It’s a well stated fact that no business can survive in today’s world without a proper App. The apps have to make their presence feel on both google play store and apple app store. Whenever you are planning to build a mobile app, you often face the challenge of developing it for multiple platforms. This implies targeting both Android and iOS devices. Unlike the early period of the “smartphone” era where most of the app developers only targeted a single platform. This is where Cross-platform apps come to the play. Cross-platform app development framework gives an unprecedented choice to businesses to build their mobile apps that make a mark in Android as well as iOS.
Recent market research shows that the U.S. customer market is around 47% Apple and 52% Android. So, how can we solve the problem of developing a mobile application for both of these platforms? The answer is cross-platform development. So, what are cross-platform apps?
What are Cross-platform Apps?
Cross-platform mobile apps are developed to function on multiple platforms like Android, iOS, Windows, etc. These applications have a single code base and as a result, they are faster, easier, and feasible to develop. The best part of cross-platform mobile apps is that they can reach a huge target audience with uniform UI and functionalities just like native applications.
Cross-platform apps are ideal for startups and mid-level companies as they save costs to a great extent and decrease overall development time. Thanks to cross-platform app development frameworks, mobile apps can run on multiple mobile platforms at the same time, as they are compatible enough with more than one operating system, like iOS and Android platforms.
With the help of cross-platform mobile app development, developers can build a wide range of applications that can run on different platforms but with a single code system. As a result, the companies are able to release their products faster with enhancement in quality standards.
Cross-platform apps can reach the targeted audience quickly since they are compatible with multiple operating systems. The majority of the startups find it appropriate due to its rapid development and turnaround time.
Cross-platform app development can promptly eliminate the dissimilarities observed between OS platforms in its UI and UX. Additionally, this also helps in dropping the total budget of the developers while developing applications. As a result, cross-platform application development helps in providing affordable solutions for all.
What is a Cross-platform App Development Framework?
Cross-platform app development allows the developers to build mobile applications that can be deployed on more than one operating system and are fully compatible with the different operating systems. Mobile App Development is also done in a single universal language that can be simply carried across to any platform.
As a result, the app development process becomes faster and easier. Also, it is quite helpful for developers too, as they need to write code only once. Accordingly, many mobile app development companies have started offering cross-platform app development services to help startups and small companies.
Benefits of Using Cross-platform App Development Frameworks
Reach More Targeted Audience
A cross-platform app can be deployed on various platforms that can practically multiply your target audience. With cross-platform app development frameworks, you can target audiences using Android or iOS phones at once. This means by building a single app, you can target both iOS and Android users and maximize your reach. This can also save your time and money in targeting more audiences with fewer efforts.
Reduced Development Cost
The cross-platform mobile application development is based on the “write once and run everywhere” concept. As cross-platform application development permits a single application to be deployed on multiple platforms, it helps to bring down the company’s expenses and get a separate app developed for each platform. Also, the fact that codes can be reused and implementing agile methodologies can diminish the expenses even more.
Consistency Across Platforms
Since only one cross-platform application is developed common for all the different platforms, it becomes relaxed for users to find the same UI and UI elements for different platforms. This consistency can help in retaining customers even though they change devices or operating systems. Also, UI/UX plays a significant role in customer engagement and retention.
Faster Development Process
The fast development process is an added advantage when it comes to building a cross-platform app. The app development process is faster as compared to others. It can save app developer’s time and efforts by 50 to 60% as they have to code only once. A feature-rich application can be built for multiple platforms with less effort and in relatively less time.
As the development process is quicker in the case of cross-platform app development, prototyping also becomes faster, simple, and effective. Quick prototyping can certify that the development process is functioning faster, and according to the pre-decided flow. This can result in the precise development of the idea into an application.
This is one of the best advantages of cross-platform application development. Once a code is written, it can be used over and over again to save time that was previously wasted to develop new codes every time for different platforms. The effort, time, and cost are decreased as the same code can be used for different platforms, and the productivity of developers can be increased too.
Simple Cloud Integration
A key benefit of cross-platform apps is their compatibility with the incorporation of multiple plugins. Thus, the plugins for cloud integration are highly compatible and therefore, scalability and functionality can be amplified as a single source code is utilized for integrating several plugins and cloud functionalities.
Easier Deployment & Maintenance
Since there is only a single app that is developed for several platforms, it is relatively easier for deploying any changes in the code and maintaining it. Any updates or modifications can be effortlessly deployed across all platforms and devices. Similarly, if there is any bug or error then a common codebase can make it simpler to correct it. In this way, it can also save a lot of time and money for developers.
