The growing number of mobile users worldwide leads to rapid development of the global mobile app market. According to a recent research, the majority of people spend an average of 3 hours a day on a mobile device. That is why many businesses tend to follow the trend and become “mobile”. But what is the best approach for a mobile app development? There are various points of view on this topic. Native mobile application development vs cross-platform debates have been going on for a while. This article will help you clarify the issue with two approaches in mobile application development.
Native applications are built using development environments (XCode for iOS or Android Studio for Android) and platform-specific programming languages (Objective-C/C++ for iOS or Java for Android) for a specific platform. They are installed by default music player, browser, mail client, or alarm clock. These apps are usually downloaded directly from app stores (Google Play, App Store,). They are the ones which can easily access all the services and features offered by OS of the device, such as camera, geolocation, or local DB. Furthermore, these apps consume device’s resources (CPU, memory, battery) more effectively.
Hybrid applications combine features of both cross-platform and native applications. Basically, they are cross-platform apps inside native shells. Elements that require high performance and responsiveness can be developed using native approach. These apps can be downloaded through app stores. It is unlikely that you will even notice any difference between a hybrid and native application.
Now let us summarize the advantages and disadvantages of two basic approaches and determine which one is best to use.
Advantages of a native mobile approach
- Apps run at a decent speed and look decently
- Full support of the Google Play and App Store
- App’s performance is monitored automatically
- Ease of testing
- New features being added every year
- Fast integration of new features
- Full access to the device’s features and services
- No limitations
- UI elements are located in accordance with the guidelines for the specific platform; they have usual “feel and look”
- Full support for hardware accelerations and multithreading
- High speed and performance
Disadvantages of a native mobile approach
- Twice as much resources needed for maintaining
- Separate development for each platform is more costly as it requires more employees to be involved
- More time to build an app
Advantages of a cross-platform mobile approach
- Reduced number of potential inconsistencies and errors
- Single business logic
- Cost reduction and development speed
- Cheaper support and maintenance
- Less time to implement an application on all platforms
- Simpler development lifecycle
Disadvantages of a cross-platform mobile approach
- User experiences for different platforms should be combined into one
- Limited access to device’s native APIs
- Relatively poor performance
To conclude, we’ve looked at two different approaches to build a mobile app and their features. Each approach is different and leads to different results. In terms of high-quality user experience and from a technical point of view, native approach has far more advantages. At the same time, there are multiple cases when cross-platform development is a better choice. For instance, for creating a mobile game, B2B, or business process automation apps. In all other areas, if your project is aimed at long-term development, needs to be as responsive as possible, requires smooth performance, and it is not a game – native approach is definitely the best solution.