What is Cross-Platform App Development?

Imagine you are traveling across the world. Now every country has its unique currency. You cannot use Bangladesh Taka in Australia or American dollars in the UK. Right? The same is with mobile application development. Android, iOS, and Windows have their unique coding. And for an application to run, it must match the coding of these platforms. This was very time and effort-consuming. Developers would spend time on making three or four applications for a single business. Fortunately for us, the technology evolved and we were blessed with cross-platform mobile app development. To be specific, cross-platform mobile app development refers to the process of developing an application that would be fit to run on multiple platforms of smartphones. Meaning, the same code could be used for the applications that run on all the platforms.
Statista says, over 98% of the mobile users in the world use either Android or iOS as their core operating system. Hence it is wise and natural that businesses aim to build solutions that satisfy the needs of both these groups. Yes, there is more than one way to do that, but if you are thinking of any other way rather than cross-platform application development then you will be possibly choosing the expensive path.

Why Cross-Platform Mobile App Development?

We all know mobile app development is a lucrative field. With its unique offerings, the cross-platform application opened the doors for million possibilities and zillion benefits. Here are some major benefits and reasons why people choose cross-platform mobile application development.

  • The joy of using the same application: There is a high chance that most of us have multiple devices. We might be using an Android phone and have a tablet based on iOS, a desktop, etc. Now how would you feel to have different experiences and unfamiliarity with the same application when run on a different device? It would kill the vibe, wouldn’t it? As users, we want to get similar characteristics and feel familiar with the UI and UX of the application. And this is what cross-platform mobile app development does. It allows you the joy of using the same application on any and every device.
  • Faster time to market: Since there is no need to make different applications for different platforms, developers can build and publish the applications on multiple app stores simultaneously. This means you can reach your audience present on Android, iOS, or windows, at the same time and faster.
  • One source code: Having one source code is the best practice for any application development. And it is a real bonus for developers as they can reuse this code.
  • Easy Implementation: There are numerous technologies that offer cross-platform solutions and help developers to make the changes like it is a cakewalk. For example, one can write code in HTML and then convert it for different platforms. This means the developers can use the platforms they already know about and then convert them at their convenience.
  • Easy product maintenance: The development cycle is not a straight road. There are inevitable bug fixes and a lot of other improvements. Imagine doing all this for multiple applications of one business. Neither it sounds feasible, nor it is. But with cross-platform app development, we have one single code to focus on. Which means fewer tests and an easier way to deploy fixes.

Looking from a different perspective, this is what cross-platform development looks like,

  • Developer’s perspective – Faster development with single code and fewer errors!
  • Customers Perspective – Uniformity, and satisfaction
  • Business perspective – Fewer expenses more return on investment

Cross-Platform App Development Technologies

Multiple frameworks could be used for cross-platform app development. We try to mention the maximum of them here.

  • Titanium
  • React Native
  • Xamarin
  • Flutter
  • Native Script
  • Ionic
  • Js
  • PhoneGap

Each one of these comes with its unique features and offerings.
We know there are a lot of questions popping into your head. Based on our research and personal experience, these are the most frequently asked questions about cross-platform application development.
Is there a difference in the development time of cross-platform and native apps?
Yes, the time required to develop a cross-platform application is lesser than the number of native apps. Besides, it promotes a faster time to market as only one team is working on the application.
Is there a commercial risk in choosing cross-platform app development?
The answer is a big fat No! Cross-platform has been here for quite some time and it has been referred to as the future of application development. And the fact that around 42% of the developers prefer this platform proves it all.
Is multi-platform app development or cross-platform application development cheaper?
Absolutely Yes! Cross-platform mobile app development saves your money on hiring more than one time for development and its competency to speed up the time-to-market. We would say there is always a way to enhance and improve user engagement and customer satisfaction. Technologies evolve and leave us with a plethora of possibilities to deliver the best to our clients. In such a cutting-edge world, cross-platform mobile app development plays a crucial role.
It is a solid medium between the business and its success. After everything is said and done, we would also like to say that hiring the right multi-platform app development vendor is equally important. You can have the best goals and the best technology and if the creators lack the expertise, everything goes for the toss.
So, use your research skills, and look out for some valued and recognized partners in the market. Or you can save that effort and find one here.

What Makes Cross-Platform App Development Different From Others?

