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Cross-Platform Vs Native Mobile App Development – Which One Is for You?

May 18, 2016 | mobile apps

You’ve just made the decision that a mobile app is needed for your business. But what is the first step? One of the first and most important decisions you will need to make is if the app will be native or cross-platform. This decision can impact everything from user experience to cost and timeline so it is worthy of some serious consideration.

You’ve just made the decision that a mobile app is needed for your business. But what is the first step? One of the first and most important decisions you will need to make is if the app will be native or cross-platform. This decision can impact everything from user experience to cost and timeline so it is worthy of some serious consideration.
To help you make the right choice for your business it is helpful to understand the key differences between the two app development approaches.

A Brief Description of Both Platforms

Apps built for a specific platform (iOS, Android or Windows Phone) are native apps. These apps are built to integrate with the device hardware and follow OS user interface guidelines.
Cross-platform apps are based on a single codebase. The code can easily be changed to accommodate many different operating systems. These apps are constructed using tools such as Xamarin’s Mono and Appcelerator’s Titanium SDK.

Pros and Cons of Native Mobile App Development

If you are an enterprise, you may have few options while developing an app. Your options might be web apps, hybrid apps, and native apps.
Native apps are the ones we are well-acquainted with. They are the ones adorning your cell phone screen with their colorful icons. When you are developing an app, native apps are usually the ones coming to your mind first. But, are they also the best? Here, we will discuss some advantages and shortcomings.

Pros

1. Performance

The number one benefit is performance. Mobile games are an example of highly interactive native apps. They also use the processor intensively. For these kinds of apps, native approach is the best to provide the low latency levels required by such apps.

2. Hardware and Functionality

Native apps are able to utilize the full potential of a device’s functionality and hardware. This is so because they run on the device’s operating system. The devices can easily have access to functions like offline access, SMS messaging, push notifications, GPS, address book, and background data download.
Some of the device APIs (such as the Camera API from Mozilla) let sites have abilities that were earlier available only through native apps. It should be known however that browsers have a history of lagging behind native apps.

3. Integrated Look and Feel

Native apps automatically inherit the user interface of an operating system. Out-of-the-box native apps give the look and feel of a more integrated and combined device.

4. Streamlined Distribution

The distribution process is simplified by native apps. With the help of app stores, users can more easily find the apps they are looking for.

Cons

1. Extra Costs

Monetization is supported by app stores but these stores also ask for a share in the sale amount of the app as well as any in-app purchases made.

2. Improvement Time

By choosing to go with native apps, you would have to choose which platform is supported. This is significant because each platform will require both extensive development time as well as talent to construct separate apps, for each platform, using different programming languages.
Getting to know the pros and cons of native apps is a progressive stage. The next step should be to compare HTML5 and hybrid options to native apps. This will help you see which is the best fit for your organization.

Pros and Cons of Cross-Platform App Development

Cross-platform mobile application signifies an app that works on different native platforms after being coded singularly. The term, ‘cross-platform mobile development’ refers to the development of mobile apps that can be utilized on numerous mobile platforms.
If your target audience is on Android, iOS, and Windows Phone, then a multiple-platform app is most likely the best choice.
But before you decide, have a look at the pros and cons:

Pros

1. Development Speed

It would take less time to build a cross-platform mobile app than it would take for a native app for Android and iOS. A codebase can easily be utilized and customized for different platforms. Undoubtedly, this is better than making a new codebase for each platform.
A cross-platform app, which functions across many platforms, is more efficient than many native apps.

2. Cost

A cross-platform app cuts down on costs as it makes use of just one codebase. However, this might not hold true if a lot of customization is required for each platform.

3. Simplicity

If you wish to update your cross-platform app, the updates synchronize instantly across all devices and platforms. Appcelerator and PhoneGap are two technologies that help developers to bring about these changes.

Cons

1. Limitations

Each platform will have certain features that are unique to that platform. As a result you may not have the ability to leverage the functions and tools of the native platform.

2. User experience

Android and iPhone have many differences ranging from functions and screen layouts to operating systems. As a result, it can be challenging to develop an app that will offer a good user experience across multiple platforms.
Most of the successful apps are on Android and Native iOS. Even Facebook was a cross-platform app initially but when it noticed that user-experience was not optimal, it made a switch to Android and iOS.

3. Integration Problems

It can be a difficult task to integrate your app with notification apps, local settings, and preferences. A cloud service may also need to be enlisted for storage.
As the points above suggest, careful consideration should be given before deciding on a cross-platform app versus a native one.

Most Popular frameworks for Cross-Platform App Development

1. ReactNative

Maintained by the developers at Facebook and Instagram, React Native is the native version of the JavaScript library. It empowers rapid app development, performs well on targeted platforms, and is easy to debug. Using React Native, you can build mobile apps that are indistinguishable from the apps developed using native languages (Java or Swift). It uses the same fundamental user interface building blocks as the regular iOS and Android apps.

2. PhoneGap

An open source, this approach empowers developers to create apps that can function across Symbian, BlackBerry, iPad, iPhone, and Android. Its framework makes use of simple technologies like JavaScript, HTML, and CSS3. It also gives you access to accelerometer and GPS tracker, thus increasing the efficiency even further. Used by around 2 billion iOS and Android users, this platform is hugely popular among beginners.

3. Xamarin

Xamarin is mostly used by remotely operated development companies. It is a C# based platform so users can call native APIs in the resultant mobile apps. The code is implemented on a .NET framework.

4. Sencha Touch

This cross-platform approach based on HTML5 helps in building mobile applications with its straightforward competent-based approach. The latest in the series is Sencha Touch 2.4. It has led developers into building potent apps that can function on Android, Windows Phone, iOS, and BlackBerry. They also work on BlackBerry 10, Q10, and Q5 devices.
With this framework it is possible to make applications work faster and be more responsive.

5. Appcelerator

This software development kit can be used for developing hybrid and native mobile apps by utilizing a single codebase. With this platform, developers are able to use all types of data sources and conduct application testing efficiently.

6. jQuery Mobile

A renowned cross-platform mobile app development framework, jQuery Mobile is helpful in creating websites that replicate the iOS feel and look. With this, developers can also use Windows Phone and Windows UI features.

The Bottom Line: Which One Should You Choose?

So, what is the verdict? Native apps integrate better with an existing interface design, the software and hardware as they are built for just one system. As compared to cross-platform apps, more native SDK features are available in the market. However, when you compare while considering economic factors, cross-platform app development approaches are more cost effective as users can utilize these on various operating systems.

What’s next? Whether you decide on cross-platform or native app development, we can help. Click here to learn more about our development process now.

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