In the year 2019, the number of mobile app downloads exceeded 200 billion. Over the past year, mobile users had downloaded 230 billion mobile apps, up over 63% from the 140.7 billion app downloads in 2016 when this boom started.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also boosted mobile devices and applications’ use. According to the research, mobile app downloads have increased by 23.3% since the pandemic.
So, if you still have no mobile solution, please look at the numbers above. We do believe you have already started searching for a robust mobile app development workflow to build your exceptional mobile app. As you certainly face several dilemmas at this stage, such as which platform is best to decide on or which app development environment is best suited for broader customer interactions, we will help you find answers to one of such dilemmas. Let’s discuss the benefits of the main approaches to mobile app development – native and cross-platform.
Native mobile apps are developed using platform-dependent programming languages (Kotlin, Java for Android and Swift, Objective-C for iOS) and development environments (Android Studio for Android and XCode for iOS). Within this type, the native app development requires a dedicated developer for each platform.
Benefits of native mobile app development
1. Native development expertiseNative developers use the same programming languages that are used to create the SDKs of the two platforms: Android (Kotlin, Java) and iOS (Swift, Objective-C). This allows specialists to study the documentation in a short time, and choose a more effective solution to the problem. Developers constantly keep track of OS updates, create applications with these changes in mind, as well as have expertise in troubleshooting issues within the two platforms.
2. Top-notch performanceNative apps are streamlined and responsive because they are built for a specific platform and compiled using its core programming language and APIs. As a result, the application works much more efficiently.
3. Intuitive UI & UXNative applications are the headliners in UI and UX. Working in a native environment, developers have access to its UI/UX components. This allows them to create impressive visual effects, such as appealing complex out-of-box animations and smooth scrolling.
4. Seamless system integrationWith a native mobile development approach, developers have full access to device and OS functions (microphone, camera, audio and video, NFC, location, fingerprint sensors, phone information, etc.). The lack of implementation of this function in the middleware framework is not a challenge for native mobile development.
5. High securityNative mobile development allows you to use system mechanisms and algorithms to encrypt and store data, implement SSL certificates, and restrict access to your data. Regular updates for iOS and Android also ensure safety against cyber threats.
6. Scalability and enhancementNative apps tend to be more scalable due to the multiple available APIs and tools provided by the iOS and Android platforms. Technically, there are no restrictions on how programmers can work with a new app and add new features in the future.
When to opt for native mobile app development
- When your app is constantly dependent on the camera, GPS, and other built-in device tools and features.
- You would like to grant your audience the most incredible UI, which especially matters when your company introduces a new app.
- When the application is running in the background for a long time (such as the player, alarms, reminders). It causes multiple interactions with the OS, thus entailing a high battery load. In this case, native apps allow managing application components with no extra layers.
- When development speed matters.
- When there are many integrations with different SDKs or services, and the final roadmap is unknown, which in the future may lead to adding extra features.
- When low-level OS components or C/C++ libraries such as Web-RTC are applied.
- The application should be implemented natively when the main feature is developed through a cross-platform (Unity).
- When you need to publish your app only on one platform.
- When system security is vital, as well as support for permanent OS updates.
What’s a cross-platform mobile app?
Cross-platform mobile app development involves building a single app that can run on multiple operating systems rather than developing separate versions of apps for each platform. This is done using React Native, Flutter, and Xamarin, and the apps can be deployed to Android, iOS, and Windows.
Cross-platform application development aims to create software that performs well in more than one diverse digital environment, with the primary goal of promoting it to a broader customer base.
Benefits of cross-platform mobile app development
1. Simple development processGetting reusable code backed by improved performance and efficiency is a real bonus for developers and business owners at the start. This is where cross-platform mobile application development gains a competitive advantage.
2. Excellent product serviceAs the development of cross-platform applications uses a single code base, businesses can rely on flawless results. Since there is only one code base, it becomes quite easy to test and deploy patches and updates as well as maintain the mobile app in the future.
3. Cost reductionThe cross-platform application development environment has the potential to support all kinds of platforms and provide a wider audience coverage on a global level by increasing the brand awareness of start-up companies seeking to quickly enter the market. In addition, cross-platform mobile applications require lower entry costs.
4. Code reuseWhen it comes to cross-platform mobile applications, developers don’t have to write unique code for each operating system all the time. A common codebase can be used to port code to different platforms, and there is no need to involve a new developer for each new platform.
