In the current time the entire world is going through major changes on different levels and people and their businesses are witnessing a paradigm shift related to planning and strategies to meet the consumer’s needs.
For Enterprises, the mobile application has become a perfect and strategic tool to attract and reach customers, which helps them in generating more revenue.
To outclass their competition, every Organization is putting more effort to develop a dedicated mobile application for themselves.
Mobile platforms like Android and iOS are getting immensely popular and every organization is tapping the potential of these mobile platforms to utilize the benefits of the emerging market trends and enhance the capabilities of their buyers and suppliers.
The emerging mobile technologies have converted the mobile phone into a mobile application hub, which allows a common user to complete his day-to-day life small chores to complex banking transactions with ease and diligence. Booking a bus ticket or airline ticket is fun now due to advantages of the online booking system.
You can easily track your food orders.
On an e-commerce application of a leading electronic or FMCG company, a user can do window shopping without visiting the shop and many more.
In the traditional app development approach, the application is developed for a native platform and must be built separately because each operating system and platform use a different kind of programming language, tools, and frameworks.
This hinders the flexibility of usage across different platforms, where the end-user requires a common application that could run on every kind of mobile device, rather than having a separate application for a specific platform.
How do you feel, if we say that we do have an application development method which uses a universal language that could be used by different devices?
Now, that is what is known as Cross-platform mobile application development. Cross-platform is gaining traction across the globe because it offers application development capabilities for a variety of available mobile and handheld devices, on every possible mobile operating system and hardware platform.
It allows developers to use tools and frameworks to develop codes for multiple platforms and these are compatible with each other too.
Now a day’s mobile application developers are more focused on Cross-Platform applications to develop a wide variety of applications. In this article, we will try to bring the best-known facts about cross-platform mobile application development, and we will also try to explain why cross-platform stands a good chance in 2021.
Table of Contents
What is a Cross-Platform App Development?
In the traditional mobile application development process, the developers had to use a third-party application or programming language to develop a native application, which could function on a specific kind of Operating system, hardware, and mobile device.
This approach had some serious disadvantages, as it tended to increase the investment cost of the application development, tend to increase the application development duration, and it also required highly skilled professionals who could have exposure to different platforms, frameworks, and programming languages.
Cross-platform development comes here for the rescue, as it offers many technological solutions that eliminate most of the shortcomings of native mobile application development methodology. It helps developers build an application, that can function on different mobile platforms without any hassle.
Cross-platform development helps in reducing the overall development cost, time and resources while enhancing and increasing mobile applications’ effectiveness and performance.
Advantages of Cross-Platform App Development
Cross-platform mobile development methodology offers several advantages.
Reduce app development cost
Cross-platform offers flexibility where we do not need to develop applications in multiple languages. Apart from that software testing and debugging becomes very easy, as bugs identified in the common code base need to be tested and fixed at once.
Hence, it helps us reduce the cost, effort, and time invested in application development, which in turn reduces the cost to a great extent.
This approach allows us to write a single and universal code, which essentially covers different frameworks, mobile operating systems at once.
Single codebase influences and enhances all the stages of mobile app development, as it allows us to code less and invest fewer resources for debugging and fixing only a single code, instead of working on separate codes.
Reduction in time to market
Time to market is an extremely important metric for application development. Cross-platform allows developers to develop a universal application for multiple platforms, instead of developing 2-3 separate applications for each device platform.
It ensures we can release our application in the market at a rapid pace.
Uniformity across different platforms
Cross-platform enhances uniformity across different operating systems and offer a seamless user experience.
Reachability to more customers and better ROI
Cross-platform applications help Organizations to reach and engage more customers and it in turn increases the user experience and future Return on Investment.
The Cross-platform application development tools are quite familiar for developers, as they employ commonly used programming languages. These languages and tools are easy to learn and use.
Ideal for prototyping
Cross-platform mobile application development is ideal for developing application prototypes, as it allows a rapid time to market on multiple platforms.
It also offers an opportunity to interact with the customers, take their feedback, create a niche in the market, and secure the patents before any competitor can capture that opportunity.
Hence, it gives a much-needed tactical and strategical push to the mobile application owner.
Enterprise-wide deployment and adoption
Cross-platform gives a big advantage to the Enterprises if they want to deploy the applications for usage by their employees.
