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Native apps

Platform-specific or device-specific app

Native apps are developed from scratch for a specific platform such as iOS, Android or Windows phone. An explicitly for a platform written source code is termed as "native.". For Apple products the programming language is Swift (formerly objective-C). When applications are written for a platform, the programmer can access all properties in the API of a mobile device: sensors can be addressed directly, the camera can upload a photo directly to the app, etc. Ideally all apps would be developed natively, because this way the specifications of the manufacturer can be kept perfectly the usability features of the user interfaces can be tailored precisely to a device and thus achieve a high performance.

Native App

Native apps are expensive in the maintenance and development

When a native app is developed, it must be tailored to the diversity of devices of the manufacturer. At Apple, for example, there are various versions of the operating system, types of devices and screen sizes, which need to be considered individually. New versions of the operating system or new versions of the programming language are issued regularly. In this respect, these applications must be updated continually which results in high costs.


Android (Google)

< 7>iOS (Apple)

Windows Phone (Microsoft)

Programming language



New at iOS 8: Swift


Development environment

Android Studio, Netbeans or Eclipse

XCode oder


Visual studio


(each new release causes updates and costs for native Apps)

Eclair (2.0–2.1)

Froyo (2.2–2.2.3)

Gingerbread (2.3–2.3.7)

Honeycomb (3.0–3.2.6)

Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0–4.0.4)

Jelly Bean (4.1–4.3.1)

Windows Phone 7

Windows Phone 7.5

Windows phone 7.8

Windows Phone 8

8.1 Windows phone

Windows phone 10

iPhone OS 2.x

iPhone OS 3.x

iOS 4.x

iOS 5.x

iOS 6.x

iOS 7.x

iOS 8.x

iOS 9.x

Alternatives to the native app

There are some. A regular Web-App, which can be opened directly in the browser on your smartphone or an Hybrid App that needs to be installed through the App store, and only has certain "native" functions - the rest of the app is loaded as a responsive HTML in the app.

Native or non native?

If the app must work on all platforms, support tablets and is it mostly used to retrieve information and entering of data, then a Web App is clearly more useful and cost-effective.

For apps, that are resource-intensive, it is worthwhile to make a native app. For example, to this category belong games, drawing applications, GPS tracking and the like. A comparison of different technologies can be found here: Web app vs. Native app vs. Hybrid app

cloudtec as a software development partner

We program and design passionately sophisticated software solutions. Our experts will assist you in choosing the right technology.

by cloudtec Published: Updated: 9. June 2017

cloudtec AG
Sandrainstrasse 17 3007 Bern Switzerland