Cross-platform application development is one of the most popular mobile application development trends. Statista says about a third of developers use cross-platform technologies and frameworks, while the rest stick to native mobile apps. It should not come as a surprise - this method allows companies to shorten product development time, build a reasonable budget, and optimally use resources.
Cross-platform mobile app development is about building a single app that can run on both Android and iOS rather than developing separate applications versions for each platform. Cross-platform app development is driven by the goal of producing software that works well in more than one diverse digital environment, with the primary aim of marketing it to a broader client base. Another approach is to make the program abstract at various levels to adapt it to multiple platforms. This software is "platform agnostic" in the sense that it does not favor or prioritize one platform over others. Developers may also utilize application programming interfaces (APIs) to adapt a piece of software to a specific platform.
What Makes Cross-Platform App Development Different From Others?
We understand what cross-platform mobile development is, but there are distinctions to be aware of in Native and multi-platform development. To avoid confusion, let's consider the difference between native app creation and cross-platform apps and hybrid.
Native applications are designed for one specific platform, such as Android or iOS. Developing two apps, supporting two codebases, and two teams must create a native Android and iOS.
With cross-platform app development, we get a single program that may run on both platforms. When you need multi-platform capabilities, cross-platform app development is an excellent alternative.
Cross-platform app development: Pros and Cons
The apparent advantage of cross-platform apps (that is, programs that can be used on multiple platforms) is that they are built with a minimal set of features. This way, it's easy to reuse the code and adapt the app for every platform. One disadvantage is that you'll need to build your program twice because each operating system has its programming language. It would help if you also remembered about using containers or other virtualization software. Let's take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of this approach.
Pros Of Cross-Platform App Development
You won't need two teams of developers to build a cross-platform app if you use singleton architecture. As a result, the development cost will be reduced.
Only a single cycle of development is needed to create an app that runs on multiple platforms.
Single Code Base
As the app is created with a single cross-platform development tool, only one code base is made.
One app on any device
What if we want to run an app on an iOS-based tablet at home, switch to an Android phone on the go, and then use it on a desktop or browser when we get to the office? We like and expect similar user interfaces (UIs) and user experiences (UXs) while still adhering to platform-specific features.
Any platform can be supported
It may be more expensive to have two teams working on distinct (native) development tools for each platform as a business. Developers will prefer cross-platform app creation since it allows them to rapidly roll out new applications across platforms: consider one team of native developers for one platform behind another team of native developers.
Wider market reach
A developer's code can now be written to produce apps for any number of app stores simultaneously. As a result, goods have a more significant potential for growth.
Minimize upfront expenses
You won't be able to profit from an app before it's released. The upfront investment minimizes any gambles taken. Cross-platform application development is considerably simpler and faster, allowing for a quick initial version and market feedback.
Market analysis and tests
All product firms need to measure their success, collect data, and receive customer feedback as quickly as possible. The data is crucial because it allows you to see where your application needs to be profitable. By allowing you to make changes early enough, cross-platform app development will allow you to reach this point much sooner.
Cons Of Cross-Platform App Development
The cross-platform app is slower than its native counterpart due to an additional abstract layer and rendering process.
Developers may have more difficulty navigating smartphone capabilities such as the microphone, camera, and geolocation than a native app. But you have to remember the rapid advances that cross technologies are making.
Cross-platform apps are unable to take advantage of native UI elements. As a result, it can't provide the platform's usual UX experience.
What are Native Apps?
Native applications are apps that are designed for a single platform. The app is created with programming languages and tools that are specific to a single platform. You can make an Android app in Java or Kotlin while creating an iOS app in Swift and Objective-C. Those kinds of apps are known to deliver exceptional user experience as they are generally high performance. User experience is also enhanced as the visuals are tailored to the platform UX. However, startups are concerned about the high cost of native app development as they need to run concurrent development for both platforms.
Pros of Native Development
You'll have access to every API and tool offered by the platform that you're developing for. Technically, there are no restrictions on how the new app may be utilized.
Better Store Support
Native apps are often easier to publish and rank higher in the app store than hybrid apps since they provide superior performance and speed. But the difference in most applications is unobtrusive.
