In mobile app development, the need for flexible solutions that work across different platforms has become increasingly important. Android and iOS dominate nearly 99% of the global mobile OS market, with over 3.55 million apps available on both Google Play and the App Store. Thus, it’s no surprise that cross-platform app development is gaining popularity. This app development method provides a cost-effective alternative to native development for businesses seeking exposure on multiple platforms.
However, with so many cross-platform app development frameworks available, deciding which one to choose can take time and effort. That’s why to help you out, in this comprehensive guide, we will cover everything you need to know about cross-platform mobile app development in 2023, from the pros and cons of building cross-platform mobile apps to the top 5 frameworks available and even a code-free way to native apps using APPExperts.
So whether you’re a business owner looking to expand your mobile reach or a developer looking to learn more about cross-platform app development, keep reading to learn all about cross-platform app development.
What is Cross-Platform App Development?
Cross-platform app development refers to creating mobile applications that run seamlessly across different operating systems like Android, iOS, etc. It relies on programming languages and frameworks that are not limited to any particular operating system, making this approach different from other alternatives such as Native app development, Hybrid, and PWAs.
With cross-platform app development, developers can write code once and reuse the same code with native-like UI/UX across multiple platforms rather than having to write code separately for each platform. This significantly reduces the amount of time and money required for app development.
Although native app development is still the most popular choice, cross-platform app development is rapidly catching up. By reducing the time and budget required for app development, this approach enables businesses to accelerate their projects and reduce the time to market.
Pros and Cons of Building Cross-Platform Mobile Apps
Before diving into cross-platform mobile app development, consider its advantages and challenges. Weighing these pros and cons will help you make an informed decision on whether or not cross-platform development is the right choice for your project.
For your convenience, we’ve broken down some of the primary pros and cons of employing cross-platform mobile app development.
Pros of Building Cross-Platform Mobile Apps
In comparison with native and other app development formats, cross-platform app development has many advantages. The following are some of the most notable benefits of creating cross-platform mobile apps:
With cross-platform app development, developers only need to create a single app, eliminating the need to code and manage separate apps for different platforms. This speeds up the development process, reduces time to deployment and market, and allows businesses to focus on other aspects of their operations.
Traditional app development methods can be costly and require a large team of developers, designers, and other professionals. In contrast, cross-platform app development is more affordable and requires fewer resources, making it a suitable option for small business owners.
Using a shared codebase across different platforms means that the logic and UI/UX elements remain consistent, reducing the potential for discrepancies and errors. This makes the overall project more coherent and easier to maintain.
Cross-platform development provides a streamlined and intuitive ecosystem to navigate, which makes starting the app development process more accessible. Creating separate apps for Android and iOS can be complex and demanding, but cross-platform app development allows developers to be more resource-efficient while ensuring smoother market penetration.
Not every business or developer can afford to create and launch separate apps for every user base (Android, iOS, etc.). Cross-platform development allows them to overcome this challenge and reach a broader audience without allocating separate budgets and resources for each platform. This ensures all users have access to a similar app, simplifying maintenance and management.
Cons of Building Cross-Platform Mobile Apps
Like every other technology, cross-platform app development has its drawbacks. Below we’ve listed some notable advantages of cross-platform app development:
Each operating system has its unique characteristics, and while a consistent app appearance across platforms may be appealing, it may only sometimes be ideal. Repetitive and redundant UI elements can create challenges and affect the overall app quality.
It is common for cross-platform app users to experience frequent delays in receiving new feature updates compared to native app users. Furthermore, these apps might not access device resources to display compatible graphics or customized features, resulting in an average user experience compared to native apps.
● Limitations in Code and Features
Native app development, though complex, allows for the seamless integration of numerous features and customizations. However, using a single codebase for cross-platform apps can complicate the inclusion of advanced and complex features as well as detailed customizations.
Native apps benefit from access to device features and built-in security resources, but cross-platform apps lack this advantage. Consequently, cross-platform apps are more susceptible to security risks and hazards. Additionally, delays in SDK updates can impact security and maintenance.
Top 3 Cross-Platform Mobile App Development Frameworks
Developers are increasingly using cross-platform mobile frameworks to build applications that work seamlessly on multiple platforms. However, only some platforms are suitable for building some applications. That’s why choosing the right framework is essential for delivering a top-notch user experience, saving time, and reducing development costs.
Below, we will discuss the top 3 cross-platform mobile app development frameworks, including their key features, pros, cons, and the notable apps created using them.
