Choosing the best development route: From native to cross-platform

Choosing the best development route: From Native to Cross-platform

Mobile app development has evolved significantly since the advent of smartphones in the late 2000s. Initially, developers had two main approaches to consider: native and hybrid development. Native apps were built using the platforms’ specific programming languages, while hybrid apps were web applications housed within a sandbox browser.

InsurTech company ScanbotSDK recently explored the pros and cons of a native or hybrid development. 

However, the tech landscape has shifted, introducing the cross-platform framework as a third viable option. These frameworks aim to provide a near-native user experience and allow developers to repurpose much of the code for multiple platforms. Given the array of choices now available, let’s delve deeper into each approach to determine the best fit for your needs.

Native app development is renowned for its potential to deliver the finest user experience. These apps often boast faster response times and an extensive range of functionalities, which can lead to improved ratings and visibility on app stores. However, they come with the drawback of higher costs and extended time-to-market, especially if targeting multiple platforms like iOS and Android. For developers solely focused on a single platform, native is the logical choice.

For native iOS development, the prominent programming languages are Swift and Objective-C. Swift, an Apple collaboration with the open-source community, is heavily influenced by modern languages like Python and Ruby. It’s the preferred choice for new iOS apps. On the other hand, older iOS apps (pre-2014) might still utilise Objective-C, a language with roots resembling C and a wealth of online resources to tackle potential issues.

Native Android development primarily utilises Java and Kotlin. Java has been associated with Android since its inception, while Kotlin, declared as Android’s official development language by Google in 2019, has been swiftly gaining traction due to its interoperability with Java.

In the realm of hybrid app development, developers typically create a web app using JavaScript frameworks like React, Angular, or Vue, which is then enveloped in a WebView. This approach facilitates the web app’s accessibility both through a browser and app store. However, it’s worth noting that hybrid apps might not rival the performance of native ones. Ionic, Cordova, and Capacitor are some of the frameworks in this domain, with the latter introduced by Ionic’s creators as a superior alternative to Cordova.

Cross-platform app development tools, similar to hybrid frameworks, employ a shared code base for multiple OS targeting. Historically, they lagged behind native apps in performance. Yet, contemporary frameworks like Xamarin, .NET MAUI, React Native, and Flutter can achieve near-native performance. For instance, .NET MAUI, expected to replace Xamarin by 2024, promises enhanced performance and developer experience. React Native, backed by Meta, and Flutter, which utilises the Dart programming language, are other notable mentions in this space.

In deciding the most suitable approach for your application, various considerations come into play, it said. These include the platforms you’re targeting, performance requirements, existing developer expertise, and whether a web app is a priority. Scanbot SDK, for instance, offers SDKs for every framework discussed, underscoring the importance of versatility in today’s rapidly evolving tech ecosystem.

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