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What is the difference between native and cross-platform app development?

Native development focuses on developing an application for a specific OS, like Android or iOS, whereas cross-platform development uses a single codebase that can be used in any operating system.

We share our knowledge and experience in our blog | Somnio Software

by Gianfranco Papa

4 min read · Oct 31, 2022

An easy-to-use mobile application has proven to be an excellent business tool in this digital era. Mobile apps make your business more accessible, which ultimately contributes to a superior, more convenient business experience. Once you decide to develop a sleek mobile application for your business, you’ll face a dilemma. What kind of app would be better for my business? Should I invest in a native or cross-platform app?

Both kinds of development have their own pros and cons. While one’s more cost and time efficient, the other makes up for a quicker and smoother user experience. What development tool you should choose for your application depends on a number of factors, like the expanse of your business, average visitor traffic, and your immediate business needs, among other things. To understand what type of app suits your business needs best, it is important to know more about each type of development and its features.

What is native development?

As the term suggests, native apps are applications developed to use in a specific native operating environment. These apps are specially designed, keeping a single OS like Windows, Mac, Android, or Linux in mind. Native applications are designed in a way that enables them to take full advantage of an operating system’s capabilities. This allows them to achieve better storage efficiency, faster load times, and an overall smoother user experience.

The most significant benefit of native apps is their high performance. Being specially built for individual OSes, these applications are capable of using preloaded libraries, and other system presets to enhance performance. Some other benefits of native development include: better App Store and Google Play visibility, native performance in the OS it is meant for, and UX fitted for the OS as well.

The drawbacks of native applications

However, native apps come with major drawbacks that often makes them impractical for small to medium-sized businesses.

  • Slow on foreign operating systems: Depending on the language they’re written in, native apps may become slower and often completely unusable in foreign operating environments.
  • Team size: Each time a change needs to be made on a native application, you need a team for each coding language and operating system. This takes twice the time as having one specialized team that works in cross-platform development.
  • Budget size: The budget for creating native applications has to be larger due to the before mentioned drawback.
  • Time-to-market: This is reduced because of the slower development speed.

As a result, you may decide to develop your app only on one platform, such as Android or iOS, which can negatively impact your business as there is no omnipresence.

Pros and cons of native and cross-platform apps
Source: ZeoLearn

What is cross-platform development?

Cross-platform app development is an approach that developers use to make apps that can run in multiple operating systems simultaneously. This is done with multiplatform frameworks such as Flutter, React Native, and Xamarin that allow users to create a cross-platform application using a single codebase.

As I mentioned, this development method was born out of the setbacks associated with native app development, including costs, time, and the need for separate teams. One of the biggest problems was the inability to reuse code built for one operating system for another. This is where cross-platform development excels. The single codebase used can be easily compiled to each operating system.

The key benefits to cross-platform development

Resource optimization: Cross-platform development saves 30% to 40% compared to native applications. This is made possible by only having one specialized team that develops the app for every OS using a single codebase.

  • Accessibility: Cross-platform apps allow businesses to make their services more accessible to users across the globe.
  • Faster time-to-market: Release a functionality at the same time on both platforms with one team
  • Faster development cycle: They also allow for faster development cycles and easy, cloud-based updates that do not require any manual intervention from users.

How Flutter can help with cross-platform app development

Google’s revolutionary development framework, Flutter, can help developers tackle these challenges. Flutter is a best-in-class cross-platform app development framework that allows developers to apply efficient, object-oriented development logic to their cross-platform apps.

How? Flutter makes use of the concept of widgets - the smallest UI element present on a user screen. Users can customize each widget or curate the best UI for visitors. Other exclusive features like hot reload and in-built native support (for instance, all apps coded on Flutter come with the default scroll-end bounce on iOS and the signature brick-wall sound on Android) make for incredibly efficient development and enhanced user experience.

Change your app to Flutter from another technlogy

At Somnio, we specialize in cross-platform app development, which allows businesses to leverage the revolutionary capabilities of Flutter to the fullest. If you're interested in cross-platform development, I invite you to read another blog I wrote about why Flutter could be a great fit for your business.

by Gianfranco Papa

4 min read · Oct 31, 2022

Gianfranco Papa is our CTO and is in charge of all the technical issues and challenges. Besides being a great reference for the team he is an amazing football player.


Let’s create successful apps together!