Native or Cross-platform When Developing a Mobile Application: What to Choose?


Before you begin making a mobile application, you should ponder choosing a technical approach to the process: will it be necessary to create native or cross-platform development?

In this article we will talk about the differences between these terms and what they are.

What is native and cross-platform?

These platforms are two types of development.

A native application is made for a particular operating system, and the programming language must be. Two separate codes are written for two operating systems.

In the case of a cross-platform, programmers use software frameworks, on which they then hang the necessary functions. Frameworks are universal, because they are used to creating applications for several operating systems at once. There is only one code, but there are many systems.

Cross-platform development is a relatively new phenomenon. This has its advantages and disadvantages. At the moment, the reputation of frameworks still seems unreliable. However, on the other hand, they were created and tested taking into account the experience that the mobile development sphere had accumulated by that time.

Let’s look in more detail about the native

Programming in the native environment is conducted in several languages: for Android, this is Kotlin and Java, and for iOS — Swift and Objective-C.

Native development is used if a mobile application is created for the purpose of sales. However, it is worth considering the fact that this is an expensive procedure, because it is necessary to develop its own logic, interface and layout for each OS. For each platform, you need to keep a separate staff of developers and testers.

Advantages of the native approach

– 1) The system understands its language better. If the application is written specifically for iOS or Android, there will be less technical difficulties, this also applies to updates. It is easier to optimize it, make it faster or easier. It is also worth considering the fact that if the application weighs a little, then users are more willing to download it;

– 2) There are no restrictions: you can implement any of your ideas related to the operation of the device (camera, GPS, sensors, device file system);

– 3) You will quickly find native developers, since there are a large number of specialists in this field. In addition to large expert companies, there is a huge number of self-taught developers on the market who are real talents. So this is only a matter of your budget.

The disadvantage of native applications is that they are demanding in development. It is necessary to synchronize two teams and lay a double budget for almost everything: testing, release, updates.

All about the Cross-platform

There is a wide range of cross-platforms: React Native, Xamarin, PhoneGap, Titanium, Ionic, Flutter. However, React Native and Flutter are more common and developed frameworks, since you can easily find a developer to create them. In addition, they provide a high-quality user experience.

When using a cross-platform application, the user should perceive it as native: smooth animations, high speed, working with gestures.

When should you choose a cross-platform?

– In the event that you are a small company and there is a need to create an application;

– If it is not possible to achieve the same result with native development for Android and iOS;

– You have a startup and you need to make an MVP (a minimally viable product) quickly and efficiently;

– If the main part of your users use one OS. For the sake of a small number of users, it will be economically unprofitable to maintain an entire team.

In the case of a cross-platform, you can reuse the main part of the code, and the business logic, interface and layout require almost no changes. Lower costs, a more compact development team, and a shorter time-to-market indicator.

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So, what do you need to know when choosing a platform?

– When using a native application, you need to create two codes, and in a cross-platform, you only need one for several operating systems;

– Native development for specific operating systems is a good solution. However, this is a more expensive service and takes longer to develop;

– In the event that you need to develop an application in a short time, cross-platforms are best suited.Because one application is being created for two operating systems;

– Modern cross-platform frameworks have extensive capabilities: they can be used to make complex products that, from the user’s point of view, are indistinguishable from native applications.