By Lottie

Native Vs Cross Platform Development: Which is Better?


With 14 billion mobile devices used worldwide and with more than 4.4 million apps available on both the Appstore as well as Google Play, app development has become a profitable business.

If your business is currently looking at building an application, you’ll want to decide whether to build it using native or cross-platform development so you can design an app that efficient as well as cost-effective. You'll also want to establish the best solution for your app.

But how do you choose which to use? Deciding one or the other has long term implications when it comes to cost, time as well as functionality. In this article, we’ll explore which is the best option that will suit your app and development needs. 

What is native app development?

Native development refers to building an app specifically for a particular operating system. Apps built with native programming languages and tools are specific to a single platform. 

Native applications are known for their great user experience due to their better performance and enhanced visuals that are tailored to the platform UX. However, what puts businesses off using native development is the high costs.

The code behind any kind of computer software is collectively known as a codebase and when you build natively, you're creating a single codebase for a single platform. Say iOS. Now, when you want to create an app for Android too, you can't use the original code because it was created with just iOS in mind so, you have to start a second one built natively for Android.

The benefits will be the same – better performance, feature availability and enhanced visuals, however, it'll be more costly because you have to pay for not just one codebase, but as many platforms you want supported.

That's the trade-off, greater development freedom and better performance for a longer, more expensive project.

Pros of using native app development:

  • Broad functionality: You’ll be able to access every API and tool provided by the platform that you’re working on so that developers will have more freedom when building. 
  • Better store support: A native app is easier to be published and usually ranks higher than cross-platform apps due to its better performance and speed.
  • Increased scalability: Native allows apps to be more scalable due to their flexibility in resources and the number of tools available.
  • Better performance: Native apps generally have better performance than cross-platform apps, as they are built specifically for the platform they are running on. This can particularly be important for apps that need to process a lot of data or handle complex graphics.
  • Great user experience: Native apps are able to take full advantage of the platforms' features, such as the camera, GPS and notifications, which can lead to a better user experience. 

Cons of using native app development:

  • Less cost-effective: Native apps can cost more to build than cross-platform apps as you’ll need to build and design for iOS as well as Android meaning you’ll have to deploy two teams to work on the platforms. 
  • More time-consuming: Since you’re essentially having to build for both devices, there will be more time and resources used.
When building an app, what you decide will play a huge factor in how the app will run and how users will interact with the resulting product. Consider what option would be best and how they will align with your overall goals.

What is cross-platform app development? 

Instead of having to build several codebases to support every device, mobile app cross-platform development means you can build your software using one codebase for every platform you want to support.

Cross-platform development is becoming the more modern solution as Google's Flutter and Facebook's React Native are gaining more popularity due to their efficiency when it comes to time and cost. Unfortunately, the cost is that you risk sacrificing the quality of your app in the process. 

Lower performance is due to the difficulty of tailoring a single application to run optimally on various platforms resulting in the software needing an abstraction layer. 

Pros of cross-platform app development:

  • Lower development time and costs: Cross-platform development can often be faster and less expensive than native development, as you only need to build the app once and then deploy it to multiple platforms. However, this will depend on the tools you are using and the complexity of the app. 
  • Mobile app cross-platform development requires one single codebase, so it’ll take less time to work on the build since the app will run on multiple systems. 

Cons of cross-platform app development:

  • Slower app: The app may run slower as cross-platform apps require an abstraction layer which causes the result to be slower.
  • ‍Limited functionality: Web designers may have difficulty accessing smartphone functionalities like the microphone, camera, and geolocation in ways possible for a native app. 
  • Higher maintenance: Cross-platform apps require more maintenance than native apps, as you need to ensure compatibility with multiple platforms.
  • Cross-platform apps are unable to take advantage of all native UX components. Therefore, it cannot sometimes deliver the same UX experience that is accustomed to the platform. 
  • Lesser user experience: Cross-platform apps, may not be able to use all of the platform's features, as they are not built specifically for that platform. 

Consider native development if:

  • You want to complex apps that need to perform at their very best.
  • Your application requires access to all your device's resources and low-level APIs.

Consider cross-platform development if: 

  • Your app is simpler.
  • You are working on a smaller budget.
  • You want to release the app in less time.

In conclusion

 Native and cross-platform both have their pros and cons, so it's crucial to evaluate both approaches and consider the specific needs and goals of your app before making a decision. Both are two very different app development methods, so deciding which one best suits your business depends on your project's requirements and the skills of the developers involved. 

Whereas native is still the best overall choice when it comes to creating the best user experience and overall performance, cross-platform apps are the most cost effective to build, but does mean that there could be a lack of quality in visuals and will require more effort to deliver an equal user experience. 

It's also worth noting that, if you want to achieve the best of both worlds, you can use a hybrid approach. Hybrid development uses web technologies (such as HTML, CSS and Javascript) wrapped in a native container to create apps that can be deployed to multiple platforms. 

If you're in the process of deciding what would work best for your app, our team can offer professional advice to best suit your needs.

Talk to one of our app experts today.