In an age where a platform war is very much on the horizon, Mobile app entrepreneurs have to make a difficult choice – the choice of whether to commit to a platform or not. With respect to mobile app development, developers usually have a plethora of options like Microsoft’s Windows Phone, Google’s Android and iOS by Apple to choose from. With so much variety in app ecosystems and a cut throat competition, an app entrepreneur has to make choices carefully.
Native applications are apps built for a specific platform based on the SDKs provided by the mobile OS company itself. These are built according to the existing user interface and make full use of integration with the hardware.
Cross platform apps are applications built on one code which can be easily converted for multiple operating systems. These are built with the help of tools like Appcelerator’s Titanium SDK and Xamarin’s Mono tool. The developers are thus faced with a choice. They can either go native and support one ecosystem or play it safe and be open to all.
Native applications are streamlined to produce a look that merges itself seamlessly with the look of the operating system itself. All the major operating systems have distinctive looks that serve different purposes. Apple goes for a clean user interface that facilitates higher usability. Android opts for something that is more functional and productive. Microsoft’s Windows Phone’s Metro interface is fast and meant to convey as much information as possible. Native apps can assimilate themselves with the look of the mobile OS itself, so that the app itself feels like a part of the mobile OS. Spotify for Windows Phone is one such example of an app merging with the native interface of the operating system.
Cross platform apps are not built with keeping a single user interface in mind as they are developed for multiple platforms. So, they are not able to capitalise on the strengths of one interface and hence lose out in the long run.
Winner: Native Apps
Performance and Reliability
Since native apps are developed keeping in mind the hardware on which the software runs, they are able to make the maximum use of the hardware available and integrate themselves better. This leads to faster speeds due to better integration and lesser chances of app crashing and other problems. Also, native apps can take advantage of specific hardware and other SDK features.
Cross platform apps are not built with the hardware in target. So, they are not able to use maximum processing power and tend to be slower than the native apps. Also, they are prone to crashes due to compatibility issues with the Mobile OS and hardware.
Winner: Native Apps
Resources and Profits
Once they are functional, native apps are sold through a specific app store of the operating system for which they have been developed. So, their coverage area is limited to the users who have adopted that particular operating system and in turn the scope for profits gets limited too.
Cross platform apps are developed for multiple operating systems. They cost more compared to single platform native apps and cost less compared to multiple platform native apps but their coverage area is much wider as they are not restricted to the users tied to a specific platform. In effect, the scope for profits is much more.
Winner: Cross Platform Apps
Undoubtedly, Native apps are the winners. Built specifically for one system, they are better integrated with the design of the interface, the performance of the hardware and the software. More native SDK features are available compared to cross platform apps. Cross platform apps are economically more viable as they are available to users of multiple operating systems.