We understand what cross-platform mobile development is, but there are distinctions to be aware of in Native and multi-platform development. To avoid confusion, let’s consider the difference between native app creation and cross-platform apps and hybrid.
Native applications are designed for one specific platform, such as Android or iOS. Developing two apps, supporting two codebases, and two teams must create a native Android and iOS.
Hybrid apps can be a jumbled combination of web and mobile elements. Cross-platform apps, on the other hand, may be created once and work on both platforms. Hybrid applications are slow because of their use of standard internet technologies such as HTML, CSS, JavaScript and because they are then enveloped in an embedded web browser control. The progressive web app, or PWA, is a type of hybrid that mimics the look and feel of native applications. They do not include capabilities such as access to the camera, sensors, or other native features.
With cross-platform app development, we get a single program that may run on both platforms. When you need multi-platform capabilities, cross-platform app development is an excellent alternative.
Cross-platform app development: Pros and Cons
The apparent advantage of cross-platform apps (that is, programs that can be used on multiple platforms) is that they are built with a minimal set of features. This way, it’s easy to reuse the code and adapt the app for every platform. One disadvantage is that you’ll need to build your program twice because each operating system has its programming language. It would help if you also remembered about using containers or other virtualization software. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of this approach.

Pros Of Cross-Platform App Development

  • Less Costly: You won’t need two teams of developers to build a cross-platform app if you use singleton architecture. As a result, the development cost will be reduced.‍
  • Faster Development: Only a single cycle of development is needed to create an app that runs on multiple platforms.
  • Single Code Base: As the app is created with a single cross-platform development tool, only one code base is made.
  • One app on any device: What if we want to run an app on an iOS-based tablet at home, switch to an Android phone on the go, and then use it on a desktop or browser when we get to the office? We like and expect similar user interfaces (UIs) and user experiences (UXs) while still adhering to platform-specific features.
  • Any platform can be supported: It may be more expensive to have two teams working on distinct (native) development tools for each platform as a business. Developers will prefer cross-platform app creation since it allows them to rapidly roll out new applications across platforms: consider one team of native developers for one platform behind another team of native developers.
  • Wider market reach: A developer’s code can now be written to produce apps for any number of app stores simultaneously. As a result, goods have a more significant potential for growth.
  • Minimize upfront expenses: You won’t be able to profit from an app before it’s released. The upfront investment minimizes any gambles taken. Cross-platform application development is considerably simpler and faster, allowing for a quick initial version and market feedback.
  • Market analysis and tests: All product firms need to measure their success, collect data, and receive customer feedback as quickly as possible. The data is crucial because it allows you to see where your application needs to be profitable. By allowing you to make changes early enough, cross-platform app development will allow you to reach this point much sooner.

Cons Of Cross-Platform App Development

  • Slower App: The cross-platform app is slower than its native counterpart due to an additional abstract layer and rendering process.‍
  • Limited Functionality: Developers may have more difficulty navigating smartphone capabilities such as the microphone, camera, and geolocation than native apps.‍ But you have to remember the rapid advances that cross technologies are making.
  • Limited UX: Cross-platform apps are unable to take advantage of native UI elements. As a result, it can’t provide the platform’s usual UX experience.

Top Frameworks for Cross-platform Mobile App Development

Cross-platform frameworks for mobile app development are essential for businesses seeking to save time and money. Businesses often choose them because they remove the need to code separate mobile apps for iOS or Android devices. Instead, cross-platform frameworks use a common codebase that’s compatible with all devices.
These popular frameworks are known for their ease of use and simplicity when building an app. They are open-source software that provides functionalities across the web, mobile, and desktop.

React Native

React Native is a framework created by Facebook to help developers develop mobile apps quickly. It allows you to create applications for both the Android and iOS platforms using JavaScript as your language. All you have to do now is write your code in JavaScript, and you will receive a mobile app with native components for iOS and Android. It is because React Native makes use of bridges to convert JavaScript into native components. React Native also has a lot of valuable features, including:

  • JavaScript is used to develop mobile apps.
  • Design and develop mobile apps with a concentration on the user interface.
  • Third-party library integration.
  • Workflows that “write once and use everywhere.”
  • For installation, it uses Node Package Manager.
  • Reload mobile development on dual screens and in real time.
  • Reduced development durations.

React Native is a framework for building high-performance mobile apps that use JavaScript and GPU-oriented development methods. We use this framework very often in our cross-platform projects, as we are a React Native development company.

Flutter

It is a new feature by Google that was introduced in December 2018. It’s a unique framework for building mobile apps for Android and iOS devices using one code base, not two separate ones. One of Flutter’s advantages over other application development tools is that it allows you to create mobile apps with the same code base for both platforms. What’s more, thanks to Google developers and the community around Flutter, the tool is developing very dynamically and may soon revolutionize the e-commerce market. There are several benefits to using Flutter. Material design, fluid animations, a configurable user interface, and pre-installed SDKs are just a few of them. The following characteristics can be found in Flutter:

  • The development of stock platform apps is supported
  • Support for 2D mobile apps
  • Compatibility for native device features like cameras, location, storage, and so on
  • Creative, robust designs
  • Flutter is a cross-platform mobile app development framework that allows you to develop iOS and Android applications with the Dart programming language.
Xamarin

Xamarin is a cross-platform C# and NET-based mobile app development platform that streamlines the engineering, creation, and deployment of Android, iOS, and Windows Mobile apps. Xamarin has several valuable tools that have helped it gain a lot of popularity among app developers:
PCL is used for backend interactions, It creates mobile applications (on desktop systems) that are mobile responsive using mobile SDKs, Written in C#, and is highly compatible with Visual Studio, Supports Type-Checking, For mobile app developers, a one-size-fits-all solution. Xamarin is a development platform for mobile apps that runs on Visual Studio. As a result, C# and NET developers may use sophisticated mobile app development and design methods using the toolkit. The kit is intended for open-source project development and makes connections to high-quality APIs.

