In the last several years application market has grown tremendously. The number of apps available in Google Play was placed at 3.3 million in June, 2018 and Apple’s App Store is the second largest app store featuring 2 million available apps. 96.7 per cent of smartphones run now on either Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS. With these digits and the constant controversy about choosing between cross-platform and native development it’s surely hard to pick a path if you want an app. We are writing this blog post to make sure you`ve got the necessary information at hand to make a choice.

So, you have made up your mind to digitize your business using a mobile application. Or you have a business idea you`d like to try out with an MVP. Whatever the case, the question is – will your app be cross-platform or native.

Let’s figure out which is which and what would be pros and cons for each type.

Native development involves using a programming language, a native language, created especially to build applications which would run solely on one of these two operating systems – iOS or Android. iOS applications are written in Objective C or Swift, while Android-native apps are made in Java.

Advantages of native development:

  • You can use the software and hardware tools that were devised by the creators of the platform – accelerometer, file storage, GPS, contact data, media, push-notifications, etc. It means broader functionality that can be can programed in an application.
  • An application is optimized specially for the exact OS and, thus, performs much better – means, runs faster. Plus, it provides better experience to the user.
  • Familiar interface of each platform that looks and feels `native` and can be discerned by user.

Disadvantages of native development:

  • You need to create a new application for each platform, while most of the features will be the same. This means spending twice as much resources – money and developers’ time.
  • More resources and time are required for technical support as each application for both the platforms needs to be monitored.

Native applications can also be created with C++ at their core (approximately 90 per cent of the app codebase) which is further modified for this or that operating system. This method will involve only 1 team of developers, less time and money than the fully native development.

A cross-platform application stems from the idea to code one application and make it compatible with multiple operating systems, while development is performed using such languages as Java or HTML5, or one of the proprietary frameworks – Apache Cordova, React Native, Xamarin, Ionic, Flutter, etc.

  • A serious advantage of cross-platform development is that it is usually cheaper and takes up fewer resources compared to native development.
  • Also, this way of building an app is more convenient if no interaction with peripherals is needed.
  • Another plus is that bugs are fixed for all the platforms for which the project is distributed.
  • The launching can be performed very fast and the updates are not that costly

The main disadvantage is that cross-platform applications may not have the look and feel of the native ones and in some cases may run slower. Another one is that performing various tasks can have their own complexities on various platforms, which takes up time and money.

If you are trying to figure out which path is better for your project, there is no simple answer to the question “Which development is better and more cost-effective?” Each approach has its pros and cons. And upon the whole, it depends on the required functionality and the use case.

Native development is preferable in case:

  • You care most about user experience;
  • You need to use all the features and options of a particular OS;

Choose cross platform development in case:

  • You need to quickly enter the market and test your idea;
  • You have a limited budget and need to build an application for several platforms;
  • You don’t need complex functionality for your application.

At Metamins, we have been successfully developing mobile apps for the last 6 years – if you feel that you need a mobile application, but have doubts or questions, contact us! Let’s discuss everything and work together!