Building your own app can significantly improve user engagement and drive more sales. However, there are two different options to choose from — native app vs cross-platform development — and business owners are often perplexed about which approach to choose.
In this article, we make a cross-platform vs native mobile development comparison and hope to make the specifics of each method clear enough for you to make a confident choice for your project.
What Is Native Mobile App Development?
The concept of native mobile app development refers to the development of a mobile application for a single specific platform. Software engineers choose the languages, libraries, frameworks and tools in compliance with the particular platform’s requirements.
Native app development is known for offering top-tier user experience, feature-rich interfaces, and robust functionality that cross-platform app development usually cannot offer. Native apps are satisfying to look at and interact with, which leads to increased user engagement. So it’s not surprising that many companies decide to build native apps, hoping to enhance their business strategy and boost customer satisfaction.
Native Languages for iOS and Android
Software engineers use Objective-C and Swift languages for the development of iOS native applications. Objective-C is a flexible, powerful and well-tested language that is known for its stability and security. Swift is an open-source programming language that offers great readability, easy maintenance and faster code deployment.
To develop Android-based applications, engineers use Java and Kotlin. Java is a popular programming language known for its maturity, high stability, and portability, while Kotlin offers efficient and intuitive coding and testing processes. The latter is often referred to as an analog to Swift.
Enjoy the advantages of a mobile presence with SaM Solutions’ cross-platform mobile development services.
Pros of Native Mobile Applications
Native mobile apps are designed to run on a specific platform. Their optimized features are adjusted to the architecture of the given platform to ensure higher performance. For instance, native applications have fast loading times, smooth animation and high responsiveness that surpass those of cross-platform apps.
Smooth user experience
Since native applications inherit the navigation patterns and UI elements of the device’s operating system, they offer users a consistent look and feel. An attractive design that matches the UI standards and UX requirements of the target OS makes for seamless user journeys that bring your business loyal customers.
Easy access to device hardware
Another advantage of native applications is the possibility to offer advanced hardware-related functionality on all devices. It’s easy to power native applications with services such as GPS navigation, QR code and barcode scanning, as well as ensure stable use of the camera, microphone, and various sensors. Thanks to all these features, such applications are more competitive on the market.
Cons of Native Mobile Applications
Need for specialized skills for each platform
For native mobile app development, you will require a different skill set for each platform, including the expertise in specific programming languages, frameworks and libraries. Hiring additional staff or training the current team may end up being very expensive. What’s more – the involvement of several teams might cause UX and even functional inconsistencies in app versions for different platforms.
Since you need separate development teams for each platform, you require an extra budget to hire seasoned experts in each required technology. Moreover, you have to cover separate licensing costs for each platform’s specific development tools. For these reasons, native mobile applications are quite expensive to develop.
Longer development time
Software engineers spend more time on the development of native mobile apps because each stage of SDLC — from design and prototyping to deployment — needs platform-based customization. If you need Android and iOS versions of the same application, your project is likely to take about 8 – 12 months or more. Long time to market may cause hurdles in today’s world, when pushing the idea out there as fast as possible can play a huge role in market success.
What Is Cross-Platform Mobile App Development?
Cross-platform (multiplatform, platform-agnostic) mobile app development is the building of applications that can run smoothly on various platforms. Cross-platform development has multiple advantages over native mobile app building, such as cost-effectiveness, reusable coding and faster development time.
Cross-platform development is an umbrella term that covers such subcategories as hybrid and near-native app development.
For hybrid app development, software engineers use Cordova and Ionic. Cordova is a framework that helps to deliver very simple applications within a couple of months and cuts the native project’s costs in half (or more). Ionic is a complete software development kit (SDK) which offers high flexibility and a wide choice of UI components, which can be used in Cordova apps.
Flutter, NET.MAUI (Xamarin), and React Native are today’s key tools for near-native development.
- Flutter framework offers such benefits as dynamic code writing enhanced with hot reload function, pre-built widgets, and faster delivery time.