The flexibility in resources management and the variety of tools accessible also make apps designed for the native environment more scalable.
High Performance And Great UX
The direct connection between the code and the underlying resources leads to fast performance. Native apps, on the other hand, generally have a superior UX that is linked with the platform.
Cons of Native Development
When you build native applications, it can be costly to launch for both iOS and Android. It implies that you'll need to hire two separate teams to work on different platforms.
Because platform development is time-consuming, reusing the same work for another platform would be difficult. Instead, a separate team would be required to develop the alternative version.
Developers frequently introduce new versions in native apps for a variety of reasons. The most common reason is to repair bugs and malfunctions. As a result, app store updates are necessary to download if the user isn't aware of these updates or skips them to save storage space.
Before downloading a native app, make sure it's available on the App Store or Play Store. Downloading a native app entails several procedures. They must locate the app, go through the terms and conditions, and then download it. The download procedure may take a long time, especially if users aren't patient.
Top Frameworks for Cross-platform Mobile App Development
Cross-platform frameworks for mobile app development are essential for businesses seeking to save time and money. Businesses often choose them because they remove the need to code separate mobile apps for iOS or Android devices. Instead, cross-platform frameworks use a common codebase that's compatible with all devices.
These popular frameworks are known for their ease of use and simplicity when building an app. They are open-source software that provides functionalities across the web, mobile, desktop.
- Design and develop mobile apps with a concentration on the user interface.
- Third-party library integration.
- Workflows that "write once and use everywhere."
- For installation, it uses Node Package Manager.
- Reload mobile development on dual screens and in real-time.
- Reduced development durations.
More details you can find in our article, where we compare Flutter vs. React Native.
It is a new feature by Google that was introduced in December 2018. It's a unique framework for building mobile apps for Android and iOS devices using one code base, not two separate ones. One of Flutter's advantages over other application development tools is that it allows you to create mobile apps with the same code base for both platforms. What's more, thanks to Google developers and the community around Flutter, the tool is developing very dynamically and may soon revolutionize the e-commerce market. There are several benefits to using Flutter. Material design, fluid animations, a configurable user interface, and pre-installed SDKs are just a few of them. The following characteristics can be found in Flutter:
- Development of stock platform apps is supported
- Support for 2D mobile apps
- Compatibility for native device features like cameras, location, storage, and so on
- Creative, robust designs
Flutter is a cross-platform mobile app development framework that allows you to develop iOS and Android applications with the Dart programming language.
Xamarin is a cross-platform C# and NET-based mobile app development platform that streamlines the engineering, creation, and deployment of Android, iOS, and Windows Mobile apps. Xamarin has several valuable tools that have helped it gain a lot of popularity among app developers:
- PCL is used for backend interactions,
- It creates mobile applications (on desktop systems) that are mobile responsive using mobile SDKs,
- Written in C# and is highly compatible with Visual Studio,
- Supports Type-Checking,
- For mobile app developers, a one-size-fits-all solution.
Xamarin is a development platform for mobile apps that runs on Visual Studio. As a result, C# and NET developers may use sophisticated mobile app development and design methods using the toolkit. The kit is intended for open source project development and makes connections to high-quality APIs.
Top Frameworks for Hybrid mobile app development
Ionic is an open-source framework created with Apache Cordova (PhoneGap) and Angular to create Android and iOS apps for better mobile performance. The framework aids in the development of robust and feature-rich native applications. Ionic's most notable benefit is that it enables developers to use a variety of user interface components, such as filters, forms, views, navigation menus, and action sheets. Ionic is a full platform that lets you develop Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), hybrid and cross-platform mobile apps.
Cordova (Apache Cordova)
Cross-platform apps examples
Platform mobile development tools and their applications:
Apps Made with Xamarin Cross-Platform App Framework:
- Fox Sports,
- Alaska Airlines,
- American Cancer Society,
- BBC Good Food.
Apps Made with React Native Cross-Platform App Framework:
Apps Made with Flutter Cross-Platform App Framework:
- Google Ads,
Apps Made with Ionic Hybrid App Framework:
- McLaren Automotive,
How do I choose the best cross-platform framework?
