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What’s the best technology to use if you want to create a mobile app?


So you want to create a mobile app – and already have a great idea. But what technology should you use to actually build it? There are several options, including native, React Native, Flutter, and native with Kotlin Multiplatform. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at all of these to discuss which is the best choice depending on your needs.

1. Native

Native development means you create the app using Swift for iOS and Kotlin for Android. The advantage of native development is that you get optimal performance and responsiveness and your app will have the best access to a mobile device’s hardware and OS features. Your app’s user interface will match the platform’s conventions, meaning your app will provide a familiar experience for users. 

The downside of native development is that you will have to develop and maintain two separate codebases. This typically means hiring at least two developers, one with iOS and the other with Android development expertise.

2. React Native

React Native is developed by Meta. The primary benefit of using React Native is that you can share code across iOS and Android, reducing development time and costs as you only need one codebase. There is good performance for most use cases, with a native look and feel. React Native is also popular, with a huge ecosystem with many ready-to-use components, libraries, and tools – along with good support from Meta.

There are a few trade-offs you make when using React Native over native development. The app size is larger than native apps, and performance can be an issue for highly demanding tasks. Debugging can sometimes be more complex due to the bridge between the native and JavaScript environments. Because React Native is a 3rd party development tool, it may lag in adopting the latest OS features.

3. Flutter

Flutter is by Google and is similar to React Native in that you only need to develop one codebase that is shared across iOS and Android. Flutter is good for creating high-performance apps with a smooth user interface due to the Skia rendering engine. There is a rich set of pre-designed widgets that make UI creation straightforward.

The downsides are also similar to React Native in that the app size is larger compared to Native and Flutter may lag in adopting the latest OS features. It’s a younger ecosystem compared to React Native, with fewer third-party libraries – though it’s growing rapidly. 

4. Native with Kotlin Multiplatform

Native with Kotlin Multiplatform allows you to share business logic across iOS and Android while maintaining native UIs and performance. The tool leverages Kotlin's concise syntax and modern language features and allows for the use of platform-specific APIs and libraries when needed.

However, Kotlin Multiplatform is still an experimental technology. The shared codebase is generally limited to business logic, meaning UI and platform-specific code will need to be written separately. There are also more limited resources, documentation, and community support compared to established frameworks like React Native and Flutter. 

So which tech should you use? 

When it comes time to choose a technology, it depends on both the needs of your app and the development expertise you have available. If your app requires high performance, integration with the latest platform features like AR, or frequent interaction with hardware components like cameras, GPS, and sensors, native with or without Kotlin Multiplatform makes sense. This is also true if there are specific devices or OS versions you need to support or if the app will handle sensitive information requiring robust security measures.

On the other hand, if you need an app quickly and cost-effectively or the UI should be consistent across platforms, React Native or Flutter is the best choice. When it comes time to choose between these two, we typically recommend Flutter as it’s more performant and developer-friendly compared to React Native. However, if you have access to React Native expertise, it makes sense to use it instead. 

Want to discuss more about developing mobile apps? Contact us!