What is native mobile app development

Developing a native app - an overview for beginners

What is a native app?

A native app or native application is an application that is installed on the mobile device. Like a computer program on the computer. The software is specially programmed and adapted for an operating system and the corresponding end devices. Native apps are programmed most frequently for Google Android and Apple iOS, as these two operating systems are most strongly represented on the market and with around 99% market share actually make up the whole market. In addition to Android and iOS, Windows Phone still plays a small role, but the development of a native app for Windows Phone is neglected by most companies due to its low market share.

Native applications can be used with the Hardware of the end device interact and make use of them. For example, it is possible to access the camera, GPS, gyroscope or other sensors on the mobile device. In addition, a native app can access existing or pre-installed software on the smartphone or tablet. This means that the device's data and working memory can be accessed and, for example, images from the smartphone can be used or edited in the app.

Native apps are actually proprietary softwareThis means that it is very difficult for users or third parties to make changes and adjustments to an application. The source texts of the apps are usually under lock and key so that they cannot simply be copied. Nevertheless, it is possible for registered developers to get an insight into the code through the appropriate development environment (SDK).

The costs of native development are usually slightly higher than the development of a hybrid app or a web app. This is mainly due to the fact that the application has to be programmed individually for each operating system, since the code for Android and Apple is in different programming languages is written. This makes it difficult to give a general price for a native app. In addition, the resulting costs depend on many factors such as size, functions and complexity. In our article on the topic"App development costs" you can get a more detailed overview and view various price examples for apps that have already been developed.

The pros and cons of native apps

In order to capture the advantages and disadvantages of native apps, a comparison product is needed, in this case they are Web apps or hybrid apps. Based on their key figures, it can be determined in which points the native app is better than its counterparty. It is important to make it clear that no type of development is “the best”, it often depends on the problem or the requirements and which technology implements them in the best possible way. The budget of the app programming must also be taken into account during development.

Advantages of native apps

  • A big advantage of native apps is theirs outstanding performance. With no other type of development can such high-performance applications be created. The direct interaction of the app with the hardware guarantees maximum speed of use. This makes the app very user-friendly and keeps the user experience (UX) as high as possible.
  • Thanks to native development, the app is able to use almost all functions as well as the To control the hardware of the end device and to use. A native app can use NFC and, for example, allow payment with a smartphone. In addition, push notifications can be sent in order to contact the user more easily and quickly.
  • The Storage of data on the mobile device is another advantage of native apps. This enables, for example, series episodes to be saved on the smartphone, as with the Netflix app.
  • Through a easy download In the App Store or Google Play Store, the app can be installed quickly and easily. With just one click, the native app is installed on the customer's device and appears as an app icon on the start screen.
  • Native apps can also work without any problems offline be used. This can be problematic with web apps, as the offline use capacity is very limited despite browser caching.

Disadvantages of native apps

  • The only downside to native apps is that longer development time and the resulting higher development costs. As already mentioned, a native app should be programmed for both Apple iOS and Google Android, as it covers almost the entire mobile market. A hybrid or web development can save around 20% of the costs compared to native app development. But the maintenance costs for a native app are also higher, as updates have to be programmed and rolled out for several systems. In addition, there are even higher fixed costs, which are incurred due to the use of the App Store. In addition, 30% of the income from a native application must be paid to Google or Apple as transaction fees.

Read our article on the subject"Create app" and get an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of the other types of development for yourself.

Operating systems

As already mentioned, it makes sense or is necessary to have a native application programmed for several operating systems so that the app is also available on all mobile devices. Current studies on the distribution of operating systems on mobile devices show that programming for Google Android and Apple iOS this is sufficient and other mobile operating systems such as Windows Phone are negligible. Because according to statista, Android and iOS together have a market share of almost 99%. Google Android has the largest market share with around 86.5%, followed by Apple iOS with around 13.3% market share. Other platforms are practically no longer represented on the market, which makes additional development, which is associated with additional costs, superfluous. According to experts, this trend will continue in the future and even deepen. Other operating systems such as Windows Phone will soon no longer be available on the market. We will then give you a brief overview of the technical background native development for Android and iOS.

