Native vs. Hybrid vs. Cross-Platform: Which is best?

1 month ago
Native vs. Hybrid vs. Cross-Platform: Which is best? Image

Your company has an exceptional idea for a new mobile app—now it’s time for you to share it with the world. Which is the best choice for your app: native, hybrid, or cross-platform app development?

Deciding which platform to use can be daunting, but we’re here to simplify the process and save you valuable time.

According to Statista, in 2023, the annual number of app downloads is expected to surpass 299 billion and generate more than 935 billion dollars in revenue. And according to, people spend 4.8 hours daily on mobile devices, making mobile applications attractive to all kinds of businesses.

In a highly-saturated world of mobile app development, there are three main options: native, hybrid, and cross-platform. Each approach has its unique advantages and disadvantages. The best option for your app depends on various factors, including the nature of the project, target audience, budget, and timeline.

This article will explore the key differences between native, hybrid, and cross-platform mobile app development and provide insights into which option might be best for your business.

Native Application Development

Native Application Development

A native mobile app is developed for a particular mobile platform using the platform’s native programming language. Native apps offer stellar performance and a smooth user experience because they are optimized for the device’s specific mobile operating system, hardware, and software features. Native apps are also known for their ability to integrate with the mobile device’s hardware features, such as the camera, GPS, and sensors.

Native development solutions offer superior design, performance, security, and compliance. You should consider using native development for building complex apps or for an application where heavy data processing is to be expected. Due to the platform’s core development language and APIs, native apps possess superior performance and intuitive UX.

InspiringApps developers have extensive experience in native app development using Java for Android and Swift for iOS app development.

Let’s discuss the pros and cons of native mobile app development.

Native mobile apps

Pros of Native Mobile Apps

  • Offline functionality: Native users will have access to your app online or offline—making your app easily accessible.
  • App complexity: Native apps are fast and responsive. Is your app complex, with advanced features heavy on data processing? Native development solutions offer speedy performance and great UX.
  • Quality UX: Native development offers intuitive and customizable UX that makes the flow of the app feel natural and seamless.
  • Access to native features: With accessibility to the device’s complete feature set, native apps offer enhanced experiences for users—because they can reach and interact with all functions on the device.
  • Hardware access: Apps that have the ability to directly access file systems, cameras, microphones, proximity sensors, and other hardware specific to mobile operating systems may provide better functionality and performance.
  • App security: Native development is ideal for app security because they have tools for creating built-in security features, such as intelligent fraud detection and file encryption.

Cons of Native Mobile Apps

  • Costly: Building native apps can result in a larger expense when planning to launch an app to Google Play and the Apple Store.

  • Time-consuming: Native app development can be time-consuming because your source code requires separate development for each platform, which can be costly and time-consuming.
  • Customer reach: Native apps are only available for download in platform-dedicated app stores and cannot be promoted on multiple app stores—thus resulting in less customer reach.

Examples of Native Mobile Apps

Some popular examples of native mobile apps include:

  • Waze
  • Spotify
  • WhatsApp

Native App Development Tools

iOS Development

There are several native app development tools available for iOS, including:

Android Development

You can develop native Android apps in Java, Kotlin, Scala, and C++ programming languages. Google provides native developers with advanced Android development tools, such as:

Hybrid Mobile App Development

Hybrid Mobile App Development

Hybrid development involves building an app using web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript and then wrapping it in a native shell. This approach allows developers to create apps that work across multiple platforms with a single codebase. However, since an app relies on an embedded browser, it may lead to slower performance and lack of harmony on the user interfaces on different platforms.

You should consider choosing hybrid development if you want to create an app quickly—it can be cheaper, faster, and more efficient.

Hybrid Mobile Apps

Pros of Hybrid Mobile Apps

  • Easy maintenance: Building an app across multiple platforms allows you to test and update apps simultaneously—allowing for easier maintenance.
  • Quick launch: Using a hybrid app development framework could result in a shorter wait time to get your app on the market.
  • Cost reduction: Because you only need to develop a single codebase, you can rely on one team of developers to create an app, which can be more cost-effective.
  • Improved UI + UX: Hybrid apps have the benefits of native and web apps while offering an enhanced user experience.

Cons of Hybrid Mobile Apps

  • App vulnerabilities: Hybrid apps are more vulnerable to security threats due to running on web-based technologies.
  • No offline support: There are no offline support capabilities.
  • Performance: Some hybrid solutions combine native and non-native components, which makes the code more complex and may affect the app’s performance.

