Parthenon Software Group


Why Native App Development is in Decline

Posted by: Jessica Wilson 4 years, 3 months ago

Everywhere you look, there’s at least one or two people playing with their mobile devices. Such activity leads into the commonly known fact that mobile app usage is on the rise. What is that makes an mobile app so popular? Could it be the portability of it, or it is a matter of the newest and greatest app? In any case, things are on the up and up. However, development of said apps has undergone a pretty big transition. Along with improvements in HTML5, cross-platform resources are taking over. What does this mean for native apps? A fairly steady decline.

Native Apps

When operating systems first came into being, there were set specifics about how they could be used as well as the way in which applications could be developed for them. And of course, the ability to design an application for multiple platforms wasn’t even a thing. . . yet. If you wanted the same application for Android, iPhone, Blackberry, etc, you had to develop the application in multiple versions and codebases.

Such is the basis behind native apps. This process also involves the use of platform specific languages and SDKs (Software Development Kit) so that the application is able to run in a certain manner. As a result, an native app essentially “lives’ on a device and can access device hardware and software. As a result, flashy and powerful apps can be expected alongside fast performance, ease of use and consistent look and feel.

Nevertheless, technologies and development practices have changed and improved. People are no longer looking to native apps as the only means to develop mobile apps. More likely than not, they are turning to other options.

A Decline in Native Development?

Why the aversion for native apps? It’s not so much that people dislike native apps. After all, native apps are powerful and secure. However, the disadvantages and risks associated with them have tended to outweigh the benefits. As most people already know, it’s difficult to maintain and support native apps if there are multiple platforms in use.

As for the risks, there are risks in everything, but one has to decide if the risks associated with native apps are really worth it. Such risks include:

  • Building an app that isn’t desired.

    • Most likely this won’t happen if you’re careful and pay attention to your target audience. Nevertheless, it has happened because companies focus on their own perspective without necessarily realizing it.

  • Inability to handle user growth

    • What if your app stakes off? Can you realistically handle any number of users from 1 to hundreds of thousands? More precisely, are you equipped to support all of them?

  • Security breaches

    • Yes, it happens despite the best efforts to keep things secure. More likely than not, it’s because the need for the security precautions were either overlooked or underestimated.

  • Risk of getting denied

    • Don’t play by the App Store rules? It’s likely that your app will get denied and unfortunately it might mean significant changes to get the app approved or approval is even possible at all.

A Couple Alternatives

With native apps on the decline, it goes to show that alternative development processes are on the rise. Nevertheless, some of the methodologies have been around for a while and have remained quite popular over the years. So, why are they just edging out native apps now? A lot has to do with functionality and development time.

One such alternative is that of HTML5 apps. Here you have dynamic web pages that emulate native apps. In other words, you can use JavaScript and HTML5 to create dynamic web apps. The appeal of this particular approach comes from its ability to work on multiple screen sizes and multiple devices thanks to a write once, run everywhere mentality. In addition, recent improvements to HTML5 are making it possible to mobile web features to be just as flashy and powerful as native apps without having to sacrifice the simplicity of creating them.

Another popular choice is Apache Cordova. The particular draw to this framework stems from its hybrid nature. Here you have the ability to utilize elements of both native and web apps. And like HTML5 apps, you can write the code base once and it will work on multiple platforms. Better yet, costs are low, development time is fairly quick and there’s less issues given that there’s only one code base to maintain and support.

Keep in mind that such options are only two of many, but have still made a pretty profound impact on mobile app development.

Cases in which Native is still better?

Given the aforementioned information, there must be cases where native apps are still better right? Yes, but it’s pretty rare and really only pertains to specific elements. For instance, if you’re looking for extremely specific features on a specific platform, then native is probably the best approach.

Conclusion

Even though there will be applications that will continue to rely on native application development, there’s definitely going to be a continual decrease in its general use. Thanks to resources like Apache Cordova and HTML5, the way has already been paved for all kinds of cross-platform applications to come. Still, it begs the question, will there be a time when native apps are ruled entirely obsolete? I guess we’ll see.


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