4 min read

Mobile has become an increasingly important part of many modern businesses tech strategy. In everything from eCommerce to financial services, mobile applications aren’t simply a ‘nice to have’, they’re essential. Customers expect them. The most difficult question today isn’t ‘do we need a mobile app’ Instead, it’s ‘which type of mobile app should we build: native vs cross platform?’

There are arguments to be made for cross platform mobile development and native app development. Developers who have worked on either project will probably have an opinion on the right way to go. Like many things in tech, however, the cross platform v native debate is really a question of which one is right for you. From both a business and capability perspective, you need to understand what you want to achieve and when.

Let’s take a look at the difference between cross-platform framework or a native development platforms. You should then feel comfortable enough to make the right decision about which mobile platform is right for you.

Cross platform development?

A cross platform application runs across all mobile operating systems without any extra coding. By all mobile operating systems, I mean iOS and Android (windows phones are probably on their way out). A cross platform framework provides all the tools to help you create cross-platform apps easily. Some of the most popular cross- platform frameworks include:

  • Xamarin
  • Corona SDK
  • appcelerator titanium
  • PhoneGap

Hybrid mobile apps

One specific form of cross-platform mobile  application is Hybrid. With hybrid mobile apps, the graphical user interface (GUI) is developed using HTML5. These are then wrapped in native webpack containers and deployed on iOS and Android devices.

A native app is specifically designed for one particular operating system. This means it will work better in that specific environment than one created for multiple platforms. One of the latest native android development framework is Google Flutter. For iOS, it’s Xcode..

Native mobile development vs Cross platform development

If you’re a mobile developer, which is better? Let’s compare cross platform development with mobile development:

  • Cross-platform development is more cost effective. This is simply because you can reuse 80% of your code becase you’re essentially building one application. The cost of native development is roughly double to that of Cross-platform development, although cost of android development is roughly 30% more than iOS development.
  • Cross-platform development takes less time. Although some coding has to be done natively, the time taken to develop one app is, obviously, less than to develop two.
  • Native apps can use all system resources. No other app can have any additional features . They are able to use the maximum computing power provided by the GPU and CPU; this means that load times are often pretty fast.. Cross platform apps have restricted access to system resources. Their access is dependent on framework plugins and permissions. Hybrid apps usually take more time to loadbecause smartphone GPUs are generallyless powerful than other machines. Consequently, unpacking a HTML5 UI takes more time on a mobile device. The same reason forced Facebook to shift their mobile apps from Hybrid to Native which according to facebook, improved their app load time and loading of newsfeed and images in the app.
  • The most common challenge with about cross-platform mobile development is been balancing the requirements of iOS and Android UX design. iOS is quite strict about their UX and UI design formats. That increases the chances of rejection from the app store and causes more recurring cost.
  • A critical aspect of Native mobile apps is that if they are designed properly and properly synchronized with the OS, they get regular software updates. That can be quite a difficult task for cross-platform apps.
  • Finally, the most important consideration that should determine your choice are your (or the customer’s) requirements. If you want to build a brand around your app, like a business or an institution, or your app is going to need a lot of GPU support like a game, then native is the way to go. But if your requirement is simply to create awareness and spread information about an existing brand or business on a limited budget then cross-platform is probably the best route to go down.

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