Developers’ Favorite & Trusted by Enterprises
A popular cross-platform app development framework, Xamarin, was introduced in 2011 and later acquired by Microsoft in 2016, adding more credibility to its name. As an open-source framework, Xamarin aims to solve the issues related to disjointed native technology stacks that make mobile app development costly and time-consuming. It stands out for its use of C# programming language, allowing developers to write code once and deploy it across multiple platforms, including Android, iOS, and even Windows.
Xamarin leverages the native APIs and UI controls of each platform, resulting in high-performance and visually appealing apps. With a strong community and extensive code-sharing capabilities, Xamarin is an excellent choice for enterprise-level applications that demand robust functionality and seamless user experiences.
Pros of Xamarin
- Xamarin utilizes C# for coding, facilitating seamless functionality across diverse platforms, including Android and iOS.
- It boasts a strong community of over 60,000 contributors from more than 3,700 companies. – Developers can share over 75% of code across platforms for simplified app development.
- Xamarin features a single tech stack for faster development.
Cons of Xamarin
- Xamarin can be expensive for enterprises since it requires a license for Microsoft’s Visual Studio.
- It is not recommended for graphic-intensive apps due to different platform-specific visual layouts.
- Xamarin has limited access to essential libraries, and its UI creation process can be time-consuming.
Apps Built Using with Xamarin Cross-Platform App Framework
- BBC Good Food
- American Cancer Society
- Fox Sports
- Alaska Airlines
2. React Native
Best Known for “Learn Once, Write Anywhere”
React Native’s real-time updates and hot reloading feature enable developers to see changes instantly, eliminating the need for time-consuming rebuilds. It also provides access to native device functionalities and offers a vast ecosystem of libraries and pre-built components, making it a preferred choice for building engaging and interactive apps.
Pros of React Native
- Facilitates code sharing of up to 80% across platforms, depending on the app’s complexity
- Features Hot Reloading for quick code change implementation
- Provides access to native functionalities like accelerometers and cameras, ensuring a native-like user interface.
- Offers ready-to-use elements and live previews, reducing development time.
Cons of React Native
- Inconsistent update releases.
- Often lag behind native platforms in terms of updates and features.
- Not a fully cross-platform framework, as it requires separate code for specific native functions.
- Speeds up development but can increase debugging time, particularly on Android.
Apps Built Using React Native Cross-Platform App Framework
Google’s Innovation Powerhouse
Backed by Google, Flutter is a free and open-source cross-platform framework that enables the creation of native interfaces for Android and iOS. It has quickly gained popularity since its announcement in February 2018 and the first version’s release in December 2018. Built using the Dart programming language, Flutter offers a unique approach by rendering its own widgets instead of relying on native components. This results in consistent app performance and a visually appealing user interface across different platforms.
Flutter’s “Hot Reload” feature enables developers to see code changes instantly, enhancing productivity. It also provides a rich set of customizable UI components and excellent documentation, making it suitable for building beautiful and feature-rich apps quickly and easily.
Pros of Flutter
- Ideal for MVP development, as it can quickly create a Flutter mobile app that appears native on both Android and iOS.
- With hot reloading, developers can instantly visualize code changes within seconds.
- Offers a full set of widgets in Google’s Material Design and Apple’s Cupertino pack
- Based on Dart, an object-oriented programming language that developers find easy to learn.
- Supports working with Continuous Integration platforms like Travis and Jenkins.
Cons of Flutter
- Limited support for TV apps (no Android TV or Apple TV support).
- App size is generally larger due to the use of built-in widgets instead of platform widgets.
- Despite being developed by Google, it lacks certain native development libraries.
Apps Built Using Flutter Cross-Platform App Framework
- Google Ads
Each of these cross-platform mobile app development tools has strengths and considerations. Choosing the right one depends on factors such as project requirements, team expertise, and desired app performance. So, evaluating these factors will help you make an informed decision and create high-quality cross-platform mobile apps that meet their goals.
Build Your Cross-Platform Mobile App in 5 Easy Steps
Building a cross-platform mobile app is a relatively straightforward process. Here are the five basic steps involved:
Step#1: Choose a Cross-Platform App Development Framework
Before diving into the development process, selecting the right cross-platform app development framework that suits your project requirements is crucial. Evaluate frameworks based on programming language, community support, performance, and available resources. Consider options like Xamarin, React Native, and Flutter, which we discussed earlier, and choose the one that aligns with your goals and development expertise.
Note: If you prefer not to write code or deal with technicalities, then consider mobile app builders like APPExperts, which enables you to build native mobile apps using your website, and the best part is you don’t need any prior knowledge to develop your app. So give APPExperts a try today and put yourself ahead of your competitors!
