Unless you get a glimpse behind the scenes, it’s easy to assume mobile apps are all developed the same way. However, there are many different approaches, technologies, and techniques that can be used to build an app. In fact, the three main types – native apps, cross platform apps, and mobile responsive websites – all sport their own advantages and disadvantages. What’s important is determining early in the discovery and design phase which app development approach is right for your goals. Here’s our quick and easy guide to the pros and cons of each development type.
Mobile Responsive Website
Mobile responsive websites are a light version of mobile apps. Thanks to an adjustable design layout that adapts to different screen sizes, these websites fluidly mimic the style of mobile apps. Compared to old school websites, they increase mobile traffic and boost navigation. But how do these mobile friendly websites compare to other app options?
Mobile responsive websites are the fastest and most inexpensive to build of the three options. Existing websites just need updating which includes changing fixed widths over to fluid grids, setting images to automatically resize, and making other layout changes. Since mobile responsive websites are accessed through a browser, your end product doesn’t need to adhere to specific iOS and Android guidelines, and you don’t need to learn how to distribute it through either app store.
For starters, your mobile responsive website is reliant upon an internet connection. No cell signal or Wi-Fi access, no app. Features are not this option’s strongpoint. Because your end product doesn’t align with the OS, using any location, voice, camera, and video functionality that comes standard in most smart mobile devices is far less intuitive. Performance tends to be lower, and images and animations won’t work unless the page is completely downloaded. Also, it is the least conducive to app monetization.
Cross Platform Tool
The cross platform app is further along on the mobile app spectrum. Using a cross platform mobile development framework like ReactNative, angularNative, Flutter, or Appcelerator, your app can be built into a robust application that allows code sharing across multiple platforms. It’s a more evolved option, but what are its strengths and weaknesses?
The end result is a native app, but since the code is being share across the iOS and Android platforms, it is more cost-effective than the native app approach. While it’s still not cheap, your end product has greater capabilities and functions independently of an internet connection (if you want). The code you write is reusable since you do not need to duplicate your endeavor across mobile platforms. This makes it faster to build. Since the app isn’t on a native operating system, it does not require the same frequency of maintenance, and bugs take less effort to fix.
There are more limitations to the cross platform app’s user experience. The fact that it is designed to function across mobile platforms can hinder its intuitiveness. At times, these apps clash with the native design, features, and functionality. Additionally, applications with heavy HTML5/CSS3 tend to be more sluggish as cross platform apps because their higher demand on computing power doesn’t have the benefit of seamless OS integration. Since new, leading-edge cross-platform tools emerge every couple of years, support libraries for new native features tend to lag when ported to the older frameworks.
Native apps are the most in-depth version of the development options. The application itself is written to work on a specific operating system and is geared toward integrating with the device’s features. What differentiates this type of app from the other options?
For native apps, performance is a top priority. The code, design layout, and best practices are suited to the look, feel, and functionality of a specific operating system. That makes for a better user experience and allows native apps to run faster since they work in conjunction with the device’s existing systems.
It’s a more time-consuming process and requires you to build the app twice if you want it to be accessible on both Apple and Google app stores. Additionally, these apps cost more to maintain because you need to stay aware of bugs that arise and vulnerabilities that open up whenever new versions of operating systems are released.
Want to find the right choice for you? Red Foundry can help you determine whether a native app, cross platform app, or mobile responsive website will be best for your business. Contact us today to find out the best approach based on your unique requirements and goals.