There would have been a significant worry about the iOS vs. Android platforms war had there not been cross-platform support for most of our daily apps. According to the numbers available, an Android user has access to over 2.56 million applications on the PlayStore, whereas Apple's App Store offers only 1.85 million iOS apps.
Before you know the difference between a Cross-platform and a Native application, you'll need to understand your project's needs. The discovery phase is one of the essential stages in the software development life cycle.
- If you have enough money to invest in two separate developers who work for the two different platforms, then leading with native apps is the way to go.
- If you can't create an application for both platforms simultaneously, producing a Cross-platform app is still a fantastic idea.
We've put up a list of quick app ideas to assist you in selecting the appropriate mobile app development framework to bring your next mobile app to fruition.
Research is essential
It would help if you first had a clear picture of the demands of contemporary consumers and the most recent mobile app trends to produce a top-notch mobile application that can compete in the market.
An in-depth market study can assist you in providing valuable insights about comparable applications on the market. They show how they address their consumers' problems and how your rivals succeed with their marketing strategies. Because your business is focused on the client, it's critical to develop a mobile app that addresses consumer problems. Also, concentrate on their future needs and provide an anticipated user experience. The latest mobile app development trends and the feasibility of the product in the market must be investigated. It will assist you in developing and optimizing your software for a complete and feature-rich result. You can find more information about that process in our article "Proof of concept in the software development process."
Identify The Targeted Audience
When creating engaging and customer-centric mobile apps, determining the target audience is critical. The targeted audience you are considering will influence the mobile app development process, expansion, and growth. You might develop a questionnaire to obtain a clear image of identifying your target audience: Who are the people who will use the mobile app? What are the most critical issues that it will address? How does this help your company improve its operations?
Which Platform Is Best For You?
Android, iOS, and other leading mobile operating systems compete fiercely to meet customers' digital demands. Due to their large market share, most companies today use Android and iOS platforms in their operation. Cross-platform app development platforms can help you develop a popular mobile app for Android and iOS on various devices. Customers across multiple platforms and devices may use the applications to access an exciting and unavoidable experience at any time and place. Here are some factors to consider while selecting the most refined platform for your mobile application: brand or app name, target audience, features, pricing.
To include top-notch and customer-centric features, consider having them into the app.
The functions may differ depending on the platform. For cross-platform app development, device-specific characteristics are increasingly important for your mobile app to function correctly.
To your mobile app, you must include the following capabilities: simplicity, speed, high-quality Images, flexibility, security, push notifications, regular system updates, scalability.
Wireframes for your product
When deciding on a top mobile app development firm, you should consider the features and capabilities of your concept and the image that it conveys about them. You can find more information about choosing the best software development company in this article "Choosing the right software partner - guide (2022)."
Check to see whether the client and the mobile app specialist are on the same page for ideas. It's a simple method to incorporate all of the essential features and updates. Wireframes prevent future bugs from causing problems with the functionality.
Analyze the App Budget
When it comes to calculating mobile app development expenses, you must have a clear idea of how to go about developing an app. It aids in the accurate allocation of resources between all phases of the project.
The niche that you choose will influence your app budget, the sort of app you want, the features and functionalities you desire in your app. All of them will go into the cost of your mobile software.
Those all steps bring you closer to building a successful mobile application. In mDevelopers, we have created dedicated Discovery Workshops for founders and their teams which help prepare solid foundations for further implementation.
Cross-platform development is the most appropriate solution for all businesses as it allows them to create reliable applications compatible with all customer devices efficiently. As the best product development company, we know that choosing the proper application development tools is extremely important. We are happy to share our knowledge and experience, so if you want to discuss your project, arrange a free consultation with us.
About the author
Peter Koffer - Chief Technology Officer
With 13 years of experience in the IT industry and in-depth technical training, Peter could not be anything but our CTO. He had contact with every possible architecture and helped create many solutions for large and small companies. His daily duties include managing clients' projects, consulting on technical issues, and managing a team of highly qualified developers.