The chicken and egg dilemma is something that science might have answered but the dilemma between native mobile apps and cross-platform mobile apps is one that has divided the tech community while it constantly undergoes evolution like any other concept does.
Just like a coin, both native and cross-platforms have a variety of pros and cons.
TL;DR, You have to make a choice based on which one fits best your project. There is no universal answer to which one rules. One size fits all approach is not one that is applicable here. These pros and cons are factors that directly affect everyone involved with the development of the app.
To make a decision, well, to make an informed decision, let us look at both of these platforms to find which one fits your bill.
What are native apps?
These are applications developed for a particular OS, for the specific platform. It is made to measure, following the requisites of the mobile operating system. A native app has access to utilize the hardware, basically, the features of that particular device. These features like camera, GPS, contact list, notification system, ect. It is developed with a mature ecosystem and complies with the user guidelines of the OS, native to the user’s OS- giving it the name. It not only performs faster but also gives the user the feeling of “something right”.
The in-app interaction follows the same look and feel, enabling consistency in the experience to be easily navigable and quick accessibility. These apps are available for download from app stores- Google play store for Android apps and Apple app store for iOS. This can boost app downloads by 800%.
The drawbacks of developing native apps might be of consideration for you. With all these provisions, there also comes the cost. Developing native apps is traditionally costly. Since you have to develop the app for two separate operating systems, the cost doubles instantaneously. Double the amount of developers, who are also harder to find, and they charge more than cross-platform developers.
Updation and maintenance becomes a hassle because the manager will have to deal with double developer teams for both platforms. This, with a given that it will take more amount of time to develop from scratch. Also, there is no guarantee that the apps will be accepted.
What are Cross Platform apps?
These apps are not only cheaper when compared to developing native apps, but can be developed faster, negating the need for multiple developing teams. updation and maintenance of such apps also becomes easier. A rumour you might have heard about cross platform apps is that they are of poor quality. PayPal, Uber Eats and Facebook are some examples of hybrid apps that work just fine, proving that quality is not a drawback of such apps.
If you are wondering, what then, are the cons of developing hybrid apps, then let us tell you, hybrid apps are functionally slower than native apps. They might be cheaper than native apps to develop, but are costlier than web apps because of the involvement of wrapper. Basically, dependence on a third party platform arises. Comparatively, cross platform apps are less interactive than native apps, given the limited access to the native APIs.
The aspect of unified UX also comes into consideration. You can’t follow Apple’s HMI guidelines or Google’s guidelines in isolation. You have to factor in both to provide the same experience to Android and iOS users alike. Unification is not an easy task.
Which is better is not the question, which one is better for whom is the question. Knowing the benefits and drawbacks of both ways to develop apps will enable you to make an informed decision, custom to your needs.