After decades of fighting over Mac vs. PC debate, tech gurus finally deliberated that there is no point comparing apples with oranges. It is all about preferences and requirements of a user. Some people enjoy the premium privileges of a proprietary software, other prefer the flexibility and freedom of open source. Same is the case with native and cross-platform apps. The most suitable option may vary from app to app.
So, how do you decide if you should go for the native or cross-platform app?
Let's clear one thing: in the tech world, there is no hero or villain. We still offer both the options because each has its own set of pros and cons. While native wins in one category, cross-platform takes the cake for another. Yes, we do have the hybrid option these days, but we are still a long way from creating highly sophisticated hybrid apps without compromising cost or functionality. So, unless there is more progress in this regard, it is best to stick to the tried and tested.
To find what you need, you need to focus on what you require and match those requirements with what each option has to offer.
Are you looking for high-performance app?
Everyone needs a high-performance app but cross platforms app performance may vary from device to device. This makes it difficult to accurately measure the performance of these apps.
Native apps, on the other hand, are created to perform efficiently on that one platform they are built for. You can rest assured that the app will run smoothly on every device. Naturally, the code for native is optimized for better speed and functionality. With native, it's easier for the developer to make use of platform-specific features such as gestures of geo-tracking.
If flawless performance is what you are looking for, native is the way to go. For apps that help the user perform critical tasks, such as financial apps, native offers the optimal speed and performance.
Are you short on time or budget?
Tech industry had a deadly pace. A small delay in deployment can waste months of development. Sometimes, you need a fully functional app within a limited time or budget. Native apps may offer superior performance but quality costs time as well as money. Considering the fact that you will need to develop a different app for each platform, the time keeps multiplying the number of platforms you wish to reach.
With cross-platform, one app is all you need. The cost of graphic design is reduced since you don't need to develop multiple interfaces. So, if you have limited budget and time, a cross-platform app is better than multiple lackluster native apps.
If you already have a mobile website and require an app with similar functionality, the cross-platform app can help you save time since you can use some parts of the existing code of the website.
What kind of user-experience are you looking for?
It is easier to create an intuitive user experience when you are fully aware of the specifics of the platform your app will be used on. In case of cross-platform, developers have to find a balance between all the platforms. They are unable to leverage the specific features and functions, and therefore, make a lot of compromises, such as limiting the intuitiveness.
So, we would say that a native app can guarantee a much better user experience. However, it helps to remember that not every application required the same level of intuitiveness. The user experience depends verily on the kind of application you are looking for. In some cases, cross-platform apps can imitate the same user experience.
For instance, a simple puzzle game will offer the same user experience whether it is native or cross-platform. It would be more feasible to develop it as a cross-platform app. However, if you want to monetize your game app with premium features, you can develop a native version later.
How frequently would you like to update?
App updates are important. There is hardly an app that is flawless since day one. There are a lot of issues that are discovered by the users once they start using the app. Applications require timely updates to resolve those issues without losing the users. Besides, some updates are required to keep users engaged and interested. With cross-platform apps, there is just one app to take care of. The changes are implemented across all the platforms. For native apps, you will have to change each code individually.
It may sound like cross-platform is clearly a winner when it comes to prompt and frequent updates. However, we wish things were so black and white. Let's not overlook that problematic issues are higher in cross-platform apps, mostly due to compatibility issues. An app may run smoothly on one platform but might cause an issue on another. These issues can be triggered by any of the differences including software or hardware related.
Is security a concern?
For a puzzle game app, security may not be that huge a concern. But for a financial app that gathers a lot of personally identifiable information, it is the most critical aspect. Cross-platform apps fail to provide the level of security required by apps that gather or transfer sensitive data. In that case, native is hands down the only option. There is no second opinion on that.
Native may promise better performance and security, but cross-platform apps are budget-friendly and easy to maintain. Native may be faster, but cross-platform can be developed in a short amount of time. Each has its own advantages and downsides. App security and the use of good coding practices should be your top priority.
At the end of the day, it all boils down to what works best for your particular needs. It is best to discuss those needs with the development team before you decide which option to go for.
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This is a guest post by Megan Dennis. Megan is a passionate tech blogger at Appiskey, a Florida based Mobile App Development Company that specializes in iOS and Android game development. She is passionate about technology and loves to analyze the tech industry in his spare time and stay in touch with the latest happenings. He also writes technical articles. Follow @megandennis07 for more updates.