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Cross-Platform vs. Native App Development: What's Best for Your Business?

February 21, 2024

7 Pros, cons, and insights to help you make the best decision for your product – here’s what you need to know about cross-platform vs. native app development

Should you build native or cross-platform?

There are major benefits and drawbacks to each so it all comes down to making decisions that will benefit your business in the long run.

That’s why it helps to take a good look at both cross-platform vs native development from a cost-benefit perspective.

First: What’s the difference between cross-platform and native app development?

  • Cross-platform development is building mobile apps or web apps that are compatible with multiple operating systems from a single codebase. It lets your devs write code once and deploy it across various platforms, like iOS and Android app development for example.
  • Native development means building your app specifically or individually for each mobile operating system. I.e. creating unique code for iOS using Swift, Objective-C, or the iOS SDK and/or a unique set of code for Android using  Java, Kotlin, or the Android SDK

Also see the guide to scaling your software.

Cross-platform VS native app development: What’s best for your business?

1. Development Cost and Time

Cross-platform development can be more cost-effective and faster to deploy, while native app development can offer optimised performance, access to device-specific features, and improved user experience. 

Deploying a single codebase for multiple platforms (like iOS and Android) makes cross-platforms that much faster (and thus more affordable in dev time). Yet, while native development is potentially more expensive and time-consuming, you can’t overlook the benefits of utilising the unique capabilities of each operating system – and the UX benefits it holds.

See how long it takes to create a new app, all about app development time and app development cost as well as the benefits of low-code development.

2. Performance and User Experience

Native apps may offer a more seamless user experience, as they are specifically designed for the platform they run on. Cross-platform apps, while improved over the years, might still face some performance issues and may not feel as “native” to the platform.

See how to boost your user engagement and all the signs you need a UX audit.

3. Access to Device Features and APIs

Native development allows full access to the device's hardware and APIs, which can be crucial for apps requiring detailed integration with the device's capabilities. Cross-platform tools are improving in this regard, but native apps still have the edge.

See the benefits of custom software development.

4. Maintenance and Updates 

Maintaining and updating native apps can be more resource-intensive since separate updates are required for each platform. Cross-platform apps allow for simultaneous updates across all platforms, simplifying the maintenance process. Take a look at the future opportunities in mobile app development.

5. Market Reach and Audience

Cross-platform development can be an attractive option for businesses aiming for a broad market reach with limited resources. Native development works well when you want to target specific user groups or need to leverage platform-specific features.

6. Scalability and Future Proofing

Always consider how your product needs to evolve over time. Cross-platform solutions can offer greater flexibility for scaling, but native development might provide a more robust foundation for extensive feature integration and leveraging future platform-specific advancements. Also learn about using cloud computing for scalability and more effective collaborations. Discover future opportunities in mobile app development.

7. Development Skills and Resources

The choice may also depend on the available development skills. Cross-platform tools like Flutter, Angular or React Native have different learning curves and community support compared to native languages like Swift for iOS and Kotlin for Android, for example.

See more about what it takes to build your startup team, the insights into balancing insourcing and outsourcing, and the guide on how to outsource app development with fewer risks.

Making a decision

Ultimately, the decision should align with your business needs, goals, and customer expectations. For instance, if the app relies heavily on high-end graphics or needs to integrate closely with a particular platform’s ecosystem, native development might be the better choice.

On the other hand, if you’re releasing something super-innovative and need to just get to market as fast as possible, cross-platform can help get you there asap.

Don’t forget that you could always launch fast with a cross-platform approach, to capture early adopters and gather feedback while you build out the native versions (using the feedback) to be deployed when ready.

Also, if your internal team doesn’t have all the skills necessary, remember you can augment it with a smart tech consultant like us.

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