A native app is an app built with the native language of the device on which it will be installed and because the app is built for the device, it delivers optimal user experience. Native mobile apps provide fast performance and a high degree of reliability. However, this type of app is expensive to develop because it is tied to one type of operating system, forcing the company that creates the app to make duplicate versions that work on other platforms. Most video games are native mobile apps.
Developing Native Apps
What distinguishes native apps from the alternatives mentioned is that they are designed and coded for a specific kind of device. For instance, iPhone apps are written in Objective-C and Android apps in Java. Each mobile platform offers developers their own development tools, interface elements and standardized SDK. This enables any professional developer to develop a native app relatively easily.
Native apps offer the fastest, most reliable and most responsive experience to users. They can tap into the wider functionality of the device; including the camera, microphone, compass, accelerometer and swipe gestures. Publishers can make use of push-notifications, alerting users every time a new piece of content is published or when their attention is required. This is a key method of engagement. You get the opportunity to continually bring your audience back for more.
It’s not just about access to core device capabilities, though. Native apps, when well designed, respect the design patterns and standards of each platform. It goes beyond a left-aligned header on Android versus a center-aligned header on iOS, there are hundreds of small differences in the design of user interactions on each platform. Taking them all into account means designing apps that are intuitive to use and play well with the rest of the platform’s ecosystem. Overall, going for native apps helps you create apps that are designed to delight your users.
The main downside of a native app is that it will not work with other kinds of devices. If you write an app in Objective-C for iOS, it’s not going to run on Android without being completely re-written in Java. When building for multiple platforms, developing a native app, therefore, can be quite expensive (when done from scratch), as it will require you to build and maintain multiple and separate versions of your app. It’s also common for developers to specialize in one platform, so often you’ll have to find different coders for each platform you want your app to be available for.
If your budget allows it, native apps are the ideal, offering the best user experience. When building from scratch and when multi-platform support is key, then be aware this can also be the most costly option.