The decision of whether to develop natively or whether to go cross-platform is one of the most important considerations when developing a mobile app. Each method has its own merits, and depending on the kind of app you’re developing, app one route will be preferable over the other. But before we get ahead of ourselves, what are exactly are native and cross-platform apps?
As you know, developers use programming languages to build software, and for the most part the language metaphor holds up. So a native app is one written in the native programming language for that platform. For iOS, these languages are Swift and Objective-C, while the native development language for Android is Java or Kotlin. Like a spoken language, a native language will be completely understood by its associated platform.
However, it’s important to be aware that each platform is only able to understand its own native language. So if you’re creating software natively you’ll have to write multiple sets of code – one for each platform that you support.
Cross-platform apps (or hybrid apps) on the other hand, enable to you write one set of code that caters for multiple platforms. By using cross-platform tools like Ionic, React Native or Xamarin, you can write a single set of code but have your app work on both iOS and Android. This also means that your development times are shorter than if you developed separate native apps for iOS and Android. Generally, developing a cross-platform app is cheaper than developing dedicated iOS and Android versions.
In our opinion, native development is the best option for the vast majority of apps. Of course, there’s no strict right or wrong answer with this, and there are times when cross-platform might be the better choice. For example, if you’re wanting to develop a fairly simple application that doesn’t make significant use of the device’s native features (microphone, camera etc.), then it might be worth considering cross-platform. Alternatively, you might just be wanting to get an MVP to market quickly and cheaply, in which case cross-platform might be preferable. Either way, it’s worth considering your options carefully as you don’t want to regret your decision further down the line.
But what about building apps with audio functionality – which method is best then? In general, if you want to develop a more complex app then you’re better off building it natively, and this is no different with audio apps. In fact, specifically developing a native app for iOS is by far your best bet. Unlike iOS, Android suffers from an inherent issue with audio latency which is obviously a major issue for any kind of audio app. Among other reasons, this is why there is a significantly higher number of music related apps on iOS compared to Android.
That’s not to say that developing audio apps on Android is impossible, there is a small handful out there and there are even cross-platform solutions. Superpowered, for example is a platform that allows for audio development across Android, iOS and desktop. However, they too are quick to point out the audio limitations on Android.Ultimately though, developing a native app is going to be best in most cases, even more so when it is audio related. But as mentioned earlier, it’s worth considering your options carefully before making a decision that you might come to regret later on. If you’re looking at developing an app with audio functionality, then why not get in touch today and find out what we can do for your project.
In our opinion, native development is going to be the best option for the vast majority of apps, the table below compares the two methods and outlines the differences between the two in a number of different areas.