What are native applications and why should you use them?

A native app is a type of mobile software written for a specific operating system. This gives it direct access to the device’s features, which means faster performance and a better user experience. Each platform requires a separate app version written in the appropriate programming language. Android uses Java or Kotlin, while iOS uses Swift or Objective C. This means that an app native to one platform will not work on another.

The popularity of native mobile apps

There are about 8.93 million mobile apps available worldwide. There are 3.553 million on Google Play and 1.642 million on the Apple App Store. This demonstrates the growing popularity and availability of many options for users. Equally impressive is the share of internet traffic generated by mobile devices. It reached 61.21% in March 2024. These figures underline how many areas of our lives and businesses rely on mobile app

Advantages of native applications

  • High performance and speed—native code can be executed directly by the device’s processor, minimizing the on-the-fly interpretation or compilation time typical of some hybrid or web applications. This difference is critical in mobile games, which require fast graphics rendering and real-time response to user actions.
  • Access to the full range of device features—because native applications are written with a specific operating system in mind, they can take full advantage of the device’s hardware capabilities, such as the camera, microphone, accelerometer, or GPS. This makes it possible to create more advanced and interactive applications. 
  • Better OS integration—OS integration enables native UI components and features, such as push notifications, which can improve the user experience by providing a smooth and consistent interaction.  
  • Improved data security—Native applications can benefit from the full range of security features the operating system offers, including process isolation, filesystem-level encryption, and secure key storage. These security mechanisms are essential for sensitive data applications, such as banking or healthcare applications.

Disadvantages of native apps

  • Higher development costs – developing separate apps for each platform (iOS, Android) requires more resources as each app must be designed in a different development environment and programming language. This means hiring more specialists, which translates into higher project costs. For example, a team may need developers specializing in Swift for iOS and Kotlin or Java for Android.
  • Increased management and maintenance complexity—maintaining multiple versions of the same application requires additional efforts in source code management, testing, updating, and bug monitoring. Each platform may also have its own specific bugs and issues, requiring the development team to be familiar with and skilled in the different ecosystems.
  • Longer update times–Because native applications must be updated separately for each platform, the update deployment process can take longer. In addition, app stores must approve updates, which can further delay the availability of new versions to users. This can be a challenge, especially when rapid change deployment is business critical.

Native or hybrid application?

Choosing between a native or hybrid app depends on your project goals and available resources. Native apps (Swift for iOS, Kotlin for Android) offer better performance and access to device features, making them ideal for advanced applications. Hybrid apps (HTML, CSS, JavaScript with Cordova/Flutter) are cheaper to develop, easier to update, and work across multiple platforms, but they can be less powerful. Consider the purpose of the application, your budget, and the features you need.

Examples of native applications

  • Instant messaging and social media (e.g., Whatsapp)
  • Mobile games (e.g. Pokemon Go)
  • Educational applications (e.g. Duolingo)
  • Banking applications

Why should you consider native mobile apps?

Investing in native apps ensures top performance and perfect iOS/Android integration. This allows you to leverage your devices’ full potential and offer features unavailable on the web or in hybrid apps. At Unique Devs, we specialize in developing native apps tailored to your business objectives.

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