According to Grand View Research, the global mobile application market size was valued at USD 206.85 billion in 2022 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.8% from 2023 to 2030. The ubiquity of smartphones, rising internet usage, and the use of technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning in mobile applications all point to future growth in demand for mobile applications.
No wonder the mobile market attracts more and more new projects and startups.
When any company decides to build a mobile application, they have a choice of native iOS & Android, cross-platform, and hybrid development options.
The common knowledge is that native languages (Swift & Kotlin) are the most expensive in development because you write separate code bases for two different platforms, thus duplicating the cost for the front-end part of your application, while cross-platform (React Native, Flutter, Xamarin, etc.) and hybrid (Ionic, Apache Cordova + JS) languages work on both platforms, the same code is used for iOS and Android devices, though the interface and user experience would be not as superb.
It should come as no surprise that startups often choose cross-platform when they want to launch their app to the market: to reach the maximum audience, get feedback on functionality, and when the budget finally allows, develop anew the app in native technologies to enhance performance and upgrade user interface. Later on, some would decide to continue enhancing the cross-platform solution, gaining the expected result and quality desired while keeping the existing code base; others would be happy to stick to cross-platform or hybrid but eventually face the cases when to use in-built functions of the device they just have to migrate to native.
Is it possible to understand from the very beginning if the app will be able to pass all the product cycles as a cross-platform application, whether it will be worth rewriting later with native languages, or if it’s preferable to start with the native stack right away?
First, let's figure out what kind of application you plan to make. Based on the app’s expected functionality and best-matching architecture (or infrastructure) developers would categorize your product as a content or functional application.
Imagine that you are developing an online store. The logic of your application is to receive a list of products (application content) from the server and display it on the screen of the mobile phone. It definitely should contain a “basket” feature (to collect the user’s wishlist/purchase list and send it to the server) and it may be possible to track the courier in real time (receiving coordinates from the server and displaying them on the map on the phone). In all these features the application logic is to receive data (content) from the server and display it on the mobile phone screen. This type of application is called a Content application. All logic for processing orders, checking balances, and assigning a courier is located on the server, and the mobile application is used only for user interaction.
Now another use case. You are making an application that will measure the area of a room in order to calculate the cost of renovation activities. You will use the camera, lidar, and all the calculation logic will happen inside the application.
In this case, the server will only be a supplier of some additional data (the cost of work per square meter), so an application can perform the core functions without connecting to the server, in offline mode. Such "independent" applications are called Functional.
Why did we draw your attention to this categorization? Because the type of your application will directly influence which technology would work best both from functional and budget perspectives. Most content applications are focused on the UI and do not need high hardware performance and access to some special phone functions.
To develop them, it is worth using a cross-platform stack, which will reduce time-to-market, and allow reaching a broad audience without losing quality or functionality. Of course, you are free to choose native languages, but they’re unlikely to introduce significant bonuses. The modern cross-platform toolkit has reached almost the same UI quality and your users most probably won’t see or experience the difference between cross-platform and native applications in the case of content apps.
But if you are making a Functional application, the native stack is the best and almost unquestionable choice. For functional applications, you need to work more "correctly" with memory and have access to the built-in functions of the device itself. The development will require more time and investment, but you won’t have to sacrifice the effective functionality and productivity will make the perfect product.
So when you think about technology to develop your app, try to elaborate on which category it belongs to, and if you have any doubts, don’t hesitate to contact us for advice.