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Your FREE Guide to Building Apps with a Cross-Platform App Framework

21 May 2021
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When thinking about mobile app development, the first thing that strikes our mind is native app development. Native apps are specifically built for platforms such as Android and iOS.

Don’t get me wrong, I can’t reflect enough on the advantages of using native app development for developing your mobile apps. But with that said, Native app development will leave you financially broken.

In this era of mobile apps, businesses won't risk missing out on two major mobile app platforms- the Apple app store and Google play store. To launch and succeed at both platforms, app developers are moving towards cross-platform app development.

In 2020, the cross-platform app development market surpassed $7.5 billion at the end of the year. The market share for cross-platform app development for various app development platforms are as mentioned below:

Source: Cross-Platform Mobile App Development: Ending the iOS vs. Android Debate (affle.com)

Cross-platform app development allows you to develop Android, iOS, and Windows apps simultaneously, but is this method better than native app development?

The answer here lies in using the right tools and technologies and standing out from the crowd.

Cross-platform app development is the future’s way of app development. You can use this guide for your cross-platform app development journey. 

What is cross-platform app development?

Cross-platform app development is a type of software that can operate on multiple platforms such as Android, iOS, Windows, and Blackberry. The apps built on a cross-platform framework don't require separate coding for different platforms.

The coding once done would act as a platform for apps to run efficiently on different platforms. This is one of the most popular methods in the app development domain.

Cross-platform app development Vs. Native app development

The debate for cross-platform app development vs. native app development is a never-ending one. Many app developers prefer native app development over cross-platform app development, due to obvious reasons. On the other hand, some of the most popular apps such as Google Ads and Alibaba are built on a cross-platform app development framework.

Both of these technologies are constantly evolving, and this changing nature of technologies signals the fact that these topics should be revisited from time to time to check which of these options are best suitable for your app.

Native app development is all about creating a sustainable app that extends across multiple platform app development and focuses on creating a similar design that is quite similar to the targeted platform that is Android, iOS, and other platforms. On the other hand, the cross-platform app frameworks seek to generate an app that reaches out to the maximum extent of followers of the brand and covers a wide number of end devices.

Benefits of cross-platform app development

Talking about a few years back from you, cross-platform app development was constrained to simple mobile apps and games. Due to technological advancement, cross-platform frameworks have become more powerful and adaptable than before.

Here are a few ways by which cross-platform app development is beneficial for your business:

1. Increase in exposure to the target audience

Cross-platform mobile app development enables you to build apps that can be deployed over various platforms, be it mobile or web. This means that building a single code for the app can help users to target both iOS and Android platforms, which helps maximize their reach.

2. Minimized upfront cost

The cross-platform apps are developed on the concept of 'write once, run everywhere.’ These reusable codes can help lessen the cost of the development. Therefore, if you want to improve your business on several platforms in an economical way, then cross-platform app development is your go-to solution.

3. Easy Deployment

Since in cross-platform app development, a single developed app is used for different platforms, it is comparatively easier to maintain and deploy codes. The updates can also be synced over all the platforms and devices, at once, which further helps to save resources and time. Similarly, the code can be checked for bugs in the common codebase, helping developers save a lot of effort.

4. Quick development process

The quicker development process is another benefit of cross-platform app development. According to a study, a single code for multiple platforms can reduce the development efforts by 50 to 80 percent. Hence, cross-platform app development helps build feature-rich business apps in less time and money. Developers can also meet their expected deadlines with cross-platform app development.

5. Code reusability

The advantage of cross-platform app development is that the code can be used multiple times. Instead of app developers building different platforms for different platforms, a single code can be used multiple times.

6. Seamless cloud integration

Cross-platform mobile apps are compatible with various devices and this helps integrate various plugins with the cloud settings. Hence, the single code can be coordinated with various plug-ins that help enhance the app's scalability and functionality.

