As followers of this blog will know, I’m a big believer in the efficiency of cross-platform mobile development using platforms like Adobe AIR.
Often, one of the core arguments I hear against using a middleware like AIR, is that user’s want native UI components, and that somehow native controls are always better.
From everything I’ve experienced as a developer this ‘conventional wisdom’ is just completely false.
I’d like to take a moment to debunk that myth once and for all. Not only is native not better, it can be boring and tired. Increasingly a hallmark of AAA apps is to do fresh, custom UI’s. And user’s are rewarding those apps with high reviews and sales.
Here’s some examples of premier applications on the App Store, see if you can spot the “Native UI”.
Clear is a beautifully innovate todo list, lauded by the press upon it’s release. Not a hint of native UI. Something like this would be quite easy to pull of in Flash / AIR:
4.5 / 5 Stars
Snapseed is one of the premier photo editing applications on the App Store. It features large set of completely custom built controls, controls that are very intuitive, but also extremely ‘non-native’.
(oop, 2 native buttons!)
Adobe Photoshop Touch
5 /5 Stars
Adobe’s Touch offering is a prime example. On both Android and iOS this application is rated with a perfect 5 /5. This is actually an AIR application, and seems identical on both mobile platforms. User’s don’t seem to mind!
4.5 / 5 Stars
One of my all time favorites. These shots do not do it justice, as the iPad versions is absolutely beautiful. Again though, loaded chock full of custom sliders, lists and other controls.
(native buttons so heavily skinned they’re unrecognizable)
PicShop HD – Photo Editor
5 / 5 Stars
Of course my own latest app. Here I really ripped off Android 4.0 and used it as my inspiration. Then I brought it to iOS . The result? User’s seem to love it! A 5 star rating, the first I’ve ever received on any app.
Moral of the story…
If you really want to set your app apart, ditch native UI completely and think outside the box. Investing some time into building your own custom UI set can be one of the best investments you’ll ever make.
The benefits of this are actually immense:
- Your app is rated higher and is more successful
- Your app is totally device agnostic, it will never look ‘out of place, so porting to new platforms is a breeze.
- You create a reusable component set that you can use in future apps. This saves time AND creates a strong brand/identity for your apps.
- Development is generally very rapid, as you make exactly what you need and no more. No fiddling with complex API’s, styling or skinning.