Native vs. cross-platform mobile app. Pros and cons. [updated]

Native vs. cross-platform app. Which one?

Should you build a native app for iOS or Android? Or take a cross-platform approach and build for both? Your development team can advise you, but ultimately the decision is in your hands. 

First, you’ll want to be clear on your terminology. You’ll also need to consider the needs and habits of your target users. Finally, you’ll want to understand the pros and cons of developing a native vs. cross-platform mobile app from a business perspective.

What is a native app?

A native app is custom-built for one specific operating system, such as iOS or Android. An app developer uses a programming language that’s unique to the operating system they’re coding for. Essentially, the app has to be built separately for each operating system it will run on.

What is a cross-platform app?

A cross-platform app is an app built on a single codebase, but it can be run on more than one operating system. A cross-platform app can be utilized by both iOS and Android users. Flutter and React Native are examples of languages used to develop cross-platform apps.

Choosing an approach: native vs. cross-platform mobile app

woman looking frustrated with hands up in front of a laptop

As you move toward choosing an operating system (or systems), you’ll need to choose a development strategy. Will you be building a native or cross-platform app? In layman’s terms, will you be creating an app that’s customized specifically for one operating system, or an app that can be delivered across multiple platforms? There are a number of factors that come into play. Let’s weigh the pros and cons of native vs. cross-platform app development.

What are the pros and cons of building a native app?

The pros of building a native app

  • Highly customizable 
  • Fast performance
  • Works offline as well as online

The cons of building a native app

  • Longer development timeline (usually)
  • Slower downloads
  • Higher associated costs
  • Updates needed more often

Pros and cons of building a cross-platform app

The pros of building a cross-platform app

The cons of building a cross-platform app

  • Some limitations on features and capabilities
  • Some limitations on layout and appearance
  • Slower performance speeds in some circumstances 

An additional note: you may have heard the termhybrid app” before. Some people use the terms “cross-platform app” and “hybrid app” interchangeably, but they are not necessarily the same. Hybrid apps combine elements of native apps and web technology. This can be used to achieve a cross-platform app. In most cases, you will just need to compare native vs. cross-platform mobile app development.

Our approach

LimeTech Logo 2022LimeTech currently specializes in cross-platform app development using Flutter and React Native. We enjoy the faster development process and quicker time to market associated with this approach. 

Producing an app from a single codebase that reaches both iOS and Android customers is deeply satisfying, and works well for entrepreneurs building their first prototype or MVP. If this is you, we are happy to help you out with your project. Get in touch for a fast and easy quote.

Editor’s note* This article was expanded and updated by Addie Kugler-Lunt in 2022.

LimeTech is a creative tech company with a focus on app development. We help brands grow their impact by building digital products that please customers and solve business challenges. Our work includes strategy, design, content, and tech planning. Check out our portfolio or reach out to start a conversation about your project.

android    app design    ios    minimum viable product    mobile app development    software    

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