Cross-platform app development is the process of building an app that runs on multiple platforms. Android and iOS share the market, so you’ll want to target both platforms for maximum profits.
Cross-platform mobile development uses one source code. That means a faster development process and reduced costs. Other benefits of cross-platform app development are shortened time to market, wider market reach, and easier maintenance of your app. It can also give you near-native performance. Many successful apps use it, including Facebook, Instagram, Walmart, and Bloomberg.
The most popular frameworks for cross-platform app development are Flutter and React Native, followed by Cordova, Ionic, and Xamarin.
In this article, we’ll discuss the main benefits of cross-platform app development, share more about the top 5 tools, and the factors you need to consider when choosing the best approach for your project.
Benefits of cross-platform app development
1) Quick deployment and shortened time to market
Using only one source code makes cross-platform app development much faster than native app development, where you need to write two separate codes for each platform. Here, the whole process is simplified. That way, the app is ready to market sooner.
2) Wider market reach
With cross-platform mobile application development, you’re targeting both Android and iOS platforms. If your app is available on multiple platforms, you’ll have a wider market reach; in other words – more potential customers.
3) Easier maintenance
The app is easier to maintain as you need to maintain only one codebase for updates, bug fixing, and any later changes.
Using only one source code will save you both time and money. You’ll need to pay one developer who will write code for different platforms, using one framework. That reduces costs significantly.
5) Uniform Design
Cross-platform app development enables you to have a shared uniform design across all platforms. That means your users will have a consistent user experience, whichever device they use. Unified experience across all platforms will give you more satisfied customers.
Top 5 tools for cross-platform app development
Flutter is an open-source framework created by Google. It gained popularity due to its high performance and the fact that it’s based on Dart – a language that is simple to learn.
Flutter has a full set of widgets both in Android and Apple style, enabling you to create beautiful native-like interfaces. With the Hot Reloading feature, you can see the changes as they are made.
You should use Flutter if you want excellent performance and UI. It’s also ideal for MVP because it helps to speed up the development.
Well-known apps using Flutter are Alibaba, Google, and Google Ads.
React Native is an open-source UI framework created by Facebook in 2015. It shortly became famous due to its flexibility and ease of use. Today it’s the second most popular framework for cross-platform mobile app development.
This framework will give you native-like performance and a highly responsive design. If that is what you need, you can easily find React Native developers for hire.
This framework is used by Instagram, Facebook, Walmart, Tesla, Pinterest, and Skype.
Apache Cordova (formerly PhoneGap) is an open-source framework for cross-platform app development. It’s the third most popular framework, after Flutter and React Native.
It won’t give you native-like performance because it uses web technologies, which is why it’s used for simple apps without heavy graphics.
Popular apps built with Cordova include Untappd, Localeur, SparkChess, and FanReact.
An open-source framework launched in 2013 for creating cross-platform hybrid applications. It’s built on top of Cordova – they both transform web applications into native mobile apps.
Ionic won’t give you native-like performance like Flutter or React Native but has many other advantages. It has components that adapt automatically to different platforms, and a wide array of plugins. It allows seamless integration of third-party plugins and quick testing in a browser. It’s also compatible with any IDE.
Ionic is great when you need to speed up the development and testing cycle of your app. Apps using it are Sanvello, MarketWatch, and Sworkit.
Xamarin was launched in 2011 as an independent platform but was later bought by Microsoft. It uses C#, so its apps run seamlessly on both Android and iOS. In popularity, it stands right behind Cordova and Ionic.
Businesses hire Xamarin developers because this technology is simple to use, with a user-friendly interface, and elements completely compatible with every platform. It has access to many resources, such as themes and UIs, and offers many tools such as selecting a UI layout, testing apps in real-time, and debugging. Apps using it are Fox Sports, HCL, Alaska Airlines, and BBC Good Food.
How do you choose a cross-platform app development framework for your project?
When choosing a framework for cross-platform mobile app development, you can use the following questions to help you narrow down the options. If you are in doubt, it’s better to ask a cross-platform app development company or IT staffing agency for advice.
First, create a blueprint of your app considering everything that is important, then compare it to each framework’s capabilities, UI customization, and security options. Ask yourself:
- Do you need just a mobile app, or web applications also?
If you also need a web application, frameworks that work with web technologies, like Cordova and Ionic, are a better choice.
- How do you want your app to look and feel?
Find out which apps are made with each framework and how they perform. Are they simple or complex apps? How do they solve their user’s needs? Will it be suitable for your app? If you need high, native-like performance, then Flutter, React Native, or Xamarin are great choices.
- What about UI customization?
Some frameworks come with a large set of ready-made widgets that are great for customizing and creating native-like interfaces.
- Consider integrations with third parties
Seamless integration with third-party providers is essential, so explore the ones you’ll need. If you, for example, want integrations with Google applications (like Google Maps), Flutter can be a great choice as it’s created by Google.
- What about security issues?
Your app will store users’ personal information, so it should be integrated with high-security features for proper data protection.
Cross-platform app development is used by many popular and successful apps because of the many benefits it provides. It enables you to have a fast development process and a shortened time to market, wider market reach, easier maintenance, uniform design for better UX, and reduced costs.
What is cross-platform mobile app development?
Cross-platform mobile app development is a process of developing an app that runs on multiple platforms and devices, using one source code.
What are the advantages of cross-platform development?
The advantages of cross-platform development are:
- wider market reach
- reduced costs
- easier maintenance
- shortened time to market
- uniform design
What are the most popular cross-platform app development tools?
Developers use tools such as the following for cross-platform app development:
- React Native