The Startup Dilemma: Native vs. Cross-Platform Apps
So, you’ve finally decided that your startup needs a mobile app. About time! Your next stop is picking an application development approach: will it be native or cross-platform? Both of them have their strong sides and weaknesses. That’s what Skelia’s here for – to help you make an informed decision. Let’s take a closer look at native and cross-platform apps to find out which suits your startup’s needs and resources best.
A native mobile app is an application developed solely for a specific platform. This means that it fully corresponds to the mobile operating system’s requirements. But what’s more important, a native app can use all of the phone’s features.
Mobile developers create native apps using platform-specific programming languages. Currently, the mobile OS market has two leaders: Google and Apple. So, a native application is usually developed either on Java/Kotlin for Android or on Objective-C/Swift for iOS.
Native App Strong Sides
High Performance and Great UX
Native apps run smoothly on the OS. Mobile developers tailor a native app specifically for a specific platform, which means they strictly follow the quality guidelines or HMI guidelines. The result is a native app that provides excellent UX and integrates seamlessly with the platform.
A native mobile application has access to all device’s features and the native API’s. In other words, it can use the functionality of other native applications and services. For instance, it can open a weather app or a calendar if needed. Also, native apps are compatible with other Google and Apple products. What’s more, you can use a native app without an Internet connection, and that’s why native development suits best for creating complex mobile applications.
It’s no secret that platforms’ manufacturers encourage building native apps for their OS’. For instance, both Apple and Google mostly feature native apps on their virtual stores. And getting featured on App Store or Google Play Market is a dream for any startup. In fact, getting a featured spot on the Apple App Store can increase downloads by 800%.
Native App Drawbacks
You have to keep in mind that native app development will cost you a lot. The reason is, you’ll have to develop at least two separate native apps to cover the leading mobile OSs and assemble not one but two development teams. On top of that, native mobile developers are harder to find, and they charge more than the cross-platform ones.
Difficulties with Updates and Maintenance
Since there are usually several mobile development teams, feature updates and support become problematic. The reason being that you have to manage different builds on separate platforms.
Slow Development Speed
It’s no wonder that native apps take more time to develop than the cross-platform ones. Sadly, you can’t reuse native code for another platform and have to create mobile apps from scratch.
A cross-platform app is an application compatible with different mobile platforms. Cross-platform development usually means web applications and hybrid applications that use web technologies in app creation. But you can also develop a cross-platform app with more up-to-date sophisticated tools like Flutter or React Native.
Cross-Platform App Benefits
Naturally, cross-platform development is much cheaper than the native one. You have only one mobile team that develops one app to run on multiple OSs. In other words, cross-platform development is more cost-effective than native app development.
Also, it’s a lot quicker to reuse code than write it from scratch. And that’s what cross-platform development is all about. Remarkably, mobile developers can use the same codebase for several platforms. This makes cross-platform development fast, which is very useful if you need to enter the market quickly.
Easy App Support and Maintenance
What’s more, since there’s only one codebase, it’s easy to change anything in the app. The mobile team can roll out updates to multiple platforms simultaneously. This way, you can quickly introduce new features or patches for both Android and iOS app versions.
Cross-Platform App Drawbacks
Low App Speed
You may have heard about the poor quality of a cross-platform application. But that’s a thing of a past. Facebook, PayPal, Uber Eats – are just a few popular cross-platform apps. Do they have poor performance? Hardly! The real problem is, cross-platform apps are somewhat slower than the native ones.
Too bad, cross-platform applications don’t have access to all the native APIs, meaning that they don’t get along well with the device’s native apps. Also, they have limited access to OS features and often don’t work without an Internet connection.
Cross-platform mobile developers can’t follow Apple’s HMI guidelines and ignore Google’s. Because if they do, Android users will find it uncomfortable to use the app. So, a cross-platform application has to provide the same experience through all platforms. The UX has to be unified, which is not an easy thing to do.
There’s no definite answer to which app development approach is better. But you can decide which suits your startup better based on the company’s needs. So, before jumping into mobile development, ask yourself the following:
- How important is a mobile app for your startup? How much value does it deliver?
- How much can you afford to spend on app development?
- How fast do you have to deliver the app?
Basically, if you can’t afford native, choose cross-platform. If your startup needs to develop an MVP really fast, you can go with a cross-platform app. If a mobile application is not a core thing for your business, cross-platform development will do here too. But if your service is all mobile, and you need to ensure the highest quality possible, it’s better to go with a native development approach.
There are no winners in the native vs. cross-platform app battle. A native app seems to outrun the cross-platform one in quality and functionality. But it loses big in terms of cost and speed of development. Also, a native mobile app is harder to maintain, while a cross-platform application doesn’t have such problems. It all boils down to your startup’s needs, so choose your personal winner wisely.
In case you’re leaning towards one on another mobile app development approach, don’t forget to drop us a line. Skelia’s team of software professionals will gladly consult you on the latest technologies for mobile development.