Cross-platform applications are the reason why it might be hard to tell the difference between an iPhone app vs. an Android app. The iPhone and the Android device have two very different operating systems, which can lead to visible and internal differences between applications. By developing a cross-platform app, an app can appear almost identical in each system.
Here are two common development processes. Image 1 shows the process if a company develops an app on an individual platform. This is called native development. Image 2 shows an alternative development cycle: an app that can eventually be sent to many different platforms. This is called cross-platform application development.
Here are six advantages to consider when developing a cross-platform application:
- With planning, 50%-80% of the code can be reused across Android and iPhone platforms. This results in a faster development turnaround time and reduced coding.
- Cross-platform development provides more benefits during the maintenance process. If a bug is found in the codebase it only needs to be fixed once. The repairs can then be applied to all platforms.
- In business, cross-platform development can also allow employees to bring their personal devices into the office to be used as traditional desktop computers or for accessing company applications and data.
- For B2B and business process automation apps, the efficient use of resources and time until deployment is most important. Cross-platform development allows for this.
- Unit tests only need to be written once for common code. This means the money saved can be used to write more thorough tests.
However, there are still some challenges for development. Consider these three points:
- Rendering times can be long. Each operating system needs a separate set of code so cross-platform development may stretch the timeframe. Cross compilation applications can also slow things down because so many of them are being used at one time during development.
- The user experience can be compromised. Layouts, function, etc. are all different between iPhone and Android systems, so developing an app that offers an enjoyable experience on both devices can be challenging.
- Each platform has its own style and unique characteristics. Cross-platform development can lead to a loss in these exclusive tools for your own app.
Knowing if your company needs an app is the first step before delving into this advanced app development process. In the end, cross-platform development is a personal business choice that offers its fair share of pros and cons. Knowing what fits your business needs and preferences will ultimately determine if cross-platform development is right for you.
Common Tools and Technologies for Cross-Platform App Development:
- PhoneGap (Adobe)
- An application for building cross-platform apps on existing web technologies.
- Allows native apps to be built for multiple platforms.
- A cross-platform mobile web app framework that allows for the creation of business applications and the maintenance of them.
- A development platform that creates apps for Android and iOS, but it also offers an enterprise app store service that lets IT departments operate curated app stores for employees.
Here are six pros of using Xamarin – a leading cross-platform development tool [INFOGRAPHIC] :