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Once upon a winter, a partner from the United States visited 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 use 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 be wondering “how does this relate to cross-platform app development?”
In some cases, cross-platform app development, like all-season tires, is able to give better results than native development. The main benefits of cross-platform development are 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 wish to pursue.
Dive into this article to discover cross-platform app development and find out it’s pros and cons.
What is cross-platform app development?
The cross-platform term
To understand what cross-platform development is about we should look no further than the meaning of the term “cross-platform”. Cross-platform is also known as “multi-platform” or “platform-independent,” which describes a product or system that can work across several types of platforms or operating environments. Therefore, to develop a cross-platform app is to make it so the application works on multiple platforms, such as iOS and Android.
Why choose cross-platform?
There are three main reasons to consider cross-platform development:
1. Gain a larger target audience
According to Statista, as of January 2021, almost 72 percent of mobile OS market share is occupied by Android, while iOS holds around 27 percent. Choosing only one platform to build an app on means losing a significant portion of the audience. Multi-platform development helps you acquire users on both platforms.
2. Develop on multiple OSs at the same time
The market for smartphones is quite wide nowadays and choosing to cater only for a single OS results in potential user losses, so it is only natural to lead the mobile app development for multiple platforms simultaneously.
3. Spend fewer resources
Building numerous native (for a single platform) apps may be quite costly in resources both human and material. This is where cross-platform development steps in to minimize them.
Is Cross-Platform Better Than Native?
To be honest, it depends. Just like any other technology, cross-platform benefits when designed to fulfil its goal, which is to bring in more users at a lower cost. This approach to app development has its pros and cons. What are those? Let’s address it in the following paragraphs.
Pros of cross-platform mobile app development
So, what are the benefits of cross-platform app development? When it comes to a multi-platform approach, there are many advantages. To assist you in deciding whether cross-platform mobile development is best for you, we will only address its major benefits and drawbacks.
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 cheaper app is an option.
While native development demands a team per platform, cross-platform only requires one dev team skilled in one language. The usage of a single code base across platforms makes cross-platform app development cheaper than native and still provides good results for all platforms.
One team working on a single script significantly speeds up development time. If you’d like to save on the project launch while releasing it faster, choose cross-platform app development.
Simplicity wins: fewer features, better UI
Imagine that you come up with a simple app that is limited to a couple of features. Basic functionality is easy to implement and maintain. Updates and bug fixes are no longer a daunting task - in cross-platform solutions changes can be applied effortlessly.
The two most popular OSs are very different and so are their user interfaces. To resolve this issue, cross-platform development has adopted adaptive UI that looks similar on both platforms.
If you want a simple app with a consistent UI, choose cross-platform app development.
To reach far and wide: multiple platform app development
Cross-platform apps help to gain global users whether they prefer iOS, Android, Windows phones or something else. The benefit of a cross-platform app is that it is universal, which allows everyone to try it.
This makes cross-platform app development 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 customer's 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 or everyday use, choose cross-platform development.
Disadvantages of cross-platform mobile app development
No matter how great the benefits of cross-platform development are, this approach has its downsides. It’s up to you to decide whether the drawbacks are permissible or fatal for your app.
Native-only features exist for better and more unique app development. One of the biggest cons of multiple-platform mobile apps is that this huge native toolkit is excluded from the creative process. Cross-platform apps also lack SDKs that are provided to native apps when a new feature is introduced to an OS, be it Android or iOS. It would take more time for a cross-platform app to support this new feature without an SDK.
Harder to code
An attempt to cater to all sorts of specific platforms and devices turns the coding process into a challenge. The dev must spend extra time handling various exceptions. Native apps allow developers to focus on a single platform where such convoluted flexibility is not necessary.
Programs are less efficient too. The outcome of integration issues with target operation systems is incoherent communication between native and non-native device components. This lack of proper insertion takes a toll on the app’s performance.
Wraping it up
What is better — native app development or cross-platform — the debate continues. While these software development approaches are constantly competing, the important thing to remember is that you should make a choice based on your priorities. Cross-platform solutions are essential for:
- creating an MVP quickly to target potential users;
- producing a low-cost starter solution;
- covering iOS and Android simultaneously;
- simple backend interaction;
- e-commerce, social networks, etc.
Native development produces high-quality apps that integrate perfectly with the OS they were built for, using all the creative freedom granted by the OS’s own toolkit. To conclude, let’s compare cross-platform and native pros:
Whether you will choose cross-platform or native, Azoft’s experience with app development will come in handy for your business. If you consider developing an app, feel free to contact us. We will be happy to help.