Time-to-Market is Reduced
Cross-Platform Development allows app developers to lessen Time-to-Market (TTM) with quick deployment. Since the development process for cross-platform applications is faster, deployment and maintenance are also faster, which also turn out to be straightforward to reduce the time to market.
As the time to market decreases, the application can reach the audience faster, and hence it can be helpful for your business to make your services accessible faster. In addition, if you need to modify or customize the application, developers can easily make small changes in one code. This, further, helps to deliver products more quickly by improving customer engagement.
Read more about: Android Application Development
Consumers can recognize user interface (UI) elements and predict their interactions across platforms. Therefore, User Experience (UX) is a significant thing to consider for any development of an app or software.
It is very difficult to synchronize different development projects when developing multiple applications. Cross-platform mobile development tools enable developers to work with designers to create a consistent user experience that app users will love.
With the expansion of its reach, a lot of cross-platform development tools and frameworks started to float in the market. To help you find the most ideal and exemplary cross-platform framework, here is a list of the top 4 cross-platform app development frameworks.
4 Best Cross-platform Mobile App Development Frameworks for 2022
React Native: Cross-platform App Development Framework
Introduction To React Native Development
Facebook developed the React Native framework based on their React library. It is one of the most popular and widely used cross-platform app development frameworks allowing easy development of applications for both iOS and Android platforms. React Native is a perfect technology to save on development costs and still have native performance and user-experience flexibility. It has several great advantages, many amazing ready-to-go templates, an army of dedicated contributors, and a bundle of users. React Native is an effective tool that helps in developing apps with unique and attractive UIs, which are the same as native apps. As a result, hiring react native app development company turns out to be easy and efficient, in terms of both time and cost.
Pros of React Native App Development
You can get better and improved performance with React Native by using native control and modules. The framework connects to native components of both mobile platforms and also develops codes for native APIs. As a result, the performance improves as it uses separate threads from UI and native APIs.
There is a large community always ready to help if you get stuck with your app development. Also if you find something new about using React Native, you can publish that in the community. React Native is a Facebook product therefore, social media sites also extends help in providing a platform for developers to communicate.
You can reuse the codes written for one platform in another also, which saves time and effort. Open-source libraries are containing pre-developed components to help you develop the app. You can implement the already written codes and adapt them to the app requirements.
React Native is an economical solution as you can reuse the codes. It also saves time for the developer. The mobile application development company doesn’t require a dedicated team to rewrite the codes.
Live and Hot Reloading
Live reloading refers to compiling and reading the portions where the changes have been made. Hot reloading permits you to place the corrected file in the correct place even when the app is running. This feature allows you to view the changes live as you develop them and also saves a lot of time which would have been wasted for refreshing and viewing the changes.
The app developed in React Native development framework offers a highly responsive User interface, combined UX, and takes quite less time to load.
React Native helps you to develop more stable apps because it simplifies data binding. It only allows the updating of particular components, which makes it more stable and reliable.
Third-party Plug-in Support
Modular programming makes sure that the separation of program functions into free and identical blocks which are called modules. It makes the application building procedure more adaptable by allowing developers to use each other’s projects whenever required. It also increases the team collaboration required to produce and receive updates.
Increased Stability & Reliability
React Native is also helpful in simplifying data binding, which secures the parent data and does not let it get affected by the child component, thus making the apps dependable and easy to use.
Useful Solutions and Library
It simplifies mobile app development by offering you readymade solutions and libraries. There is a large number of libraries that readily help you in app development.
Read more about React Native Development
Cons of React Native App Development
- Lack of developers in terms of quality and quantity
- Lack of certain customized modules
- Compatibility and debugging issues
Mobile Applications Built On React Native Development Framework
Keep Reading: Flutter Vs. React Native
Flutter: Cross-platform App Development Framework
Introduction To Flutter Development Framework
Flutter is a fast-growing project by Google. It’s a complete software development kit (SDK) that allows developers to build cross-platform applications that look equally good on both new and older versions of a device’s operating system and provides a great look and feel due to a wide collection of available widgets. Like any other cross-platform technology, Flutter has a lot of special features advantages that make it shine. Here are some of them:
Pros Of Flutter App Development
- With the Hot Reload feature in Flutter Framework, every change or modification you make to the code is reflected in the app in real-time. Hence, you can make changes on the go and test as many variations as you want, to see how exactly they affect the app right on your screen.
