Native, Hybrid, and Cross-Platform Application Development Explained

, Nov 14, 2019

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It’s hard to imagine that over a decade ago, users perceived mobile applications as something sophisticated and unusual. With the increasing mobility and improved Internet access, mobile solutions have turned into a global trend. According to recent statistics, Google Store offers over 2.7 million of mobile applications with broad functionality and custom design. They help to track calories, watch your home security, conduct enterprise software management, pay taxes, and more. The average mobile user installs 35 apps on his smartphone and often picks them without any criteria. However, for the business that decides to develop a mobile application, everything is more complex.

After conducting business research and coming up with a unique mobile app idea, the company has to solve a series of technical, financial, and management problems. It’s a complex process that usually starts with determining approach to develop the application. Most mobile app development services offer to choose from native, hybrid, and cross-platform solutions that have a range of subtle differences. Whereas Android and iOS native mobile applications are the reliable classics of mobile app development, cross-platform and hybrid apps are offered as more financially efficient and easy to design solutions. Still, everything has a price. Read on for a detailed analysis of each mobile app development approach.

Native Android and iOS Mobile App Development

When a company invests in building a native Android application, most probably, it simultaneously develops an iOS analog. It’s a required step, since today, 22.48% of active devices run on iOS, whereas Android OS accounts for 76.24% users. Although it may be more expensive to manage mobile app development for two separate versions, in the long run, native mobile apps always pay off. As to the technology stack, Kotlin and Java are most commonly used for Android native app development. iOS applications are based on Swift and Objective-C programming languages.

  • Flawless performance. For native mobile applications, a mobile development team uses the core programming language of the selected platform and native APIs. Besides, such mobile solutions are well-compatible with a mobile device itself, which makes them much faster and stable. Native Android and iOS apps have no speed limitations, which is crucial to design solutions with intensive graphics or a large scope of potential users.
  • Reliability and security. Whereas hybrid and cross-platform apps rely on underlying technologies, a native application uses a single platform. This means that native solutions meet the demands of the established quality control system and are less likely to have bugs.
  • Easy integration and advanced functionality. The hardware of mobile devices has numerous capabilities that can enhance your mobile app functionality. With a native Android or iOS app, you can easily integrate with the mobile hardware to use a camera, GPS, bluetooth, or accelerometer.
  • Extensive developer community. The software development process is never easy and may have unexpected pitfalls. Therefore, it’s always better if you can choose from a large pool of qualified developers and constantly keep in touch with the global community. Being the most popular mobile development solution, native apps boast strong worldwide support ready to back you up.
  • Improved UX/UI experience. Since native mobile apps are more easily customized than hybrid or cross-platform solutions, they offer a better user experience. A mobile development team can easily adapt the interface to user preferences and behavioral patterns making it unique.

Drawbacks of Native Android and iOS Mobile Development

  • High development and maintenance cost. Your company will need to develop two equivalent mobile apps. This means both an extended development team and the increased cost of development. Besides, once the apps are launched, you will need to constantly update each version and provide maintenance.
  • Increased development time. Since native apps are usually more complex than hybrid or cross-platform, the development process takes more time. Software engineers have to create two mobile solutions with the same functionality.

pros and cons of native application development

Taking into consideration all the pros and cons of native applications, software engineering experts recommend to go for native app development, as it provides a lot of opportunities for customization, facilitation, and optimization. These apps guarantee a smooth user experience and reduce the risk of being banned from the app stores.

Hybrid Mobile Application Development

The essence of hybrid mobile applications is the combination of a native application wrapper and web components. Based on Javascript, HTML, and CSS coding languages, hybrids behave like native mobile apps. Nevertheless, such an app has only a native wrapper, whereas the data is loaded from the server. This results in a range of problems, such as increased vulnerability and more.

Advantages of Hybrid Mobile App Development

  • Cost-effectiveness. Hybrid mobile app development may be faster and, hence, cheaper, since you don’t have to invest in two full-fledged apps. Thus hybrid applications may be an optimum solution for companies with a limited budget.
  • Portability across platforms. Your mobile app development team will not have to develop separate apps for each platform. A hybrid app supports the majority of leading mobile platforms with quite decent performance.
  • Shared codebase. Hybrid apps are developed from a single codebase, which makes releasing a new version much easier.

Drawbacks of Hybrid Mobile App Development

  • Limited functionality. Whereas native mobile apps have seamless access to hardware, usage of all the capabilities of mobile devices by hybrid applications is much more complicated and time-consuming to implement.
  • Poor user experience. Remember that the look of any hybrid application is something in between an Android and iOS app. This ensures its portability but considerably harms UX/UI design, as it’s impossible to adapt the app to both platforms.

Pros and cons of hybrid apps development

Cross-Platform Application Development

This type of application is developed with cross-platform frameworks and CSS/HTML components. HTML and CSS are used to create design elements, whereas the core of an application is based on JavaScript. Although cross-platform solutions are often confused with hybrid apps, they have much broader capabilities. The thing is that hybrids use the application wrapper for running containers via frameworks, whereas in cross-platform apps, the wrapper includes native components.

Advantages of Cross-Platform Mobile App Development

  • Reusable code. Like with hybrids, cross-platform app developers won’t need to write code for Android and iOS separately. The single code can be customized for all platforms and partially used in future projects.
  • Reduced time-to-market. Since it takes less time to design a cross-platform solution, your team will be able to launch a product slightly sooner than a native app.
  • Native-like user experience. When hybrids are only 40% similar to native apps, cross-platform applications have nearly 80% similarly.

Drawbacks of Cross-Platform Mobile App Development

  • Slow speed. Cross-platform apps are 1.5 times slower than their native counterparts and 2 times slower than hybrids.
  • Heaviness. Compared to native apps, cross-platform use more device resources increasing the load on the hardware.
  • Integration difficulties. Due to the use of native and non-native components, cross-platform applications may have problems integrating with target operating systems.

Advantages and disadvantages of cross-platform app development


In this article, we inspected the main features of native, hybrid, and cross-platform app development. When selecting an approach to building the mobile application it is advised to start with defining the purpose of the app, resources on hand, time, and budget.

As was mentioned earlier, the mobile applications market is full. Therefore creating an application tailored to the customers’ needs with high-quality user experience and great performance is one of the best ways to win the audience (unless you have an exceptional idea). In this case, native app development would be the most suitable approach.

At the same time, if your business goal is to get the app to the market as soon as possible, then you better opt for cross-platform app development. And the last one, if you have a brilliant mobile app idea but your budget is limited, building the hybrid app might be right for you.

Do you have more questions on choosing the mobile app development approach? Or you want to talk to a mobile development expert? Don’t hesitate to contact us, filling out the form to get free consulting.

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