Mobile application development has been experiencing a boom in recent years. Cheaper cost of mobile devices, their portability, and ease of use resulted in billions of mobile users. This has prompted a surge mobile application usage and its development across the world.
The multiplicity of platforms upon which the said mobile applications run has also caused a number of challenges and opportunities for mobile app developers. Nowadays, two major development methodologies have evolved from this scenario, namely native application development and cross-platform application development. Let’s discuss both of them and answer if the growth of cross-platform development is detrimental to native application development.
Native App Development
Mobile application development is mainly based on two major platforms, namely iOS and Android. There are also other less popular platforms as well, e.g., Windows.
Native application development entails developing applications specifically targeted at a particular mobile application platform.
Cross-Platform App Development
This form of app development involves using application development frameworks to build apps that can run on multiple platforms without much code modification. There are a lot of such frameworks, for instance, Xamarin, Gluon, Flutter, React-Native, etc. Let’s take a closer look at some of them.
Flutter framework was developed by Google, and despite being so young (about three years old), it is already gaining in popularity because of its ease of use and adoption of tested programming paradigms. Among the companies that use this platform are such giants as Tencent, Abbey Road Studios, Google, etc. On another hand, there is a Gluon framework that grows in popularity among Java developers. It allows them to build cross-platform apps for Android and iOS with the same code base.
But does cross-platform development attract more developers and what is the situation with native app development?
According to Statista, 52.1% of mobile devices in the US run on Android, while 47% have Apple iOS. No wonder that software development companies want to run their products on both platforms at the same time. In result, there is evidence of a major shift towards cross-platform development amongst mobile app programmers. In a developer survey conducted by the Ionic framework, only just over 3% of developers identified themselves as native developers down from 20% a couple of years ago. From the same survey, we can see that the number of cross-platform apps increased in 10 percents just within a few years. This indicates a significant rise in the popularity of cross-platform development.
The major reason for this trend is the ease of adoption of cross-platform development for most programmers. While for native development, each time coders need to learn a new language from scratch, thanks to cross-platform development frameworks and plug-ins, they can continue writing the code in the preferred language. Another reason for rising cross-platform development popularity is the opportunity to build software or application only once and deploy it to multiple platforms, giving it a broader audience on almost the same budget.
With such advantages, cross-platform app development has attracted a lot more developers, yet still, native development has its undoubted pros when it comes to application creation. Native app development provides better functionality and efficiency of the final product, that makes it a viable choice for app development and keeps it reasonably popular as well.
We feel that cross-platform app development is not a native app killer; instead, it offers us a unique and advantageous option to consider. Cross-platform development features are definitely an attractive sell to a large number of developers, but the superior functionality and efficiency of native apps still make native development a valuable option for many programmers.