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    What is Cross-Platform Development?

    Putri

    June 13, 2024
    cross platform development

    Mobile app development is an investment. Building a robust mobile app requires significant time, financial resources, and skilled personnel, which can be daunting for aspiring entrepreneurs or businesses with limited budgets and experience. Fortunately, solutions are available to cut the development processes and achieve high-quality results while minimising costs. One of them is doing cross-platform development. So, what is cross-platform development? In simple terms, it is an approach to building a mobile application on iOS and Android platforms.

    This article will discuss cross-platform development, its benefits and drawbacks, and the four most popular cross-platform frameworks. 

    What is Cross-Platform Development  

    When building mobile apps, there are two main approaches to consider: native development and cross-platform development. The main difference lies in how they handle compatibility across different operating systems. Let’s examine the differences.

    Native Development: This method involves creating separate codebases tailored to each platform, such as iOS and Android. While this approach offers optimal performance and full access to device-specific features, it requires proficiency in different programming languages (e.g., Swift for iOS, Java/Kotlin for Android) and frameworks. This can significantly increase development time and cost, especially if you’re targeting multiple platforms with a limited budget.

    Cross-Platform Development: In contrast, cross-platform development utilises a single codebase that can be compiled to run on both platforms. This approach cuts the development process by allowing you to write code once and deploy it to iOS and Android at the same time. Popular frameworks like React Native or Flutter facilitate this process by offering pre-built UI components and tools that bridge the gap between platforms. While slight performance differences may exist compared to native apps, this approach provides a faster and more cost-effective solution for many applications. This approach might be the best option for you if you have a limited mobile app development budget.  

    Benefits and Drawbacks of Cross-Platform Development  

    benefits and drawbacks of cross platform development

    Now, let’s see the benefits and drawbacks of cross-platform development.  

    Benefits:  

    • Efficient (time and money-wise)

    Cross-platform development allows developers to write a single codebase that developers can use across multiple platforms. This approach significantly speeds up development time and reduces costs. Quicker development also translates to a faster time to market.  

    • Low learning curve

    Developers only need to be familiar with standard programming languages and frameworks commonly used in cross-platform development. Many development tools and frameworks are available to handle most of the heavy lifting, making it easier for developers to get started.  

    • Community support

    As cross-platform development grows in popularity, a robust community has emerged. This community can provide valuable support and resources when developers encounter challenges or need advice.

    Drawbacks:  

    • Limited access to native-only functions 

    Apps built with cross-platform tools often face performance issues and may lack the functionality available to native apps. Certain features and optimisations unique to specific platforms might not be fully accessible, leading to potential limitations in app performance and user experience.  

    • Potential for discontinued support

    There is always a risk that the tools and frameworks used in cross-platform development might lose support or become obsolete. This can lead to challenges in maintaining and updating the app over time.  

    4 Most Popular Cross-Platform Framework

    cross platform frameworks

    Flutter

    Flutter, developed by Google, is an open-source UI toolkit that enables developers to create natively compiled applications from a single codebase. Its rich set of pre-designed widgets and fast performance make it a popular choice for cross-platform development. Over 46% of developers worldwide use this framework to build cross-platform applications.  

    React Native 

    Meta created React Native, which allows developers to build mobile apps using JavaScript and React. It enables the development of high-performance apps for both iOS and Android platforms with a shared codebase, making it efficient and cost-effective. In 2023, 35% of developers used React Native.  

    Ionic 

    Ionic is an open-source framework for building cross-platform mobile apps using HTML, CSS, and JavaScript web technologies. It leverages web standards and integrates seamlessly with Angular, React, and Vue, offering a robust library of pre-built components and tools. Sadly, only a few developers use this framework again, with only 9% of developers worldwide utilising this framework in 2023.  

    Xamarin  

    Xamarin, owned by Microsoft, allows developers to create native Android and iOS apps using C# and the .NET framework. It provides a single codebase with access to native APIs, ensuring high performance and a native user experience. Almost the same as Ionic, only 8% of developers worldwide use this framework.

    Don’t be swayed by one approach without a thorough evaluation! We recommend you research the specific features and functionalities offered by popular native frameworks (like Swift/Xcode for iOS and Java/Kotlin with Android Studio for Android) and cross-platform options (like React Native or Flutter). This will allow you to compare the level of customisation, performance, and development speed each approach offers.

    By carefully considering your app’s unique requirements and budget, you can select the best development path for your app. Stay tuned for our next article, where we will discuss more about native and cross-platform development. 

     

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