A native application, or app is software that has been developed for use on a specific device and its operating system using a specific programming language – Android (written in Java) or iOS (written in Objective-C or Swift).
Most apps are native because they can benefit from new technology and give the best performance when compared with mobile cloud apps or web apps that have been designed to cross many systems. They also provide highly reliability and fast performance. Popular apps like Waze, PokemonGo and Twitter are native.
Obviously, native apps can take longer to build and can be expensive – especially if they are developed on both platforms. As Android apps don’t work on iOS and iOS apps don’t work on Android, they both require different codebases. Nevertheless, scrolling, usability, keyboard behaviour, and graphics can play a defining role in the popularity of the app so developers can’t avoid it.
However, the advantages of native apps are that their specificity makes them faster, more reliable and able to offer a more responsive experience to the user. Likewise, they can easily tap into the functionality of many other devices such as cameras or microphones. Owners can receive push notifications to tell them when new content is uploaded and there is no need to compromise on an app’s UI/UX as it is built to specific platform conventions rather than one-size-fits-all.
Though the main disadvantage of a native app is the necessity to develop them separately for each platform you may want to cover, there are several fairly recent platforms that aim to enable cross-platform development whilst maintaining the user experience and access to native APIs (interfaces for software). These include Flutter, Titanium, React Native and Xamarin.