Cross-Platform App Development: When, Why, and How
27 Apr 2017
One winter a partner from the United States visited the Azoft’s Siberian office. The first thing he asked us was “Why do the cars here have studded tires?” Our US colleague didn’t know that each driver in Russia during winter and summer faces a complicated choice — whether to change tires or have all-season tires. It’s not an easy decision. There are various important factors: the type of car, their driving behavior, the regional climate, financial position, and much more. You may think: how does this relate to cross-platform app development?
In some cases cross-platform app development, like all-season tires, is able to give results not worse but better than native development. The main advantage of cross-platform technologies is the ability to develop mobile and web applications in one language. When a project starts, the business task is to understand why you need the application and what goals you pursue.
Let’s consider 6 situations where cross-platform development is the best choice:
1. A penny saved is a penny earned
"Money, money, money. Must be funny in a rich man’s world" are the famous lyrics from ABBA. And that’s true: if you’re not used to spending money, a budget app is the option. Cross-platform app development is cheaper than native and it shows decent results.
Think of Evernote and you’ll be surprised. The widely known app for making notes was made as a hybrid: access to the notes is available on all your devices, the UI is the same everywhere. Before investing in the iOS development, Evernote owners launched a cross-platform app, won customer loyalty, and decided where to move on.
If you’d like to save on the project launch and to test the idea in practice, choose cross-platform app development.
2. Time is short
Are you eager to implement your idea? Cross-platform app development is a great way to release an app before everyone else made theirs.
Asana used this trick when it launched a mobile version of its system designed to help teams track their work. When Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and Facebook ex-engineer Justin Rosenstein founded Asana in 2008, they aimed to quickly update the apps functionality for all mobile platforms. At the very beginning, only cross-platform development could do this.
If the task is to release an application "yesterday", choose cross-platform app development.
3. Minimizing the number of features
Imagine that you come up with a simple app that is limited to a couple of features. Basic functionality is easy to implement with cross-platform app development and even easier to maintain.
For example, Instagram is one of the most successful cross-platform apps with a minimal set of basic features. It began with two functions: upload photos and view your news feed. Of course, now the world’s most popular social network is developing it and now Instagram offers users many more opportunities. But it’s important to remember the roots of where it started.
If you follow the rule "less is more", choose cross-platform app development.
4. Cross-platform app development provides an adaptive UI
Mobile platforms are different. Therefore the problem of cross-platform development used to be low responsiveness with the same app UI. With the rise of software technologies, this problem recedes into the background. The new framework Ionic is gaining popularity among developers, and it works wonders.
Ionic offers a wide choice of standard UI components — you can easily create interface elements that are similar to native ones. We tested it in practice while we were developing a cross-platform application for a large electrical equipment provider. It was necessary to provide employees with a mobile solution with a visually familiar UI, staying similar even when an employee changed from an Android tablet to a Windows Phone. Ionic 2 helped to fulfill this purpose.
If you’re going to maintain an adaptive app UI and have i similar to native for all the platforms, choose cross-platform development.
5. Increasing app performance
Any entrepreneur’s dream is to make a high-quality app for all of the popular platforms right away and inexpensively. Any developer’s dream is to write a single code for iOS and Android applications without loss in quality and performance. Until recently, this was impossible: cross-platform solutions significantly lost out to native development. Everything changed when Facebook made ReactJS for itself, and then React Native for mobile apps.
React Native, like NativeScript, allows you to write the app code in one language and use native elements for different platforms. The popularity of these frameworks is growing as fast as the performance of apps created using them. For example, the Airbnb hybrid application is developed using React Native.
If you need a high performing app, choose cross-platform development on React Native or Native Script.
6. Enterprise rules
BYOD is widespread in many companies. What should the CEOs do when they demand an enterprise app for the company and the employees use their own devices — from Xiaomi to iPhone? Cross platform app development is perfect for enterprise applications.
Imagine a consulting corporation like E&Y with thousands of auditors and analysts. Every day they have to travel to their customers offices and use mobile devices instead of PCs. To make the transition from desktop to tablet painless, developers create cross-platform solutions.
If you are considering a universal solution for corporate use, choose cross-platform development.
What is better — cross-platform or native development — the debate isn’t close to being finished. While these software development approaches are constantly competing, make a choice based on your priorities. To test ideas, save money and create an app with basic functions, cross-platform solutions will be appropriate. Native app development will cope better with the high requirements for UX and application performance.
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