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 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 different 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.

Cross-platform app development vs native app development

The cross-platform app market is expected to grow rapidly, and the amount of cross-platform mobile development tools and software is increasing day by day. There are advantages of native applications, but here is how a cross-platform app development fares better than the native apps:

Cross-platform Native
Cost factor A highly cost-effective option for creating and maintaining application Highly expensive to create and maintain the application for each platform
Market reach Gives access to a wider audience, thereby increasing revenue Focus on just one platform limits its market reach which significantly reduces revenue
Development cycle Much shorter development time as it uses a single code and a uniform UI Usually takes a longer time to meet each and every specification of different platforms
Technical skill Does not need extensive knowledge about multiple technologies May need to hire additional expensive developers for each platform

How cross platform app 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).

The cross-platform mobile application development tool is easy to use and helps businesses save time and money. It runs on common languages like HTML, JavaScript and CSS. The biggest benefit of cross platform development is that it targets multiple platforms with minimal source code. The advantages that come with this more devices and lesser code strategy is –

Time to market is faster

Using a cross-platform app development framework, an application can be designed quickly and released in the market faster than expected. This gives it an edge over applications developed on native platform as it can reach the hands of customers sooner. The time saved can be used to develop new applications.

Code can be reused

Cross-platform mobile development makes it simple to maintain and deploy codes as developers can reuse the codes for other platforms. This helps save time and resources – a great benefit for business. It can eliminate repetitive task of developing codes.

Decreased cost

As cross-platform mobile development tools leverage a single code base, businesses can develop apps without investing much on tools and technology. This is a huge advantage when compared to traditional method of development where lot of resources were spent on creating new tools and technologies.

Easy access to plug-ins

Cross-platform mobile development provides easy access to plug-ins. This helps simplify the development process as it allows the developers to make any changes in the application when needed. This means that common links to API can be used on multiple platforms and implemented in less time.

It has uniformity

As cross-platform mobile development tools use a single code base, it helps maintain the overall look and feel of the application across multiple platforms. For example, a design that is created for an Android device with material design has a similar output on an IOS device. This makes the application user-friendly.

Top 3 cross-platform mobile development tools

Cordova uses JavaScript, HTML5 and CSS which makes it easy for developers to use and 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
  • Creating native apps can be a challenge
  • 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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