Cross-Platform Vs Native Mobile Application Development

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In the era of 2021, when things are moving toward a scalable edge with less cost of resource and time in the development. Cross-Platform Mobile application development is a term that keeps buzzing around for the last few years. With this buzz, confusion was also created among tech and non-tech business, that native application is best, hybrid is best or native hybrid are best in the segment. So, first of all, let’s clarify what is a cross-platform mobile application and what is a native application before jumping further.

Native Mobile Application Development

This is the traditional way of developing any mobile application. When the mobile app development was started, they were developed using the native languages and platform. For example, if anyone wants to make an app for android, then he will use JAVA as the development language and android studio as the standard IDE for the development. This created a platform level dependency as if someone wants to make the same app for both Android and iOS, then he should know how to code in both JAVA and objective-c/swift. This type of development cost more in term of time and money to any business.

Cross-Platform Mobile Application Development

When we came across this term cross-platform, we have two types of development methodology. First, let’s understand the term cross-platform. Cross-platform simply means a way to develop an app in such a way that while writing code for the app, it will be independent of the platform, and the same code can run on multiple platforms. Now we have majorly two methodologies to develop any application, one is Hybrid and one is Native Cross-platform.

Hybrid Development

This one was the very first way of hybrid development and was introduced in 2010 and boom for this came into 2013–14. In this web-technologies was introduced in the mobile application development process. At this time Apache Cordova (formerly PhoneGap) was launched. In this method, we develop all the mobile UI and functionality using HTML, CSS and JavaScript and once we finished with the development, we wrap all into the platform-specific bundle (package) using Cordova. In this way, we save a lot of time in the development process and was able to be more productive. In this Ionic was one of the biggest names in the Hybrid mobile application framework.

But this solution was non-scalable and are fit for small business who just want to have app for promotional purpose or where the app is not required to have any heavy logic, for example, a blog application or a simple eCommerce or any informative application.

Challenges with the Hybrid methodology are:

  1. Slow in speed
  2. Special permission was required if the app needs to access hardware resource like a camera, GPS.
  3. The size of the app is comparatively high
  4. The security issue was there, as this was packaged into an app without any machine-level compilation.

Cross-Platform Native Application Development or Native Hybrid

After seeing all the challenges in the hybrid application development, but seeing a greater vision and future of it, many development communities come together to overcome this challenge. In all the development communities Facebook comes up with React Native in March 2015, which was at that time, one of the best solutions which overcome the problem faced by hybrid mobile application development frameworks. The framework was again focused on “Learn once, write anywhere” and give power to a web developer to develop cutting edge mobile application. The overall framework was written in JavaScript (Top trending language from 2015), and compile the code in the native platform. React native says,

Many platforms, one React. Create platform-specific versions of components so a single codebase can share code across platforms. With React Native, one team can maintain two platforms and share a common technology”.

In the same Flutter was introduced in mid-2017. This technology was developed by Google and was written using Dart (one of the languages developed by Google itself in early 2007). There are many other names also on the list like Xamrin, Native Ionic, etc.

Nowadays most of the business is focused on Native Hybrid application development either by using React Native or by using Flutter. The reason for switching toward these two are, it helps in saving both time and money, also give flexibility in the development. Now for developing one application on both the platform (android and iOS), the company don’t need to seek android and iOS developer, instead, they look for cross-platform mobile developers. Also, these provide greater option fr scalability.

Examples of application developed using React Native are Instagram, Facebook, Uber, Airbnb and by using Flutter Google Ads, Tencent, Square, BMW, Nubank.