mobile apps

Should you build a native or cross platform mobile application?

By Mehul Rajput

One of the biggest dilemmas faced by mobile app developers is, “Should I build a native or cross-platform mobile application?” As an enterprise or organization, you’d want to have a mobile app that works on multiple platforms so you can reach out to maximum people on the go. And if your target audience is split between android, iOS, Windows Phone, or other devices, then designing and building an app for multiple platforms make sense.

However, before you do so, let’s have a look at the pros and cons of cross-platform mobile application development.

Pros of Cross-Platform Mobile App Development:

Discussed here are the advantages of building cross-platform mobile apps:

  1. Faster Speed of Development: It may be potentially faster to build cross-platform mobile apps than developing native apps for Android or iOS. This is because you can use a single code-base and customize it for multiple mobile platforms to have a new codebase for every platform. Additionally, developing one cross-platform mobile application functional across multiple platforms can also be more efficient than creating several native apps from scratch.
  2. Reusable Codes: This is one of the biggest advantages of using hybrid or cross-platform mobile technology. The codes can be reused and customized to build apps for all platforms. To put it simply, you have to develop just one program, and then you can use it for all the mobile platforms you want to have your app working with. Additionally, you can also use the codes in bits in future projects if you want to.
  3. Easy to Develop: One of the best things about cross-platform mobile app development is that most of the hybrid frameworks support both HTML5 and CSS3. This makes it extremely easy to develop cross-platform apps since most developers have knowledge and expertise in HTML5 and CSS3. At the same time, it helps maintain quality and consistency across all levels.
  4. Leverage High-Quality Plugins: Most of the top cross platform frameworks like Appcelerator and PhoneGap offer a wide range of modules and extensions that can be seamlessly used with other tools and services to improve an app’s functionality, look and versatility.
  5. Greater Market Reach: The fundamental truth behind cross-platform mobile app development is simple – the more mobile platforms you cover, the greater target audience you’re able to reach. Building an application that runs equally well on iPhone/iPad, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry or other platforms obviously gives you an added advantage of tapping into a broader market.
  6. Reduced Costs: Theoretically, it’s highly cost effective to develop cross-platform mobile app for multiple platforms because developers can use only one code-base or program for each platform. This is true unless the app requires too much customization to be done for each platform.
  7. Improved Support for Cloud and Enterprise Services: Cross-platform frameworks such as Sencha, Titanium and PhoneGap facilitate easy and smooth integration of cloud and enterprise services. This means that when Exchange Integration is coded, the program will work automatically on the various platforms you’ve coded it for, and integrate with cloud services like Amazon AWS and Salesforce.
  8. Simplicity: Updates or changes to your hybrid app would automatically be synced with all mobile platforms and devices, ensuring seamless operation. Modern technologies like Appcelerator and PhoneGap offers a solution wherein developers can easily handle and deploy changes across all devices and platforms.

Cons of Cross-Platform Mobile App Development:

Here are the disadvantages of developing cross-platform mobile apps:

  1. May Lack 3D Support and Graphics: When it comes to eye-catching graphics or 3D support, sometimes hybrid apps face quality issues. However, game-centric platforms such as Unity helps to cover this gap, allowing developers to create unique and visually striking app designs.
  2. Platform Limitations: Every mobile platform has its own features, style and flexibilities that may not be present in others. This put the developers at a disadvantage because they might not be able to harness full potential and functionalities available for respective native platform when building a hybrid app for multiple platforms. For instance, you may not be able to leverage unique tools and features of Android SDK when you’re developing a cross-platform app and not a hybrid Android app.
  3. User Experience: iOS and Android operating systems, display screen layout, functionalities and other features are unique. Therefore, designing a hybrid app that renders superior user experience across two or more platforms can be challenging. There are many successful apps that are built natively, either on iOS, Android or other platform. Even Facebook initiated with a cross-platform app but eventually shifted to native iOS and native Android app after considering that the user experience wasn’t optimal.
  4. Difficulty in Platform Integration: In cross-platform apps, it’s not merely the User Interface that’s different. Integrating the application with notifications, preferences and local settings can also be a major challenge as you have to juggle through multiple platforms and know how each works. The storage options are also diversified across different platforms, and hence, you might have to consider cloud options or third-party cloud service integration with your app. All this requires to having a highly experienced and knowledgeable mobile app development team.
  5. May Not Support Every Feature You Want: This is a major disadvantage of hybrid applications. You can’t expect every feature offered by Apple, Google or Microsoft in your cross-platform framework like Sencha or PhoneGap. There are several limitations on accessing different features, and therefore, your app might not have all the features you want.
  6. Speed Issues: At times, you can experience speed issues when codes run and process. This happens when developers apply cross-compliance process, and it’s been reported to be very much there with most of the frameworks.

Despite the fact that cross-platform mobile apps have to face stiff competition from authentic and advanced technology that native app development offer, hybrid app development stands out with the range and utility it offers with cost-effective and faster solutions.

Mehul Rajput is a CEO of Mindinventory, a leading mobile app development company which provide best iOS and Android app development Services all over the world. Follow him on Twitter.