Cross-platform apps examples

Apps Made with Xamarin Cross-Platform App Framework:
  • Fox Sports,
  • Alaska Airlines,
  • HCL,
  • American Cancer Society,
  • BBC Good Food.
Apps Made with React Native Cross-Platform App Framework:
  • Instagram,
  • Bloomberg,
  • Pinterest,
  • Skype,
  • Tesla.
Apps Made with Flutter Cross-Platform App Framework:
  • Alibaba,
  • BMW,
  • Google Ads,
  • Tencent.
  • Apps Made with Ionic Hybrid App Framework:
  • Sworkit,
  • JustWatch,
  • McLaren Automotive,
  • Diesel.

How do I choose the best cross-platform framework?

There would have been a significant worry about the iOS vs. Android platforms war had there not been cross-platform support for most of our daily apps. According to the numbers available, an Android user has access to over 2.56 million applications on the PlayStore, whereas Apple’s App Store offers only 1.85 million iOS apps.
Before you know the difference between a Cross-platform and a Native application, you’ll need to understand your project’s needs. The discovery phase is one of the essential stages in the software development life cycle. If you have enough money to invest in two separate developers who work for the two different platforms, then leading with native apps is the way to go. If you can’t create an application for both platforms simultaneously, producing a Cross-platform app is still a fantastic idea.
We’ve put up a list of quick app ideas to assist you in selecting the appropriate mobile app development framework to bring your next mobile app to fruition.

Research is essential

It would help if you first had a clear picture of the demands of contemporary consumers and the most recent mobile app trends to produce a top-notch mobile application that can compete in the market. An in-depth market study can assist you in providing valuable insights about comparable applications on the market. They show how they address their consumers’ problems and how your rivals succeed with their marketing strategies. Because your business is focused on the client, it’s critical to develop a mobile app that addresses consumer problems. Also, concentrate on their future needs and provide an anticipated user experience. The latest mobile app development trends and the feasibility of the product in the market must be investigated. It will assist you in developing and optimizing your software for a complete and feature-rich result. You can find more information about that process in our article “Proof of concept in the software development process.”

Identify The Targeted Audience

When creating engaging and customer-centric mobile apps, determining the target audience is critical. The targeted audience you are considering will influence the mobile app development process, expansion, and growth. You might develop a questionnaire to obtain a clear image of identifying your target audience:

  • Who are the people who will use the mobile app?
  • What are the most critical issues that it will address?
  • How does this help your company improve its operations?
  • Which Platform Is Best For You?

Android, iOS, and other leading mobile operating systems compete fiercely to meet customers’ digital demands. Due to their large market share, most companies today use Android and iOS platforms in their operation. Cross-platform app development platforms can help you develop a popular mobile app for Android and iOS on various devices. Customers across multiple platforms and devices may use the applications to access an exciting and unavoidable experience at any time and place. Here are some factors to consider while selecting the most refined platform for your mobile application: brand or app name, target audience, features, and pricing.

To include top-notch and customer-centric features, consider having them in the app. The functions may differ depending on the platform. For cross-platform app development, device-specific characteristics are increasingly important for your mobile app to function correctly. To your mobile app, you must include the following capabilities: simplicity, speed, high-quality Images, flexibility, security, push notifications, regular system updates, and scalability.

Wireframes for your product

When deciding on a top mobile app development firm, you should consider the features and capabilities of your concept and the image that it conveys about them. Check to see whether the client and the mobile app specialist are on the same page for ideas. It’s a simple method to incorporate all of the essential features and updates. Wireframes prevent future bugs from causing problems with the functionality.

Analyze the App Budget

When it comes to calculating mobile app development expenses, you must have a clear idea of how to go about developing an app. It aids in the accurate allocation of resources between all phases of the project. The niche that you choose will influence your app budget, the sort of app you want, the features and functionalities you desire in your app. of them will go into the cost of your mobile software. Those all steps bring you closer to building a successful mobile application. In mDevelopers, we have created dedicated Discovery Workshops for founders and their teams which help prepare solid foundations for further implementation.

Final thoughts

Cross-platform development is the most appropriate solution for all businesses as it allows them to create reliable applications compatible with all customer devices efficiently. As the best product development company, we know that choosing the proper application development tools is extremely important. We are happy to share our knowledge and experience, so if you want to discuss your project, arrange a free consultation with us.

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