We can’t now imagine our everyday lives without using apps. They became our new normal and are constantly improving in usability and performance. The global mobile application market size was valued at $106.27 billion in 2018 and estimated to reach $407.31 billion by 2026.
With the rapid growth of technologies and differences in customer requests, developers are always looking for better and modern app development tools. Because of that, there is now a choice regarding the development path: developers can make two or more native applications for different platforms or one cross-platform app to reach the same number of users. And today we will explain the second approach and sort it all out for you.
Native apps are applications that were built exclusively for one platform – iOS or Android, for example. So the app that was created with native technology uses the specific programming language for a specific operating system – Swift and Java, respectfully. They are generally high performance and have a great user experience. But the code done for one platform cannot be reused for another, so you’ll need to hire a separate team for each application which is time-consuming and will cost a lot more.
What is a Cross-Platform App Development Framework?
Frameworks are a set of tools and libraries that developers use to build applications faster and easier. There are frameworks for web and native app development, but today we focus on cross-platform frameworks used to build native-like applications for multiple platforms. So a developer can write the code once and then run it anywhere.
Advantages of Cross-Platform Frameworks
- Building apps for multiple devices at once
Hybrid apps offer nearly the same experience as native ones. And you can launch them on different platforms quickly because much of the code can be reused when building the version for another platform. So you don’t need to hire separate developers for each platform.
- One programming language and technology stack
You are able to work with one programming language, one technology stack and you don’t need to hire several teams to work on different platforms.
- Saving time
The developer doesn’t need to write code for each app separately. This speeds up the development process and saves time, which is beneficial for everyone.
- Reducing the cost of development
Cross-platform frameworks significantly reduce not only the time but the cost of development as well.
- Wider market reach
With cross-platform development, it will be easier to get exposure to your target audience because you’ll be able to launch your app on multiple platforms, such as Android, IOS, Windows, etc.
Cross-platform app frameworks make it easier to share a unified UI/UX across multiple platforms, without losing specific platform standards regarding design.
Best Frameworks for Cross-Platform App Development
- React Native is open-source and free to use
- Allows creating apps for multiple platforms (Android, iOS, macOS, Web, Windows, etc.)
- Has a big community of developers that supports the platform and improves it
- Helps app developers to create a highly responsive interface
- Allows access to third-party plugins
- Has a large-sized library
- JSX syntax extension is confusing
Famous apps that use React Native
- Allows to see changes made in code in real-time
- Has its own graphics engine
- Is easy to learn and build or debug with
- Uses Dart programming language, which enables to write more structured code
- Apps developed in Flutter have a large file size
- It lacks the third-party libraries
- You’ll need to learn the Dart language, which is quite rare
Famous apps that use Flutter
- Google Ads
- Philips Hue
- Google Assistant
Xamarin is an open-sourced framework for building cross-platform apps released in 2011. It was based on the Mono project and has been owned by Microsoft since 2016. It is one of the most popular platforms for developing a cross-platform app and it uses C# programming language. It also allows creating reusable code which can be used for the development of apps on various platforms. Developers like the Xamarin Essentials feature that allows accessing device functionality, such as GPS in your projects.
- Allows sharing app code across multiple platforms
- It is equipped with Visual Studio
- Allows the developer to choose the user interface layout
- Provides support by Microsoft
- Doesn’t allow sharing code outside Xamarin
- Some manual coding will be required as well
- Lack of community support
Famous apps that use Xamarin
- The World Bank
- It works on multiple platforms such as Windows, iOS, Android
- It has many available UI components that are easy to use
- Has a lot of plugins
- Native plugins aren’t stable
- Debugging can take more time because of unclear error messages
Famous apps that use Ionic
- National Museum of African American History and Culture
- Allows releasing the app simultaneously on multiple platforms with the same user interface
- No need to hire expert mobile developers
- Applications will behave like native apps
- Has robust backend support
- Easy access to plugins
- Doesn’t support plugins with hooks
- You’ll need to have a Mac for developing an iOS app
- Doesn’t work well with mobile game development
- Plugins can be outdated
Famous apps that use Adobe PhoneGap
- Wikipedia App
- Uses native components and has access to native device API
- Has a large range of open-source plugins
- Is developer-friendly
- Easy to learn
- May not support certain UI elements
- May have not verified plugins
- Required to have knowledge of the native functionality and APIs of iOS and Android
- Has slow testing
Famous apps that use NativeScript
- Airbnb Design
Cross-platform mobile app development has definitely become a great choice if you’re looking for code reusability, saving cost, quick and effective development. It has many advantages and is becoming more and more popular. And there are many reasons why. The most essential reason is that it allows you to launch your apps on multiple platforms in a short time, which helps to reach a wider audience. A developer doesn’t need to write the code for every platform separately. Cross-platform frameworks allow him to write code once and then run it anywhere.
When choosing the right cross-platform framework there is no silver bullet that will be suitable for everyone. Choose a framework based on your project requirements, technical skills, programming language, and platforms you want to use. This will allow you to have better results in the end and not waste both time and money.