What is cross-platform App development?
Before getting into the technicalities of things, let’s discuss the basics; What is cross-platform app development? Cross-platform app development is building a single application that can run on various operating systems such as android and iOS instead of developing different versions for individual platforms. The core purpose of cross-platform app development is to build software that works well in more than one digital environment so it can be sold to a wider customer base.
According to Statista, one-third of developers use cross-platform technologies or frameworks. It saves time, money, resources, and effort! So, why not?
Difference between native and cross-platform app development
The difference between native and cross-platform is a never-ending debate. If you’re not already familiar with native app development, as the name suggests, it builds mobile apps for a single platform. As difficult as that sounds, many businesses do choose native app development over cross because of its consistency and control. Focusing on each individual platform gives developers access to every API, every code, and every functionality, which does make it easier to fix problems if any. However, it is much more time and money-consuming as compared to cross-platform. Let’s discuss further differences between the two;
|Parameters||Cross-Platform Apps||Native Apps|
|Functionality||Developers may feel difficulty in accessing smartphone functionality and have limited control over the app.||Access to every API/tool. There are no limits to how programmers work with the new app.|
|Cost||Creating a single cross-platform would cost a lot less.||Hiring separate teams for separate platforms cost a lot when it comes to native app development.|
|Consistency||Limited consistency of the UI components of the device||Consistent with UI components of the device.|
|Delivery||Faster development since you only write the code once. Hence, faster delivery.||Time-consuming. Requires multiple resources to put in effort on individual platforms.|
|Reach||Can reach a vast number of audience in a short period of time.||Doesn’t have a big customer base due to the slow development process.|
Pros and Cons of cross-platform app development
Weather it’s native or cross-platform development, everything has it’s own list of positives and negatives. While cross-platform app development is easier and faster, it does have some downfalls too. Let’s dig deep to find out more about Cross-platform app development.
- One of the benefits of cross-platform is that you don’t have to hire different teams for different platforms. It only takes one team to develop an app using cross-platform. Hence, it can save you a lot of money.
- The development cycle for cross-platform is overall super fast because only a single cycle of development is needed to create an app running on various platforms.
- Lastly, cross-platform development is based on a single code, which means you can save so much time and consume it elsewhere!
- Another good thing about cross-platform apps is that you can use the code again and again! This can save you the trouble of rehiring multiple resources.
- Since cross-platform requires a single code, it makes the development fast. However, an additional abstraction layer and rendering process is needed which makes the app comparatively slower.
- There might be some difficulty faced by the developers accessing smartphone functionalities like microphone, camera, or geolocation.
- With cross-platform, you get very limited UX because the development process doesn’t allow cross-platform apps to take advantage o native UX components.
Cross-platform mobile app development frameworks
There are many cross-platform app development frameworks. Let’s talk about the most competitive and top-programming frameworks.
React Native was launched back in 2015 and at the time, it was the best hybrid app development platform anyone had ever seen. Within a few years, it also became one of the most popular cross-platform frameworks. Up to 80% of its codebase can be shared across platforms depending on the app’s complexity and code reusability. One of the many benefits of React-Native is that it allows previewing results right away and offers elements that are ready to apply which, in return, shortens the time for development. React-Native also has a hot reloading feature that helps developers in viewing changes made in code within seconds. It also focuses on UI and provides useful native functionalities like an accelerometer and camera.
Xamarin was launched back in 2011 as an independent cross-app development framework. Later, it was acquired by Microsoft in 2016 increasing its credibility. It’s an open-source framework launched to solve problems o disjointed, native tech stacks which made mobile app development difficult. For coding, Xamarin mobile appication development uses C# which makes it possible to work smoothly for iOS and Android cross-platform development. It has a strong community of 60k contributors from multiple companies. With Xamarin, you can share 75% of the code across multiple platforms. You only need to write the code once and use it anywhere later. You also get faster development because Xamarin uses a single tech stack.
Flutter is another open-source, free cross-platform framework. It is used to create native interfaces for Android and iOS. Flutter is maintained by Googe, the very organization that develops Android Native Framework. Fluter was amongst the top 3 most loved frameworks according to the Developer Survey Results. Flutter has an idea framework for MVP development. Instead of spending money on two separate apps, a flutter mobile app looks native on both Android and iOS. Another unique thing about Flutter cross-platform is that it’s based on an object-oriented programming language called Dart. Developers find it easy to acquire the skill for Dart. Flutter also has a full set of widgets in Google’s material design and in Apple’s style with the Cupertino pack.
Best languages for cross-platform
C# or C-Sharp provides solutions for mobile development. It is an object-oriented language. This means that it’s easy to develop, debug, reuse and maintain. It doesn’t need dependability on Swift, Hava, and Objective-C to achieve complete solutions. Developers can easily code and develop apps, desktop apps, and web apps using C#.
Being open-source and free, PHP is the most commonly used programming language. It is supported by many web hosting services by default, unlike other languages. It also has a shorter learning curve as compared to other languages like ASP, JSP, etc. It is also a serer side scripted language, which means you only have to install it on servers and client computers requesting resources from the server and only need a web browser.
One of the best programming languages, C++ is used to create high-performance cross-platform applications. It gives the developers complete control over system resources and memory. C++ is also an object-oriented language that gives a clear structure to programs and allows the code to be reused easily. C++ can be found in today’s operating systems, graphical user interfaces, and embedded systems. Qt is one of the oldest open-source widgets used for creating cross-platform apps and GUI’s or android, windows, macOS, Linux using C++.
Cross-platform apps are very popular and keep advancing with time and no doubt has made it easier for many start-ups and low-budget developers/companies to get their work started! Make sure you skim through what you expect of the app you’re developing and if you think cross-platform is something you need, go for it!