Much of our day-to-day living would not now be possible without the development of apps. From booking concert tickets and train travel, to changing the heat settings in your home, apps are used today to complete a wide range of everyday tasks.
The complexity of apps today, therefore, means that they have to be designed, constructed and developed in a bulletproof way. There are many ways of doing this, but the rise of cross platform application development frameworks and improvements in native development techniques and customisation means that mobile landscape is now more complicated than ever. It can be tricky to decide which type of development method to use – in this article we will look at both native mobile app development and cross platform app development, weighing up the differences between them and how you can make either work for your app design.
Difference between native and cross platform application development
- Native app development is a platform specific development – designed and built specially for that particular operating system or platform. With the advent of Google’s Material Design, new iOS 7 designs standards and a tendency among many developers to go native, this type of app development is on the rise.
- A cross platform app is developed and designed to work on a number of different platforms in one go- The major advantages of cross-platform tools like PhoneGap, Appcelerator and more is that they support coding in different languages and offer platform independence, thereby cutting development costs.
There are a few good reasons people will choose to use native development for their apps – and some distinct advantages to this way of thinking. These include the code structure – in native code will generally run quicker and be faster to load. In addition to this, new features of the code itself and the general development of the app are far easier integrated into the existing platform – ensuring new features are introduced within the app’s lifecycle.
One other thing to bear in mind is with native development, Android and iOS apps are encouraged to be different. Of course, the UX is different on both platforms, so it goes without saying that with a native app, a developer can tailor the mobile development to suit what users of each operating system would prefer. Styles and different tastes and catered for to a far greater extent using native development.
Native development’s drawbacks, however, are generally concerned with development time and the amount of money required to be invested in initial development.
Cross platform Apps Development
A different way of working is look towards cross platform development – ensuring that users of all operating systems will be able to view your app in the same way. There are many reasons people are drawn to this – from the reduced initial development cost to the relatively minimal coding and simple business logic within the app itself.
If you are developing apps with a broad appeal, , it makes sense to use a cross platform approach to ensure you are reaching a broad spectrum of your audience and you can appeal to people using all types of operating systems. A uniform look and feel, in this instance, is preferred and the fact you don’t necessarily have to create niche marketing messages can reduce costs and time from a promotion point of view, too.
The downside is cross platform development reduces flexibility inherent in today’s operating systems – looking for commonality may undermine the performance and success of your development.
So which is better?
You have to look carefully at your needs when you’re developing an app and choosing how to design and build it. The reality is that both approaches are equally valid – and it may be that the reduced time and cost, as well as the greater reach cross platform development provides, means this may be the way to go.
With this in mind, it’s fair to say that a cross platform approach is better suited to smaller businesses or those who want a lightweight app to fulfill their mobile strategy. Moving on, at possibly a later date, to native, means a greater degree of customisation is possible and it will also provide more adept at handling complex workflows.
Finding a ‘one size fits all’ approach to app development is hard – there may be no easy answer but you should think about the objectives of your app first before you proceed. Researching and understanding your audience and what they’re looking for, is key to the process and you should spend time on this stage before you start design or development stages. You should ensure you contact an app development specialist before you embark on this process if you are unsure as to the steps you should take.