Native vs. Cross-Platform
Whether to develop your mobile app natively (made specifically for Android or iOS) or with cross-platform tools is an ongoing debate in the mobile app industry.
While native apps typically provide a better user experience due to customized interface, is it worth the additional cost?
Cross-platform apps are less expensive than native mobile apps because the app only needs to be coded in one language, but what is the sacrifice of this cost savings?
Continue reading for a simple, objective comparison of the two main ways to make your mobile app that will help you make an educated decision.
Native development is how the majority of successful apps are created.
In a nutshell, native development means that Android and iOS apps are programmed from the ground up to give the user a full 100% Android or iPhone user experience.
- Better User Experience– Because your app is being created for a specific platform it is inherently going to run much better than when cross platforming. There is no need to compromise app functionality between different platforms.
- Faster Operation– Native languages can be much faster at processing data than cross-platform languages.
- More Functionality– You can utilize all the main functions that an individual platform has to offer, such as specific hardware features. This means your app will have more features specific to that platform. In turn, this creates an enhanced user experience.
- Cost– Because native coding requires each platform (iOS and Android) to be separately coded, the total development cost is higher than cross-platform apps. However, many people first develop and launch an app on a single platform, then add the second platform after the first launch starts getting a lot of downloads.
Native development is the preferred development method for most big name apps.
Many applications started off with cross-platform coding, but eventually switched to native coding by necessity.
Overall, a more complicated app with higher functionality should be developed using native coding.
Further, most of our customers choose native development for their app ideas.
Although cost is higher than cross-platform development, that is really the only downside.
As such, native coding is typically worth the extra investment cost over the long-term.
For some types of applications, cross-platform mobile app development can be a suitable alternative to native development.
Depending on the required functionality of the app you are developing, there may be benefits to cross-platform over native coding.
- Larger Reach– Simply put, the more platforms you are on (Apple and Android lets say) the more people will be able to use your app. This intrinsically leads to more downloads as you would imagine.
- Uniformity– The look and feel of your app will be easier to perpetuate over various platforms if it runs off a single code.
- Maintenance– Updates and maintenance will be easier if there is only one application across all platforms.
- Speed– It can be more efficient to develop one app for all platforms than to code several native apps for each different platform.
- Marketing– This becomes easier because as we mentioned earlier your customer base is larger. You won’t have to market to smaller groups more specifically.
- Cost– It can often be much more inexpensive. Easier maintenance, faster development turnaround, and simplified marketing efforts will all lead to lower cost.
- Functionality Loss– Each platform has it’s own unique functionalities. You may lose the ability to utilize these unique functions because a cross-platform app isn’t developed with these individual features in mind.
- User Experience– Each platform has a different screen layout, operation system, and over all functionality. One example of this is how Android devices have a back button on the actual device while Apple devices have no button on the actual device but rather on the screen within its software. (See picture at the bottom)
- Future Changes– Although the app will be quicker to develop in the beginning, as we mentioned in the Pro’s section, you may need to go back and adjust the app due to functionality loss and a lesser user experience. This will end up costing time and money to accomplish.
If your app does not need to function in unique ways that are platform-dependent and the functions of the app are relatively simple, cross-platform development may be a suitable choice for you.
Under these circumstances, you will save time and money developing without giving up any quality.
Also, most game apps are built using cross-platform tools because gameplay is basically the same regardless of Android or iOS.
Finally, there are even some cases where developing a progressive web app (PWA) is more sensible than making a mobile app (press here to learn more).
To discuss the best way to turn your app idea into reality today, simply fill out the form below and your personal App Specialist will contact you soon.
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Deron | co-founder @ BrainyApps
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