5. More businesses will try to monetize their dataData is gathered everywhere, from grocery stores to websites and applications, and all this data can be sold to other companies as another source of revenue. The demand for this type of data is high and doesn’t seem to be decreasing.
6. More data analysis tools will no longer require an analystThe demand for data analysis is high, but as we’ve already mentioned, there’s a lack of professionals in this area. It’s highly possible that vendors will start providing customers with solutions that require much less technical skill.
When to opt for cross-platform mobile app development?
- You have to release a mobile app on different platforms with a limited budget, time, and resources.
- When the application doesn’t use the device functions and doesn’t interact with it. The number of dependencies we can’t impact is reduced, as in this case, we do not rely on the system wrap and its libraries.
- When you need to quickly test an idea and release an application with minimum resources engaged.
- In case the same design is used for all applications.
- The application is not robust and does not need features that vary greatly between platforms.
- When you don’t have resources for separate QA, and this is what a developer is responsible for. As the developer works on this solution, it will be an easy thing to test the solution.
- When it is possible to reuse FE developer’s resources to create an application (React + React Native, Ionic + Angular).
Cost of cross-platform and native mobile app development
The biggest focus of each business owner is the cost of mobile app development. That is why we suggested looking at this aspect separately.
Developing a native app for iOS and Android is essentially like building two separate apps maintained by two separate development teams. Naturally, this can be an expensive endeavor.
When it comes to a cross-platform approach, the application code is developed by one team. Having a single code base and one development team certainly reduces the cost. However, you should not think that, in this case, the cost is halved compared to the native approach.
One of our clients came with a request to develop delivery applications for both iOS and Android. The client insisted on a cross-platform approach. After three months, we brought a ready-made cross-platform app to the table. The client placed it on both the App Store and Google Play market. And this is not the end.
After half of the month, the client came to us again. The deal was that a number of features appeared to be unpopular, and it was highly needed to add the new ones specifically for the Android app users. While we were adding the new features, our client’s marketing team conducted dedicated research on user behavior. The result was we had to add some new features for the iOS users.
As you may understand, the initial cost of development grew significantly. What is more, we spent eight months adding all the features outlined and making them work correctly for both iOS and Android.
Native vs cross-platform
|Codebase||Separate for each platform||Single for all platforms|
|Maintenance and enhancement cost||2X||~1.8X|
|Dependency||Less depended on other open-source libraries and frameworks||High dependency on other libraries and frameworks|
|Performance||Excellent||Performance issues occur|
|Developer experience||High||It’s still being perfected|
|Team size||Each platform requires its team||One team for all platforms|
|Time to market||Time-consuming||Time-saving|
Cross-platform + native
Our team can build a cross-platform application with some elements developed natively.
This approach involves implementing part of the application with a cross-platform solution like Ionic / Cordova / React Native / Xamarin / Flutter, and the other one in a native way. In this case, natively separate screens are developed with Kotlin / Swift languages, and communication with cross and natives is carried out through the bridge supported by the cross-platform framework. Integrating external SDK / AR, VR, and others could be the case.
One of our clients brought a Flutter-based mobile application that we needed to integrate with Klarna Payments SDK. The problem was that Klarna didn’t have a Flutter SDK, and along with SDK, we needed to add separate screens. That’s why we added the native part to the cross-platform.
This approach allowed us to meet the client’s requirements by providing the requested integration without rebuilding the application that has already operated and brought the benefit. We saved time and minimized costs while completing the primary task. More success stories from our clients are available on our website.
The checklist to choose the mobile development platform
To gain a robust yet up-to-date application, companies should first understand their needs and then explore the right platform(s) that perfectly meets all of these requirements. And after that, it’s time to define which development approach to invest in.
To greatly simplify your life, we propose a checklist to fill in. Having these questions answered, our mobile development team guarantees to provide you with the right decision that completely satisfies your commitments. Here it is.
- Will the design differ between Android/iOS?
- Is it planned to release applications for both Android and iOS?
- What are device functions (camera, location, BLE, NFC, etc.) planned to be integrated during the project?
- Are you going to integrate the application with external services or SDKs?
- Does the project have a strict deadline?
- Are applications planned to be seamlessly supported over several years?
- Are there specific security requirements for the application and the data it stores and uses?
- Will offline mode be supported in the application, and how much data will need to be stored in this case?
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