Examples of Hybrid Apps

Some popular examples of hybrid mobile apps include:

  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Gmail

Hybrid App Development Frameworks

  • Ionic
  • Apache Cordova

Cross-Platform Mobile App Development

Cross Platform Mobile App Development

Cross-platform apps are built using a single codebase that can run across multiple platforms, such as iOS, Android, and Windows. They use frameworks such as Flutter, React Native, and Xamarin.

You should consider a cross-platform approach if your app concept is relatively straightforward because cross-platform apps tend to lag in performance and UX.

Cross-platform mobile development has incredible value because you don’t have to hire separate developers for each platform—everything is built in one framework (e.g., React Native). By streamlining app development across multiple platforms, cross-platform frameworks can reduce expenses, save time, and get a better return on investment.

Cross Platform App Development

Pros of Cross-Platform Apps

  • Single codebase: Updating a cross-platform app is easier because you are dealing with a single codebase.
  • Code reusability between iOS & Android apps: Code built is reusable across platforms and allows you to use a single codebase on multiple platforms.
  • Faster development time: Using a cross-platform framework will result in reusable code and, thus, faster development, enabling you to get your app on the market in less time.
  • Easier maintenance: Cross-platform solutions are easier to maintain because app updates and changes can be made to the codebase, which applies to all platforms.

Cons of Cross-Platform App Development

  • Complex integrations: Cross-platform mobile development does not offer platform-specific features—developers may find it challenging to integrate cross-platform apps into local settings.
  • Delayed features: While new software development kit (SDK) releases include new updates and features, cross-platform frameworks require a separate update to access new features.
  • No offline functionality: There are no offline support capabilities.
  • Increased security configurations: Cross-platform applications are more vulnerable to security threats due to running on web-based technologies.

Examples of Cross-Platform Mobile Applications

  • Skype
  • Walmart
  • Airbnb

Cross-Platform App Development Frameworks

Selecting Your Approach To Build a Mobile App

Development Time & Speed to Market

Developing a native application requires teams of developers with specialized skills for each platform. This can be time-consuming and expensive. When you have a tight timeline, cross-platform and hybrid apps are the way to go. Native development tends to be a more lengthy process due to having to create different versions of the app and a separate codebase for each platform.

Development Cost & Budget

Your business priorities, budget, and project scope will play a significant factor in which developmental route to take. If your company has a limited budget, hybrid and cross-platform approaches will best fit your needs; a single codebase saves you money by allowing you to reuse code for future use.


Mobile applications can get targeted with security threats—putting the user’s data and privacy at risk. Native development is ideal for app security because they have tools for creating built-in security features, such as intelligent fraud detection and file encryption.


Some apps are high on data and have heavy computing requirements. When looking for speedy performance, opt for native development. Native app development provides users with an intuitive UX, natural features, and familiar buttons and actions.

Complexity, Custom UX, or Consistency Across Platforms

For complex mobile applications and customized UX—native development is ideal. Native app development offers smooth performance and UX that surpasses hybrid and cross-platform development.

If your app requires access to device-specific features, like the camera or GPS, then a native application may be your best bet. While hybrid and cross-platform apps can access some device features, they may not be able to provide the same level of functionality as native apps.


When developing a mobile app, the choice between hybrid, native, or cross-platform framework depends on various factors. Native apps are built for a specific platform, making them highly responsive and offering a seamless user experience. However, they can be expensive and time-consuming to develop.

On the other hand, hybrid apps are easier and faster to develop than native apps. However, hybrid apps may not always be as responsive as native apps, and that can lead to lower user satisfaction.

Cross-platform apps, on the other hand, allow developers to write code once in Xamarin, Flutter, or React Native and deploy it across multiple platforms. They are more cost-effective and faster to develop than native apps while still delivering a great user experience. With cross-platform apps, businesses can reach a broad audience and save time and money on development costs.

In conclusion, the choice between hybrid, native, and cross-platform depends on your specific business objectives. While native apps offer a superior user experience, they can be expensive to develop. Hybrid apps are faster and easier to develop but may not always offer the same level of responsiveness as native apps. Cross-platform apps offer a cost-effective and efficient solution that can help businesses reach a wide range of users and save on development costs. Ultimately, the ideal choice depends on your business requirements, budget, and timeline.


