It’s the choice every app creator must face: Native or cross-platform? Which is the better option? Read on to find out more.
The apparent increase in the number of mobile users invariably leads to rapid development of the global mobile applications market. No matter what your business is, it is impossible today not to take into account the time that people spend in front of mobile devices each day. According to a recent study, Americans spend an average of 2 hours and 57 minutes a day on a mobile device. No wonder business owners also tend to become “mobile”.
This article aims to describe two approaches in mobile application development – native and cross-platform, as well as the ability to combine both.
Each approach is different and leads to different results. And in order to facilitate mutual understanding between the customer and the developer, we want to talk about what constitutes both approaches, to analyze their strengths and weaknesses.
Native applications are the ones which you encounter from the first day of using your device – installed by default alarm clock, mail client, browser or music player. They are built using platform-specific programming languages (Java for Android or Objective-C/C++ for iOS) and development environments (Android Studio for Android or XCode for iOS).
These applications can easily access all the features and services offered by the device and its operating system, such as local DB, geolocation or camera. And at the same time they consume phone’s resources (battery, memory, CPU) more efficiently. Such applications are usually downloaded directly from app stores (App Store, Google Play).
Hybrid apps combine some features of native and cross-platform applications. Essentially they are cross-platform applications but inside a native app shell. They render the UI by using an embedded web browser just like cross-platform apps do, and at the same time elements that require responsiveness and high performance can be developed using native capabilities.
A user is unlikely to notice the difference between a native and hybrid application. These applications can be downloaded through app stores.
Now that we’ve had a general introduction, let us now carefully analyze and summarize the pros and cons to each approach and determine which one is best to use in a given situation. To help a client make the right choice and to not get frustrated when the technology does not live up to the inflated expectations.
In this article, we’ve looked at two different ways to build a mobile app and their features. And now we can easily make a choice in favor of one or another depending on the situation, or even combine both approaches. Remember, what kind of goal you plan to achieve when creating a mobile application depends on what functionalities it should be empowered with.
From a technical point of view and in terms of high-quality user experience, native development has far more advantages. However, there are areas in which cross-platform development is justified: for example mobile games.
The vast majority of modern mobile games are written using cross-platform technologies, it greatly speeds up development without sacrificing quality. In this case, special graphics frameworks are being used (the most popular – Unity 3D).
Cross-platform implementation can be also an optimal solution for B2B and business process automation apps where deployment time is more vital than good look and feel. When you need to quickly enter the market to conduct some tests for your business idea, or when you have a website that you want to be turned into an app for a minimal price.
In all other cases, if you project is not a game and aimed at long-term development, requires smooth performance and needs to be as responsive as possible – native development is the best choice!