Native vs. Cross-platform – What App Will Work Best for Your Business?

While users carry on fierce debates about whether iOS or Android is better, businesses and developers are fighting their own “holy war” over native vs cross-platform apps. Should you invest in the development of tailored solutions for each platform, or kill two birds with one stone by creating a hybrid app?

There's no ultimate answer to this question (otherwise, the debate wouldn’t rage so strongly). Each approach has its own benefits and implications, so let's find out which suits your case the best!

Native applications

These are the apps built on platform specifial languages. For example, Kotlin and Java for Android and Swift and Objective-C for Apple's iOS.

The native apps are being developed to operate on a certain platform — with the support of native OS and hardware components such as a camera, motion sensor, or microphone.

  • Advantages of native apps

Better performance

Built for a specific platform, native apps get direct access to its components, of which they can then make optimal use. Without the need for an intermediary, the app’s overall performance rises, especially when working with multimedia or graphics. Well-written native code also decreases the probability of crashes and critical bugs.

Intuitive UI

When building an app for a specific OS, a programmer can implement native features and navigation. This results in a better user experience and higher engagement.

ASO

Higher usability and performance work well for the app’s rating and positioning on the corresponding app store. Moreover, better visibility usually leads to increased revenues, which is always a huge plus.

Higher security

To ensure ultimate data protection, you need all the hardware resources you can get. This is only possible with native code.

  • Disadvantages of native apps

Higher costs

The code written for one platform can't be deployed on another. Converting it can be time- and cost-consuming. Additionally, you may be forced to extend your team with extra specialists in order to cover all required technologies.

Missed users

If you're creating a solution for only one device type, you're losing a massive audience of users who prefer another device type.

Cross-platform applications

The name speaks for itself: cross-platform or hybrid apps can operate on various types of OS. This is possible due to their specific architecture. Such apps contain an isolated browser instance inside a native wrapper, which provides interaction with the platform.
Tools such as Apache Cordova streamline the interoperation of native and hybrid parts. Other popular technologies used for creating hybrid solutions are React and Ionic.

  • Advantages of cross-platform apps

Affordable price

Instead of hiring separate teams for iOS and Android development, you only need one crew to handle a hybrid app. As a result, you can halve the time and costs required for your app's creation.

Better time-to-market

Both the first release and further upgrades will require less time to build and deploy. In a highly competitive start-up ecosystem, it’s a massive plus.

  • Disadvantages of cross-platform apps

Lower performance

Since hybrid code needs to be converted in order to interact with a platform’s components, most of the operations take more time. This is not a big deal for small projects, but it may cause some trouble under high load. Indeed, it’s still one of the main issues for hybrid apps, although performance glitches are being reduced with the modernization of the toolset.

Limited UI

When building a universal solution, you need to compromise on the individual features of the platforms. Some users won’t appreciate that.

Wrapping up

As you can see from above, the selection of the technology mostly depends on your project’s requirements and preferences. To give you a clearer look, we’ve prepared a comparison chart:

Feature

Native

Hybrid

Device Access

Full

Full (with plugins)

Performance

High

Medium

Development Language

Platform-specific

HTML, CSS, Javascript

User Experience

High

Medium

Costs

Higher

Lower

Time-to-market

Lower

Higher

Security

High

Medium

Applications

Better suited for projects with higher performance and security requirements. Recommended if you distribute your app via app stores.

Good fit for projects with limited time and costs, especially if there are no special security, speed, or UI requirements.

With a decade of experience in mobile application development, we’re be happy to help regardless of which approach you select. Contact us to learn more about what we have to offer in terms of application development for iOS, Android, or both.

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