Native, hybrid, and cross-platform app development: what are the key differences?

Native, hybrid, and cross-platform mobile apps differ in UX, UI, development speed, code base, app development costs, time to market, and other factors. Native programming languages cannot be streamlined across platforms, while hybrid and cross-platform can.

Native app development refers to the process of building apps specifically for a single platform, such as iOS or Android.This mobile app development approach involves using the core programming languages and tools that are specific to that platform, such as Swift or Objective-C for iOS and Java or Kotlin for Android.

Hybrid app development, on the other hand, involves building apps that can run on multiple platforms using a single code base. This is typically done using web technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, which are then packaged into a native app wrapper that can be deployed on various platforms.

Cross-platform app development is similar to hybrid app development in that it involves building apps that can run on multiple platforms using a single code base. However, cross-platform development typically involves using platform-specific languages and tools that are compiled into native code. Cross-platform development can improve performance and a more native-like user experience than hybrid apps.

Native, hybrid, or cross-platform: which app development method is best for my mobile app?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question, as the best approach will depend on the specific needs and requirements of your mobile application development project. Each development approach has its own advantages and disadvantages, and the decision will ultimately depend on factors such as your app’s unique specifications, needs, and goals. When deciding among the respective platforms, consider user experience, development time and cost, desired app performance, required platform support, range of app functionality, maintenance costs, and complexity of updates.

Innovation Within Reach

​​Innovative functionality and design are within reach. Whether it is a complex data solution, a custom integration, an internal app for employees, or an app that will deliver messages to the Moon, InspiringApps provides intelligent digital products that delight clients and end users with transformative results.

Let’s move your business forward together. Speak with our experts in enterprise solutions.

Download our free eBook

InspiringApps: A Business Perspective on Building Mobile Apps was written to help you evaluate ideas and turn the best ones into a genuinely successful app for use within your company or for consumer sale.
Recent Posts

