Cross-platform mobile applications have become a go-to for many businesses since they possess numerous advantages to a wider audience. Businesses are continuing to lean towards cross-platform app development in the current time. It has the capability to run on multiple platforms including iOS, Android and Windows using a single codebase. Cross-platform development offers a number of advantages; however, it is accompanied by limitations as well. Today, we assess what is cross-platform app development and the pros and cons associated with it. We then decide whether cross-platform or a native mobile app is suitable for businesses.
Pros of Cross-Platform Mobile Application Development
Cross-platform mobile application development offers faster time to markets, a single codebase, reduced cost, increased developer productivity, easy maintenance and help to reach a wide audience. Since mobile applications that run on multiple platforms require a single codebase, time efficiency is one of the most important features of cross-platform app development. This helps the businesses to reach the market much quicker than native applications which are specifically made for single platform releases. It also is budget-friendly since only one development team is required to carry out the entire project so it saves money for the business. Developing separate apps for each platform can become costlier due to higher development costs and employing separate teams for application development.
Increased developer productivity is an imminent thing in cross-platform mobile application development since a single code can be used and the time saved can be utilized in other productive tasks. The time, effort and resources are saved through the single codebase because the code is written only once and deployed on multiple platforms. Moreover, cross-platform applications are easier to maintain and update since the changes are done only once and then applied on all platforms universally. The developers don’t need to make changes to every single codebase but do it only once. Additionally, since the mobile application can be deployed to multiple platforms, it helps in reaching a wider audience. Many people keep only one type of phone that supports a single platform i.e. iOS, Android or Windows. But by offering a cross-platform app, businesses can reach a wider audience.
Cons of Cross-Platform Mobile Application Development
With certain advantages that can benefit the business in opting to develop a cross-platform mobile application, there are limits to its capabilities as well. Having limited functionality as compared to native applications is one of the foremost problems with cross-platform development. Cross-platform frameworks might not sometimes support all the native application features that might be exclusive to platforms. So, the apps can be operated but users will not be able to enjoy the full experience. Due to an additional layer of abstraction between the code and platform, cross-platform applications might experience performance issues and trade-offs. Cross-platform applications are not optimized for specific platforms like native apps, so the performance is affected across platforms.
Cross-platform applications have a complex codebase as compared to native apps. It requires specific technical ability and knowledge to code cross-platform apps. They need to run on different platforms so the coding is done accordingly. Beginners have less knowledge about cross-platform development as compared to skilled individuals. Moreover, cross-platform app development requires the usage of specific frameworks and libraries to run successfully. This, however, might limit the flexibility of the app to adjust to the updates and maintenance that is required but also restrict access to specific platform features that otherwise are available in native platforms. The last disadvantage is user experience. They might not offer the same experience as native apps because UI/UX is particularly designed for that particular app. With cross-platform development, achieving seamless and consistent UI/UX is a daunting task.
Factors to Consider in Cross-Platform Development
When choosing the right approach for the mobile app, the user can consider certain factors that are helpful in making the right decision. First is the budget constraint. If the business is low on budget and cannot spend heavily to have a native app developed for a particular platform, it is suitable to choose cross-platform development. However, if you do not have budget issues, go for native apps since they give a high user experience. The second factor to consider is the timeline. Native apps take longer to develop as compared to cross-platform apps.
If you are short on the deadline, cross-platform might be a good option to develop the application. However, if you have the liberty of extending the time, native apps can be more useful for business. The third factor is the target audience. You need to strategically analyze your target audience and their platform (iOS, Windows, Android). If you want to target an all-platform audience, you can go for cross-platform apps. However, if your target audience is primarily iOS, then native iOS help will be more beneficial.
Cross-platform mobile application development has its own advantages and disadvantages. With faster time to market, reduced development costs, increased developer productivity, easy maintenance and a wider reach, it has various advantages. However, unoptimized performance, features limitation, user experience and code complexity are the disadvantages accompanying cross-platform development. If you want to go for an alternative considering your time, budget and target audience, you can always choose native or hybrid mobile applications development. Hybrid app development offers the most advantages but is expensive and time-consuming. It combines web technologies with native application development to give out the best apps. A balance between native and cross-platform apps can work wonders.