App Development, Thought Leaders

The Pros and Cons of Native Apps

June 12, 2018

by Uzair Khan

Vice President of Sales & Marketing, Enterprise Monkey

Native apps are often preferred by users because they’re intuitive, secure, and easy to use. However, they can be expensive to build and maintain. Weigh their advantages and drawbacks to determine if they’re right for your company to develop.

Updated March 21, 2022

What Are Native Apps?

Native apps are platform-specific apps that are coded in a platform-specific programming language. This means that if the app is being built for an Android platform, it will use Java; if it is for a Windows phone, it will use C#; and if it is for iOS, it will use Objective C or Swift.

Once they’ve been downloaded, native apps live and are accessible through your device. For example, all of the apps on a smartphone Native apps are identified as icons that are present on the home screen of a device.
 

Native app icon

Because native apps are specially designed for a particular device, they have full liberty to use the features that are present on the device, such as its camera, contact list, GPS, and Bluetooth.

Twitter native app

Native apps are downloadable from their respective app stores – Apple App Store for iOS apps and Google Play for Android. Most of the apps on your mobile device are native apps.

Looking for a native app developer? Check out our shortlist of top mobile app development agencies

How Native Apps Work

Native apps work on the device’s operating system. In simpler terms, native apps require complete access to all the hardware and functionality of a device and live on a device.
The platforms provide app developers with standardized SDK, or software development kit, a kit containing a set of tools, code samples, libraries, documentation, and guides that allow developers to create apps on a particular platform.

The SDKs, combined with a powerful set of tools for developing native apps, deliver high performance and good user experience.

Apple provides the XCode, and Google provides Android Studio. These are specially designed IDE, or integrated development environment, a software suite that comprises a code editor, a compiler, and a debugger. The developers use this for writing and testing software.

The IDE increases the efficiency of the app development process by fixing the toughest bugs and reducing development time.

Pros and Cons of Native Apps 

While native apps are often preferred over web apps, they’re expensive to build and require consistent maintenance. To determine whether or not native apps are worth the investment, companies must thoroughly weigh the pros and cons of building one. 

Pros of Native Apps Cons of Native Apps
Speed
Work offline
Provide a recognizable look and feel 
Maintain aspect ratios 
 
Lengthy downloading process
No flexibility
Expensive development 
Time-consuming development 
They require frequent upgrades 
 

Benefits of Native Apps

  1. Speed
  2. Work offline
  3. Provide a recognizable look and feel 
  4. Maintain aspect ratios 

1. Native Apps Offer Speed

Because native apps are native to the platform, they work faster.
Many elements come preloaded. The user data is fetched from the web rather than the entire application, and since they work with the device’s built-in features, they are speedy.

2. Native Apps Work Offline

Native apps work even if there is no internet connectivity.So, in situations where you are stuck somewhere with limited or no service, such as an airplane, underground tunnel, or subway, native apps are accessible.

3. Native Apps Provide a Recognizable Look and Feel

Native applications are a nuanced version of their device’s default apps.When a user performs some functions, he quickly understands the natural flow of the application because it is similar to apps already on the device.

Native apps play an upper hand here, as mobile applications that try to emulate the look and feel of native apps often end up falling prey to the uncanny valley effect, a term robotics professor Masahiro Mori coined.

Mori hypothesized that the more human-like appearance a robot has, the more positive response it will generate in an observer. If the observer distinguishes that it is a robot, he or she will start to view it more negatively.

The same thing happens with apps that try to imitate the feel of native ones. They fail to generate that emotion of familiarity and are unable to generate the same kind of response from users.

4. Native Apps Maintain Aspect Ratios

Aspect ratio is the ratio of width to height of different screens. It is an important factor that determines the quality of an image.

Many apps collapse and start functioning improperly upon changing the device's size and shape. Native apps have better control over the orientation, size, and resolution of the app.

Developers have access to layout features while preparing a native app. When they set the size of the screen, a native app maintains the aspect ratio on its own no matter which screen it runs on.

Android provides Constraint Layout and iOS provides Auto Layout features that help in maintaining aspect ratio on their respective devices.

Apart from maintaining aspect ratios, these features also provide different DPI (dots per inch) for every screen that maintains the quality of the visuals.

Challenges of Native Apps

  1. Lengthy downloading process
  2. No flexibility
  3. Expensive development 
  4. Time-consuming development 
  5. They require frequent upgrades 

1. Lengthy Downloading Process

Native apps are ready to use only when users download them from the app store (Google Play or Apple App Store).

This involves a lot of steps – going to the app store, finding the application, accepting its terms and conditions, and then finally downloading it.

Many people don’t have the time and patience to take all the steps to download an app. You lose 20% of users at each stage in an app funnel:

  • App store pageview
  • Install
  • Open app
  • Sign up
  • Create content
  • Post or send to friends
     

App funnel

In each step of the six-step app funnel, about 20% of users are lost.

No Flexibility

Developers have no flexibility regarding the platform for developing native apps.

Developers have to code for one platform at a time, with separate coding for Android and iOS.

Much of the time, if you are hiring app developers for your native app idea, you’ll have to hire two teams of developers – one for Android and one for iOS.

Expensive Development

The programming used in native apps is quite tricky, and developers who code in this language are scarce.

Thus, native app development requires more labor, which adds to the time and cost of development.

Also, with different codes for different platforms, developing native apps takes even more time and, therefore, money.

The cost of maintaining the native apps is also very high. Maintenance cost is about 15 to 20% of the app development cost. For example, a basic native app costing $25,000 will have a maintenance cost of about $5,000.

The more a native app costs to develop, the higher the maintenance costs will be, too.

Time-Consuming Development

Every platform, such as iOS and Android, needs a separate set of codes, which means more time is required, as it is equivalent to coding for two different apps.

It takes about 18 weeks to develop a good quality native app. The time increases based on the project’s complexity.

Native Apps Require Frequent Upgrades

If a bug is fixed in native apps or a new update is about to be launched, developers have to first submit the updates to the app store and then hope that users will update their apps to the new versions.

If users don't update their app - maybe they didn't notice the update, or they don't have enough storage space - those users might abandon the app due to unfixed glitches.

Developers constantly have to worry about losing their customer base.

Native Apps Shine for Many Companies, Not All

Despite the fact that native apps are fast, smooth, blend in with the device’s features perfectly, and can work offline, there are still many challenges. High development costs and a more time-consuming development process makes native app development a poor fit for some business owners.

Those who have smaller budgets and tighter time constraints may want to consider other options.

Companies debating whether to build a native app or web app should carefully weigh their options in order to make the best decision for their business. 

To get started on your native app development project, contact a few of the companies from Clutch’s directory pages

Additional Reading 


About the Author

Headshot of Uzair KhanUzair is the VP, Sales & Marketing at Enterprise Monkey, an Australia-based e-business consulting company that helps small-to-medium enterprises and not-for-profits and startups by providing integration, automation, and greater visibility of their business processes. Uzair possesses a comprehensive experience in B2B and B2C marketing. Pursuing his vision to help small and medium enterprises, he has successfully helped many such organizations increase their productivity and revenue.

 

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