- .NET MAUI is the evolved form of Xamarin – a mobile app platform that offers a faster development cycle, shareable code, and a simplified maintenance process. In comparison with Xamarin, .NET MAUI has several advantages, such as supported hot reloads, unified libraries, and single project experience.
Take advantage of SaM Solutions’ strong React Native expertise to create smooth and high-performing cross-platform applications.
Pros of Cross-Platform Mobile Applications
To deliver platform-agnostic code of the application core logic, you often need just one development team. This significantly reduces costs in comparison with native app development, where you have to hire several teams with different skill sets for each platform. Cost savings associated with cross-platform development make it an especially great choice for startups and small business owners.
Faster development time
Software engineers working on cross-platform applications have to write most of the app logic once – and then adapt it to various platforms. As a result, the productivity of the team’s efforts is higher, and the time to market is shorter. Besides, lots of cross-platform frameworks provide built-in add-ons, tools and libraries that enhance and speed up the development process.
As different versions of a cross-platform app share the codebase, the implemented business logic is more consistent. It is also much easier and more affordable to maintain a single codebase than several ones, since adjustments made to the codebase of an Android app version can often be reused for the iOS app version.
Cons of Cross-Platform Mobile Applications
As a rule, cross-platform applications – especially hybrid applications – are not as fast as native ones and can end up lagging or slowing down. This is due to the use of additional “middleware” layers that allow cross-platform applications to communicate with the platform’s operating systems.
Potential compatibility issues with different devices
When not integrated with the device hardware properly, cross-platform applications don’t have access to platform-specific features. They may even not be compatible with some gadgets, especially old or not very powerful ones. To avoid poor user experience on such devices, development teams need to invest in extensive testing on a very wide range of smartphones and tablets.
Limited access to device hardware
Compared to native app developers, React Native, Flutter, and .NET MAUI engineers don’t have the privilege to easily set up communication between the app and the hardware. This just isn’t something the frameworks offer out of the box. However, experienced developers – such as those at SaM Solutions – simply need additional time to perform proper integration and enable the use of cameras, sensors, and other hardware.
Native vs. Cross-platform: How to Choose?
When choosing between native and cross-platform development, we recommend you consider the following:
Target audience and platform
For people who are interested both in iOS and Android, cross-platform app development would be a great option. However, even people who want just an iOS or an Android app can develop it faster with cross-platform tools.
App’s planned features
If you need an extremely feature-rich, premium UX or a highly secure app, opt for native development. In case you want to create a super simple app with basic features – for instance, to help a charity organization – then a hybrid app will do. And in case your app functionality plans are somewhere in between, don’t hesitate to choose near-native development.
Planned time to market and available budget
Native apps are the most expensive solutions and take the longest time to market. Hybrid applications are the fastest and most affordable option. The characteristics of near-native applications stay between those of native and hybrid apps, making them a happy medium in regard to time and budget.
Current team’s skills
If you do not have relevant specialists or an in-house team, consider hiring extra specialists or an entire dedicated team of mobile development experts.
Choose the Fitting Technology and Develop Your App with SaM Solutions
If you are interested in the development of a mobile app for your business and want to compare cross-platform vs native app development, don’t hesitate to consult the SaM Solutions team. Our experienced specialists are ready to advise you on mobile technologies and develop top-notch native and cross-platform solutions for you.
With 30+ years of experience in the IT market, SaM Solutions has profound expertise and a proven track record in delivering both native and cross-platform solutions for businesses of all sizes and domains. Our cutting-edge solutions improve the business strategy, optimize resources and lead to increased productivity and ROI. We are passionate about building innovative and high-performance mobile apps that meet and exceed our clients’ requirements.
If you’d like to compare the possibilities of native vs cross-platform app development in more detail, our experts are ready to help. Feel free to contact us and schedule a discussion of your mobile enterprise solution or consumer product.