By Lottie


March 2022

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.

In the rapidly evolving world of software development, the question often arises "Native vs Cross-Platform App Development: which should I use for my product?". This is an essential inquiry as the choice made significantly influences the overall quality, performance, and user experience of your mobile applications. Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of both approaches will help you make an informed decision based on your specific needs.

But how do you choose which to use? With pros and cons to both approaches, choosing between them depends on several factors, such as development costs, the need for file encryption and intelligent fraud detection, and the target audience. In this article, we'll explore Native vs Cross-Platform Development so you can make an informed decision.

Native Vs Cross-Platform Development: Which is Better?

What is Native App Development?

Popular apps such as Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Airbnb, Skype, UberEats and Discord were all built using React Native.
Popular apps such as Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, Airbnb, Skype, UberEats and Discord were all built using React Native.

Native development refers to the process of creating applications developed specifically for a certain platform or operating system (OS) such as Android or iOS. Native applications are known for their superior performance and user experience that are tailored to the platform's UX.

These applications are written in the platform's native coding languages—Swift or Objective-C for iOS and Java or Kotlin for Android. This approach results in mobile applications that are fully optimised for their respective platform, offering high levels of performance and seamless integration with the device’s hardware.

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 mobile apps tend to have better performance and responsiveness than cross-platform apps, as they're optimised for a particular platform. This can be especially vital for apps that require a lot of processing power, such as gaming or video editing apps.
  • 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. 
  • Greater features: Native mobile apps are specifically designed to work on a particular operating system, meaning they can take advantage of the unique features and capabilities of that platform. For example, an iOS app can take advantage of features such as Face ID, while an Android app can use Google Play Services. 

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.

What is Cross-Platform App Development? 

A cross-platform mobile app is designed to function on various mobile operating systems, including Android and iOS, by utilising a unified codebase. These apps can be created using frameworks or technologies like React Native, Xamarin, and Flutter, among others.
A cross-platform mobile app is designed to function on various mobile operating systems, including Android and iOS, by utilising a unified codebase. These apps can be created using frameworks or technologies like React Native, Xamarin, and Flutter, among others.

Instead of having to build several codebases to support every device, cross-platform mobile app development allows developers to use a single codebase to create applications that run across different platforms. 

This approach, implemented using frameworks like React Native, Flutter or Xamarin offers more scalable solutions that can expedite the time to market.

Cross-platform mobile apps are 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 you risk sacrificing the quality of your app in the process. 

Pros of Cross-Platform App Development:

  •  Less expensive and faster development: Cross-platform applications can often be faster and less expensive than native development. Since the app is developed once and can be deployed across multiple platforms, it facilitates quicker time to market and reduced costs. This strategy can be particularly useful for small to mid-sized businesses or for applications with simpler functionality.
  • Reach a wider audience: Cross-platform development is often the better choice if you want to reach a wider audience. By creating a single app that can work on multiple platforms, you can reach more users without having to create separate apps for each platform. 

Cons of Cross-Platform App Development:

  • Issues with compatibility and performance: Cross-platform apps can sometimes have issues with compatibility and performance, especially on older devices. This can be a disadvantage if you need to create an app that works well on a wide range of devices.
  • ‍Web designers may have difficulty accessing smartphone functionalities like the microphone, camera, and geolocation in ways possible for a native app. 
  • Cross-platform 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. 
  • Cross-platform apps, may not be able to use all of the platform's features, as they are not built specifically for that platform. 

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Here Are Some Other factors to Consider:

Development Costs.

The cost of app development is a crucial factor to consider when choosing between native and cross-platform development. Native mobile app development typically costs more because you need to create separate codebases for each platform, meaning you'll need to hire individual teams of developers, which can be costly.

On the other hand, cross-platform development is often cheaper because you can use a single codebase to create apps for multiple platforms, so you'll only need to hire one team of developers, which can significantly reduce development costs.

File Encryption and Intelligent Fraud Detection.

If you need to ensure that your app's data is encrypted and protected from fraud, native mobile app development may be the better option. Native mobile apps have access to the device's hardware, which means that you can use hardware-level encryption and fraud detection measures.

Cross-platform development, on the other hand, may not have access to the device's hardware, which can limit your options for file encryption and fraud detection. However, some cross-platform frameworks, such as React Native, have built-in security features that can help to mitigate these issues.

What Should I Choose for My App Development?

Consider Native App Development if:

  • You want to build a complex app that needs to perform at its very best.
  • Your application requires access to all your device's resources and low-level APIs.

Consider Cross-Platform App Development if: 

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

Our Final Thoughts. 

 The decision between native app vs cross-platform development depends on various factors, 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. 

Native mobile app development is often the better choice to create mobile applications that are optimised for a particular platform, require complex functionality, or need to be highly secure. Whereas cross-platform development is often the better choice if you want to reach a wider audience or reduce development costs. 

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 - just get in touch!