Step#2: Design Your App’s User Interface and User Experience
Creating an intuitive and visually appealing user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) is key to engaging users. Start by defining the app’s information architecture and create wireframes and prototypes to visualize the app’s structure and flow.
Focus on designing an interface that is consistent, easy to navigate, and provides a seamless experience across different platforms. Incorporate best practices for mobile app design, such as responsive layouts, clear navigation, and intuitive gestures.
Step#3: Develop Your App’s Features and Functionality
Once the UI/UX design is ready, it’s time to start developing your app’s core features and functionalities. This involves writing code, implementing business logic, integrating APIs, and working with databases.
Leverage the chosen cross-platform framework’s capabilities to write code that can be shared across platforms, minimizing duplication of effort. Focus on creating a smooth and responsive app experience while ensuring compatibility with various device sizes, resolutions, and operating systems.
Step#4: Test Your App on Multiple Platforms
Thorough testing is essential to ensure your app functions as expected across different platforms and devices. Conduct comprehensive testing for functionality, performance, usability, and compatibility on both Android and iOS devices. Utilize testing frameworks and tools your chosen development framework provides to streamline the testing process. Address any bugs, crashes, or inconsistencies to deliver a high-quality app experience.
Step#5: Publish Your App to the App Stores
Once your app has undergone rigorous testing and refinement, it’s time to prepare it for distribution. Follow the guidelines and requirements set by the respective app stores, such as Google Play Store and Apple App Store, for publishing your app. Prepare engaging app descriptions, screenshots, and promotional materials to optimize your app’s listing.
Consider utilizing app store optimization (ASO) techniques to improve your app’s visibility and discoverability. Promote your app through various channels to reach your target audience and maximize downloads.
APPExperts: A Fast and Code-Free Way to Build Native Mobile Apps in 2023
If you own a WordPress website and want to build a mobile app for your business, look no further than APPExperts. This innovative WordPress plugin offers a hassle-free solution to transform your website into a fully functional iOS and Android app. With APPExperts, you can unlock a whole new realm of possibilities for your business and elevate your brand to new heights.
You can also customize your app’s splash screen, giving it a unique and branded look right from the moment users launch it. This customization adds a touch of professionalism and enhances the overall user experience, leaving a lasting impression on your audience. Also, with features like content management, custom splash screens, app menus, WooCommerce support, and multilingual capabilities, this app builder offers a seamless and efficient solution.
So, why wait? Explore its remarkable features for free, and upgrade to the Pro version to access premium features that will make your app stand out!
You now have all the information you need to create cross-platform mobile apps. There is no doubt that cross-platform mobile app development offers a cost-effective and time-efficient solution for businesses seeking to expand their reach across multiple platforms. However, don’t forget that native apps still hold the edge in terms of quality and performance.
So, if your goal is to save time and stay within a tight budget, consider exploring no-code native app development options like APPEpxerts. It allows you to create high-quality, native apps without extensive coding or separate app builds.
Discover the potential of no-code app development with APPEpxerts and experience seamless app building within minutes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a cross-platform mobile app?
Cross-platform mobile apps are applications that are developed using a single codebase and can run on multiple mobile platforms, such as iOS and Android. They are designed to provide consistent functionality and user experience across different operating systems.
What are the advantages of using cross-platform mobile apps?
Cross-platform mobile apps offer several advantages, including:
– Cost-effectiveness: Developing a single codebase reduces development time and costs compared to building separate apps for different platforms.
– Time efficiency: Updates and bug fixes can be implemented simultaneously across all platforms, saving time and effort.
– Wider audience reach: By targeting multiple platforms, cross-platform apps can reach a larger audience and increase user engagement.
– Code reusability: The codebase can be reused for future projects or adaptations, further enhancing development efficiency.
How do I choose between cross-platform and native mobile app development?
The choice between cross-platform and native mobile app development depends on various factors, including project requirements, budget, timeline, and target audience. Here are a few considerations:
– If your app requires complex graphics, heavy processing, or extensive platform-specific integrations, native development may be the better choice for optimal performance.
– If time-to-market is crucial, and you want to reach a wider audience with a limited budget, cross-platform development can be a cost-effective and efficient solution.
– Analyze your target audience and their preferred platforms to ensure cross-platform development will meet their user experience and performance expectations.
– Consult with experienced developers or development teams to evaluate the specific needs of your project and make an informed decision based on your unique requirements.