7. Reduced time-to-market

As cross-platform app development allows to build a single code for all the platforms, it als0 allows the app developers to reduce time-to-market with quick deployment.

Also, if you want to customize the app, it is easier for the developers to introduce changes in the code with cross-platform app development. This helps to further deliver the products more swiftly than other market competitors.

8. Uniform app design

Users can recognize the UI elements easily with cross-platform app development and foresee their interactions over various platforms. Therefore, user experience is an important parameter for determining an app's success.

Top Cross-platform app development frameworks

1. React native

React Native was launched by Facebook in 2015. With the advent of React Native, the market of hybrid frameworks saw a steep rise. React Native is undergoing constant improvement and is supported by a large audience. React Native is a strong and stable framework as it has the power of combining JavaScript and React Native.

Source: Flutter vs React Native — Comparing the Features of Each Framework | by Vitaly Kuprenko | Level Up Coding (gitconnected.com)

React Native is best suited for apps that are built for both Android and iOS platforms. So, if you are searching for a mobile app that requires a customized design, React Native is your platform. This platform is a great candidate for apps that require a shorter time to market and reduce production costs.  

Pros of React Native:

1. More than 80 percent of code can be shared across platforms, reducing the time and effort.

2. React Native allows you to preview the results right at the moment and offers ready-to-apply elements that shorten the development time considerably.

3. The Hot Reloading Feature allows the developers to witness the changes made in seconds.

4. React Native renders a highly responsive interface by focusing on UI, which is one of the reasons React Native is preferred over other cross-platform frameworks.

Source: Flutter vs React Native vs Xamarin: Which is the best choice for 2020? (Updated) | by Sophia Martin | Towards Data Science

5. You can enjoy access to some of the great functionalities like accelerometer and camera with React Native.

Cons of React Native

1. While developing application codes with React Native, you would need to develop the solution from the scratch.

2. React Native is not an entirely cross-platform app, hence for some components such as camera or accelerometer, you would have to use native components for Android and iOS.

3. React Native is a heavier and slower framework in comparison to its native counterparts and also takes up more memory.

4. React Native also tends to lose consistency while releasing updates.

Apps Made with React Native Cross-Platform App Framework

- Instagram

- Facebook

-Pinterest

- Skype

- Myntra

2. Flutter

The tagline for flutter- 'Beautiful Native apps in no time' correctly justifies the functioning of this cross-platform framework. Flutter is an open-source and free cross-platform framework for creating native apps for Android and iOS.

Flutter is a cross-platform app maintained by Google, the same organization that developed the android native framework.

According to Developer Survey Results, Flutter is listed amongst the top three most loved frameworks, which might have added more complexity to the current Reactive native framework.

Source: Flutter #3 in the "Most Loved Frameworks, Libraries, and Tools" category in the Stack Overflow 2019 survey

Pros of Flutter:

1. The "Hot reloading" feature allows the developers to witness changes made in the code when using the native technologies.

2. When developing an MVP, Flutter is an ideal framework. You can build a flutter mobile application for both Android and iOS platforms.

3. Due to the layered architecture of Flutter, you can get control over the pixels of the screen and enjoy seamless integration.

4. Due to the same code for both Android and iOS platforms, the testing time for Flutter-based applications reduces considerably.

5. Flutter application is very similar to Dart, which is one of the easiest frameworks for developers to work on.

Cons of Flutter

1. Flutter is sometimes also referred to as an immature framework, as it lacks advanced features and is not comparatively stable.

2. Flutter app development framework does not come with TV support, offering any support for Apple and Android TV.

3. Flutter-enabled apps use built-in widgets; hence these apps require a lot of space and take longer to download and update.

Apps Made with Flutter Cross-Platform App Framework

- Alibaba

- Google

- Google Ads

- Hamilton

3. Node JS

Node JS is an open-source JavaScript runtime platform that is built on Chrome's V8 engine. Node JS is an event-driven environment with a non-blocking I/O that is lightweight, efficient, and extremely fast.

