Creating a Mobile App in 2020: Native vs. Cross-Platform Development
In 2019 the number of users of mobile devices exceeded 2.5 billion. Smartphones are now a common attribute of any person, we are used to these devices and almost everybody who lives in the cities uses smartphones nowadays.
The owner of a significant smartphone global market share, China, provides a wide choice of devices for every taste, color and budget. This makes mobile application technology even more accessible and demanded. Regardless of what your business is — retail, provision of services or educational activities, today it is impossible not to take into account the time that people spend in front of the screens of their mobile devices. That makes the idea of creating the business mobile app for your clients in the coming 2020 year of a great sense.
Deciding to create a mobile application for your business, you will face several fundamental issues that have to be discussed before starting. One of them is a development platform choice and that’s what we are going to tell you about, taking into account all essential sides of that choice.
The Most Important Question (About the Budget)
Developing an application for different platforms (iOS and Android) at once is often very expensive. In order to minimize your budget, you may have to choose:
- To reduce the budget by choosing only one platform (native development).
- To reduce the budget by using cross-platform development for two platforms.
Of course, if you are developing solutions for a specific platform, it is better to create high-quality native applications for a specific segment of users. And sometimes the creation of two native apps for different platforms may be even cheaper than cross-platform development. Let us explain.
Native applications are those apps that are developed through their native operating environment. If developers use a programming language adopted for a particular platform, whether it be Objective-C and Swift for iOS or Java for Android, such an application will be called native.
Advantages of native development:
- stable and fast performance;
- maximum app lifetime;
- the application is more flexible and scalable, due to the “native” tools usage;
- less restrictions in the architecture and functions;
- the interface is made in full compliance with the platform.
Sometimes native development for both devices could result in a quite a budget, especially when the deadlines are stricted and due to the fact that when multiple versions need to be created, several teams work on the project at the same time. And that’s the moment where cross-platform development shows itself: cross-platform frameworks allow to “kill two birds with one stone” and prepare versions for iOS and Android using a single tool.
Cross-platform apps are those that are developed through a “shared operating environment”, such as Xamarin. A cross-platform application is a universal solution that is supported by several mobile platforms at once. On the one hand, it is convenient and profitable, and on the other hand, you run the risk of losing quality, because it’s difficult to tailor the solution to various OS. By the way, cross-platform frameworks “fit” an application to multiple operating systems, so there is no need to create unique elements for each platform.
Advantages of cross-platform development:
- fewer specialists are required;
- the development takes less time and resources;
- the speed of development increases.
Cross-platform solutions may sometimes run slower than native solutions due to the slow response of the interface. They process more data because they include an additional abstraction layer. But at the same time, all client-server operations are performed in the very same way as in native applications, therefore performance is worse only if there is a multi-element interface. The interface of a cross-platform application is usually universal, and it is not so simple to implement the specific elements of each particular OS.
Besides that, cross-platform solutions are much more difficult to implement the possibility to use all the functions of smartphone software (microphone, geolocation, player and camera, voice control, offline mode etc).
One of the options budget reduction may be development in a cross-platform operating environment, although this option has some limitations:
1) It is always better to reduce the budget, but not the development time. This is the consequence of the fact that in cross-platform development everything is implemented sequentially — for example, first for Android, and then for iOS, the the sequence of development is not important. While in native development, you can start working on Android and iOS versions in parallel.
2) If the application functionality is too complicated, then the cross-platform development option will not reduce the budget — complex features will still need to be coded for each OS natively. In addition, there may appear lots of bugs, and further bugfixes will also affect the budget.
3) There is a possibility that Apple may prohibit coding for iOS on cross-platform in the near future and you will have to make the app native.
Conclusion: cross-platform is ok for apps with simple logic and for projects with not urgent deadline.
Web development is another option of development, but this is not about apps creation. This is one of the most common mobile app “replacements”. A user will use a mobile browser to interact with the product, instead of installing the app on the smartphone. Our experience proves that it’s easier, faster and a kind of 25% (according to our data gathered)cheaper to fulfil, and no less useful, because all your mobile traffic will be still transferred to your website.
Adaptive design may be the best way to bite off a piece of the mobile market for almost every industry. That is also a perfect possibility to test mobile features if your resources are limited at the beginning stage. Though, you should be ready to some difficulties — adaptive design have a wide range of pitfalls:
- Offline mode is a kind of a headache;
- There are lots of problems with permissions to the platform functions like geolocation, camera, contacts, ect;
Advice: talking about the specific application cost, it is very variable and depends much on a great variety of factors. You can contact us and explain your app idea, so we could offer the best conditions for almost any budget.
The Second Most Important Question (About Security)
Mobile app security is vital today! No matter what kind of programs you are developing.
The threat of disclosing personal data is real, but most users do not even think about it. At the same time, if there is a choice between an application that protects data and is safe for a smartphone or a similar application that does not provide such protection, the user will prefer the first option.
That is why the integrated security features (authorization, encryption) in mobile development are required. Take care of your reputation and use the latest technology in the development of your application and always stay in trend of security. Security is the prime responsibility of the developer, because any development environment allows you to make both a very secure application and not secure at all!
Let’s sum up: Native or Cross-Platform App?
You should choose native development if:
- Your application requires free access to all phone resources and services;
- You want to get the most responsive application;
- The application must be able to work offline;
- Your application should make the most of the device’s hardware;
- You are thinking of a long term app that needs to be updated and improved further with lots of new features added.
Your option is cross-platform development if:
- You are ready to reconcile with low responsiveness;
- The application does not involve complex animation and does not deal with complicated logic;
- You have to reduce time-to-market to quickly enter the market to test the ideas and hypothesis.
Don’t forget that only individual circumstances lead to the choice of a strategy and no article can give you a universal answer.
Our material most likely provides background information of a general nature, to help the customer and the developer to establish a dialogue in a language that is understandable to both.
The final decision should be made after consulting with the project team. The more arguments about this or that approach you listen to, the better.
If you have more questions about app development, contact us and we will try to help you! SimbirSoft is a modern IT-company, specialising in the implementation of end-to-end software & mobile development projects. Within 19 years, we have developed more than 620 IT solutions: enterprise automation systems, highly loaded systems, mobile applications, Machine Learning & Data Science solutions, embedded software. Today we collaborate with many international companies such as ABBYY, Burger King Russia, and Rosbank. Our full portfolio is here.
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