Cross Platform App - Why It Can Work for Your Business
January 05. 2021
6 min read
With over 1.2 billion smartphones worldwide, Android is taking over the market with a share of 84% among phones and 74% among all mobile devices. However, in the US, the numbers are much different. In fact, iOS devices overtook Android in May 2020. This split puts untenable stress on startups and SMBs looking to digitize their operations. Choosing one mobile OS platform to develop an app means losing out on half the audience, while creating and maintaining two native apps may never pay off. Crossplatform app development has become a much-needed solution for many businesses.
Cross-platform vs. native app development
<medium>Native app development<medium> is suitable for Android and iOS, as well as other mobile operating systems. The development team relies on a platform-specific technology stack that is unsuitable to any other OS. Creating native apps for different platforms calls for twice as many software engineers or twice as much time. The expenses double up too. However, native apps are tailored to make most of the platform-specific hardware, such as cameras or geolocation tools. Being attuned to a particular OS makes native applications faster and more intuitive.
<medium>Cross platform development<medium> works through frameworks that make the app adjust to various platforms on the fly. The development team needs only create the core code that can be used for Android and iOS, making the whole process more efficient and affordable than native development. The first cross-platform frameworks sacrificed performance and design to accelerate development, but their current alternatives are getting better at making apps look and feel native.
The core benefits of cross platform apps development
Some advantages of cross-platform software become obvious the moment you realize its differences from native development. However, there are a few considerations startups founders and business owners overlook. Yet these benefits can be vital to your business survival, and they include:
How to choose among cross paltform frameworks?
As cross platform apps gain traction, making sense of the technologies on offer becomes challenging. With plenty of features, synchronizations, and integrations to account for, you have to rely on the technology stack suggested by the development team. Or you can do your homework, research the common options, and pay attention to four critical parameters:
Based on years of cross platform app dev and the parameters we've discussed, we have selected five solutions that can help you reap the benefits of creating a cross platform application.
Top 5 cross platform mobile development solutions
Near-native performance and UX design
Mature community support
Suitable for complex interfaces and features
Bug fixing may be complicated by the framework structure
Native tools expertise needed for high-quality development
Created in 2017, Google-backed Flutter is becoming the most fast-growing among cross platform frameworks. The open-source solution comes with immaculate documentation and plenty of code reuse capabilities, though the libraries are still lacking. Considering Google's heavy investment in this technology, it remains highly stable and will probably continue to gain popularity in the coming years. It's an excellent choice for complex apps that are being created from scratch.
Extremely high performance
Near-native user interface design and experience
Highly reusable code across web, desktop, mobile
Few Flutter developers with an iOS background
Created in 2011 and supported by Microsoft, Xamarin is an open-source platform, though it comes with paid packages too. It's a perfect choice for a team of C# and .NET developers, and it boasts high performance and elaborate design capabilities comparable to native apps. Integrations with native APIs and libraries extend Xamarin's toolset, and it's perfect for pairing with a Microsoft-powered backend.
Near-native user experience and performance
Suitable for mid-sized business apps
Native libraries and APIs integrations
Source code not reusable for web apps
Xamarin.Forms performance is lagging
Reusable source code, even for web apps
No additional costs
Can be integrated with any backend
Browser and wrapper layers hinder performance
Bug fixing is complicated by additional layers too
PhoneGap's popularity is waning, along with Cordova
Easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface
Built-in notification features
Rich mobile analytics toolset
The free plan has limited functionality
Suitable for simple interfaces only
For all its benefits, cross platform mobile app dev is not a one-size-fits-all solution. This approach lowers expenses and accelerates development, making maintenance less challenging in the long run. And while cross platform frameworks are gaining popularity and becoming better at imitating native design and performance, there's still room for improvement. Choosing among the five frameworks we've shortlisted should help you minimize the risks and squeeze maximum business value from building your first cross platform app.