The Pros and Cons of Cross Platform Development
We understand that native apps are the preferred option for most digital products, but are there cases when cross-platform development can be a valuable solution for your clients?
Cross-platform or hybrid?
Cross-platform and hybrid often get used interchangeably, but they are not the same things. It’s important to address the differences before we delve in.
In reality the difference is huge, and crucial. Platforms such as PhoneGap, Cordova, NativeScript, React Native, and Flutter are all hybrid applications as the code base is shared between both IOS and Android. All of them are web/native platforms with the exception of Flutter, which renders UI elements directly to the operating systems canvas.
Cross-Platform applications generally don’t use a webview, and are instead compiled to platform specific byte code. Cross-Platform SDK’s such as Xamarin allow for near native code to be written, and separate UI’s to be developed for each target operating system.
Why are native applications so good?
- High performance – Because native applications codebases are written specifically for the operating system they will run on, it will naturally be more efficient. The fact that most hybrid platforms use a webview bridge, means they will never come close to emulating the native applications performance.
- Ultimate user experience – The user experience can be tailored to each specific OS, complying with its best practices for navigation, ui elements, etc. This is exactly what and app should do.
- Better app store optimization – ranking a mobile application higher in the store where it can be downloaded. Entering top charts, reaching a higher number of users, increased downloads and consequently higher conversion rate.
But what makes cross-platform and hybrid apps worth trying?
- Shorter development time – Provided you choose the right tech stack and plan your project thoroughly, you could potentially reuse 80% of your original codebase;
- Cost effectiveness – Building a native mobile application will cost you at least $10 thousand . Multiply the cost by two (iOS and Android) and add around 30% for Android dev as its normally more expensive, and you’ll get the approximate cost of launching an application on both the App Store and Google Play.
- Easier exposure to more users due to being able to release on multiple platforms – Most cross-platform apps run on both Android and iOS (as well as Windows and Linux)
- Synchronised updates – Modern applications can be updated 4 times a month or more, so maintenance costs can consume a great part of the entire app revenue, and that’s a big pro for cross-platform development, as you can roll-out one update to multiple applications.
What are the pitfalls of cross-platform and hybrid apps?
- Performance issues – A Phones’ computing power is comparatively small. The rendering of heavy HTML5/CSS UI components, on the other hand, takes a lot of GPU/CPU resources and will increase an app’s response time; Hybrid platforms that use webviews can also not leverage any OS UI elements and speed up the response/rendering times.
- UX issues – Meeting both platforms’ UX requirements can be a challenge. Apple is especially notorious about its Human Interface Guidelines and is known to regularly turn down mobile websites wrapped in native containers (such as Cordova applications). However, it is bugs and poor UI design that account for 20% of all App Store rejections; provided you address a reliable mobile app development company, your HTML5 app will most likely get the green light
What is our conclusion?
Even though cross-platform and hybrid applications can never outperform a native build, they are an efficient way to utilise resource. However, it’s crucial that you assess your client’s priorities before deciding which way to go.
To find out about the Cross Platform and Native applications Roller can offer your business, get in touch today at firstname.lastname@example.org!