Scrolling is now a part of our daily lives regardless of whether we are shopping online, ordering some things, playing games, or using a social media app. A recent report from market research firms revealed that American adults spent 88% of their total screen time on mobile apps (which is almost four hours). Mobile apps are now a core part of human life.
Now that span has increased to 4.8 hours as per a recent report from the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) North American HQ.
For app developers, this does sound encouraging. However, there is a point of concern and that is whether or not they should go for either native app development or cross-platform app development. This is an unsettling debate and often the decision in this regard is hardly taken.
There is however no universal answer to this debate too. Yet, the positive and negative aspects of both platforms and processes will be covered. It is time that we now read more about differentiating between cross-platform and native app development.
Understanding Native app development
Native app development means creating mobile applications for individual platforms in native operating and development environments. Platform-specific programming languages as well as tools are used for creating native applications. For example, Xcode and Swift are used for developing a native iOS app, whereas Kotlin and Android studio is used for developing a native Android app.
Native mobile app development uses APIs (Application programming interfaces) and frameworks for accessing a device’s functions and hardware, like cameras, microphones, GPS, proximity sensors, and the like.
As a consequence, native apps give much better speed and user experience, which is proven by their look and feel. WhatsApp, Spotify, Pinterest, and Google Maps are common examples of such.
- High speed: A key factor in user experience, a slight delay in app functioning may cause users to go for another app. Native apps do not have complicated code unlike their hybrid and cross-platform counterparts, hence they are quicker than them. They also get ranked and published high in their respective app stores.
- Wider functionality: Developers have access to all the needed APIs and tools provided by both Apple and Google respectively. They can access device features directly.
- Accessibility when offline: Native apps can work offline smoothly and flawlessly. It helps users access all functions of the app even when it is in airplane mode.
- Top-notch user experience: Tools and widgets provided by the native platform support layouts that are hard to execute, allow complicated animations, support the creation of intuitive interfaces, and provide a wide array of choices for optimizing the interface.
- Reduces bugs: Developers find fewer bugs in native apps. It is thanks to maintaining a single code base.
Cons of developing native apps
- Increased initial cost: Creating native apps is costly due to launching each platform individually. Using different tech and programming languages for both iOS and Android is needed here.
- Time intensive: Native app development is time intensive. Separate teams work for developing native iOS and Android apps. Moreover, research, planning, development, and testing take a lot of time. Specialist teams are hence needed.
- Individual codebases: As apps for both Android and iOS are made using individual code bases, developers need to implement each new feature twice on these platforms. Tools and development teams are hence different.
Cross-platform app development
These apps have a native look and feel due to a unique combination of native and independent codebases. The code is written once and reused by developers which create quicker and cheaper development plus faster releases. These apps also expand the user base effectively.
Yet they are profitable and convenient to make, cross-platform apps are prone to loss of quality because creating a custom solution to satisfy multiple platforms is hence difficult. Common examples of such apps are Skype, Facebook, Instagram, and Skype. Let us now have a look at its pros and cons:
Pros of developing cross-platform apps
- They are affordable: Reduction of development costs here comes from adjusting existing code. This helps cross-platform development get an advantage over native app development.
- Quick development and deployment: Reusing codes make both development and deployment processes easier and faster thanks to a unified codebase and adjustment of existing code.
- Wider reach and expanded user base: brands using cross-platform apps will reach a wider audience thanks to their availability, and thus more revenues.
- Easy to maintain via smaller teams: A unified codebase and the needed tools help utilize just one team for developing, maintaining, and testing a cross-platform app.
Cons of developing cross-platform apps
- The performance aspect: cross-platform apps can have glitches and delayed performance. Smooth functioning helps an app succeed. Cross-platform apps lag behind native apps in this regard.
- User experience is limited: Cross-platform apps cannot make full use of Native UX components. They are unable to provide a good UX due to problems in the user interface (UI).
- The accessibility factor: Development frameworks might not access and support all features and functionalities of devices.
- More Quality Assurance required: Cross-platform apps are customized to work with multiple platforms. Hence they need extended testing and debugging periods.
- Delays in updates: Native solutions can use all features offered by Apple and Google for their respective operating systems. Cross-platform app developers need to adopt different tools to integrate those features and functions. It is time-consuming and hence leads to updates being delayed.
Experienced professionals from a well-known agency of mobile app development Dubai recommend going for native app development. The latter may be affordable but consumes a lot of time in updates and development of functionalities. Native app development has its own lengthy processes but is safer, less risky, and makes more profitable apps.