Native or Cross-Platform / Hybrid App: Which to Choose?

Are you interested in having an app created or creating an app on your own? If you’ve started talking to app developers you may have been asked what type of mobile app you would like to have - native or cross-platform.

If you’ve never been involved in the mobile app development before, you might think to yourself, “Is there more than just one kind of apps? I’d like an Apple and Android app.” The developer starts to explain your options and tossing jargon around like cross-platform apps and native apps and your dive into the abyss of confusion is complete.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to get clear on what it is you want before you approach a developer with a request to create an app for you. You’ll need to get familiar with the amount of time each type of app takes to develop, the functionality of each app, the costs involved in their development, and all of the technical requirements that must be met (i.e. iPad compatibility).

Once you familiarize yourself with the types of apps and what they do and do not offer in the way of functionality, you can be more definitive in your discussion with an app developer. You’ll be able to clearly define what you want and how you want it.

(Also, you can talk to one of the project managers or business analysts at the APP Solutions to find out what is the best cost-effective solution for your mobile app. That would be something we’d advise everyone to do because there are things you don’t need to know in detail that the PM or Business Analyst would know from experience.)

Worldwide mobile app revenues

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Understanding Native Apps

Have you ever heard of Apple and Android downloads? How about Windows downloads? When you have an app made for a specific device or platform (Android vs iOS), it is a native app (application). Thus, when an app is compatible with a specific device because of its operating system, you have a native app. Examples of a native app include Windows Phone app, Android app, Blackberry app, and an iOS app.

Native app pros

  • When an app is made compatible with a select platform, the developer can use all of the functionalities and features of the platform in the app that’s created, for example, Siri for iOS.
  • When the app is a native one, you can use hardware features as well (for example, integration with a camera or something.)
  • You can create a native app when you require an application that works well with a specific device, like iPads, Mac computers, or iPhones.
  • You get more efficient and faster work on whatever native platform you choose.
  • Your app, when completed, will target the specific audience using the platform of your native app.
  • Functional testing would be easier for native apps because you’re talking about a single platform with one set of rules.

Cons of native mobile apps

  • Most of the time, native app development is more expensive than cross-platform because you have to develop completely separate applications and therefore everything is custom, takes more time, and ergo, costs more.
  • If, for example, you have an iOS native app and you’d like to reach the Android market, you would need to completely rewrite the app.

Native mobile apps usually use Swift 4 for iOS or Java for Android. There are other options (for example, Objective-C), but they aren’t as widespread as these two.

Understanding Cross-Platform and Hybrid Apps

Cross-platform application (app) works across platforms, as the name implies. Instead of using native frameworks and programming languages, tools like Sencha, Adobe PhoneGap, React Native, Ionic, or Xamarin are used.

Technically, so-called hybrid apps are a version of cross-platform apps but they render the UI using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript within an embedded web browser. The platforms that are used for hybrid apps are Cordova, Telerik, Trigger.io, and Ionic (same as for the "standard" cross-platform.)

Such apps will work on more than a single platform. For instance, if you have a game you want to be created, you can have it created as a cross-platform app thereby allowing users of Android and Apple devices to download and use the application.

Cross-platform and hybrid app pros

  • Cost-efficiency in case you want to create an app for several app markets
  • Business logic location is in a single place
  • Code support is simplified
  • Up to 80% of the code is reusable between devices
  • The app is created/coded a single time instead of separate times for each platform.
  • Wider target audience upon app completion since the app will be compatible with multiple platforms
  • General mobile app testing might be easier for cross-platform since the design is the same (functional testing might be a bit more complicated)

Cons of cross-platform or hybrid apps

  • Despite many benefits, hybrid / cross-platform apps can’t always use all the software/hardware features of the mobile phones.
  • Sometimes, app speed might be affected for certain features

READ ALSO: Best engine for game development

Things to Consider

Cost

While it may seem like the cross-platform option will work out to be the least expensive option for you, it doesn’t really pan out like that and you’ll end up paying more. Consult with your developer and ask what the least expensive solution will be. Just remember that with a cross-platform app, you may pay more, but in the end, there’s a bigger target audience so you’ll end up with more bang for your buck.

Features

Talk to the developer about the features associated with each app: Native and cross-platform. Find out what limitations each option have as well. Knowing the app’s functionality will allow you to make a wise decision based on what you want your app to do when it is in the hands of users.

READ ALSO: iPad app development

Iterations, Revisions, and Updates

If you are planning to grow and develop your app continuously, you should also mention that to developers who would be able then to offer a suitable solution.

Migration

Think about whether or not you want to be able to migrate your app in the future. Talk to the developer and ask if migration will be possible and if so, what’s involved. For instance, if you start out with a native app for an Android device, can you later migrate and turn it into a cross-platform app? What will it take to accomplish this?

Site Design and Responsiveness

Google’s newest algorithm expects that your website is mobile friendly, and if it’s not, you better start upgrading. If you have a website that is not responsive you’ll lose out when it comes to search engine ranking.

Speed

Question how fast the different apps will be. Speed is important when it comes to the user-friendliness of your application.

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Olexandra Balitskaya

SEO Specialist