Building a mobile app has become a top priority for many companies, but it’s often difficult to choose a development approach as the lines between the various options are becoming increasingly blurred. In our recent post, A Guide to Mobile App Development: Web vs. Native vs. Hybrid, we broke down the three options and outlined the pros and cons for each. This article will dive deeper into Native Mobile App Development and the benefits of choosing this particular development approach.
Native mobile app development involves building apps for particular mobile operating systems, and users access them from dedicated app stores (such as the App Store or Google Play). If you intend to build an application for iOS, app developers will use programming languages Objective-C or Swift. In contrast, developing for Android calls for the programming languages Java or Kotlin.
Both Apple and Google provide app developers with their own development tools, interface elements, and SDK. Most companies will invest in native mobile app development because of the myriad of benefits offered in comparison to other types of apps such as Hybrid or Web. As mobile software is increasingly a necessity for companies, it’s important for companies to be well-informed about the pros and cons of choosing an app development approach. Here are the key benefits of native mobile app development:
With native mobile app development, the app is created and optimized for a specific platform. As a result, the app demonstrates an extremely high level of performance. Native apps are very fast and responsive because they are built for that specific platform and are compiled using platforms core programming language and APIs. As a result, the app is much more efficient. The device stores the app allowing the software to leverage the device’s processing speed. As users navigate through a native mobile app, the contents and visual elements are already stored on their phone which means load times are quick.
Native mobile apps run much smoother regarding user input and output. These types of apps inherit their devices’ OS interfaces, making them look and feel like an integrated part of the device.
The most advantageous benefit to native mobile apps is the superior user experience. Native apps are created specifically for an operating system. They stick to the guidelines that ultimately enhance and align the user experience with the specific operating system. As a result, the flow of the app is more natural as they have specific UI standards for each platform. This allows the user to learn the app, such as deleting an element quickly. Adhering to specific guidelines eliminates the learning curve and allows users to interact with apps using actions and gestures they’re familiar with already.
Native apps are developed for their particular platform, taking full advantage of the software and the operating systems’ features. These apps can directly access the hardware of the device such as the GPS, camera, microphone, etc. so they are faster in execution, which ultimately results in better user experience. Push notifications are another huge advantage to choosing native app development. Push notifications go through the iOS server (APNS) which you need your app bundle ID and same with Google’s Cloud Messaging (GCM).
It’s much more difficult to maintain two different applications in one codebase than it is two applications in two codebases. With native app development, you have fewer dependencies for bugs to occur because you’re not relying on a cross-platform tool such as Xamarin or Cordova. Hybrid apps access hardware through a bridge which often slows development down and can amount to a frustrating user experience.
This problem is prominent when new versions of Android and iOS are released. Native app developers have access to new software development kits (SDK) to start building their applications with the most recent features. Because of this lead time, users of native applications have access to new platform features once they update the operating system.
The disadvantage of having to wait for the third-party developer of the hybrid tool to implement the bridge to new operating system features. With hybrid app development, we are dependent on a cross-platform development tool such as Xamarin or Cordova. Every time new features are released in the UI kit, we need to wait for the tool to support it. When you develop a hybrid app, there’s an added layer that you don’t have control over which can increase the chances of bugs occurring. Bugs are a huge concern for hybrid app development when working with the latest features that have been released for a particular operating system. This is an essential and often overlooked part of generating loyalty among users.
Although the initial cost may be higher with native mobile app development, you’ll end up saving a lot of time and money in the long run, doing it well the first time. By offering a great user experience, better performance, and leveraging the device features, you’re able to offer your users a more personalized experience which will be rewarding in the long-term. The combination of the native mobile app advantages will result in higher conversion rates and will ultimately boost customer loyalty.
Whichever approach you choose should above all be quick, responsive, and reliable. As users are demanding more from mobile experiences, it’s important to keep up with their changing demands.
Technical and functionality shortcomings aside, non-native apps cannot compete with the responsiveness and user experience of the native approach. If a business intends to use an app as a central tool for interacting with customers and stakeholders, it must deliver an excellent user experience that supports mobile app retention. Dissatisfaction, even in the slightest, can lead to poor retention rates and high uninstallation.
Native app development gives app developers considerably more control over the user experience and also allows them to design the apps for easy support. We believe it’s best to stick with native and not sacrifice the design elements that are unique to each platform. However, if you aren’t too concerned about the overall user experience and want to get something to market fast and cheaply, a web app may be the way to go.
While the discussion to differentiate the three mobile app approaches will continue to lengthen, it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t choose an approach for the technology, but instead, choose based on your app’s functionality. If you choose an approach that doesn’t allow your app to utilize device features, for example, then you’ll end up wasting a lot of time and money when you decide to add these new features. To decide which development approach to take, ask yourself these key questions:
Are you interested in cost comparisons between native and hybrid apps? Check out our blog: A Breakdown of Hybrid vs. Native Mobile App Development Costs, or download the Definitive Guide to Mobile App Development Costs Infographic. This infographic offers price ranges for small, mid-sized and large apps based on product complexity, plus hidden costs and other considerations to help you evaluate your development budget.