Native vs. multi-platform mobile apps 2022

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cs | en

More than a third of software developers use multi-platform mobile frameworks like Flutter to develop mobile apps. While it's true that large companies are more likely to use native apps, and so you may be tempted to develop them, if your app doesn't need access to native features, you need to evaluate whether the return on investment is worth it.

Native apps

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Native mobile apps are still the most common type of app. They are native in the sense that they are developed for a specific platform and are written in languages that the platform accepts. For example, most native iOS apps use Swift, and native Android apps use Kotlin by default. Startups often opt for a native app because they want to target users on one platform first. There are markets where single OS phones are prevalent.

Benefits of native apps

The benefits of native apps are certainly broad. However, you need to keep in mind the kind of business you are creating the app for.

  • Native apps usually work better.
  • Developing native apps gives developers access to the full feature set of a device's operating system.
  • Native mobile apps usually have a more sophisticated UX and design because each mobile operating system comes with specific standards and guidelines for the user interface.

Disadvantages of native apps

One significant disadvantage of native apps is the cost, especially if you are a small startup trying to create an MVP (minimum viable product) to present to investors.

  • Native apps use programming languages that require experienced developers, and if you want to have an app on both platforms, you'll likely need twice as many developers to do it.
  • Simple apps don't necessarily benefit from the complexities and complications that native development brings.
  • You'll definitely be experimenting and making drastic changes to your app early in the life of your product, so any initial investment may just be wasted effort.

Unless you need GPS functionality or deep integration with a native SDK for things like AR/VR functionality, native app development is probably not the best option for you, especially if you're starting from scratch. In fact, there are ways you are able to develop a similar, fully functional app using a multi-platform approach.

Multiplatform applications

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At DataSession, we are passionate about a multi-platform approach to mobile app development for most startups but also larger companies. It's a great, cost-effective solution that behaves very similarly to native apps, delivering a high-quality user experience and secure and stable features. Sharing code across platforms also means you are able to release a viable product faster and cheaper than if you choose to develop a native app.

Benefits of cross-platform applications

In addition to the cost advantages of developing cross-platform applications, there are several other positives to mention:

  • You are able to use a single code base with some platform-specific capabilities, which reduces the time and therefore the cost associated with development.
  • UI performance can be as fast as native applications when properly architected.
  • If you're in a hurry to release your app before your competitors, cross-platform development is a great option. Then, once you have a working app on the market, you can rework it into a native app.
  • There's no need to hire cross-platform teams like there is when creating a native app.
  • With multiplatform apps, quality control time is reduced because most bugs only need to be caught (and fixed) once.
  • Disadvantages of multiplatform applications

Again, we encourage most aspiring entrepreneurs who want to build an app to seriously consider the benefits of going the multiplatform app route, but we are aware that this type of app development also has a few drawbacks

Disadvantages of multiplatform apps

  • Shared code can affect the user experience in some cases. When building a native app, you follow the features and guidelines of each platform; when developing a cross-platform app, it can be challenging to take full advantage of
  • specific and unique capabilities of each platform.
  • App integration can be challenging when it comes to platform-specific notifications and features.

Which type of app development is best for you?

At DataSession, we have worked with a number of different companies to create their unique applications. In general, the question of native vs. multi-platform apps depends on your business and your goals. When developing an app for an early-stage startup (up to seed stage), we often recommend starting with a multi-platform mobile solution like Flutter.

Moving to a fully native solution usually makes sense either after you've demonstrated enough traction to warrant a significantly larger investment in the app, or when you have unique feature requirements that aren't feasible on a multi-platform framework.

If a mobile app isn't a core part of your business, this advice applies especially to you. Before you embark on developing a native app, we recommend carefully considering how much you want to be a software company, even if you outsource.

DataSession as a software partner

Want to talk more about app development? Contact us. We're in the business of creating apps and solutions for people like you, and we love to talk about development with those who aspire to start a successful company.

Contact

DataSession s.r.o.
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Czech Republic
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