Native vs Cross-Platform Mobile Development — part 2: Advantages and Disadvantages.

Image of a motherboard to show native vs cross platform development.

Part 1 What are native and cross-platform app development? 

Part 2 The pros and cons of native and cross-platform app development.

Part 3 When using native over cross-platform app development makes sense and vice-versa & our summary.

No one can escape the huge impact of mobile application development today. As explained in the first part of this blog, the mobile market is massive and growing.

In the blog overall, we are looking into the differences between native and cross-platform mobile development, the advantages and disadvantages, and how and why you might choose one over the over. 

In this part, we present the pros and cons. 

Advantages of native mobile app development development.

Application speed and performance.

Natively developed apps usually perform better and faster than cross-platform ones. These applications are compiled exclusively for certain devices and run on a specific architecture.

3 Top native app strengths:

1) Native apps tend to perform better. 

Access to exclusive APIs and components that are optimized for different screen sizes and system versions. 

2) Native apps run faster than cross-platform apps. 

Due to the direct contact between code and underlying resources. 

3) Native apps are smaller. 

They are downloaded and launched faster.

Stability in maintenance and updates.

Android and iOS are supported directly by Google and Apple. There is a high degree of trust and confidence that SDKs for these platforms will be supported and improved. Therefore, new functions can be implemented immediately after the release of a new version of the OS. 

Customization of features and UI/UX.

Since native applications are developed for a specific operating system they are easier and faster to set up or customize. Also, it is easier for developers to adhere to the standards of a particular platform.

Native applications tend to have superior UI flexibility and capabilities.

Native apps come with pre-installed libraries and UI components that developers can customize. Because of this, native app developers can create more responsive apps.

Maximizing the use of hardware functionalities.

Native apps tend to be more comfortable using a device’s hardware features, such as the camera, GPS, etc. 

A good example of this is that augmented reality apps are better developed as native apps. This is directly related to the exclusive APIs and tools offered by iOS and Android.

Application security.

Native applications are often more secure than apps built using cross-platform environments. 

Where native apps are better at security:

1) The implementation of file encryption. 

2) Key password storage.

3) Use of biometrics to access the app.

4) Security features using the tools of each operating system.

Disadvantages of native app development.

Two separate teams / more costly and time-consuming.

In the case of native development of the same application for iOS and Android, two separate teams are required, which in turn means higher financial costs. Despite teams usually working in parallel, coordinating UI/UX lengthens development timelines.

No code reusability.

By creating separate native applications, separate teams write code independently of each other, which cannot be used on both platforms at once. Therefore, each team implements the same functionality from scratch according to their architectural approaches. As a result, the development and testing of native applications require more effort and expense.

Double the work on support and maintenance.

Another significant disadvantage of native applications is the additional cost of maintenance. Most often, the development of an application does not end after the release of the first version. The support of the application and its testing will also cost more, as well as its development.

Cross-platform development advantages.

Code reusability between different platforms.

The ability to create one codebase for different operating systems is one of the most important advantages when developing using cross-platform frameworks. 

Cross-platform frameworks mean developers no longer need to write code for different platforms.

Using this approach, the whole codebase is in one place, and it saves a lot of time due to one team being able to work on both platforms at the same time.

Reduced development costs.

Writing code for various platforms can make development incredibly cost-effective and can save developers a lot of time. 

With this approach, you only need one development team. If their knowledge of the chosen framework is strong the creation of cross-platform apps could be up to 30% cheaper than using native.

More consistent UI/UX across platforms.

Many of the greatest, most popular apps on the digital marketplace have become successful because of their excellent UX (user experience) design. Cross-platform development makes that experience more consistent across platforms. Since cross-platform development environments handle various user actions by default cross-platform apps show a more consistent look and feel for users across platforms.

Faster time to market.

With the ability to reuse code, developers no longer need to implement projects for separate platforms. Instead of several parallel development processes, there is only one left that produces the code which works on different platforms. Managers, a team of designers, and developers work on only one project, so the whole process is greatly accelerated.

Disadvantages of cross-platform app development.

Poor performance and speed.

There’s no doubt that native apps are more responsive and perform better than cross-platform apps. 

This is because native code directly interacts with the device’s internal resources. When it comes to CPU and GPU-heavy tasks, there is a considerable performance gap between native and cross-platform applications. 

This performance gap exists because cross-platform apps require an additional abstraction layer and rendering process, these are typically slower than those built as native apps. 

User experience issues.

Cross-platform applications lose out to native ones when it comes to user interaction. 

Each OS has its specific style, design, elements, and workflow. So the user experience will be flawless if you use native elements for the user interface. For example, iOS has a distinct design style that makes the user experience seamless across all devices. If your application does not provide an OS-specific user experience, this can suffer, leading to user frustration.

Adapting the code to each platform can constrain the functionality.

Not all cross-platform frameworks allow you to build apps with full access to the device’s features. However, all of them must adapt their design and functionality across specific platforms, operating systems, and devices. All these adaptations require a lot of effort and time, from developers who have to take into consideration all the differences between the platforms and sometimes, even the devices. 

Necessary adaptations are particularly demanding for complex features. As a result, difficulties during implementation can arise and these can affect functionality.

Wait time for updates and new features.

In our final post, we take a closer look into native vs cross-platform mobile development. We look into when it makes sense to use one over the other and we provide our final summary.

Author / Eugeny Glazkov / Android Developer

Author / Daniil Sentsov / iOS Developer

Technology Editor / Alexander Senko / Technology Lead

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