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App development – native or cross-platform?

20
April
2020
Adrian Kujawski
5 minutes read
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Every successful entrepreneur decides chooses app development at some point. 

"If your plans don't include a cell phone, your plans will not be completed." - Thomas Husson , Vice President of Forrester

This trend will certainly not change in the near future. The first question should be: on which platform will the application run? Basically, there are two main platforms that are market leaders - iOS and Android. That is why most companies decide to build applications for both.  

But not everyone knows what to do next - what kind of development to choose. Debates take place between native (then we create two independent applications) and cross-platform. There were times when native development took over a significant advantage and such applications dominated the market. This had its pros, but also some disadvantages, e.g. creating two applications, one had poorer functions. Currently, cross-platform application development is becoming more and more popular - why?  

Let's consider the benefits of each of these approaches.

Advantages of native app development

Native applications are created using native programming languages ​​for a particular operating system. These are Kotlin and Java on Android and Swift along with Objective -C on iOS. Such applications include: mail client, calendar, alarm clock and other basic programs, which are provided by default with every operating system. By providing access to all device features and services, they provide users with smoother UX performance.   

The most important advantages of native applications are: 

  • improved user interface - a simple and understandable interface of native applications attracts users because it is similar to what the operating system has. The result is a positive user experience and the desire to use it repeatedly 
  • offline mode - by default, it provides them with full access to all necessary data offline. Unlike internet applications, which depend on the network connection and speed. If you need to create a mobile game, it's best to create native applications  
  • higher store rankings - excellent performance and easy-to-use specifications have a huge impact on the App Store and Google Play rankings . This leads to better visibility and higher revenues  
  • update-friendly - the upgrade process and integration of new functions run smoother and faster in native applications

However, it is worth paying attention to a minus - creating native applications requires creating applications for each platform separately, which leads to a significant extension of the estimated time and costs of the project.

 

App development frontend

 

Advantages of cross-platform app development

Cross-platform app development literally means creating applications that can be easily run on many operating systems. Such applications are easier to develop than native ones. Several platforms participate in their processes: React Native, Xamarin , Flutter etc.  

Let's check their key benefits.

  • cost-effective and time-saving - there is a well-known slogan that probably characterizes the most important approach used by developers: "write once, run anywhere". Which means that one code can be used on many platforms. In addition, only one team develops applications for all major platforms. In this way, programming costs and time are lower compared to the required native applications   
  • easy and quick implementation - programmers do not have to learn a wide range of different programming languages ​​or technologies. You only need a few. Initial deployment on most platforms is faster and future changes are mostly delivered simultaneously, without having to enter them separately on each platform   
  • greater audience reach - when native applications are targeted to only one platform, cross-platform applications are targeted at many. Thanks to this, the user base increases in a shorter time. This is an obvious advantage for small businesses and leads to increased revenues  
  • efficient user interface / UX - the specificity of the user interface in cross-platform programming is that they are rendered using native controls. Therefore, design performance is very close to native 

Considering all of the above, and even more, cross-platform applications are a great choice when you need:

  • spend MVP to start engaging potential users faster and outperform your competitors
  • cost effective solution to start with
  • develop a prototype
  • solutions for both iOS and Android at the same time;
  • only simple interaction with the backend
  • platforms connecting people - social networks, most e-commerce applications, booking aggregators, etc.

The most popular and highly efficient structure that solves the most complex tasks when creating applications on multiple platforms is React Native. The number of existing applications created with it is growing rapidly. They cover various industries: food delivery, chatting, e-commerce, audio processing, etc. Many of them have already received great feedback due to their high performance.  

App development front

What popular applications are created in React Native and how do they work?

Let's get to know the most popular applications, which from the very beginning or at some point were created in React Native.

Facebook Ad Manager

This is the first full cross-platform application created using React Native by Facebook. It has a clear interface, intuitive user interface, user-friendly navigation, error-free transitions, while perfectly supporting various ad formats, currencies, time zones, etc. 

Bloomberg

Presents to users global business and financial news. 

Interesting fact: the Bloomberg development team initially created two native applications, but with the upgrade it turned out to be valuable to rewrite the application for one cross-platform.

UberEats

Serves as a dashboard for restaurants with features such as sound and push notifications. By covering a small portion of the application, React Native adds a great user interface / user interface experience. What's more, the team had experience with React, so switching to React Native was quick and easy.  

Gyroscope

This app is integrated with the HealthKit so that it tracks your steps, distance, heart rate and shows user activity data, including weight loss, meditation, running, performance, etc. The user can choose the most convenient way data can be displayed. Users can also view their own progress in reports and plan future healthcare development. 

Tesla

Another trusted company chose React Native technology while developing mobile applications for Android and iOS. Given that Tesla always chooses the best solutions for every sphere, this app is built specifically for users of Tesla and Powerwall vehicles. And it doesn't matter if you're using the Android or iOS version, both have the same functions to control and monitor the vehicle, such as charger, lights, horn, locks, panoramic roof, etc.  

 

Conclusions

Cross-platform applications are evolving into many better solutions in many ways, which is why they occupy winning positions compared to native programming. Currently, they are more similar to native applications in terms of UI / UX performance and are still expanding their capabilities. 

Currently, more and more well-known companies are choosing Flutter or React Native due to cheaper and less time-consuming app development of similar quality.

If you're wondering how the development process with Flutter works, check out our comprehensive approach and take the first step! We will gladly use our specialist knowledge to increase the value of your company.     

 

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Wiktor Sobczyk
Co- Founder, Key Account Manager
Damian Sitek
Co-Founder, Developer