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A Deep Brief of 3 Various Categories of Mobile Applications

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If you want to shape a business by using a sophisticated and feature-rich mobile app, there are different app development approaches you can embrace, such as native, hybrid and cross-platform app development. While each of these development approaches has its own strengths and weaknesses, it is important to get an overall idea of the opportunities they offer and the constraints they accompany. 

Here we will explain each of these development approaches and their respective pros and cons. 

Native app development

Native app development is also known as platform-specific app development following the design and development guidelines of the respective OS platform and optimizing user experience for the respective platform. For example, a native iOS app needs to use Swift or C# code, use the Apple iOS toolkit and follow Apple’s design guidelines. Similarly, a native Android app project needs to use Java or Kotlin language, use Android Studio and other toolkits specific to Android and follow Google’s Material Design principle for UI design. 

The advantage of this approach is the superb user experience created specifically for particular platforms. The disadvantages are primarily the higher cost of development and increased development time. Native app development because of its budget requirements is less adopted by startups and small businesses, while big brands mostly go for native app development. 

Pros of Native Apps

  • Fluid performance and fast page loading are two important attributes of native apps as they are built for specific OS platforms. 
  • Adhering to platform-specific design guidelines and conventions, native apps come with better user interface design and engaging user experience. 
  • Native apps, because of their satisfactory user experience, are featured by app marketplaces of both iOS and Android more frequently. 
  • Native apps can utilize and integrate the native OS and device features better and can allow the app users easy access to calendar, camera, GPS, figure print sensors, microphone, motion sensor etc. 
  • Native apps by using OS platforms own best practices and tools for security ensure better safeguards from malicious attacks, data breaches and other security vulnerabilities.   

Cons of Native Apps

  • Targeting a particular OS platform at a time, native app projects consume a lot of time for creating separate app versions for iOS, Android and desktop platforms. 
  • Consuming a longer development cycle, native app projects take higher development cost compared to hybrid apps. 
  • When it comes to unrolling updates and offering supports, developers need to cater to different platforms separately. 

Hybrid App Development 

Hybrid App development is basically like a combination of attributes common to native apps and web apps. When a single app can be deployed across multiple operating systems such as Android, iOS, Windows, etc., and they can be accessed through different web browsers, it is a hybrid app. Hybrid app development follows the principle of writing code once and running everywhere. 

Hybrid apps basically use tried and tested web development technologies such as JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, jQuery Mobile, Titanium, PhoneGap and several others. The principal advantage of a hybrid app is lower development cost, faster build time and easy availability of skilled developers versed in widely used web technologies. This cost advantage alone made hybrid mobile app development in India popular, as the IT demands of the country are dominated by small business apps. The only downside is compromising user experience, not optimized properly for specific OS platforms. 

Pros of Hybrid Apps  

  • Hybrid apps can run on a multitude of OS platforms, browsers and devices. 
  • As code is written once and run everywhere, hybrid app development consumes far less time compared to native development. 
  • Hybrid apps are built once and run everywhere by using the same codebase, and this ensures saving a great amount of development cost. 
  • Hybrid apps are easy to maintain just because any updates or changes done with the app are made available for all platforms and devices. 
  • Hybrid apps easily allow integrating with cloud platforms to ensure anytime-anywhere accessibility across all platforms and devices.  

Cons of Hybrid Apps  

  • Hybrid apps built for multiple platforms at one go can be slower in performance and speed for certain platforms. As a single app is deployed on multiple platforms, inconsistent performance is also a common problem for hybrid apps. 
  • Hybrid apps generally come with limitations corresponding to features and functions as these apps are not optimized for any particular OS platform. For apps requiring complex functions, this approach may not be perfect. 
  • A longer waiting period for the respective app to update the app with the latest iOS and Android features is another negative aspect of hybrid apps. 
  • Not being optimized for platform-specific UI design, hybrid apps often provide a dull and commonplace user interface and user experience lacking depth. 

Cross-Platform Development 

Cross-platform apps are also developed once and are run on multiple platforms, but they are different from hybrid apps by creating room for platform-specific development with respective iOS and Android app versions. Cross-platform apps, unlike native apps, are not built once and run everywhere. They allow sharing 70% to 80% codebase across platforms while allowing to add native UI/UX layer for more native app performance, look and feel. 

In recent years, cross-platform development has become popular because of bringing together the best advantages of both worlds, namely native user experience and reusability of code. Some of the most popular technologies used for cross-platform app development include Flutter, React Native, Xamarin and a few others. 

Pros of cross-platform development 

  • Maximum reusability of code and out of the components offered by cross-platform frameworks ensure faster development. 
  • By allowing you to build iOS and Android app versions while reusing 70% to 80% code ensures lower development costs. 
  • Cross-platform apps ensure offering a better consistency in terms of user experience across platforms while not missing platform-specific attributes. 
  • Most leading cross-platform frameworks help facilitate updates and changes with the Hot Reload feature. 
  • Leading cross-platform frameworks to offer out-of-the-box testing and debugging tools.  

Cons of cross-platform development 

  • Cross-platform frameworks often needing the help of third-party bridges to communicate with the native UI layer can slow down app performance. 
  • Cross-platform developers face the challenge of meeting device and platform-specific coding norms. 

 Conclusion 

Can we declare a winner among these three development approaches? Presumably no, because all of them have their own strengths and weaknesses, and each one suits a particular type of app project. It is up to your budget and project considerations to choose one approach over the other. 

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