Native, Web or Cross-Platform Apps – What to Choose?

Should my app be responsive web app or native or cross platform app

Native, Web or Cross-Platform Apps – What to Choose?

Mobile app development is gaining momentum among companies, irrespective of industry verticals. With the Mobile-First Indexing and Mobile-Friendly approach introduced by Google, companies have started to look out for mobile app solutions that improve their performance and RoI. 

Current Trends and Future Prospects of the Mobile App Market

According to a report from The Allied Market Research Group, the global mobile application market size was valued at $106.27 billion in 2018, and projected to reach $407.31 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 18.4% from 2019 to 2026. 

Mobile application market

(Courtesy:  Allied Market Research)

The idea of investing in mobile app development is a wise option. But you’ll be bombarded with a barrage of terminology like native apps, web apps and cross platform apps. 

How do you know which is best for your business? Of course, the requirements vary among companies yet it is critical to understand what these app types are before choosing the best one that works for your business. 

Let’s do a deep dive to understand the app types and why they matter for your business. 

Native vs. Web vs. Cross-Platform App – What’s the difference

The revolutionary approach can be achieved in different ways, such as designing a separate mobile site or mobile web app, and companies can build either native or cross-platform apps. 

Now the question arises, which is the best strategy among these three. Should I invest in web apps or native apps or cross-platform apps? Before we go into this question let’s find out the differences between these, and the opportunities and challenges they bring with them.

Responsive Web Apps

Mobile Web apps basically are websites, which are built only for access from smart devices. This is the most common option companies are looking for. A separate responsive website is built and the users are redirected to this website when accessed through mobile phones or tablets. 

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The technologies used to build these websites include, HTML5, JQuery and others. The underlying technologies are Java, HTML and CSS.

The most important benefit of mobile apps is it can combine the resourcefulness of the internet and the functionality of the touch-enabled screen. It works on almost all browsers and across most of the devices. 

Some advantages of responsive web apps are

  1. Cater to larger customer base while providing service across multiple device types.
  2. Cuts the cost, because single coding base, build once and see it run across platforms.
  3. No worry about size works equally well with 20” monitors, 15” laptops, 10” notebooks, 7” tablets and smaller smartphones.
  4. Improves SEO, since it’s a single version website.
  5. Reduces maintenance cost.

Native Apps

The word “Native” has nothing to do with geographic location. It describes the device’s native features. Native apps are built to take full advantage of a particular device’s hardware and software specifications. In other words, native apps are built for specific mobile operating systems. It can take advantage of the latest technology available in the device like the camera, microphone, GPS, etc.,

Technologies like Objective-C are used for developing iOS and Android apps utilizing Java, etc. Each mobile platform offers developers their own developing tools, interface elements and standardized SDK.

There are again many advantages for coding apps in this type

  1. This kind of app offers the fastest, most reliable and most responsive experiences ever.
  2. These apps can tap wider functionality of the device; like swipe gestures, compass, microphone, camera, etc.
  3. Publishers can make use of push notifications services and stay connected with the users.
  4. Native apps designers delight, because they can give the best user experience possible.

The only downside of a native app is that, when building for multiple platforms, developing a native app, therefore, can be quite expensive (when done from scratch), as it will require you to build and maintain multiple, and separate versions of your app. 

It is also general that coders specialize in one platform, so when developing an app for different platforms, you need to hire different coders and it costs extra money.

The bottom line is if the budget allows you, native apps are ideal, offering the best experience to the user.

Cross-Platform Apps

Cross-platform mobile development refers to the development of mobile apps that can be used on multiple mobile platforms. In today’s fast-growing and changing business structure, companies have started adopting a new trend called Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), which refers to people bringing their own devices to work, and because of which companies have to customize their applications so that they run on all these different devices. 

And thus cross-platform apps have become the talk of the town now. If your target audience is split between iOS, Android, and Windows phones, then designing and developing for multiple platforms might make sense. 

The bulk of the app is built using cross-compatible web technologies, such as HTML5, CSS and JavaScript — the same languages used to write web apps.

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Some advantages cross-platforms apps bring them are

  1. Speed – it is potentially faster to develop a cross-platform app than to develop native apps in iOS or Android and Windows platform.
  2. Ease of Coding – You can leverage one codebase and customize for multiple platforms, rather than coding separately for different platforms.
  3. It is cost effective, since you hire only one coder.

However, there are some things to take into notice before we decide on cross-platform apps. The app itself will not be as fast as a native app as it still depends on the browser speed. Getting your hybrid app to run appropriately on each platform generally takes substantial work. 

And when a user tries to access your web content through the cross-platform apps, the performance may be a little sluggish.

Native vs. Responsive vs. Cross Platform Apps – What to Choose

What kind of apps should you develop or implement? That depends solely on your requirement. Yes the need decides the type of app. If the need for a small static project with budget constraints, we can go for cross-platform. And cross-platform apps work well for games. But if budget isn’t a concern and you do not want to compromise on quality, and if it is a large scale, multimedia oriented project, native apps should be the order of the day. Whatever it is, choose the right one to make your business improve customer engagement and RoI. 

Need expert insights? Or looking for a leading mobile app development company for your mobile app requirements? Let’s talk.