Creating applications that can run properly on more than one operating system is the straightforward explanation of cross-platform app development. It has grown in popularity since it gets rid of the need to develop separate apps for each operating system.
Cross-platform app development also meets the needs of companies that want to save both time and money in developing an app. It cuts down on expenditure since companies don’t have to spend money developing multiple iterations of the same app for different systems. It also decreases development time.
Native vs. Cross-Platform App Development
Native app development refers to creating an app for a particular platform. Native apps use programming languages that are exclusive to the aforementioned platform. E.g., Jaya or Kotlin for Android apps and Swift or Objective-C for iOS apps.
Native apps offer better performance and user experience when compared to cross-platform apps. The other pros of native app development include access to all of the platform’s APIs and tools, better store support, and increased scalability.
The major disadvantages of native app development are cost and time consumption.
Cross-platform app development is the process of creating an application that can run on several platforms. E.g., the same app can be effortlessly deployed on both iOS and Android.
The other benefits of cross-platform app development include the lower overall cost of development, faster development, and one uniform codebase.
Like all other good things, cross-platform app development has its drawbacks too. That includes comparatively slower apps, limitations because of difficulty accessing certain device functionalities, and limited user experience.
Things to consider when picking an app development approach for your mobile app
How complex is the app?
You can use the cross-platform app development approach if you’re building a simple app that displays information sourced from a server. But, if your app requires heavy processing power or access to functionalities like a camera, microphone, etc., you have no other choice but to build a native app.
What is your budget for the app?
Comparatively, cross-platform applications will cost less than native apps. So, if you have a budget constraint, cross-platform development would be your ideal choice. Native app development would be a great option when performance is your priority and your budget is not limited.
How long can you spend developing the app?
With cross-platform development, you can create and deploy apps for both Android and iOS with a single cycle of development. If you went the native route, you’d have to develop the same app twice.
User interface and experience
While developing native apps, you get access to UI/UX components of the platform. This can lead to great visuals and experience. On the contrary, cross-platform development can seriously limit the UI/UX elements that you can utilize in your app.
Cross-Platform Mobile App Development Frameworks
According to techopedia, ‘an application framework is a software library that provides a fundamental structure to support the development of applications for a specific environment.’ It acts as the skeleton upon which you build your application.
An application development framework reduces the general issues that a development cycle faces and comes with other benefits like shared and reusable code base, reusable design, better code maintenance, etc.
Popular cross-platform mobile app development frameworks
Xamarin is a premier cross-platform mobile app development tool acquired by Microsoft in 2016. It began life as an independent cross-platform app development platform in 2011.
The platform is open-source and was created to address the issue of disjointed native technology stacks that made mobile app development costly. Xamarin allows you to reuse 90% of your code when creating apps.
Xamarin uses the C# programming language and is based on the .NET framework. The toolkit includes the following components:
- Xamarin SDKs
- Xamarin Test Cloud
- Visual Studio/Xamarin Studio
React Native is a popular cross-platform mobile app development framework released in 2015. It is an open-source framework used for creating natively rendered iOS and Android apps. With this framework, you can create an application for iOS and Android with the same code base.
A major benefit of this framework is that it will translate source code into native components. This translation will result in a more natural UI. Even web developers, without learning new programming languages, can quickly develop mobile applications with React Native.
Ionic, a framework licensed under MIT, is very similar to Angular JS in style and structure. It uses HTML5 for translation. Ionic allows you to build applications that look and feel like native Android and iOS apps. It also borrows interface features from these operating systems.
Ionic is based on a SAAS UI architecture optimized for mobile platforms. You can build an application using this framework and web development skills. The framework can operate independently and can be easily integrated with frameworks like Angular, React, and Vue.
Sencha is an industry-leading enterprise mobile app development platform. It helps development teams work toward developing apps instead of working on frameworks. Sencha can be used to build data-intensive cross-platform apps.
Flutter is Google’s contribution to the world of open-source mobile app development. Flutter has revolutionized the app development process. Using a single codebase, you can create, test and deploy different mobile, as well as web applications.
Unlike other frameworks, Flutter is powered by Dart, a client-optimized language built for fast apps on any platform.
Flutter has revolutionized the app development process. Using a single codebase, you can create, test and deploy mobile, as well as web applications.