Google Android

Android is an operating system for mobile devices that was developed by Google and first came onto the market in September 2008. The most current version of the software is Android 10, which is unofficially nicknamed Android "Q". It is used by many companies such as Samsung, HTC, Xiaomi or Huawei for their smartphones, tablets and netbooks. Due to the large number of companies and thus also the many end devices, Android is the most widely used operating system for mobile end devices and has around 80.9% market share.

The Linux kernel forms the technical basis of Google Android. Native apps for Android are in programming languages Java and Kotlin written. In order to program an app for Android, a software development kit (SDK) is required in addition to the appropriate programming knowledge. An SDK is a development environment in which applications are programmed. The SDK for developing native Android apps is called "Android Studio" and was also developed by Google. Android Studio is an open source program and can be downloaded for free from the Internet. In addition to Android Studio, additional software is required for programming Android apps, the Java Development Kit (JDK), which is also available for download free of charge. Both programs can be installed on any computer and programming can then be started immediately. Due to the open source nature of the software, it is possible for everyone to program their own Android app.

Apple iOS

Like Android, iOS is an operating system for mobile devices. iOS was developed by Apple and first released in June 2007. The most current version of the software is iOS 13. In contrast to Android, iOS is only used by Apple and only for its cell phones (iPhones) and tablets (iPads). Other companies do not have access to the software and are therefore not authorized to use it. Despite the restriction to only one company, around 18.9% of the operating systems on mobile devices are a version of iOS.

Native apps for iOS can be written in the programming languages Swift, which was specially developed by Apple, or in Objective-C programmed. Due to the different programming languages ​​of Android and iOS, the written code cannot be used for both native apps, which, as already mentioned, can result in costs for native development. Apple also has its own development environment, called the SDK for iOS apps "Xcode"which, like Android Studio, is available free of charge on the Internet. In contrast to Android Studio, however, Xcode cannot be installed on every computer; it has to be an Apple computer or a computer running macOS. An Apple computer or a macOS emulator are therefore essential for developing an iOS app. This is often the reason why companies decide to have their app developed by an agency. In our article "Have the app programmed" Learn about the advantages of developing your app from a professional app agency.

Publish your native app

So that your customers or users can install the app on their mobile phones or tablets, you should install them on the various App platforms available for download. In the case of Android, this is the one Google Play Store and Apple the App Store. In order to publish your app on these platforms, they must be subject to the guidelines of Google or Apple. These mainly contain rules on data protection, family friendliness, content restrictions and monetization. The exact guidelines of the respective companies can be found on their homepages. In addition to the Google Play Store, Android devices usually also have company-specific app platforms on which you can also offer your app for download. Huawei has the AppGallery and Samsung has the Galaxy Store, but third-party companies such as Amazon also provide apps in their own appstore.

There are often fees for publishing in these app stores. The Google Play Store requires you to pay a one-time registration fee of $ 25. To publish your app in the Apple App Store, you need to register with Apple as an app developer. You can then purchase a developer license, which costs € 79 per year in Germany.This is necessary for a release of your app in the App Store. When marketing on other app platforms, there are usually certain fees, which is why you should consider whether a publication in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store is not sufficient. App agencies also support you with the publication in the respective stores. Specialized agencies will also assist you in marketing your app.

Most of the time, apps are published on different app platforms in order to generate sales with them. There are many ways to do this, be it a paid app, in-app advertising, or in-app purchases. Find out in our article "App monetization"how to make money with your app.

Conclusion - is a native app worth it?

The native development of an application guarantees that it is optimally adapted to the operating system and its mobile device. The app is able to access all hardware and a large part of the software of the device. This means that native apps can be developed very extensively and there are almost no limits to the various functions. In addition, native apps have excellent performance, which is often the deciding factor in favor of native development. The only disadvantage of native app development are the costs, as these are usually around 20% higher than those of web or hybrid development. In most cases, these additional costs are worth it, since all really successful apps are native apps. By publishing the app on the various app platforms, you open yourself up to a broad audience. There you can also place advertising and thus draw attention to your app, which increases the number of downloads, especially shortly after the release of your application.

Are you new to the subject of "native app development" and are you interested in developing a native app or are you still unsure which type of development is right for your app project? Many companies would therefore like to seek independent advice from certified experts in advance. Our consultants from itPortal24 are always there for you free and non-binding consultation to disposal.