Native vs Cross-platform Mobile Development - Your Choice

2019 globalx revenue of mobile apps almost exceeded the previous year by more than 100 billion dollars and reached 460 Bn. mark (Statista).

6 min read, Oct 4
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The positive tendency according to the up-to-2024 forecast will define mobile development future making it the core marketing channels. Therefore providing mobile experience is no longer optional for the majority of markets. But considering that entering this scope is quite pricey there are multiple factors to consider before requesting mobile development services.

Purpose

The application concept should outline the services and form of its providing to users. The initial conditions (whether it’s an exclusive mobile solution or just a more functional version of the website than its mobile optimization) can narrow the choice of approaches.

Features

The list of mobile development requirements is the most influential factor since not all features can be implemented within all the approaches on the required level. It includes offline access, high traffic processing, interaction with the device hardware, etc.

Distribution

The first decision here is: Android or iOS or both for now and the future. The second - whether a third-party distribution is a necessity. Planning these in advance allows avoiding additional complications and expenses if the project will go multiplatform later.

Budget

Mobile development in comparison to web initially is more pricey and there are not as many ways to form affordable and efficient technology stack as for the creation of web apps. Limited resources can initially set the approach to the concept implementation.

How to create a mobile app

There are four available ways to go which initially significantly narrow the choice of mobile development tech stack and ergo app further maintainability.

Native app development

The most expensive, time-consuming but quality platform-exclusive solution creation using native for the chosen OS language: Java/Kotlin for Android and Objective-C/Swift for iOS. This approach allows seamless tightening of user experience to the device ecosystem including hardware and ensures high app performance and in-store presence.

Though it appears as the most appropriate path to choose its complexity, omnichannel strategy and limited startup funding significantly diminished this market segment. Especially since other solutions started to offer similar or even novelty characteristics to upgrade mobile UX and require less challenging maintenance.

Cross-platform app development

The approach that is addressing main native implementation challenges: development complexity, time and price. It implies connecting JS codebase via bridges to native components and ensures providing of native-like experience for users. The most popular cross-platform frameworks are React Native, its young rival Flutter and Xamarin.

Another savings method is a code shareability for mobile development Android and iOS simplifying and speeding up the process and making it a more cost-efficient option app store distribution included. However such apps don’t show as high readings of performance as native and have a more narrow choice of features and UX customization for each platform.

Hybrid app development

The approach shares with cross-platform the code-sharing feature between Android and iOS apps as well as the basis on standard web components. But here they are being wrapped up in native containers for website-like rendering and integration into the mobile ecosystem to provide UX and access to device hardware units like a camera or GPS.

However, the approach also shares and disadvantages with cross-platform applications concerning performance and broad functionality. The most used frameworks for the creation of hybrid apps include mentioned cross-platform as well as Ionic and Phonegap (Apache Cordova).

Progressive web apps

The novelty approach to mobile development can be considered as the easiest, quickest and cheapest. Basically, PWA is a boxed-up website that can be installed directly from the Homepage to Home Screen of Android or iOS devices. They provide offline access to web content and basic native app features like push notifications.

To create PWA you can continue the development within the web tech stack. However such apps don’t offer an equal experience for both platforms and in-store presence. But direct distribution removes app store demands and fees and establish a shorter path to customers. It’s a cost-efficient solution for a non-tech business sector like online retail, media, and hospitality.

Mobile development approaches: what to choose

If you defined the listed above factors you will be able to make a choice. Considering that each approach to mobile development pros and cons can’t provide a 100 percent optimal solution you should define the key aspect which you should base your decision on. So if you need:

Single/dual-platform

Even if you need only Android or iOS app it’s still appropriate to choose cross-platform mobile development frameworks. This way you also establish the room for future growth.

High performance

Native apps will be able to ensure it. However such examples of mobile development React Native apps like Instagram, Facebook and Airbnb show that you can rely either on a cross-platform approach.

Stick to budget/deadlines

The crucial factor for small business. Cross/hybrid app development is more time- and cost-efficient option for startups and MVP or full-functional product development for the sectors.

Advanced features

Mobile implementation of desktop software solutions or initially complex functionality can be fully created only with native development.

Mobile version

If you aren’t satisfied with the mobile optimization of your website native or cross-platform app isn’t always a necessity. Consider if required UX can be provided with PWA.

Be in Google/App store

Except for progressive web apps, mobile solutions developed using other approaches are acceptable by Android and iOS distribution platforms if they stick to their requirements.

If you can’t limit your project priorities to one the most optimal option is cross-platform development that’s now the most progressing scope of mobile development. It’s the most balanced approach considering its pros and cons and affordable for the SME sector.

To build a mobile app you require an experienced developer on a team in-house or remote from one of the mobile development agencies in Ukraine or any other suitable location depending on the concept complexity. The choice of approach and ergo the tech stack defines the width of selection for the recruitment.

According to the current Upwork market, the wider choice will give you native languages Java and Swift as well as CP framework React Native. But namely, the last one will allow establishing the most direct and robust bridge between web and mobile.

Mobile experience is crucial for customer engagement and retention. That’s why it's important to ensure its reliability, smoothness, and uniqueness to raise the level of brand/service awareness and start building a long-term relationship from day one.

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