App Development

Developing Apps for Generation Z

Generation Z is a brilliant and forward-thinking generation making a progressive transformation in the world as we know it. Following behind Millennials, they are heavily immersed in the technical landscape and are highly app savvy. They were born into a world of expansion and innovation with creations like the Apple iPhone and Facebook. Having grown up with the ability to access knowledge at the tap of their fingertips, they’re educated individuals with great entrepreneurial goals. They expect companies to anticipate their needs and will move on when they don’t deliver. They’re looking for flawless app design, fast iterations, responsible data collection, creative outlets, and more. Some Facts About Generation Z Born between 1997 and 2012, they’re in the era of self-discovery. Since their youth, Gen Z parents have been navigating the rise of technology and the online privacy issues that come with it; for Gen Z, finding their true selves is no easy task. Due to their immense media consumption, they expect instant gratification and high-speed delivery. As the “mobile generation,” 96% of Gen Zers are reported to own a cellphone—many spend 10 hours plus connected online. They frequent social platforms like Instagram, Youtube, TikTok, Twitch, Snapchat, Pinterest, Reddit, and other platforms. Gen Zers gravitate to mobile banking apps to serve their financial needs and streamline their tasks. Consequently, email is slowly dying out among this community of users. Generation Z interacts with apps in their lives as a means of communication, to fill a need in their life, and for play and creative expression. They are true digital natives and are hyper-connected to the world around them—making them increasingly self-aware and emotionally reflective. Generation Z also reports high rates of anxiety, depression, and mental challenges—more so than in past generations. Experiencing a global pandemic has only exasperated their mental health struggles. Consequently, prioritizing and addressing mental health is of great importance. Take Oye—a creative wellness app created by singer J Balvin “to make the world feel better.” It’s an app to transform your emotions into creative actions with mind-body practices, daily emotional check-in tools, personalized goal setting, and mindful notifications. Gen Z has proven to be catalyzed citizens who want to make a difference through social responsibility. Their innate understanding of the power of social networks and their regular consumption of news and information has allowed Gen Z to move past the era of Millennial armchair activism. While navigating life in today’s world, Gen Z confidently prioritizes experiences over objects. Considerations in App Development for Generation Z The Generation Z cohort is a significant target for app developers. Being born and raised in the digital age, they are always looking for novel tech to explore. Generation Z represents much larger historical forces at play, driving progressive transformation in the workplace that will redefine the entire generational experience. As a result, this generation has experienced increased globalization, technological advancements, and a fast-paced influx of information. Generation Z is changing the way we build digital experiences. Generation Z is the first generation to merge the digital and physical worlds into one experience. They view the internet as more than just a transaction and instead see it as a human experience. What that means for development is creating intuitive experiences that Gen Zers will love—innovative, straightforward, and seamless. With this information in mind, we’ve identified vital considerations to keep in mind when developing digital products for Generation Z. What Gen Z Consumers Want in An App Obsessively Tested, Flawless Design Gen Zers value efficiency and flawless design. That is why thorough testing and gaining user feedback are paramount. Be sure to ask for feedback from this generation and integrate the user input throughout your app’s development process and in updates. “If the designer doesn’t remove themself and try to see the user’s perspective, they can overly complicate the journey.” AARON LEA, ART DIRECTOR AT INSPIRINGAPPS, BOULDER CO Glitchy user interface behaviors and poor design choices are instant turnoffs for Gen Zers. Make your app seamless and flawless from the start, or you may lose your customer. Build your app with swift and straightforward interactions, and don’t reinvent the wheel for every feature within your product—draw inspiration from apps that are already working. By sticking with best practices and standard features and anticipating your users’ desires, your users will navigate more intuitively and stick around for more. Fast Iterations Gen Z consumers have grown up in a fast-paced digital world and value convenience and efficiency. They prefer mobile apps that offer quick and uninterrupted experiences, such as fast loading times, easy checkout processes, and streamlined workflows. Keep your app low on data—fast to download and delete. Control Over Their Digital Footprint Gen Zers quickly went from a private world to everything constantly being shared online. In their formative years, they grew up with little technology at their disposal. They were thrust into a world of hyper-technology and interconnectedness as time progressed. With that in mind, here are essential factors to keep at the forefront of your app development: Privacy Settings Gen Z should be able to manage their privacy settings on apps. This type of functionality includes having the ability to choose whether their information is shared publicly or only with specific individuals and having the option to limit the usage of their personal data. Data Transparency Gen Z should have clear access and information about what data is collected, how it’s used, and to whom it gets shared. Responsible Data Collection It’s essential to ensure that Gen Zers’ personal data is protected from data breaches and cyber threats. Apps should implement robust security practices to keep user data safe. Value-Add Through Personalization You can add value with personalization by using various technologies, such as saving login information, geolocation, machine learning, and AI, to cater to the specific needs of Gen Z. It is crucial to find a proper balance in incorporating personalization that genuinely adds value, without overdoing it. Here are a few core components to adding value through personalization: Saving Login Information Gen Z is all about convenience, and one way to provide that is by saving their login information. By doing so, you not only save them time but also provide a straightforward user journey. Geolocation Gen Z consumers are constantly on the go and expect a personalized experience based on their location. Using geolocation technology, you can offer tailored recommendations, promotions, and content based on their location. Machine Learning & AI If you want to better understand your Gen Z customers, machine learning can be a potent tool. By analyzing their data, you can personalize their experience and provide the results they seek—before they even ask. AI and machine learning are great tools for automating manual tasks as well. Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) can be used in many ways to develop apps for Gen Z. Here are some ways to incorporate ML and AI in your app to improve its performance: Personalized Recommendations: ML algorithms can provide customized recommendations to Gen Z users based on their interests, behaviors, and preferences. Chatbots & Virtual Assistants: With natural language processing (NLP) techniques, it’s now possible to create bots that can interact with Gen Z users in a way that feels just like talking to a real person. Bots can help users with tasks such as scheduling, finding information, or making purchases on their mobile devices. Image & Video Recognition: Computer vision techniques can be used to recognize images and videos, which can be helpful in apps such as social media platforms, gaming, or e-commerce. Predictive Modeling: Predictive modeling techniques can be used to forecast future behaviors and trends. For instance, a news app can predict which articles will be most popular among Gen Z users. Predictive modeling ensures your app stays ahead of the curve. Voice Recognition: Voice recognition techniques can be used to develop voice-enabled apps and devices that can be controlled with voice commands. This technology can be helpful in apps such as virtual assistants, smart home devices, or hands-free gaming. ML and AI can help app developers create more engaging, personalized, and interactive apps for Gen Z users. By leveraging these technologies, app developers can improve the user experience and stay ahead of the competition. Creative Tools More than half of Gen Zers believe they are more creative than previous generations. Most of them engage in creative activities in their free time. Gen Z is a highly creative generation that values individuality and self-expression. Therefore, niche tools enabling creativity are essential for creating apps that resonate with them. Concluding Thoughts on Developing Apps for Gen Z Gen Zers have a unique vantage point when it comes to app development. They’ve experienced the best of both worlds—an era of privacy merged with hyper-connectedness. They are vicarious app consumers, making them ideal customers for app developers. Brands that take the time to understand their Gen Z users’ behaviors, motivations, preferences, and expectations will experience significant growth. Considering the above considerations, one can ensure that their app hits the mark with this brilliant and forward-thinking generation. Gen Z wants more than just an app. They crave a unique experience that fulfills their daily needs and brings joy. The app should leave them feeling special and enhance their well-being. At InspiringApps, we stay on the pulse and ahead of the curve to bring you the most forward-thinking and trending app development insights. If you have any questions or thoughts on the above material—we’d be delighted to connect!

