Cross-platform Mobile App Development Tool

Understand what are cross-platform mobile application development tools and how they benefit enterprise application delivery. Also, read about how you can choose the right cross-platform mobile development tool for you

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Global Mobile OS Marketshare (2016) – Source: IDC

What is cross-platform mobile application development?

In today’s business world, the trend of BYOD (Bring your own Device) is rising. This has caused businesses to develop applications that can be accessed on different mobile devices and operated on any native operating system over their traditional desktop computers.

Cross-platform mobile development refers to the development of mobile apps that can be used on multiple mobile platforms. Because of BYOD, there is the need for businesses to develop applications and be able to send them to many different mobile devices that operate on various networks and use different operating systems.

The cross-platform app market is expected to grow rapidly and the amount of cross platform development software and tools is increasing day by day. There are advantages of native applications, but a cross-platform mobile app will make the differences seem small and carry the advantage that users on more than one platform have access to your product or service.

Taking a closer look at how cross platform application development works:
Cross-platform  mobile development helps businesses create applications using a single code base that can adapt to any native platform or operating system (which could be iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry/RIM, etc).

Cross platform mobile application development was created on the ideas where it would be easy to use, save time and money for the business adopting it. It runs on common languages like HTML, javascript and CSS. The challenge it faces is that the dynamic environment of Mobile devices and their ever updating operating systems demand frequent updates to the application for it to perform seamlessly.

The biggest benefit of cross platform development is that it targets multiple platforms and devices by writing minimal source code. The advantages that come with this more devices and lesser code strategy is –

Cross Platform Development as the name says can take place in multiple platforms writing very fewer codes. Cross Platform development has many benefits. We list a few of them here :

Benefits of Cross- Platform Mobile App Development

Greater Reach

Whether you choose to develop an application with a Native design or an application with single environment design, the goal is for the application to be accessible on any mobile device running any operating system. With cross platform mobile development, this is a reality.

Easy to develop

Cross platform application development uses common languages like JavaScript, CSS and HTML which makes it easy for developers to adopt and maintain high quality of code in the product. The code generated is also re-usable. Where code created for one platform can be reused for another platform or other projects.

TIme saving / Cost Effective

The ease of creating and maintaining an application that can run on all platforms rather than creating and maintaining applications for each platform is both cost effective and less time consuming. You no longer have to be worried about hiring those hard to get yet expensive developers for each platform.

Composing Apps

Cross platform development tools like WaveMaker offer easy API integrations and consumption of APIs. The ready to use themes, widgets and templates allows you to use a drag and drop feature of WaveMaker and make your apps easier to build and good looking.

Uniform UI

The UI that gets generated can be easily mirrored on to other operating systems. For example a design that is created for an Android device with Material design has a similar output on an IOS device.

Enterprise readiness

WaveMaker’s cross platform helps in easy integration and workability with enterprise services / cloud like Amazon’s AWS with its single click deployment for public cloud and you can deploy and manage apps on the private cloud for better optimization of apps.

Cordova vs Xamarin vs Titanium framework comparison

Cordova uses JavaScript, HTML5 and CSS which makes it easy for developers to use with its javascript library that help them reach 100% code-sharing across all platforms. As long as Cordova is distributed under the Apache foundation,  it will continue to use standard web technologies and remain open source.  Using webview, a special browser that can access web level APIs, developers can mix native applications. 

Some limitations of Cordova are:

  • Having complex UI and limited API functionality / consumption can be tricky. However, platforms like WaveMaker can limit the complexity with its intuitive visual components and interface
  • Creating native apps can be a challenge. But, most business applications prefer a hybrid app approach for ease of delivery and maintenance
  • Developers are always faced with a common conundrum as to which open platform to choose during development.

Xamarin is built on the C# programming language that runs on the .NET common language infrastructure. It is a mono framework that facilitates communication with the API of mobile devices functionalities like camera, contacts, location etc. Xamarin allows developers to create robust applications using its QA functionality and testing. It is regarded as the “Write once, Run Anywhere Tool.”

Some limitations of Xamarin are :

  • Expensive licensing costs
  • Limited access to open source libraries
  • Xamarin community makes 10% of the global mobile development society. Hence, finding a Xamarin developer can be a challenge.

Titanium uses JavaScript and also requires XML to create custom UI  and APIs from Appcelerator to generate  common code. It however, does not use HTML5 and CSS. Developers have a choice to choose Native or cross platform tools as the service utilizes existing web technologies and works best within a web service. Titanium’s look and feel comes as close to a native application.

Some limitations of Titanium are:

  • Licensing fee for each app
  • Complex JavaScript apps cannot be built and causes a buggy experience
  • Learning curve.

5 Things to know before choosing the right cross-platform mobile app development tool

For a company or a business to choose the right cross- platform mobile application development tool, they need to weigh out what benefits / priorities are a good fit for their requirements. (Click the points below to learn more)

Cost of development

With increasing costs to hire OS specific developers, Cross platform application development tools are certainly best suited if you are on a budget or want to get the best of both worlds where you can develop once and run anywhere.

I need applications for multi platform mobile environment

This primarily is the reason why we are seeing a shift toward cross mobile application development as you need to develop once and the same code can be used as a template for other applications which can run on multiple environments.

Native vs hybrid mobile app development

While Native apps can provide a unique experience with incredible animations and user experiences to the end user. Businesses looking for functionality and decent looking UI without having to pay the penalty of high costs and high delivery times, a hybrid design is better suited to them.

Time to development

You can significantly decrease your development time as tools like WaveMaker allow drag drop interface with an easy integrations with APIs etc you can hit those crunch deadlines well in advance.

Easy maintenance of applications beyond development

OS like android and IOS receive their fair share of updates, while one has nomenclature of candy the other has numbers. This however is a nightmare for an application developer as he needs to maintain his apps to accommodate these updates. This can be minimized with the adoption of cross platform application development tools

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