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According to Statista, the total revenue of the global mobile app market is expected to reach annual growth of 6.58% which is to result in a projected market volume of $542.80bn by 2026.

The recent data from GSMA Intelligence also says that there are currently 5.34bn mobile phone users and as you can see while sitting in a cafe, commuting, or meeting with friends — mobile phones are used by everyone and everywhere.

number of app downloads

That’s the reason why businesses belonging to any industry invest in the development of mobile applications.

A successful development of a mobile application is bound to many things, but the one you face immediately as you’ve decided to create it is the choice of the app platform. Why is it so important?

For example, if your target audience is located in the US, you should take into account that 58% of the US mobile operating system market share is held by iOS and 41% by Android, while in India 94% of the market share belongs to Android.

Whereas in the case of India, it’s obvious what action to take, if you develop for the US market you can choose one of two possible ways: either to build a native app for each platform or to develop a cross-platform app supported by multiple platforms.

This age-old debate has divided the tech community into two large camps that have been arguing with each other about the pros and cons of the aforementioned for years. And though a lot has been already said about this topic, the constantly evolving state of app development makes app owners, developers, and users review this topic every year to find out the novelty in the field. So, let's dive in.

What is Cross-Platform App Development?

Cross-platform application development is building a single application that is compatible with different operating systems.

What Are the Advantages of Cross-platform App Development?

cross-platform app development pros and cons

Less Time and Money

Cross-platform app development is cheaper and faster as you can reuse a significant account of code including the backend and all UI levels. It reduces cross-platform app development time by almost 10–20% which means much faster release, less marketing spending, and the ability to maintain a smaller team of developers than it’s required for a few native applications.

Wide Audience Reach

A cross-platform application is a solution for multiple operating systems, there is no need to create unique elements for each platform separately which not only makes a development process much easier but also provides access to a wider target audience.

Easier Development and Maintenance

Due to the existence of a single codebase, bugs identification, and solving, creating different updates takes a limited number of specialists and twice less time than native app development.

Despite having a list of advantages, developing a cross-platform app has some flaws that you won’t face while creating native applications. They are:

Performance Issues

Contrary to native applications, cross-platform apps don’t flawlessly integrate into the target operating systems. Because of including an additional abstraction layer, they process more data and therefore run slower. Sometimes it also might be challenging to use all the functions of smartphone software such as camera, microphone, offline mode, and so on.

The Sacrifice of the Perfect UX and UI

A shared codebase is a big advantage on the one hand but on the other — it may fail in providing a vigorous UX across all the platforms. Such mobile applications can’t completely take advantage of some native features that magnify user experience.

It’s also challenging to create and maintain a neat design with smooth animations when using a shared codebase. Native app development allows users to navigate a familiar interface, as they flawlessly integrate with mobile operating systems which can be only partially achieved by increasing multiplatform mobile app development cost and time for its development.

An Updating Delay

While developers of native applications can immediately publish all updates and smoothly fix all bugs, you’ll have to wait until frameworks adopt its development tools to allow you to integrate new functionality coping with operating systems restrictions.

cross-platform app development

What are the Advantages of Native App Development

Native app development is the process of building an application that is tailored only to one platform so that it can fully benefit from all the device features such as camera, GPS, compass, etc. These kinds of applications are installed through the app stores.

Pros of Native App Development

native app development pros and cons

High Performance and Great UX

In the battle of native app development vs cross-platform in the matters of UX, the native approach is an obvious winner. Designing UI for iOS and Android differs a lot so developers can customize and implement design faster and easier without worrying about the dependencies of different operating systems.

What is more, the interface of native apps is more familiar and intuitive to users which results in higher retention.

Native applications also are faster and perform better as they are built only for a specific set of devices and are optimized for different screen sizes and system versions

Fewer Bugs and Better Stability

Native applications receive critical fixes and new SDKs from iOS and Android earlier in comparison to cross-platform apps. Delays in receiving new SDKs and fixes can become the reason for new bugs and vulnerabilities.

Apple and Google also continuously support and enhance their mobile operating systems, providing new interfaces, SDKs, and different development tools which significantly speed up the development process and give developers access to the most recent features and updates. Consequently, native apps benefit from stability.

Better Mobile Hardware Integration

Native apps take full advantage of the device’s hardware functionality such as GPS, camera, and so on. They also receive exclusive APIs from iOS and Android to their developer communities.

Increased Security

Native app development provides more robust security features compared to cross-platform. Usually, native app developers have less difficulty and spend less time implementing intelligent fraud detection, file encryption, etc.

The developers also have access to all built-in security features that are available on the operating system. For example, if you’re developing an iOS app, multi-factor authentication, Apple’s face idea, etc can be integrated into the app.

Offline Performance

Native apps run well without an Internet connection, which is also one of the main factors why people opt for it in native vs cross-platform mobile app development opposition. A stable connection is not always available but with native apps, your users will always have access to their maps, music, to-do lists, etc.

Disadvantages of Native App Development

Higher Costs and Longer Development Time

Native app development is more expensive due to multiple factors. First of all, people usually want their app to be available on both iOS and Android devices. Building two stand-alone apps significantly increases the budget as you need more people, more time, and more maintenance.

native app development

Factors that Determine the Cross-platform Mobile App Development Cost

  1. Synchronized development. You will get all apps for target OSes at the same time (roughly) and drastically cut the expenses compared to the native development of each app.
  2. One team. Cross-platform development will require only one team which is easier to manage and cheaper to sustain.
  3. Reusable code. Programmers will do at least two times more work while using common code for all platforms, cutting the working hours and price as a result.
  4. Existing frameworks. Frameworks developed precisely for cross-platform app building allow to speed up the process, and unique framework libraries are a helping hand you never expect to see.

Factors that Determine the Native App Development Cost

  1. UI and Design. The native design leverages ready templates and UI elements for iOS and Android which lower the time and cost of development. While custom design which is necessary for a certain type of apps, requires a unique architecture of each element.
  2. Development Teams. Usually, our customers build two apps simultaneously for iOS and Android which requires two separate development teams.
  3. Features. How complex the app is also determines its cost. Basic features like simple messaging might require much more time than integrating payments which is considered to be a complicated feature. All screens, buttons, integrations, and logic take time. And if you develop two apps, it takes twice more.

Which One to Choose for Your Next Project?

Taking into account the advantages and disadvantages of both ways of app development that are mutually exclusive, one may say that native apps are doubtless winners in this competition. Although due to the continuous evolution of cross-platform apps, they’ve become much more reliable and user-friendly than their previous versions and are the perfect option in case you are limited in funds, want to prove your business idea for yourself or investors, or just need a corporate app.

native vs cross-platform

Final Thoughts

When comparing cross-platform vs native mobile development, every approach has its advantages and disadvantages, the task of the business owner is to think about the bigger picture, to clearly define the objectives of the application, and its target audience, and then choose the development approach that will cater their requirements the best.

If you can’t decide between native vs cross-platform app development or have already chosen one of those, you can arrange a free consultation with our managers to discuss the scope, technology, budget, and timeframes of your project.

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