21 days ago

App Design

InspiringApps Creative Director on Creating Simplified User Journeys

Boulder, CO—In the latest article from Built In Colorado, InspiringApps’ Creative Director, Aaron Lea, shares his advice on creating simplified user journeys within digital products. How To Simplify User Journeys When do you know it’s time to simplify your product’s user journey? When we design digital apps, we’re always looking for ways to simplify the user journey. Limiting the number of interactions users have to make is a best practice for most apps. The more users have to drill down into extra screens, the more likely they are to leave. I like to think of it this way: design the app like you’re in the Target parking lot and about to go inside the store to buy Tide Pods. As a user, I want to be in and out as quickly as possible. A quick exchange that’s easy for me to use means I’m more prone to open the app the next time I’m in that Target parking lot. It’s often the case that apps are downloaded, opened once, and then deleted. These apps are too cluttered, and people won’t reuse them. On the other hand, when users know it doesn’t take too long to accomplish a task—no guided tours they’re more likely to use the app. A simple experience is a successful experience. Unless we’re creating something like TikTok, we aren’t designing the app to keep users in it. We’re here to help users achieve something or access a specific feature. The fewer interactions it takes to accomplish that, the better the journey. What process do you use to identify opportunities for simplification? App design is an art that involves trusting your instincts. I like to think of this process as similar to editing a script. Editors are great at identifying what’s essential and getting rid of clutter. But their real goal is staying true to what makes the script great—and amplifying that by revealing only what needs to be there. For example, an app may have a component that mirrors the functionality of Slack or Youtube. These are established popular apps. And even the best digital products aren’t going to lure people away from them. Any project, whether it’s designing an app or a home improvement project, can be subject to scope creep. Is that feature really needed? Was it added at the last minute? We all get distracted in the creative journey, and the risk is that we keep getting further away from—or even lose sight of—the reason we started, the problem we wanted to solve. We need to stay true to what inspired us in the beginning to create the app. ART DIRECTOR, AARON LEA | INSPIRINGAPPS, BOULDER CO What are some common traps designers can fall into that result in an overly complicated user journey? One trap is elevating ego over empathy. If the designer doesn’t remove themself and try to see the user’s perspective, they can overly complicate the journey. Designers must constantly evolve, challenge themselves, and put themselves in others’ shoes. ART DIRECTOR, AARON LEA | INSPIRINGAPPS, BOULDER CO Another trap could be the designer finding a new design tool or method they want to use and deciding to use it in a particular product. Novelty is not a substitute for suitability. A good rule of thumb is, don’t force it if it doesn’t deserve to be there. Sometimes, designers get set in their ways. Just because it worked last time doesn’t mean it will work this time too. Or conversely, designers may reinvent the wheel. If the design worked the first time, there’s no need to rethink it. Time management is critical. With mobile apps, people remember the launch, the middle, and the endpoint. A trap could be spending too much time on incidental interstitial areas. Don’t focus all your time there. Take that time and instead pick the three most vital sections—the app’s beginning, the middle, and its exit—and make those experiences ones that keep users coming back. Meet InspiringApps’ Creative Director Aaron Lea We believe that Inspired Employees Make InspiringApps and that our diverse backgrounds, skills, hobbies, and perspectives are what make us a stronger team. Aaron Lea finds his inspiration steeped in pop culture, a tradition of art in his family, and a creative digital design process that enables him to put novel creations back into the world and inspire others as a result.  

1 month ago

Blog Categories
App Design
App Development
Business & Strategy
Client Projects
InspiringApps News
Mobile Industry