Advantages of Cross-platform Mobile App and its Popular Tools

Digital revolution has redefined the future of our industries, society, and economy as a whole. New technologies and innovative mobile apps have been significantly changing the way we work and live today. Mobility is fast becoming essential for every application and digital product that organizations offer. Companies are now adopting the mobile first approach to remain ahead of their competitors. Every organization is planning to connect to a larger audience through an intuitive app that runs without glitch on multiple mobile platforms.

However, with so much diversity in devices, platforms, versions, operating systems, companies are clueless whether to choose a cross-platform app or a native app. This has always been a challenge for most developers and companies to find the best development approach as there are advantages and disadvantages with both approaches.

Presently, the mobile marketplace is widely fragmented due to the presence of different devices with a variety of interfaces, languages, and SDKs. It’s a herculean task for organizations to develop a versatile app that can run on multi platforms. Therefore, the concept of cross-platform mobile app is fast gaining currency as it allows the developer to code once and deploy app across various platforms. 

Some developers prefer a native app while others believe that developing a cross-platform app makes more sense. But it cannot be denied that developing a cross-platform app has more potential to tap the greater market. A multi platform app allows the developers to create an application using a single language for scripting that includes CSS, HTML, and JavaScript. It also increases productivity and motivates developers to come up with a high quality app that works equally well on iOSAndroid or Windows device.

Advantages of developing a cross-platform mobile app?

  • Reusable code: The development of cross-platform mobile app simplifies the task of maintaining and deploying codes and also eliminates repetitive tasks. Developers can easily reuse the codes for other platforms instead of writing a new code for specific task or action.
  • Saving cost: It is far economical for companies to build a cross-platform mobile app and leverages a single codebase. They do not need to invest a fortune to get an app and also the same developers can be leveraged to work on various platforms, instead of having a dedicated team for each platform like we get in the current native scene.
  • Easier to market: Cross-platform app development framework leverages the unified codebase that enables businesses to fast track the mobile application development and timely delivery of the app for its customers.
  • Easier to deploy: Most apps offer a modules and extension that seamlessly integrate with other tools to improve its functionality and appearance. It is relatively easier for the developers to deploy and maintain codes for apps to run across all platforms. Moreover, the latest updates allows app to get easily synced across multiple devices and platforms.
  • Consistency: One of the most important qualities for any app is its User Experience (UX). The single codebase used to develop a multi-platform app helps in maintaining the overall look and feel and consistency of the app on most platforms.

Popular Approaches of developing App

One of the major issues that developers encounter while working on a mobile app is the different models of mobile phones that need to be supported. Despite the fact that the most popular platform for apps supports android, it’s no longer enough.  Window and iOS are worthy competitors, and the iPad presents different options and possibilities that often require developing their own app experiences. To make a mobile app truly dynamic, you need to support every platform that users normally use. 

Currently, we lack the technology to create an app that magically works on most platforms and on all mobile devices. Though, developers are working hard to achieve this milestone, it will take some time. Meanwhile, there are two popular approaches that are currently adopted.

In the first approach, a driver is provided for each phone that gives access to, accelerometer and GPS from by using languages such as JavaScript, Ruby and Python. Through this approach, a developer can write the app in a scripting language along with HTML and CSS that can be easily run on phones that is equipped with the driver.

The second approach is to first write the app in one language and subsequently get it translated to other languages that are compatible with other phones. This helps a developer to create the app, say for the android devices and run it through a tool to produce versions that could run on other platforms.

There are other ways to develop an app through HTML5, which is an advanced version of HTML that could provide direct APIs to GPS and other mobile-specific features. But the problem with HTML5 is that its standard is yet to be finalised and there are not many devices supporting it. However, an app could be still created by using this method that can run on all phones as well as support most.

Pros and Cons

There are both positives and negatives about the current and future options. The main advantages of using such technologies lies in easy marketing and maintenance of a single app instead of doing it for multiple apps.

Other advantages are uniformity of look and feel across different devices, support for flexible layout and use of existing technologies. Great mobile developers are rarity but it is relatively easier to find web developers who are familiar with HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Ruby, Python or other scripting languages.

The major disadvantage, apart from not supporting every platform, is the limitation of what driver or translator is able to handle. You may not be able to access local storage, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or something similar that may not be available on most phones. Then there are issues like performance because the code that is either translated or written in a script language needs to be interpreted, and may not be optimized for a given phone.

The multi-platform development approach is a widely accepted across the world since it makes the entire development process agile. Before taking a decision whether the multi-platform approach is the right strategy, it is important for companies to understand the users’ needs. The smartest approach should be to study and analyze various parameters such as customer types, diverse mobile devices, range of supported platforms, and customers’ interaction with apps, etc. to find out whether a cross-platform solution is the right choice.

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