Coding Mobile Applications: To Go Native or Not

Before you begin coding a mobile application, there are several questions you need to answer.
● How many platforms am I going to support?
● Do I want to support a web app?
● Which platform should I start with?
And the question we are going to look at in this blog post…
● Should I code natively or use a cross-platform method?

First, let me give a quick definition of the two options.
Native: This means you code for each platform. Meaning, you use XCode for iOS development, Android Studio for Android development, and so on.

Cross-Platform: “Code once, run everywhere.” Write your code once, usually with HTML5/JavaScript, and run the application on multiple platforms.

Now, let’s look at the question again: Should I code natively or use a cross-platform method?

After reading the definitions, it may seem obvious that you would want to choose cross-platform because it only requires you to code your application once. But there’s another piece of information missing that you will need to make your decision. When you code cross-platform, there’s a chance you will miss some native functionality. For example, the overall look and feel of your application may not match the platform it is running on. Or, you may not be able to access all the features on say an iPhone camera or any other feature that is platform specific.

With all of this in mind, the real answer to the question is: It depends. I know, that’s not the straightforward answer you were hoping for. But it is the correct answer. The way you code your mobile application depends on the way you want your application to be used. If you want to be able to access all of the platform specific features (or even just a few key ones), it is probably worth it to code natively. Or, if you want your application to have the look and feel of the platform it is running on, it is probably worth it to code natively. If the overall look and feel and platform specific features aren’t as important to you, you may want to look into some cross-platform solutions such as Appcelerator, but there are many solutions and it’s important that you find the right one for you.

If you decide to go with cross-platform development, check out my next blog on cross-platform CMS builders.

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