Node JS has become the ideal choice for many app development industries such as IT, Healthcare, and many more. The simplicity offered by Node JS is hard to resist, but there are pros and cons to every technology.

According to Hackernoon, Netflix and Paypal reduced their startup time by up to 40 minutes with Node JS.  If you are looking to migrate to Node JS, this stat gives you the final push to do so. The following graph depicts the increase in the interest of Node JS developers over time:

Source: Pros and Cons of Node.js Web App Development | AltexSoft

Pros of Node JS

1. Web applications built on the Node JS platform benefit massively from their ability to multi-task.

2. In contrast to other platforms, Node JS is a single-threaded and event-driven architecture that processes multiple requests without stressing the RAM.

3. With a growing consumer base for prime Node JS apps such as Netflix, Walmart, and Uber, Node JS is regarded as a viable solution for scalability.

4. With developers contributing actively to the Node JS community, developers offer extensive support to solve even the most challenging development problems.

Source: https://www.esparkinfo.com/node-js-development-trends.html

6. Node JS is easy to learn and can be adapted even quicker. According to the Node JS 2016 User survey, Javascript is considered one of the most well-liked programming languages for front-end development.

Cons of Node JS

1. Reduced performance can be witnessed while handling heavy computing tasks.

2. One of the most prominent drawbacks of Node JS is the frequent API changes that are backward-incompatible.

3. The lack of proper library support or availability of libraries that are either poor or incomplete can endanger your code.

4. The demand for Node JS is increasing day by day, but there is a lack of experienced Node JS developers to match market needs.

Apps made with Node JS Cross-Platform App Framework

- Paypal

- Groupon

- GoDaddy

- eBay

4. Kotlin

Kotlin is a multiplatform framework that expands well beyond android app development. More and more people are shifting towards Kotlin. According to a recent study by MongoDB, Kotlin is the second-fastest-growing language for GitHub projects.

Kotlin is a pragmatic, modern, and statistically typed framework. Kotlin can be compiled into JavaScript and native platform code. Kotlin also lets you create an executable, and standard library with C headers or on an Apple framework.

Pros of Kotlin

1. While using Kotlin you won’t have to shift the entire application. You can easily migrate a module or feature to other parts.

2. Kotlin has syntax quite similar to programming languages such as Swift, Java, and Scala. Hence, it is quite easy to learn and invest in this language.

3. Kotlin allows you to employ shared libraries and logic beyond the UI layer.

4. This framework offers appearance, behavior, and performance just similar to native cross-platform app development.

5. Kotlin multiplatform provides better performance than its counterparts as it compiles code to the explicit same format as the targeted platform.

Cons of Kotlin

1. Kotlin framework is still in its experimental state, which makes developers hesitant to pick this up for their next project.

2. Although Java and Kotlin are based on a similar codebase, the organizations require to train their developers separately on Kotlin.

3. A limited number of libraries are available with the Kotlin platform.

4. You need to be familiar with another tech stack, to efficiently operate Kotlin.

5. Kotlin SDK provides several semi-native functionalities, because of which it demands a higher cost to build mobile apps.

Apps made with Kotlin Cross-platform App Framework

- Pinterest

- Corda

- Uber

- Coursera

Conclusion

Undoubtedly, cross-platform solutions are very effective when it comes to developing apps that are cost-effective and efficient. The app development market is expanding at an exponential rate, whether it is Android or iOS. Hence, cross-platform app development is also going to witness a huge advancement in the coming future.

Wondering which cross-platform app development framework you must choose? The answer lies in hiring a skilled and experienced app development company.

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Debut Infotech is a global mobile app and digital product development company that leverages Blockchain, IoT, AI, and other cutting-edge technologies to help SMEs, startups, and global enterprises harness the incredible power of modern digital products to drive their online businesses to unwavering new heights. 

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