At last count, there are a reported 8.9 million apps in the world. Mobile apps have swiftly become essential, we use them to work, to shop, to socialise, and even to find love. If you want to harness the power of the app for your business, you’ll need to make the choice between native or cross-platform mobile development. This decision is crucial for the success of your app, making the wrong choice could cost you time, money, and customers.
This article weighs up the advantages and disadvantages of both options to help you choose the right app for your business.
Cross-Platform App Development: An Overview
Cross-platform app development essentially means building an app that functions over several platforms. This type of app can be used on both Android and iOs, making it more accessible. Cross-platform apps are usually developed with tools such as Flutter, React Native, or Xamarin.
Businesses will often co-create their app with companies that specialise in app development. By choosing an external agency to develop a cross-platform app for your business, your business can leverage the experience and industry knowledge the agency offers. For example, you should lookout for a company that has a wide range of react native experts at hand to make the development process as smooth as possible.
Advantages of Cross-Platform Development
Developing a cross-platform app has several advantages for your business. Let’s take a look.
It reduces development costs
Cross-platform apps only require one team of developers (as opposed to two separate teams for Android and iOs). This will cut development costs.
It saves time
Cross-platform apps speed up development time since developers only need one cycle.
It only requires a Single Code Base
Cross-platform apps are developed using one development tool, meaning that a single code base is created. This makes things easier for developers to maintain the app.
Disadvantages of Cross-Platform Development
While cross-platform app development may be cost and time effective, there are a few downsides that businesses should be aware of before making their final choice.
It may have limited functionality
A cross-platform app may not be able to deliver the same level of cutting-edge functionality as a native app. For example, developers could be limited when it comes to camera and microphone access.
It may not deliver such an advanced UI
A cross-platform app will not have the same advanced UI options as native apps. Advanced UI options such as navigation icons in the tab bar, complex animations and new platform-specific features are more complicated to implement. While it’s still possible to build a clean, intuitive app, native apps have more UX components and capabilities.
It may run a little slower than a native app
Cross-platform apps typically run slightly slower than native apps due to the extra abstraction layer and rendering process.
Native App Development: An Overview
In a nutshell, native app development is the process of creating a mobile app specifically for a single platform. When developing a native app, developers use language programmes and developer tools exclusively designed for that platform. An example of this would be building a native Android app using Java.
Advantages of Native App Development
Native apps have some distinct advantages over cross-platform apps. Let’s explore each one.
It has better UX
Generally speaking, native apps perform better than cross-platform apps in terms of speed, UX, and overall performance.
It offers better store support
As a result of native apps performing better, they tend to be ranked higher on app stores and are easier to publish. This makes your app easier to find on apps such as the Apple Store.
It’s more scalable
Native apps are built for a specific tool, making them easier to scale. Developers can manage resources more easily and have more tools at their disposal to scale up the app over time.
Disadvantages of Native App Development
Native apps may pip cross-platform apps to the post when it comes to UX and functionality, but there are some constraints to consider before going down the route of native app development.
Creating a native app is much more expensive than building a cross-platform one, namely because it requires the deployment of two separate teams to create two separate (but identical) apps for two different platforms. This doubles the budget needed for development.
It’s more time consuming to develop
As mentioned above, your business will need to deploy two separate development teams to create two different versions of your native app. This makes the development process much longer as there is essentially double the amount of work.
It requires more management
Keeping track of two development teams for two different platforms means that more management and resources need to be dedicated to keeping your app running. This implies two app launches and more room for issues to pop up.
When making the choice between developing a native app or a cross-platform one, the final decision really depends on your budget, time frame, and project requirements. Native apps will deliver a higher-performing app in terms of UX/UI, speed, and scalability, but the timeframe and cost can be limiting. On the other hand, cross-platform apps may not have the same advanced functionality, but it’s very possible to create an app that looks like a native app in a much quicker time and with a much lower budget. Startups and smaller businesses tend to opt for cross-platform apps to get their app off the ground quicker and to avoid the huge upfront costs and the need to manage two development teams at the same time. Larger businesses may gravitate towards native apps due to their capability for customization, higher UX, and better store support.