- With Flutter app development, code irregularities and bugs can be spotted in real-time, which allows the developers to fix them right there. This leads to spending less time testing the app and speeding up the time-to-launch. Similarly, fixing bugs in real-time leads to a considerably much higher quality app that loads fast and performs well across multiple devices.
- Flutter’s code reusability feature allows the developers to write just one codebase and use it on multiple platforms. This reduces the development time and lets you launch your app much faster.
- Flutter uses the Skia Graphics Library which is an advanced open-source library with a solid backend. It every time draws the UI again as a view changes, which results in a fast and smooth app experience that users love.
- Flutter allows for a customized user interface of high-quality and any level of complexity, hence it reduces the workload for developers.
- Flutter’s custom widgets not only help you create great visuals for your app but also manages to do this with incomparable ease and promptness. It also offers simple platform-specific logic implementation.
- Flutter uses a Dart programming language which is the easiest thing to learn. Developers having a slight coding knowledge can also build prototypes and apps with the help of flutter framework.
Keep reading: Flutter Development
Cons of Flutter App Development Framework
- Lack of third party libraries
- Issues with iOS platform
- Apps made with Flutter are comparatively larger and heavier.
- DART is still in its immature stage
- Guidelines for Flutter app development are not fully evolved.
Mobile Applications Built On Flutter Framework
Pairing, Postmuse, Xianyu, Topline, Inkino, Cryptomaniac, School planner, Google ads app, Google pay/Tez, Reflectly etc.
Read More About Mobile Applications Made On Flutter App Development Framework
Adobe PhoneGap: Cross-platform App Development Framework
Introduction To Adobe PhoneGap
Apache Cordova, formerly known as PhoneGap, is a Cross-platform app development framework, developed by Nitobi. Upon takeover of nitobi by Adobe systems in 2011, Apache Cordova was renamed as Adobe PhoneGap. PhoneGap provides mobile app developers with the functionality to develop apps using native APIs, so that the app can make use of camera, accelerometer, contacts, geo-location and other native features.
Pros of Adobe PhoneGap App Development Framework
PhoneGap has noteworthy abilities in building Cross-Platform apps, wherein you can build one app and use it across multiple platforms.
Custom PhoneGap app development offers uniformity of features and functionalities across all the mobile platforms. The look of the app developed for iPhone might differ from the app developed for Android, and vice versa, but the core functionalities remain the same for the two.
Expert Developers Not Required
Apps Behave Like Native Apps
Adobe PhoneGap mobile apps work like native apps when it works on any smartphone hardware allowing for the app to make use of the camera, accelerometer, contacts, geo-location and other native features. Thus providing excellent UX facilities by making use of extended hardware capabilities of the phone.
Highly robust backend system helps in quick app development and thus reducing development efforts.
Due to PhoneGap’ open source license, this framework is quintessentially free.
Huge Community Support
Due to the open source and free nature of the PhoneGap Cross-platform app development framework, the community of developers is expanding. Thus, making it easier to access information and get queries resolved by up and coming developers.
Easy to Work Plugins
The PhoneGap native-app container, PhoneGap Build supports several PhoneGap plugins. This helps in providing extended native functionalities for app development. These Plugins can be obtained from Adobe repository, public git repository and NPM. StatusBar, PushPlugin, Barcode Scanner, Social Sharing, GAPlugin, Facebook Connect, and Pushwoosh are the most recent plugins in the repositories.
Due to Cross-Platform capabilities, lesser time is required to develop apps built in Adobe PhoneGap Cross-platform app development framework and Deadlines can be met. This is a huge win for both the developers and businesses, since less time means less effort and less time to market and hence lesser the costs involved.
Continue reading about: PhoneGap Development
Cons of Adobe PhoneGap Development
- PhoneGap doesn’t support plugins with hooks causing hindering of functionality of the app.
- PhoneGap is not suitable for building hardware intensive apps.
- PhoneGap app developers can’t develop iOS programs without downloading iOS SDK and iOS SDK can’t be downloaded without a mac. Hence, making mac a compulsory necessity for developing iOS apps.
- PhoneGap app development framework is not suitable for gaming apps. Gaming apps are probably going to face ‘drop’ and ‘freeze’ issues during the game, when any push notification is received.
- Sometimes plugins could be outdated and the app functionality is hindered and it’s quite possible that app optimization suffers.
Examples of Adobe PhoneGap
Keep Reading: How to improve mobile app performance?
