Android development: ‘Tis better to go native
June 5, 2012 —
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If you pay much attention to the evolving trends in mobile development, you may have noticed a growing number of cross-platform frameworks becoming available lately. With tools like PhoneGap, Sencha Touch, Appcelerator Titanium, and Rhomobile (just to name a few), Sun Microsystems’ age-old banner of Write Once, Run Everywhere (WORE) has bled like a cheap red pen all over the mobile community, and I, for one, am not at all happy about it. Let me first say that there is one form of development that supersedes everything I’m about to say, which is game development. Developing games comes with its own set of development and user experience rules that cannot be otherwise applied to traditional app development, and so make it a bit of an exception.
When the choice is made to use a cross-platform framework to develop an application, it becomes clear that the development goal is not to make great software with a great experience, but instead of reduce development costs to the bare minimum. The choice is one that instantly limits what any version of the application can do in favor of only having to write the code one time. While some may argue the APIs they cannot use by not going native aren’t significant, the fact remains that they do exist and the core motive of the decision cannot be denied.
I have seen and been involved in many projects for clients over the years wishing to take a cross-platform app and split it into individual native apps in order to improve the user experience. I can honestly say I have never seen or heard of the reverse being true. In fact, I would challenge you to find an application beloved by the mobile user community that was created using such a framework. If you are able to find one, take note of just how difficult it was to seek out; adjectives like “compelling” and “award-winning” just don’t find themselves around applications made with cross-platform SDKs that often.