Cross-platform can help you deploy the application at an unbelievable pace and it also helps to adopt the applications at a much lower cost, since BYOD (bring your own device) policies are becoming a new norm at the workplace.
Challenges with Cross-Platform Mobile App Development
There are some disadvantages to using cross-platform development:
Impact of efficiency
It has observed that Programs developed via a Cross-platform methodology could be less efficient. This generally occurs due to a lack of enough hardware resources to execute flawless HTML5 animations on low-mid range mobile devices.
Overgeneralization of Code
While developing the cross-platform application, we have to ensure that it should be more generalized, as it has to use the common workflows on different OS and Platforms. But the irony is, in this process, the application code becomes less sophisticated, which may cause several functionalities and compatibilities issues later.
High Battery consumption
Such applications generally use advanced features, which obviously use more hardware and system resources of the mobile phone, which in turn led to massive battery consumption.
Cross-platform applications generally consume more hardware, system resources, and battery power, if we compare it with native applications.
Cores of Cross-Platform App Development
Every tool has advantages and disadvantages. If we compare to the native languages their cross-platform ability pushes their demand in the market.
Top Tools and Frameworks
With the growing number of mobile devices and mobile platforms, the market has been fragmented up to a great extent. The cross-platform applications allow developers to write the code once and then deploy on multiple devices and platforms.
.However, the huge number of available tools for cross-platform development has created a lot of difficulties for the developers to choose the right tool.
Though there are already few leaders in the market, who have created a niche market for themselves and could be used without any second thought. It is important to understand the frameworks and their functions for Cross-Platform Mobile Applications to ensure the maximum output of your venture.
Please find below the list of top cross-platform mobile app development platforms and tools, that allow for rapid software development and deployment:
1. React Native
It is an open-source, cross-platform app development tool and it was developed by Facebook. It is based on a methodology called “learn once, write everywhere”.
Developers can port the same code of the applications for both Android and iOS platforms.
The function that helps React Native to stand apart is, that the applications which are built on React Native have the same look and feel as a native application, but it gives an enhanced interactive user interface.
It is an emerging framework that offers prompt prototyping and high deliverability.
2. Native Script
It has become an immensely popular application development framework, which helps us to develop highly effective and efficient micro Applications.
Micro applications are more capable to perform actions with precision and accuracy as generally, it focuses on a single feature.
Native Script has the following major parts.
- Core Modules
These core modules help developers to execute the system calls iOS and Android APIs. The Command-line enables users to create, execute and build applications based on native Script.
The native Script development framework allows the plugins to develop the building blocks. It contains some features and ability which support the developer to write codes easily for developing applications faster.
It stands for Faster and dynamic mobile application development. It uses DVM (Dart Virtual Machine) , where it executes the massive reload works by placing the source code files into a DVM.
The Flutter development tool helps to restructure a widget tree automatically as the developer can see the effects of the changes instantly.
The widget supports few features for both platforms like graphical icons, navigation, scrolling, fonts, and so on.
Flutter is quite like a React framework that is preloaded with multi-dimensional rendering, tools, and widgets. These components help the developer to design, build, test, and debug applications effectively and easily.
It offers a comprehensive cross-platform development framework for smartphones, desktop, and tablets or handheld devices. Xamarin development features like ‘The Android quick-start and ‘iOS quick-start, which enable developers to build native user interface components for Android and iOS, respectively.
It also supports languages like C#, F#, and the Razor template engine.
Microsoft Corporation acquired Xamarin in Feb 2016 and they released Xamarin SDK (software development kit) with some add-on features and capability.
It is a freely available tool that offers an interface to integrate enterprise features using Microsoft’s famous Visual Studio. The native supportive interface helps developers to cater to any specific requirement of the client.
It is a cross-platform development tool that is based on the Qt framework. It is used to develop mobile applications and interactive games.
It is certainly one of the most growing cross-platform mobile application development tools in the market.
It is gaining immense popularity due to its unique offering model, If you are not earning profits with your projects or business, Felgo will not charge you, this makes it the default choice for Startups and small-sized organizations. Felgo can help developers to save up to 90% of coding efforts, helps them save time and resources.
It is an open-source SDK for cross-platform and hybrid application development. It HTML5 to build cross-platform and hybrid applications.
