of both the approaches:
Go for native mobile app if:
Go for cross-platform app if:
Coding your idea to success also depends on the selection of the right app development framework, the quality and variety of its plugin libraries and APIs, and the compatibility and integration aspects of the framework.
To help you make a choice easily, we are comparing some of the leading frameworks in cross-platform mobile app development:
When you consider high-end user experience and advanced technical standards of development, native development has an edge over cross-platform development. However, cross-platform technologies speed up the development process without compromising the quality, and are considered optimal for B2B enterprises and business process automation apps, where time-to-market is valued above other needs. For example, if you need to rapidly test your business idea in the market at a minimal cost, then cross-platform development is the best choice. In all other cases that aim at long-term development with superior responsiveness, seamless performance and outstanding user experience, native development remains the best choice.
“If responsive web design was cutting edge in 2012, then Progressive Web Apps are what astute developers started focusing on in 2017”, wrote Applause last year.
Imagine how would it be in 2020!
Full to near-native apps have already started ruling the roost, and it is high time your business should understand and recognize the true value of a well-targeted mobile app. The primary focus of a business should be on delivering rich mobile app experiences to their end users. Hence selection of the right mobile app development platform is extremely crucial.
Zerone Tech Team is a bunch of technology enthusiasts at Zerone Consulting who have hands-on expertise in a vast variety of technologies essential to keep businesses running in the competitive world. The team is committed to perform systematic research on the novel technologies and the dynamic digital trends, and share the insights with the readers.
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