Xamarin: Cross-platform App Development Framework
“Write Once – Run Everywhere”
Introduction To Xamarin Framework
Xamarin is an open-source Cross-platform app development framework for building applications for Windows, iOS, and Android app development with .NET from a single, shared codebase. Xamarin was first launched in 2011 as Cross-Platform implementations. In 2016, Xamarin was acquired by Microsoft, thus giving it the desperately needed wings for its actual take-off.
Xamarin is an abstraction layer that manages communication between shared code and underlying platform code. Xamarin developers can share an average of 90% of their application’s base code across various platforms.
Xamarin developers can write their business logic in a single language or reuse the existing app code, and still garner native performance, look and feel on each platform.
Pros of Xamarin App Development Framework
Code sharing or “Write Once – Run Everywhere”
60% to 95% of the code base is reusable and can be shared among different platforms in Xamarin.
Support from Microsoft
Ever since its acquisition by Microsoft, Xamarin has full backing and technical support from Microsoft. Thus, ensuring continuous developer support, wider opportunities to learn and grow and high stability and performance.
Flexibility of C# and .NET
Xamarin uses C# as its programming language. While Microsoft favors .NET development for almost all things, given the flexible and simple nature of C# and .NET, the development team can easily build apps in different platforms without hassle and in less time.
Minimal Time to Market
When an app is to be built with tight budget and even tighter deadlines, then time to market is an important consideration, when the app is to be launched in a highly competitive market. Due to Xamarin’ code reusability feature and test cloud service, even with limited human resources and hardware, the app can be launched with minimal time to market.
Native Performance and Integration
Apps made with Xamarin use many native elements and technologies for highly optimized results, including:
- Overall process optimization or hardware acceleration
- Native UI features
- 100% native API Access
Tracking of Crash and Activity
Visual Studio App Center helps developers keep track of app crashes, devices, user activities etc.
Quick GUI Prototyping and Next Level Code Sharing
Xamarin.forms provides us with an appealing and standardized GUI. Xamarin.forms helps developers build Cross-Platform user interfaces with an astonishing 95% code sharing option.
Despite the fact that more than one platform is involved, code maintenance in Xamarin is a dream come true for developers. Maintenance services covers keeping up with each platform’s versions and updates; maintaining interchangeability of code base and propagation of every little functional change across all platforms.
Rapid Mobile App Development (RMAD)
RMAD has tools and products to reduce development time of an app along with enabling .NET Embedding feature.
Microsoft offers Xamarin courses via Microsoft Learn platform serving as a robust educational eco-system for users and developers.
Cons of Xamarin Development Framework
- High pricing
- Platform specific limitations such as multi touch functionality and certain platform specific gestures
- Limited community and community support
- IDE and technology lock in
- Code overheads
- API support lag
- Not appropriate for game development
Mobile App Built On Xamarin
Apps can also be developed via two other popular app development methods as well, i.e. native app development and hybrid app development. As we have already discussed the top 4 cross-platform app development frameworks, let’s dig into the comparison between these two commonly used frameworks with a cross-platform development framework.
Also Read: Top 10 Mobile App Development Trends
What Are The Different Challenges Faced In Cross-Platform App Development?
A few years back, there were some restrictions in the cross-platform app development to make simple mobile games and applications. But steadily over time, cross-platform development becomes more dominant as well as flexible with the help of evolving technologies and innovations.
On the other hand, there are still a few challenges that obstruct the cross-platform app development process. The performance at times drops down because of inappropriate and unpredictable communication between the gadgets of native and non-native elements.
There are only limited tools and technologies available yet to the developers for the cross-compliance of these apps. There are user experience complaints registered for performance-based matters. Talking about the security issues, you should not choose cross-platform applications if your app manages corporate data along with the user’s data daily. However, the benefits overshadow the drawbacks of the Cross-platform development process.
Native App Development Vs. Hybrid App Development Vs. Cross-platform App Development
1. Definition Of Various Mobile Application Development Frameworks
Native app development is the framework for creation of software programs for building apps that run on specific systems, devices and platforms such as Android, iOS, windows etc. and users can access them from dedicated app stores like google play store or apple play store etc.
Hybrid app development is used to create hybrid apps by building up a software application that combines the features, elements and functionalities of both native apps and web applications. Hybrid mobile apps are quintessentially web apps in a native app shell. They allow developers to write code for mobile app once and use it for multiple platforms.
Cross-Platform app development frameworks are the tools that let the mobile app developers develop apps for multiple frameworks. These frameworks allow developers to develop a one-time code base and lets them run it for all platforms such as iOS, Android, Windows etc., with a few trivial changes in the development of its course and reduced budget.