We can build amazing cross-platform web, desktop, and mobile applications with a single shared code base using Ionic. If you have limited time for application development and marketing, then this tool should be the first choice.
6. Rho Mobile
It is a Ruby-based open-source framework that offers Rhodes and it really works well with Android, iOS, Symbian, Windows Mobile, and RIM.
We already know that Ruby is a well-known programming language, it offers a development infrastructure for developers to write code for the application.
It is a Ruby-based open-source framework that offers Rhodes and it really works well with Android, iOS, Symbian, Windows Mobile, and RIM. We already know that Ruby is a well-known programming language, it offers a development infrastructure for developers to write code for the application.
It is equipped with RhoSync and embedded in RhoHub which is an essential part of Rhomobile. A self-reliant server allows you to keep the data of applications and communicate with the user’s device to keep them updated.
7. Kony Studio
Kony Studio is a highly efficient mobile app development platform used for the development of both cross-platform and native mobile applications for iOS, Android, Windows, and Blackberry devices.
It is equipped with several mobile app development features and tools, which help developers with their mobile application development requirements.
It does not rely on the mobile app development platform to create the automatic coding for them, which in turn may increase the workloads of developers, but it also gives them full control over the application’s features and performance.
Sencha’s Ext JS has similar functionality as the React Native framework. The only critical feature that differentiates both is that Sencha uses the Ext JS Framework for application development.
It has a visual application builder interface for HTML5, which is useful for reusing the custom components.
It’s listed as a native application packager that handles and manages the application stores like Apple Store & Google Play store. Sencha supports HTML5 for developments so developers can test and execute applications for browsers and mobile applications.
Its compatible with various cross-platform tools such as Adobe PhoneGap for developing highly efficient mobile applications.
9. Phone Gap (Apache Cordova)
Apache Cordova is another famous tool, which supports cross-platform mobile application development. Apache Cordova team developed the Phone Gap tool and it offers a FOSS environment that allows cross-platform mobile application development.
PhoneGap has an inbuilt compiler, debugger tools, and many more tools to compete for a testing task.
These plugins of Phone Gap support some key features of a smartphone-like GPS navigation system, an Accelerometer for enhanced gaming experiences, Camera for more effective photography and sound.
Users do purchase through app stores so In-application purchases for the Apple application store and the Google Play Store also supported by PhoneGap.
It’s a boon for designers who have exposure and experience in front-end development technologies. It supports 3rd party cache storage and graphic accelerator which accelerates the application processes. It’s open-source so it’s easy to share and flexible for developers as well as the beginner.
It delivers similar code for creating applications for several platforms like iOS, Android, and Blackberry.
It offers prebuilt integration with cloud solutions like MS Azure, Salesforce, MS SQL etc. It has features like a titanium framework which makes it a cost-effective solution. The basic source code is accessible and easily available to the user.
Cross-platform app development helps in creating robust, reliable and effective mobile applications. Developers have various frameworks to opt and selecting the best option can help to build good applications to fulfill your needs for business purposes.
It is quite evident that Cross-platform mobile development has numerous advantages over native mobile application development methodology, which makes it the right solution for certain types of complex problems.
It is rapid, cost-effective, flexible, and easy to understand and use.
If you are a Startup, then cross-platform is the best thing ever happened, as it acts as a perfect tool, which can be used to test the idea of a startup or present it to the investors, before securing the funding for the native application development.
Besides that, cross-platform works in a perfect way for large scale enterprise application development as well.
At the same time, there are some disadvantages of cross-platform development as well, as one has to compromise on the operating speed, UI/IX, lack of support for hardware features, and lack of responsiveness on mobile devices.
The other frequent criticism of cross-platform development is its inseparability from the framework the mobile application is developed with. For example, if you have developed an application using React Native or Xamarin, you will be unable to use the same code within another framework.
Well, we have to take an informed decision after reviewing all the pros and cons of Cross-platform mobile application development. It also depends on the kind of product we are developing. User requirements, and other cost-benefit analyses too.
There is no hesitation to say that Cross-platform mobile development is here to stay for a long time, but it must evolve and offer more features and functionalities.
The Hybrid mobile application development methodology has already started catching up and soon may surpass all other development models.
Cross-platform must use innovation to stay relevant in this ever-changing mobile application development paradigm.