The usage of smartphones is increasing day by day. With that, the popularity of mobile apps is growing too for shopping, playing games, engaging on social networking sites, accessing news, etc. When a business is getting into mobile app development, it has to decide which approach to choose – whether native app development, hybrid app development, or cross-platform app development. Each of them is different built using different technologies.

Before selecting any of the approaches, you have to ask certain questions like:

  • Do you want your app to use your device’s unique features?
  • How quickly you want to launch your app?
  • What is your budget? Can you afford apps for different platforms like iOS, Android, etc.?
  • What is your priority – providing the best user experience or cross-platform compatibility?

To answer the above questions, let’s dive deep into each of these approaches to help you choose the best one.

Native app development:

Native apps are those apps that are built specifically for a particular operating system. For example, iOS, Android, etc.

In the case of iOS app development, the apps are built using Objective C or Swift, whereas for Android app development, Java or Kotlin are used. An integrated development environment (IDE) is required in case of native app development. Given the user base of both these platforms, most businesses prefer having mobile applications on these platforms alone.

The native mobile app is developed by following the technical and user experience guidelines of that particular operating system. The app utilizes the OS features, providing world-class user experience and app functionality. Native apps enjoy benefits like instant store approval, swift performance, consistent user experience, etc.

  • Pros:
    • As native apps are built for a specific OS, they take full benefit of the processing speed of the device and thus give high performance and are speedy.
    • Native apps can utilize the features offered by mobile devices like camera, mic, push notifications, calendar, GPS, etc. They give users the best navigation and unified experience.
    • With the performance and the speed a native app offers, companies can easily create graphics-intensive apps like games.
    • As native apps completely follow the guidelines of individual app stores, it becomes easy to launch a native app and get approval.
    • Native apps can function smoothly even without an internet connection.
    • The look and the feel of native apps are attractive and eye-catchy, enabling users to connect easily to buttons and icons.
    • Native apps ensure security as they are tested and reviewed by the app store before they are featured for the users to download.

On the other hand, there are some cons which you need to consider before you choose native app development.

  • Cons:
    • Separate expenditure is to be incurred if you want to make your app available on different platforms because there’s a different codebase for each platform.
    • More development time is required for developing mobile apps on each of the platforms. Code is to be written from scratch for each version.
    • It needs constant updates to keep up with the current versions of the OS.
    • Lots of time and efforts are required to maintain these apps because different teams are required to support each version natively.
    • Before you publish an app on the app store, you have to get the approval. If there are issues, then your app won’t get published.
    • In case of Android app development, Android has thousands of devices. Therefore, developers have to consider different types of devices as well as versions while coding an Android app, which becomes quite difficult. In iOS app development, due to advances in OS platform and coding techniques, it is challenging for developers to code for lower versions.

Cross-platform app development:

Cross-platform apps are those apps that are built for various platforms at the same time, using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. This means some, or the whole code can be shared across different platforms like iOS and Android. Targeting many segments enables businesses to connect to more users and increase market share.

Cross-platform apps are deployed across platforms like Xamarin, Appcelerator, Reactive native, PhoneGap, etc. The idea of cross-platform apps is not in its usability but to optimize the mobile app development process. Like a native mobile app, cross-platform app development has its own pros and cons.

  • Pros:
    • One of the benefits of cross-platform app development is speed. The use of single-source code across various platforms helps in reducing development efforts, leading to the completion of the development process fast.
    • The reason why cross-platform apps are preferred is that they are inexpensive as only one codebase is used in the development, requiring less investment.
    • With cross-platform apps, you can target a wider market of both iOS and Android from the very beginning.
    • Instead of having developers for every platform, you can hire only one developer and save your costs.
  • Cons:
    • This technology doesn’t directly interact with the hardware of the device, simply running your app in a web view. The app, therefore, doesn’t utilize the features of the device, thus affecting the performance of the app.
    • Cross-platform apps have a non-native feel to them due to different screen layouts, functionality, and platform. This gives a limited user experience.
    • These apps adapt their design and functionalities not only to different devices but also to platforms that have many differences. This results in extra work for developers, especially for more complicated features.
    • The cross-platform framework that you use might not support all the features of the OS. If a new feature is added in Android, the framework will have to update the same.

Hybrid App Development:

Hybrid apps are developed for multiple platforms but look, act, and behave like native apps. They are created using web technologies like JavaScript, CSS, and HTML, but put into the native app to look and function like them. In fact, you will not be able to distinguish a quality hybrid app from a native one. The best examples of Hybrid apps include Twitter, Gmail, Uber, Evernote, and Instagram.

Having hybrid apps is profitable for businesses that are looking for reaching out to a large audience in less time. Native apps require a great deal of time for development, while hybrid apps can be hosted easily and within no time.

  • Pros:
    • One of the major advantages of having hybrid app development is that businesses can have a single code for various platforms. By adding a few lines of code, the app can be hosted on other platforms too.
    • These apps don’t have that “mobile web” browser look as they have native hardware features.
    • The programming language is simpler than native apps, thus, cutting the development time.
    • Compiled once, it runs on various platforms, reaching a wider audience of various platforms.
    • Due to high competition, you would want to launch your app to your target audience as soon as possible. Your hybrid app can go live in a short time span.
    • Hybrid app development platforms offer a range of plugins which can enable users to access features like GPS, camera, contacts, etc. on the device. This gives a more native-feeling app experience.
  • Cons:
    • Hybrid apps may look similar to native applications, but fail to get the appearance, touch, and native feel.
    • They are slower than native apps, and the user experience can get clunky.
    • There can be issues in the launch of the app in the market. Sometimes hybrid apps can’t comply with the guidelines of a particular app store.
    • Not all code can be shared, so, some native code has to be written too.
    • Hybrid apps don’t work offline. They require a continuous internet connection to deliver a full range of features to the users.
    • A hybrid app is dependent on plugins. Businesses might not be able to include all of the device’s built-in features.

Conclusion

With the pros and cons of each approach, you should keep the focus on what functionality and the level of user experience your app has to offer.

Choose native apps if you are ready to invest in the highest quality of your app. They are the most expensive, providing the best quality, best security, user interaction, performance, and smooth access to all native APIs. Whereas businesses that want to bring the most value in less time generally prefer hybrid applications. When it comes to time, and budget constraints, cross-platform can be a good option.

Enterprises usually start with a hybrid app, and after it has acquired customers and achieved a break-even number, they switch over to a native app.

The main recommendation is not trying to choose an approach based on the cost, rather than choose the one that fits the market’s requirements and offers the most value to your audience. This is because most of the mobile app users consider app performance as the primary reason for app retention and engagement.

MintTM is a leading mobile app development company and if you are still pondering over what the best option in your case is, drop us a line at sales@minttm.com, and we’ll help you make the final decision.