2. Tools Used By Different Mobile App Development Frameworks
Native app development tools consist of XCode, AppCode, Android Studio, etc.
Hybrid app development tools are Ionic, Apache Cordova, Visual Studio etc.
Cross-Platform app development tools are React Native, Xamarin, Flutter, Adobe PhoneGap etc.
3. Rendering Engine Of Different Mobile App Development Frameworks
Native rendering engine is used for native app development.
Browser is used as a rendering engine for Hybrid application development.
Native rendering engine is used for Cross-Platform app development.
4. Time to Market Different App Development Frameworks
Native apps are time consuming, hence take more time to market since only one app for one platform can be developed at a time.
While, hybrid apps and Cross-platform mobile applications take less time to build and therefore market, since they have code reusability features.
5. Libraries Dependency Of Different Mobile App Development Frameworks
Native app development doesn’t show much dependency on open source libraries and functions.
Hybrid app development is highly dependent on different libraries and frameworks.
Cross-Platform app development frameworks are highly dependent on different libraries and frameworks as well.
6. Debugging Method Used By Different Mobile Application Development Frameworks
Native app development uses only native debugging tools for the debugging process.
Native debugging tools and web development debugging tools are used for debugging in Hybrid app development.
Debugging tools that are used for Cross-Platform app development vary according to the framework.
7. Codebase Used By Different App Development Frameworks
For every platform a separate codebase has to be written by native app developers during native app development.
Single codebase with potential platform specific capabilities is the basic recourse for Hybrid app development and Cross-Platform app development.
8. Pros Of Different Mobile Application Development Frameworks
Pros of Native App Development:
- Full access to devices’ or OS’s features
- High performance
- App runs quite efficiently
- High-quality functionality and UI/ UX
Pros of Hybrid App Development:
- Cost of development is lower
- Code reusability is allowed
- Different OS support is available
- Cost effective development
Pros of Cross-Platform App Development:
- Support of different OS is garnered
- UI Performance is as fast and high in quality as Native
- Code reusability feature is supported
- Cost effective development is involved
9. Cons Of Different Mobile App Development Frameworks
Cons of Native App Development include:
- No multi- platform support
- High development costs are involved for every different OS needed.
- No code reusability
Cons of Hybrid App Development
- Performance is slow
- No interaction with other native apps is allowed
- Limited access to OS features
Cons of Cross-Platform App Development
- Performance is slow
- Although, Limited access to OS features is allowed but not as limited as Hybrid
- Poor interaction with other native apps.
10. Mobile Apps Built On Various Application Development Frameworks
Examples of native app development includes Pinterest, Artsy and any other preset app existing in your OS.
JustWatch, NHS, Airbus Helicopters etc. are some of the most daunting examples of Hybrid app development.
Some of the finest examples of Cross-platform app development are Bloomberg, Walmart, Facebook, Reflectly, Myntra etc.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What Are The Business Benefits Of Cross-Platform Development?
The business benefits of Cross-Platform Development consist of:
- Launching the software at the same time on various platforms
- Faster development time
- Reaching a wider audience
- Faster and easier updates
- Cost savings and shorter time to productivity
What Factors Should I Consider In Deciding Whether To Build A Cross-Platform Application Or Not?
Mainly, you need to determine the purpose of your app. Then choose how the UI is likely to perform. If your application needs gaming-level animations or is expected to provide high performance overall, then native apps are the correct choice to go with.
How Cost-Effective Is It To Choose A Cross-Platform Application Over A Native Application?
Other elements remain the same, in most cases you can develop a cross-platform app for only 60% of the cost that it takes to build native building apps independently for multiple platforms.
What Is The Difference Between Cross-Platform Development Vs Native App Development?
With native app development, you can utilize default language and IDE for both iOS App Development and Android App Development, i.e. Objective C/ Swift with xCode for iOS and JAVA/ Kotlin with Android studio for Android. Cross-platform technology offers a framework where coding is done once, however it can be used to deploy apps in iOS, Android, and Windows phones.
Cross-Platform solutions are unquestionably not only effective and less cumbersome but advantageous in terms of money, time and efforts. Mobile apps are categorized majorly and usually in two types, iOS apps and android apps, for which outsource cross-platform mobile app developing services is the best choice. Although, the concept of Cross-Platform mobile app development frameworks has developed considerably so far but it still needs to mature and advance itself.
While, this advancement is an ongoing process, looking at the current scenario, you need to make a well-informed decision on what Cross-platform mobile app development framework needs to be chosen for your app only after careful consideration of budget, skill, time and experience.