The smartphone has come a long way since its concept days. Today, these pocket-sized devices are capable of processing massive amounts of data making it one of the most influential forces in the transformation of work and life as we know. This massive adoption of the smartphone has triggered another phenomenon: mobile app development.
Mobile app development has given these devices the power to accomplish everything from booking hotels on the go to managing business processes. Such is the versatility of mobile applications. Having said that, the process of mobile app development is dependent on various factors. One of them — and arguably the most important — is the mobile platform.
When it comes to mobile platforms the number exists in the double digits with Android, iOS, and Windows. Tackling the multi-platform issue in mobile app development is a very serious factor. Until recently, developers focused on the development of native apps. The notion being that native apps are more responsive and, as a result, more user-friendly.
However, cross-platform mobile app development has been gaining momentum. Thanks to the advancements in the domain, cross-platform app development have been able to provide users with a native app like features. Using a single code base, cross platforms offer a distinct advantage native mobile app development. And unlike a web-based application, they are independent of the availability of internet.
Types of Cross-Platform Applications
Based on the nature of the mobile app development process, cross-platform apps can be categorized into the following two segments:
Native Cross-Platform Applications
Native cross-platform applications implement application programming interfaces (API) provided by a specific platform’s software development kit (SDK). This allows developers to create an application using programming languages otherwise unsupported by the mobile operating system.
In most cases, such a mobile app development process entails the use of an integrated development environment to create a native app bundle for various OS platforms from a single uniform code base. The most striking attribute of these applications is the near native-like performance across platforms.
HTML5 Cross-Platform Applications
HTML5 cross platforms are also known as hybrid cross-platform apps. These applications implement embedded HTML5 (web-based) apps within a native container, giving it native-like features and response. This type of mobile app development process combines the properties of both native and hybrid apps. However, the native-like features fall short in comparison with ‘native’ cross-platform applications, since they are essentially browser-based applications.
Benefits of Cross-Platform Mobile App Development
Perhaps the most decisive advantage cross-platform mobile app development holds over other app development process is the deployability across platforms. Native app development process requires the development team to focus on a single mobile platform. This means that developing the application for a different platform would involve repeating the entire mobile app development process from scratch.One App; Many Platforms
In contrast to that, cross-platform app development requires a single code base that contains the app’s general business logic, used to develop apps across platforms. This single code base is then used to generate codes required for various platforms. This reusability of codes ensures a faster method of mobile app development saving up on the projects timespan. Reusing codes also eliminates possible mistakes in handwritten codes and reduces repetitive tasks.
In most cases, cross-platform apps are easier and cheaper to maintain than other variants. Among the numerous reasons for this, is the fact that the mobile app development process for these applications requires less effort than a native app development. With the help of efficient architecture, a huge bulk of the code can be used across the platform.
By comparison, native applications require a completely independent app development process for different platforms. This translates to nearly (and at a time more than) double the effort required to develop cross-platform applications.
In addition to this, cross-platform mobile app development process also translates to lower costs towards quality assurance. The main reason for this is the platform specific UI elements of cross-platform apps along with a recurrent code base. This means debugging the application requires less time in comparison to native apps. Also, a common unit test is required across all platforms, saving the project’s time and resource.
Room for Prototyping
One of the most advantageous aspects of a company looking to test a products market efficiency is the development of a fully-functional prototype. The properties of a native cross-platform make it the perfect solution for this.
By enabling a rapid mobile app development process, a native cross-platform application allows the mobile application development service to release an early version of their app across the platform. This further lets them gather valuable user feedback and lock in their position in mobile application landscape. Considering the high level of competition in the market, this often times creates a major advantage for the mobile app development companies looking to break into the market.
A Wider User Reach
The mobile app development market is expanding at an exponential rate. The current combined number of app in iOS and Android marketplace stands at roughly 5 million. With mobile apps evolving into the newest channel to promote sales for businesses, mobile app development companies are racing to reach as many users as possible. This is where the cross-platform factors play the biggest role.
Since the development process for cross-platform applications involves building the app for various platforms, it ensures a wider reach by tapping into the user base across platforms such as iOS, Android, and Windows.
Uniformity in UX = Familiarity Across All OS Platforms
The uniformity in UX in cross-platform mobile app development is a more recent advantage since these apps have been known to fall short in past. However, advancements in the domain have helped developers overcome the difficulties and turn it into an advantage.