Progressive web apps and advanced cross-platform technologies have blurred the line between native and non-native to some extent. However, some differences are still distinct enough to separate the two approaches to development.
If these terms have been confusing you and you are looking for a guide that tells you all about native app development, this is the blog for you. Stay tuned till the end and learn what native app development is, what are its pros and cons and how to build native apps for Android and iOS.
In this blog
- What is native mobile app development?
- What are the advantages of native app development?
- What are the challenges of native app development?
- How to develop native mobile apps?
- Best native app development tools & technologies
What is native mobile app development?
Native mobile app development is the process of creating software programs (applications) for specific devices and platforms. As opposed to other methods of app development like hybrid, cross-platform, etc., native app development requires developers to invest specialized resources and efforts for each platform, resulting in a much better app performance and user experience.
Native apps are developed using programming languages and tools meant specifically for a platform. For example, native Android apps are developed using Java or Kotlin and iOS apps are developed using Objective-C and Swift. As evident, the same code base cannot be used for all platforms.
Similarly, Apple and google also offer different tools, interface elements and Software Development Kits (SDKs) for creating platform specific apps. This enables developers to build and test apps in a native environment and assess the look, feel and usage experience of the features, functionalities, design, and layout of the app.
Native Android app development
Native Android app development is the process of creating Android apps that are primarily meant to be published on the Google Play Store. Android apps can be developed using programming languages like Kotlin, Java and C++. Google also provides developers with Android Studio, its official IDE (Integrated Development Environment).
The tools offered by Google include Android SDK, Firebase, Android Jetpack, etc. These tools together make up for an environment that makes Android app building easier. Third-party app development solutions like AppMySite can also be used to develop native Android apps without coding.
Native iOS app development
As evident, native iOS app development is the process of creating iOS apps that are published on the Apple App Store. As opposed to Android, iOS has a closed source code that is meant only for Apple’s hardware and while Android apps can be created on any system, Mac device is mandatory for developing and deploying iOS apps.
iOS apps are developed using programming languages like Objective-C or Swift. Apple offers several software and tools like iOS SDK, Swift Playgrounds, the official Integrated Development Environment Xcode, TestFlight, etc., that together make it easy to build and publish apps. Third-party no-code iOS app development solutions can also be used to create native iOS apps.
Native vs Hybrid vs Cross platform vs PWA apps
Native app development is totally different from all other approaches to development. While native development is meant for a specific platform and code reusability is not an option, other approaches are more flexible and only one codebase can be used for multiple platforms.
Here are the major differences between native, hybrid, cross platform and PWA (Progressive Web App) app development:
|Codebase||Separate codebases for each platform||Single codebase for all platforms with device specific capabilities||Single codebase for all platforms with device specific capabilities||Single codebase for all platforms with device specific capabilities|
|Ease of development||Requires separate development for each platform||Comparatively easier due to reusability of code and other resources||Comparatively easier due to reusability of code and other resources||Comparatively easier due to reusability of code and other resources|
Notably, native apps ensure better performance due to their capabilities of leveraging the device features. However, developing native apps is not as cost-effective as other methods as it requires two separate teams and a more dedicated infrastructure. On the other hand, code and resource usability and less turnaround time makes the other options more viable for some developers and businesses.
What are the advantages of native app development?
It is easier to find developers for non-native development. Initial costs and time investment is also less for other development methods when compared with native app development. However, native apps can turn out to be more viable in the long-term. Here are some of the common advantages of building a native app:
Native apps are incomparable when it comes to performance. Such applications get complete access to the hardware capabilities and the inbuilt features of the operating system. Unlike hybrid or cross-platform apps, there are no intermediate layers in native apps. Therefore, the speed, graphic’s support, and the overall efficiency and performance of the app increases manifold.
Security & scalability
Native apps get the benefit of quick releases, system fixes and updates before web and hybrid apps. Additionally, the powerful infrastructure of dedicated Google and Apple tools eliminate the room for too many errors or bugs. It is also easier to implement security measures like biometric and two-factor authorization, thus the apps become more secure. It is also easier for developers to implement any amount of customization and ensure scalability in the apps.
Enhanced user experience
Native apps are built using SDKs that are native to the platform (Android or iOS). Thus, a consistency in the look and feel can be maintained in the apps, thereby ensuring familiarity for users. This leads to better user experience. Additionally, native apps also simplify and enhance the experience with features like rich in-browser caching and offline availability, device-centric features, and more.
