Given that mobile app development is one of the most common methods to enlarge enterprise capabilities digitally as mobile apps dominate website applications, plenty of start-ups have plunged into this trend to boost their businesses around the world.
The continuous mobile application market growth is driven by the increasing adoption of variable devices, internet of things technology, and a rise in customer base for the e-commerce industry. According to the report, the global mobile application market is expected to be valued at $407.31 billion by 2026.
The App Annie’s State of Mobile claims that smartphone users are spending an average of four hours and 48 minutes a day on mobile applications, and that’s up 30% from 2019. Also, the report indicates that apps were downloaded 230 billion times in 2021.
Having established a reputation for being one of the most popular software development approaches, cross-platform mobile development still remains trendy due to the opportunity to reuse the code that saves time, money, and effort.
In this article, we will delve into the definition of a cross-platform app, discuss the differences between cross-platform, hybrid, and native app development, highlight key advantages, which make cross-platform apps a winner, and list major reasons why companies choose a cross-platform app development for their businesses. Sounds interesting already? Then let’s dive in!
Cross-Platform App Development: Definition and Core Features
Regarded as one of the most popular software trends, cross-platform development is creating applications that work well in more than one operating system, which eliminates the necessity of developing a separate app version for each system.
The companies can significantly benefit from cross-platform development as it allows to save software development costs and decreases development time. It comes as no surprise that companies want their software to be available to as many users as possible, therefore, the cross-platform development is driven by the purpose of selling it to a broader customer base.
Key benefits of cross-platform mobile development:
- The shared codebase eliminates the repetitive tasks that consume too much developer’s time and allows to update and resolve bugs on all OS in one go.
- Android is the leading mobile operating system up to date, with over 2.8 billion active users around the world, while the number of iPhone device followers is more than 1 billion. Therefore, releasing apps on different platforms gives access to a broader consumer market.
- Instead of designing new code for each OS, engineers take advantage of reusing the same one, which leads to shortening the development lifecycle as well as reducing time and expenses on maintenance, support, updating, and bug fixing.
- Given that impeccable brand experience is crucial for buyers, it’s very essential to ensure a consistent user interface when expanding to new platforms. The cross-platform development approach creates a consistent brand experience with ease by using the same UI/UX elements.
Although that cross-platform app development and hybrid development provide code shareability and shorter time to market, they are not the same method: the last one employs a blend of native and web technologies. With cross-platform apps, you gain innovative and robust products, high performance, easy implementation, and reduced production expenses. Skype, Insightly, Reflectly, Bloomberg, and Slack are amazing examples of cross-platform applications.
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The Difference Between Native and Cross-Platform App Development
Considering the variety of programming languages and frameworks you can employ in developing a mobile app, the main challenge business owners face these days is the technology choice: a native, hybrid, or cross-platform app development. Each of these technologies is in a constant state of evolution and features an array of pros, therefore, the choice mainly depends on the purpose of your project. However, when it comes to building mobile applications, developers usually consider only two options: native and cross-platform.
Native app development
Native app development excludes building applications that span multiple operating systems and instead it emphasizes the creation of software programs for use on a particular device utilizing programming languages and tools that are specific to a single platform: Android app development involves Java or Kotlin while iOS apps require competencies of Swift and Objective-C.
Even though native apps access the full feature set of the device such as the GPS, microphone, camera, etc., which contributes to fast execution, companies are concerned because this development type is time-consuming and building native apps might be costly as you need to launch for several OS.
Usually, companies try to keep ahead of the competition by building mobile applications that can operate on multiple devices as it allows them to reach out to as many users of a brand as possible.
Cross-platform app development
Although native development provides better performance and enhanced user experience, it involves significant accessibility limitations, and with the cross-platform application, you can certainly decrease an app development time as the code is written once for all platforms and you don’t need to hire a separate software engineer for each system.
The choice in favor of a specific development method must be made after a number of factors were taken into account. To decide which development is the right fit for you, it is crucial to figure out your business requirements in the first place and analyze your future software product: end-users, funds you can invest, time frame, features the software will include, the app integration with the user’s device, and the programming languages the engineers know.
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Best Cross-Platform Mobile App Development Frameworks
Here are the top frameworks for cross-platform mobile development you can benefit from right now:
The prime characteristics of the React Native framework:
- The hot reloading option displays the recent changes without restarting the app.
- RN was released in early 2015 by Meta.
- It produces native UI elements.
Designed to build apps for Android, iOS, and Windows, the Xamarin framework is aimed at C#-savvy developers who also use .NET to release products whose performance and user experience remind native solutions.
With this framework, engineers reuse up to 96 % of their code while utilizing C#, Xamarin Forms, and Components. In addition, Xamarin.Forms significantly speed up application development.
Key features of the Xamarin framework:
- Engineers need to be well-versed in .NET and C# to use it.
- No need to write the code more than once as about 90% of the code is reusable.
- It employs platform-centric UI components.
Flutter is getting closer to taking the lead in terms of usage as it boasts such fascinating features as SDK, seamless animation, a “hot reload” function, and a flexible UI. Created and launched by Google in 2017, an open-source software development tool enables native performance and the same UI for several OS.
Flutter makes app development much faster due to its numerous functions including reusable code as well as a large set of ready-to-use, customizable widgets. And a declarative API for UI adds value to the performance.
The framework has the following great characteristics:
- It provides native performance along with visual consistency.
- The framework is powered by Dart language.
- It offers opportunities that go beyond mobile app development.
A free instrument Ionic is known for featuring ready-to-use UI components that give an exceptional UI, which impresses more than native applications. With the help of Capacitor, it is possible for the software to run natively on major platforms, and also on the web as a Progressive Web App.
The distinctive features of the Ionic framework:
- A great variety of UI components enables fast UI development.
- Engineers can use Ionic freely for both personal and commercial projects.
- Building Ionic-based apps is an enjoyable process that requires basic web development knowledge.
- There are millions of engineers who are proficient in Ionic in over 200 countries around the globe.
As we can see, cross-platform app development offers a range of advantages for businesses trying to launch the software on several platforms quickly with limited resources in time and funds or broaden the market reach. Besides, a cross-platform approach gives the opportunity to test the viability of the idea with an MVP version.
However, if you need a second opinion, you can always contact a skilled cross-platform mobile app development company that will help you make a well-informed decision about choosing the most appropriate framework and supplementing the engineering team if needed.