Native versus Cross-platform Application
Native versus Cross-platform Application
Native versus Cross-platform Application Development: Which is Best for My Project?
Mobile app development has come a long way since the first smartphones hit the market. Today, developers use one of two main approaches to creating apps for these devices: native development or cross-platform development. Both approaches remain popular with cross-platform accounting for roughly a third of the overall mobile app market and native for about two-thirds. However, the decision between which works best for your project can cause ripple effects on the success of your mobile app.
So, this article provides a detailed breakdown comparing native and cross-platform application development methodologies to help you choose the best option for your project.
What is Native Application Development?
Native application development refers to the process of creating software applications specifically designed for a specific operating system, such as iOS or Android. To develop a native application, developers must use the programming languages and tools specific to that platform. For example, iOS apps typically use the Swift or Objective-C programming languages and the Xcode development environment, while Android apps typically use Java and Android Studio.
By building an app specific to an individual platform with native development, the app can take full advantage of the device’s hardware and software capabilities. This can result in faster performance and a more seamless user experience. However, developing a native app usually requires a higher budget and more time since it needs a separate code base for each platform.
What is Cross-Platform Application Development?
Cross-platform development refers to the process of creating software applications that can run on multiple platforms, such as iOS and Android. To develop a cross-platform application, developers use cross-platform frameworks Flutter or React Native. These frameworks provide a single codebase that works on both iOS and Android platforms.
By building an app using cross-platform tools, developers only need to write code once and can then deploy it to multiple platforms. This avoids the need to maintain multiple code bases for each platform reducing operating costs. It also allows app creators to bring their idea to market faster as they only need to develop the app once. Despite these cost and time advantages, cross-platform tools lack the full support of a device’s hardware and software capabilities.
Native Vs. Cross-Platform Application Development
When comparing native app development and cross-platform app development, there are five key factors to consider:
In general, native apps tend to offer better performance compared to cross-platform apps. They are specifically designed to run on a particular platform and can take full advantage of the device’s hardware and software capabilities. On average, native apps perform 60% faster than their cross-platform counterparts.
Some of the specific ways that native apps offer better overall performance include faster access to device resources and better handling of device-specific constraints. By writing the app in a programming language specific to the platform, the app can more directly access the device’s resources. This also allows the developers to design the app with device-specific constraints, such as screen resolution and aspect ratios, in mind.
For most applications, native apps offer a higher-quality user experience. In some cases, the user experience of a cross-platform app can match the user experience of a native app. This stems from the way native programming languages allow developers to take advantage of platform-specific design guidelines and user interface elements.
As an example, iOS apps have a distinctive style, with elements such as tab bars and navigation bars, while Android apps have a different style, with elements such as the action bar and navigation drawer. By designing an app for a specific platform, app designers can take these distinctive styles into account during the development process.
Development Time and Cost
Creating native apps requires a distinct code base for each platform you release the app on. But, cross-platform apps only need a single code base that you can deploy across multiple platforms. This significantly reduces development times and costs. Although native apps can slowly add cross-platform capabilities by creating an entirely new code base, cross-platform apps can immediately release on all platforms.
Additionally, cross-platform development also allows for a smaller development team with general knowledge of the technologies and tools used, rather than multiple specialized developers for different platforms.
Maintenance and Updates
Developing a cross-platform framework can make maintaining and updating an app easier. Since the same codebase is used to create apps for multiple platforms, developers can make changes and updates to the codebase once, and then deploy those changes to all platforms. This can save time and money and reduce the need to maintain separate codebases.
Additionally, cross-platform development tools such as React Native or Flutter have a strong and active community. This means that developers can rely on updates and improvements to the frameworks, which also helps in reducing maintenance efforts.
Native or Cross-Platform: Which is Best for Your Project in 2023?
When deciding on the development approach, it’s important to consider the following factors:
- Performance: If the app requires high performance, native app development usually makes a better choice. In some circumstances, cross-platform apps can meet the performance of a native app, however, they can rarely surpass a native app’s performance.
- User experience: If the app requires a polished and seamless user experience, native app development always offers a better user experience.
- Development time and cost: If the app needs to be launched quickly and cost-effectively, cross-platform development offers the best option.
- Access to platform-specific features: If the app relies heavily on platform-specific features or APIs, native app development is a necessity.
- Maintenance and updates: If the app requires frequent updates and maintenance, cross-platform development can reduce ongoing maintenance costs and allow you to roll out updates at a faster pace.
- Audience and market: Knowing the market and audience of your app is important as well, as some audiences only need availability on one platform.
Ultimately, the choice of which approach to use depends on the specific requirements of the app and the resources available to the development team. A thorough analysis of the project requirements, the budget, and the development team’s expertise is necessary to determine whether cross-platform or native app development will work best for your project in 2023. If you have questions about which platform is the best option for your project, give NCN a call!