Cross-platform applications have reached such a smooth level of integration they are virtually invisible now. Most companies—from startups with scarce resources to market giants like Skype—are turning to cross-platform toolkits to optimize their development processes, cut deadlines, and reduce expenses.
While this approach is no panacea for all development struggles, knowing what opportunities cross-platform development presents can be largely beneficial to your business.
What Is a Cross-Platform App?
A cross-platform application is a piece of software that can run on multiple operating systems without manual changes to the code. While native development requires you to create two separate versions for Android and iOS, cross-platform frameworks make it possible to make two builds from the same codebase. Cross-platform development also supports adding native features and design elements to make an application look native to each of your target platforms.
What Are the Best Frameworks for Cross-Platform Development?
Familiarizing yourself with the current technologies used in this field is important for understanding the market. In this article, we’ll take a brief look at several powerful and widely used frameworks. For more in-depth information about the best tools for cross-platform mobile development in 2020, follow the link: https://litslink.com/blog/best-cross-platform-mobile-development-tools-in-2020.
Xamarin is a framework by Microsoft that uses C# as the primary language. This tool brings the desktop, web, and mobile environments together, allowing developers to build cross-platform apps from a single codebase.
Flutter is a framework designed by Google. It uses Dart as the programming language, which may add a twist to the learning curve. Compared to its main competitor React Native, Flutter is generally faster and more native-looking.
Ionic is a framework for cross-platform mobile and web development. It features a smaller community than React Native or Xamarin, but it supplies high performance, incredible speed, and a rich selection of UI components as well as other front-end elements.
Qt is the framework of choice when you need to target a large number of different platforms. The tool enables programmers to build for iOS, Android, Windows, Linux, smartTV, watchOS, macOS, and many others. Also, Qt is based on C++, which will simplify the learning process for developers who are already familiar with this language.
What Are the Benefits of Cross-Platform Development?
Expand the Reach of Your Application
The most prominent benefit that cross-platform development grants is the easy access to a much wider pool of potential clients. When you utilize this technology, a single version of your app is enough to launch in several app stores simultaneously. It grants you the ability to present a web, desktop, and several mobile versions of the application without spending thrice as long building it.
Besides, the cross-platform functionality enables your users to install and interact with the application regardless of what device they’re currently using. A person will be able to access their data and manipulate it equally comfortably from an office PC, their smartphone, and their tablet.
Reduce the Development Time
Cross-platform development beats native when it comes to deadlines. Since you only need one version of the app for all target devices, this approach can save a lot of time and effort. Besides, the toolkits used for cross-platform development are tailored to make building an app as fast and effective as possible, meaning they will frequently boost the productivity of your programming and design teams even on smaller projects.
Cut the Expenses
Cross-platform development tools are designed to simplify the process of building an app and enable programmers to focus on the logic and architecture of the application rather than on the intricacies of a programming language. These tools take care of large amounts of work that would have to be done manually in native development. Thus, by reducing the workload, cross-platform development also cuts the costs significantly.
Synchronize the Code Across Different Platforms to Simplify Maintenance
Maintenance and quality control both get more complicated when several functioning versions of an app are present. Cross-platform development brings this complexity down a notch by providing only one version across all platforms that needs maintenance and testing. Since the code stays the same, all changes will be synchronized and implemented on all the target OS automatically.
What Are the Potential Drawbacks of Cross-Platform Development?
Despite its extensive benefits, cross-platform development is not a perfect fit for every business. Consider the following challenges when deciding between native and cross-platform routes:
- Native functionality limitations. Although cross-platform frameworks provide access to native features and UI elements, developers will stumble upon limitations in this area. Depending on how platform-specific you wish the app to be, this issue may increase the amount of work for the development team significantly, along with the associated costs and time requirements.
- More bugs for all users. Cross-platform development, unfortunately, means cross-platform bugs. While this issue is remedied by proper testing, sometimes tracking down an issue can be more difficult than it is with native development.
Cross-Platform Development in a Nutshell
Tailoring your application to suit multiple target platforms without any adjustments is usually a cost-effective and functional solution. This approach can help you reduce the time and costs associated with building the app, as well as make it easier to distribute it. Cross-platform development also requires the expertise with just a single chosen framework rather than the tools native to each platform.
This flexibility, however, can be inhibiting in some cases. If you want your app to have a flawless native look and make the most of each platform’s native functionality, cross-platform development might not grant the satisfactory results. Although frameworks like React Native and Xamarin give you access to native features, the quality of the final product will depend on the complexity of the application.
Choose the development route by considering your goals, target audience, budget, and marketing strategy. If you aim to expand the reach of your app, cross-platform development can propel your business forward. In case a native look is crucial to your mission, custom development for each platform may be a better solution.