In a world that is divided into two camps, Android vs. iOS, the importance of having your digital product work across both platforms is evident. Traditionally, developers would create two versions of the same application - a tedious and expensive undertaking. But what if there was a way to program in one universal language that worked across multiple platforms? Welcome to the world of “cross-platform development”!When you first started looking into building websites and web applications, you probably quickly noticed that a huge emphasis is put on making things “mobile-friendly” and “browser compatible”. Mobile usage has been increasing continuously over the past few years, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that apps are so extremely popular. Even Google cares about “mobile-first” above all else. Businesses can’t afford to ignore the opportunities that arise within the space. A brand without an Instagram profile - does it really exist? A small business without a Google My Business profile or website - can it be trusted? From social media marketing and email advertising to content creation, digital marketing is thriving thanks to the rise of smartphones and mobile applications.
- Currently, 46.7 percent of Australia use Android devices and 52.8 percent use iOS
In theory, any decent developer should be able to build a simple app. But here’s the catch: Android and iOS use different code languages. Apple iOS uses Objective C or Swift, Android programs are written in Java, the Windows phone in C# and XAML. Previously, teams with tight budgets would have to make the decision on which operating system was worth creating an app for. Not all companies could afford to have several development teams programming in the native environments for different platforms.
What are the disadvantages of traditional approaches to making apps?
- It’s hard to find the dev talent with proficiency across several different programming languages.
- The development time is usually longer.
- As a result, the creation and maintenance of one app for each operating system can be more expensive:
- Either, your developer is an expert in their field, which will naturally drive their rates up,
- Or, you will have to hire a team of developers with the right skill sets.
- Each platform has its own user interface. As a result, apps will not be uniform and may create a different user experience depending on the platform. Consistency, however, is the key to successful branding.
Luckily, there are different ways to go about mobile app development, each with its own advantages. Cross-platform development makes the lives of app developers around the globe a lot easier. It allows one and the same app to run across both platforms smoothly. Let’s look at what exactly “cross-platform development” is, including the benefits and disadvantages of using it.
What Is Cross-Platform Development?
- Native App – Cross-Platform Development
Using software tools like React Native or NativeScript, they may develop an app that allows for usage across platforms, without having to code each separately. This can be a great compromise and save the time and cost associated with building separate native apps.
- Hybrid Apps – Cross-Platform Development
Advantages of Cross-Platform Development
Cross-platform application development allows the use of an application on different systems, allowing software makers and business owners to reach a much wider audience.
Here’s what we love about cross-platform development :
- Reduced time to market: Developing one app takes less time than building one for each platform
- Cost savings: Without the need to code in several languages, you will have fewer expenses, bugs and issues that occur need only be fixed once
- Wider audience: Businesses can reach more customers which increases exposure and ROI
- Easy to use tools: The development tools employ common programming languages
- Increased uniformity: Launching the app simultaneously across platforms ensures a more seamless and consistent User Experience
Disadvantages of Cross-Platform Development
Whilst the above certainly gives us reason to be excited about the possibilities of creating cross-platform applications, there are some disadvantages to using cross-platform development we don’t want to keep from you.
Here are some of the downsides to cross-platform development :
- Diminished User Experience: Native apps draw on the specific features of each platform, with a shared codebase, developers won’t be able to draw on these unique capabilities
- Apps are less sophisticated: Cross-platform applications are more generalised than they would be if built for one specific platform
- Frameworks are slow to reflect updates: When an operating system adds or changes a feature that affects the application, just like it happened with the recent iOS data privacy updates, the framework used to build the app may be slow to reflect those changes
Overview of Popular Cross-Platform Technology and Frameworks
Now that you have a better idea of what cross-platform development entails and why it is the unrivalled choice for many businesses trying to survive in the Darwinian world of apps, let's have a look at the tools developers can use to create cross-platform applications!
Flutter is a toolkit for building apps from a single codebase. Developed in 2018 by none other than tech giant Google itself, it’s an open-source, free to use framework for creating apps that run across both iOS and Android. Flutter offers a choice of User Interface (UI) elements and widgets and enables developers to quickly customise animations. It’s hot-reload feature lets programmers view coding changes live within seconds, without having to save their work.
- React Native
Another open-source cross-platform framework owned by Google, Angular utilises TypeScript and HTML to facilitate building dynamic apps. Angular is highly scalable, so if you expect your community and app to grow over time, this might be a great choice for you. The real stand out factor, however, is the flexibility Angular offers to customise your app. Instead of having to stick to the Angular library, developers can change and write code to create a truly unique, tailormade app.
Cross-platform development is a highly time and cost-effective way to develop an app. The question is, which one’s right for you? Native or cross-platform? If you’re looking for exceptional User Experience and are building an app that requires full access to the phone's features and resources, it might be wise to stick to native development. But if you don’t have the budget and manpower to build apps for the different systems, and have a short window to test your application, cross-platform development is the way to go. Ultimately, it depends on the nature of your business, the complexity of your application and the skills of the developers involved. If you still have your doubts about which option is right for you, native or cross-platform development, get expert advice from our development team. We’d love to discuss your app idea with you!