Unlike web applications, which should work in any browser, on any device. Native apps are built specifically for the OS of different mobile devices. The two biggest are, of course, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. There are a handful of other operating systems and devices though. Because native apps are platform specific, you can’t run an Android application on an iPhone or a Blackberry app on a Windows phone.
A number of different languages can be used to build native apps but at T R I M we prefer Swift for iOS, Java for Android, or React Native, which can be used for either.
The best part about native apps is that they perform better than web apps. They run faster and their performance is better. Better user experiences can also be achieved with native apps. Thinks like swiping, and multi-touch gestures are much smoother on native apps vs. the web. Compared to web apps, they’re also more immersive since users aren’t inside of a browser and they can integrate more seamlessly with other native apps on the device. It’s also easier to leverage out of the box features that the OS provides, like push notifications, bluetooth, contacts, the camera roll, and so on.
The downside of native apps is that, if you want your app to be on multiple platforms, you have to build it twice, or close to it. With React Native you can reuse some of the code base when building for another platform but it still takes longer than building the thing one time for one platform. It’s not uncommon to see apps launch on one platform first for this reason. Building, maintaining, and updating a codebase for both versions is not cheap.
Another small downside is that native apps take up space on the phone. If you don’t have the latest and greatest phone with a bunch of storage space, you might find yourself deleting apps to install others. Also, whenever there’s a new update, you’ll need to download that as well.
If you’re still trying to validate your idea, it might be best to build a web app or a PWA first since you only have to build it once and anyone with a browser can use it. There are however, a number of great reasons to go straight to a native app. If you’re targeting demographic mostly uses iPhones, meet them where they are. Maybe your product relies heavily on features that only a native app can provide. Snapchat for example, which relies so heavily on swiping, would probably have been a very clunky experience in a web browser. Or maybe you want your users to be able to quickly and easily share your app or content inside of it. This is much easier to do with a few taps on a native app, compared to copying links, leaving the browser, and pasting them, in the case of a web app.
The bottom line is that there are no one-size-fits-all solutions for build any sort of application, whether native or web. Our recommendation for what’s best depends completely on your product, your users, what stage the company is at, etc. Whatever you needs might be, we can build it. And if you don’t know the answers to those questions, we can help you find them. We’d love to talk to you about your product. If you’d like to work together, feel free to reach out to us here. Let’s build something great together!