The Great Debate: Native vs. Cross-Platform Mobile App Development

Since Apple launched the first iPhone in 2007, native vs. cross-platform mobile app development has been an ongoing debate. While we develop both native and cross-platform apps, we want to help you understand your choices and choose a path that is right for your project.  The merits of native mobile app development often outweigh those of cross-platform however cross-platform is still attractive to many. In this article, we’ll help you understand why.

Why Cross-Platform

An obvious factor that persuades people to develop cross-platform apps is the reduced development cost. Companies can get their app onto different platforms without having to invest in a team or a developer specific to the ecosystem. In the long-run, however, your costs may increase because cross-platform apps require making improvements to the user experience.

When it comes to game development, cross-platform may be a good choice for mobile gaming where developers use Corona and Cocos2d-x SDKs which simplifies adding physics to 2D games with the underlying engine built around Box2D. Not to mention, game developers use Unity, a powerful game development ecosystem fully integrated with intuitive tools and rapid workflows which enable the creation of interactive 3D games.

Though, HTML-based cross-platform may not be suitable for enterprise mobile app development. With cross-platform, you risk getting limited access to APIs, which does not pose a problem with native. Another, and probably the largest, disadvantage is performance. If you develop UI on HTML, it may take months to achieve the same level of performance native platforms are able to provide.

We’ll add that in spite of its disadvantages, cross-platform development offers single business logic in the code which diminishes the amount of bugs in an app when it’s developed for more than two platforms.

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Let’s Wrap Up with Your Choices:  

  • Mobile websites, like Google Maps, are created using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. These apps can often be plagued with poor performance on account of JavaScript components which are too slow and heavy for mobile in addition to a less than natural user experience.
  • A mobile website with a native app shell for each platform otherwise known as the hybrid cross-platform solution is another attractive choice because iOS and Android support JavaScript code without a web view. Since JavaScriptCore on iOS and V8 Context on Android are largely undocumented frameworks, you run the risk of failure.
  • As for the HTML5 mobile website, this type of cross-platform mobile app can be great if developers are willing to build the tools to support it however, Facebook and LinkedIn both went native after trying HTML5.

The Advantages of Native

Simply put, a native app is one that functions for a specific platform only like iOS or Android. Since these apps are designed for one specific OS, they can take advantage of the varying features it has to offer. For example, iPhones have a fingerprint sensor meaning any app built on this platform ca n take advantage of this feature.

For starters, native simply offers an excellent experience. Thanks to its familiarity, users can become accustomed to the UI of the app more quickly and, since the content, structure and visuals are already present on the phone, the native app will be faster and more pleasant to use. Not to mention, native apps can use the native language of the device ensuring the best possible graphics and animations.

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When it comes to upgrades and maintenance, as they are made to the relevant OS, they must be made to the app simultaneously. With native apps, this is a concentrated effort for a particular OS which leads to a good and integrated experience. Finally, a native app can conveniently access and use the capabilities already provided by the platform like GPS, address book and camera.

If you’re in a hurry to build an app, cross-platform may be more attractive due to low cost, less time and effort, and the ability to reach multiple platforms. However, it seems that the benefits of native exceed those of cross-platform mobile development.

Here’s a Summary of the Main Advantages:

  • Updates and maintenance are integrated more quickly and easily
  • Code will run faster
  • Native technologies make the implementation of hardware-related items like gestures, multi touch events, and Geo-location tracking much easier to implement.
  • The UI and UX conventions are different for iOS and Android with visuals that are also different. Users become accustomed to different platforms.

Delivering an Excellent User Experience

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Miracle Studios is committed to building apps in line with clients’ needs and expectations whether they require cross-platform or native. However, when enterprises take note of the long-term implications and issues that may arise, most choose to go native. Miracle Studios will make the enhanced performance, security and superior user experience well worth the time and extra cost.

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