Instant updates and store support
Maintaining two apps in one code-base can get more complicated than having separate code-bases for different apps in the long run. Native app maintenance also becomes easier overtime due to instant support from the respective stores (Google Play and Apple App Stores). Therefore, it is better to launch native apps if you want to ensure that you get instant access to updates from the app stores.
Targeted market and user-base
Users of different platforms behave differently. For instance, Android has a larger user base than iOS, but iOS users are more likely to spend on apps than Android users. A targeted approach in development helps businesses in ensuring the same approach even after the launch of the apps. Unlike hybrid, cross-platform and PWAs, the same apps are not fed to every user as native apps take a platform and device centric approach.
Related Read: Android vs iOS users: A detailed behavioral comparison
What are the challenges of native app development?
While native app development is considered the best, the perception is slowly changing due to the advancement of non-native technologies and the challenges of native methodologies. Some of those challenges are as listed below:
Lack of code flexibility
In the case of native app development, the same codebase cannot be used or tailored to be used on different platforms. Therefore, the more platforms you are targeting, the more complicated the code writing and maintenance becomes. Alternatively, if you have limited means, you might not be able to target multiple platforms with the same kind of resources.
Longer turnaround time
Since separate code writing and maintenance is required, building native apps can take longer as compared to non-native apps. It is also not as easy to find dedicated Android and iOS developers as it is to find web app developers. Dedicated development projects also take longer to accomplish, even though it is easier and more powerful in the long run.
Lack of code-flexibility, need for separate development teams and longer project timelines ultimately increase the budget of app development. For those targeting multiple platforms like Android and iOS, the budget can get way too high. However, this depends on your choice of development tool, app type, and other factors.
How to develop native mobile apps?
If you are looking for a definitive guide on native mobile app development, then here it is. The steps listed below elaborate on how you can develop native apps of your own:
Start with research
Start with market research, competitor analysis, budgeting, and planning. Define your app’s concept and objectives and proceed to line up things accordingly. Remember, the more time and resources you invest in research, the better the process of development will be. You can also create and test prototypes of your app to get a proper head start.
Choose your development path
Once you have done your research, go ahead and pick your development methodology. If you are ready to go through the process of coding, then go with the native app development tools of each platform, as discussed above. Else, look for no-code native app development tools that enable you to build your apps effortlessly.
Develop your native apps
The exact process of development will depend on your choice of method and resources. Start with designing the UI/UX of the app and add the desired features and functionalities. Build the apps for targeted platforms (Android and iOS) and customize the look and feel of the app accordingly. Test your apps in the dedicated environments and ensure that it performs seamlessly.
Launch on app stores
The best thing about native apps is that they can be distributed through their dedicated marketplaces. For instance, Android apps can be published on the Google Play Store and iOS apps go on the Apple App Store where users can find and download them directly. Follow the submission guidelines laid out by Google and Apple and deploy your apps accordingly to avoid rejection.
Best native app development tools and technologies
In this section we have shared a list of the tools and technologies that you can use for native app development. This covers both Android and iOS, the two most popular mobile app operating systems around the world. Go through the list below and learn:
Xcode is Apple’s very own IDE (Integrated Development Environment), and it can be used to develop software for iOS, macOS, iPadOS and tvOS. Swift, an innovative programming language for Cocoa and Cocoa Touch, gets combined with Xcode tools to make app development an enriching experience. In fact, Xcode has all that developers need to code, create, test, debug, distribute and maintain native iOS apps.
Android Studio is the official IDE for Google’s Android operating system. It offers several shortcuts for designing, coding, and deploying native Android apps, including smart previews and built-in inspection tools. It has a flexible build system that enables development for all kinds of Android devices and integration with Firebase makes the process simpler. Developers can create premium native apps using programming languages like Kotlin, Java, etc.
If you want to build one app and publish it on both Google Play Store and Apple App Store without compromising with its native elements and qualities, then AppMySite is the best app creator for you. Here, you can build premium and native Android and iOS apps instantly without coding. You get all the goodness of both worlds without having to constantly switch back and forth between different development environments.
That was all about native app development from our end today. While native app development appears lucrative on several fronts, it is not the only method of app development. In fact, advancement in web app and cross-platform frameworks have made alternate methods a viable option for app development.
Therefore, you must weigh all the pros and cons before opting for a development method and picking a framework or tool for the same. You can also refer to our nuts and bolts guide on mobile app development and get all the help you need. Share your app development experience in the comment section and sign up for AppMySite to be a part of our community.