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Native app | Definition

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What is a native app?

A native app is an app that is developed for one particular operating system (e.g., iOS or Android) only.

Native apps are usually downloadable via app stores like the Apple App Store or Google Play Store.

Native apps (compared to web apps) can take full advantage of the device's features like camera, vibration and GPS. After the download, they are shown as an icon on the home screen of the mobile device.

Advantages of native apps

  • Offline usability: Because the app is completely downloaded on the device, an internet connection is not necessarily needed. Depending on the functionality of the app, the user can use the app without any internet connection. But unlike web apps, users need to download new updates from the app store.

  • Recognizable look and feel: The OS (e.g., Android or iOS) provides styling guidelines that explain how to design the app. Users will understand quickly how to use the app.

  • Optimized aspect ratio: The aspect ratio is the ratio between width and height. The customization of the mobile application is an important factor for usability.

Native apps have better control over the orientation, size and resolution of the app. Developers have access to layout features that help them in their development. They can specify the screen size and aspect ratio. The mobile app then maintains the aspect ratio on other screen sizes.

Disadvantages of native apps

  • Long download process: Native apps must first be downloaded from the app store. This involves several steps: Open the app store, search for an app, install the app, open the app, etc. At each of these steps, users can leave the conversion funnel.

  • No flexibility: Native apps are developed platform-specific. The developers have little flexibility due to the specific requirements of the target platform.

  • Development costs: Each platform requires a specially developed app. On the one hand, this costs a lot of time, on the other hand, special developers are often required for each platform, since not all of them are proficient in the given programming languages.

The maintenance costs of a native application are also relatively high, accounting for 15-20% of the development costs.

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