Cross-Platform vs. Native Mobile App Development 

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According to Persistence Market Research, the global mobile app market is worth $112 billion and is expected to grow by 2.7 times by 2030, with Android and Apple dominating platform mobile app development. Statista indicates about 27.6 billion apps are downloaded from Google Play and 8.1 billion from the App Store annually.  

Yet, the critical question remains on what app development platform to choose, which is when cross-platform vs. native mobile app development comes into play. So, let’s explore the inquiry in more detail and determine which approach toward mobile app development is better for you.  

Cross-platform app development 

Cross-platform vs. native mobile app development includes two key approaches to mobile software development. Let’s start with the first one and explore its pros and cons.  

In a nutshell, cross-platform app development is the approach to building mobile apps that can operate on various platforms and operating systems using a single source code. As we mentioned above, mobile apps running on Android and iOS dominate the market. In such a case, cross-platform development enables developers to build apps that work on both these platforms. Most apps made for different platforms use cross-platform mobile app development frameworks, for instance, Flutter and React. Knowing the definition of the notion, it is time to explore why some companies choose it and why others prefer to steer clear of it.  

Pros of cross-platform vs. native app development

There are some notable advantages offered by cross-platform (vs. native development) approaches. For the cross-platform mobile app development, these are the core upsides: 

  • Reusable code. With a cross-platform approach, developers can have one codebase for Android and iOS mobile apps. You don’t need a separate team for each platform. You get one team of developers keeping a single codebase in place.  
  • Rapid time-to-market. A cross-platform method stands on a single development process. Because developers can reuse code, it saves time for development. In turn, a mobile app can be developed faster and reach users as soon as possible.   
  • Lower development costs. Developing a cross-platform mobile app is up to 30% cheaper than developing apps for Android and iOS separately. In addition, when creating a cross-platform mobile app, developers can reuse a big chunk of this code to develop a desktop app.  
  • Consistent UI/UX. Capturing UI/UX is always an issue within the development cycle. However, cross-platform development comes a bit easier. Typically, a cross-platform mobile app comes with a more consistent feel and look, which means users across different platforms have a similarly good user experience.  
  • Growing popularity. Finally, there is a definite appeal toward cross-platform mobile app development in the community. The number of developers using the approach is rising, which means you have greater access to the talent pool.  

These are some distinct advantages of cross-platform vs. native app development. However, as with any approach, this method is not a panacea.  

Cons of cross-platform vs. native app development

When it comes to the downsides of cross-platform vs. native development, keep in mind the following:

  • Cross-platform mobile apps are large in size, so they need more optimization and leave a sizable digital footprint.  
  • It is always challenging to integrate the cross-platform framework with various features. 
  • Because of the size and lack of integrations, cross-platform apps have a custom runtime and show lower performance. 

Considering these disadvantages is crucial when choosing between cross-platform vs. native mobile app development. Let’s proceed to the second approach - native mobile app development.  

Native app development 

Essentially, the difference between cross-platform vs native development is that the first approach targets a single platform. While cross-platform apps are universal, native apps are platform-specific and are usually written in a particular programming language, for example, Java or Kotlin for Android; Swift or Objective-C for iOS.  

What is more, when working with native app development, you must always think about software development kits (SDKs), which must be specific to the operating system you have chosen for your app-to-be. Besides, native development requires an integrated development environment (IDE), like Android Studio or AppCode. Yet, similarly to cross-platform app development, to decide whether to choose a native mobile app development, you need to know its pros and cons.  

Pros of native app development

 Building native mobile apps come with the following upsides: 

  • Top performance. Native apps are highly optimized and are built for a specific platform. It means there will be low downtime, and these apps show the best performance.  
  • High-grade security. Native apps are often made with bank-grade security, as well as they have integrated platform-specific security aspects. 
  • High-quality UX. These apps offer a smoother experience to users of a particular platform. They align with either Android or iOS interfaces and present a better flow. This allows native custom mobile app development to bring many perks.  
  • Easy integrations. With native apps, you get access to all the features of the device or a platform, which transforms into a better user experience. 
  • Bug-free. With updated SDKs and IDEs, native apps receive regular updates and improvements, making them bug-free.  

These are some key advantages brought by native mobile app development. Yet, in the case of cross-platform vs. native mobile app development, there are downsides to both approaches.  

Cons of native app development

For the native apps, the disadvantages are as follows: 

  • Building top-performing and secure native apps are much more expensive than developing a cross-platform app. 
  • In addition, building an app with a specific programming language, SDK, and IDE will take more time, which potentially means a slower time to market. 
  • You need to build a specific codebase for each app, meaning no code reusability is involved.  

Keeping these downsides in mind is vital when choosing between cross-platform vs. native development.  

Conclusion: Cross-platform vs native mobile app development

When considering cross-platform vs. native mobile app development, one cannot say that one approach is better or worse. In our experience as a software development company, many businesses tend to start with a cross-platform approach and then switch to native app development as a more reliable way to develop and high-quality and secure application. To sum it all up, the choice between the two approaches depends on what you are looking for. If you want a low-cost app developed fast and are ready to compromise on security, cross-platform mobile app development can be your pick. However, if you want to deliver the best performance and protect user data to the fullest, native app development is the best pick.  

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