Thinking of building cross-platform apps? Sounds like a brilliant plan.
Android and iOS mobile operating systems concurred the digital world. In 2018, 88% of 13.09 billion mobile devices use Google’s Android and around 10% of them are run on Apple’s iOS. In other words, both systems give you a significant opportunity to reach the target audience, however, choosing only one platform you are likely to lose up to half of your potential customers.
Cross-platform mobile development may be a great solution for those startupers who don’t have money to built two native apps and want to reach as many users as possible from the very beginning.
Use our article to find out what benefits cross-platform app development could bring to your business and stay aware of its drawbacks.
Pros of Cross-Platform Mobile Dev
From first glance, cross-platform app development looks like a shining opportunity for business. The development model reduces costs and allows you to gain a huge audience soon after the project launch. And there is more to come!
— Faster development
The best advantage of cross-platform development is that it is less time-consuming. To create a ready-to-launch digital product one has to leverage only one codebase. That means that you need fewer developers which is cost-effective.
And to make any necessary changes in the final product before the launch date, you improve a single multi-platform code, not two separate codebases. The conclusion is — it takes a shorter time for cross-platform apps to conquer the market.
— Lower development costs
This advantage is connected with the previous one. Cross-platform development allows business owners to upload their products on extra platforms (Google Play Market or App Store) without additional investments in native app development. That’s why the approach works great for corporate digital products which are rarely profitable in a classic way. Companies could save funds developing a universal solution.
— Wider audience
With multi-platform app development, you’ve got a great market reach. Regarding the framework you use to develop your code, it could be run on Android, iOS, Windows, BlackBerry, and other OS devices. Being hosted on various platforms, your app MVP will show you which platform worth native app development and focused marketing efforts.
— Consistency between platforms
Modern cross-platform frameworks are extremely convenient and dynamic. Comparing to native app development it is easier to build a highly-standardized app using Xamarin, React Native, Flutter, or Adobe PhoneGap. You may not see all the required features as you’ve imagined them, however, there are a lot of tips on how to work out complex ideas with cross-platform development instruments.
— Cost-effective updates & reusable code
In the case of native app development, you need to update two separate apps if you want to improve your digital product. Code written for both platforms can be customized any time — and you’ll see the changes on all platforms is was developed for immediately.
Comparing to native platform development, you save not only development funds, but also costs on app improvement, fixing, and customization according to user feedback and usage statistics. You can also utilize cross-platform code and use it later in your other projects.
— Smart cloud integration
In 2019, most of the cross-platform solutions, as well as hybrid apps, are based on cloud technologies. Therefore their development frameworks have lots of tools for cloud integration including special ready-to-use plugins that are useful for strengthening apps’ features or customizing their design. You can also store users’ data on clouds easily.
— No specific languages needed
— Good for prototyping
Build a cross-platform mobile app as an MVP to check your business hypothesis. Since the approach will cost your less than native app development and helps you to reach 98% of the mobile users it is a good opportunity for startupers to avoid risks considering the profitability of their business ideas.
Cross-platform development also works well for prototyping and presenting ideas for investors.
Collect user feedback, analyze the statistics, or show your innovative project for investors on their mobile devices— with a cross-platform approach that is more cost-effective than ever.
Cons of Cross-Platform App Development
They say every every bean has its black. And cross-platform development isn’t an exception. Along with great opportunities such as cost-efficiency and cost reduce, here come limited design options, low speed, and code losses in case of building a native app instead of multi-platform one.
Find out if there any critical disadvantage of cross-platform application development for your startup!
— Lower performance as the result of harder code design
According to statistics, 1 of 5 users decides to stop using the app if they find out it has sluggish performance. Time is the most valuable resource of 2019. So no doubts you’ll lose some of your users (up to 20%) if your app is irritating them with its low-speed operation processes.
Cross-platform app code is a bit more complicated than the one of a native app. That’s why it usually slows down the general app speed.
— Poor UX and UI design
Eye-catching animated features, 3D effects, and a breathtaking mixture of graphics empowered with hardware features — unfortunately, that is all about native apps. Most of the cross-platform apps can’t use all inbuilt features provided by mobile devices, so their user experience is poorer.
The fact is that all the devices have their specifics and it’s impossible to reach the same functionality with a single one-for-everything code. As a result, developers have to simplify features to make screen layouts and graphics look the same on each device.
— Long wait time for new features support
Those who decide to build a cross-platform mobile app will be always adjusted to the chosen app development framework. And the problem behind them is that they have an updating delay. While Apple adds features to iOS or Google to create new features inside Android, frameworks need to adopt its development tools to allow you to integrate new functionality regarding the operating systems’ updates. It takes time.
And if those who work with native apps start improving them immediately after OS update, cross-platform apps will be always a bit outdated.
— Poor customization and native features integration
In the previous paragraph, we were speaking about upcoming OS features and here we are focusing on existing ones. Development frameworks could not support all features you need, including some options connected with hardware functionality (notifications, camera, or GPS), integration with device local settings, and inbuilt storage access.
The lack of essential features support may result in blocking the operation of the entire application! Check what kind of features are critical for your app reading our blog article titled How Much Does It Cost to Build an App.
— Code losses in case of switching to another platform
Take into consideration that the most cost-effective way to build a cross-platform app is to use a cross-platform development framework. That platform locks-in your project in the same way as site-builders allow you to create pages without giving you an option to use the same page inside another site.
Be careful with choosing the framework! If one day you decide to switch to another framework all the previous efforts will be lost.
— Not many tools within the framework
Build cross-platform apps only if you know exactly what features you need to implement in your app and you are sure that it is possible with your development framework.
For many businesses, there may not be enough tools for app customization. Ruby on Rails, Java, and TypeScript are believed to be the best programming language for cross-development purposes. However, they are not perfect.
How to deal with that? That is always a good idea to hire dedicated developers with cross-platform expertise. Regardless of what framework they are going to use (Flutter, Ionic , Apache Cordova (PhoneGap), Xamarin, or React Native), they will probably know the subject better than you and can choose a development platform that is suitable for your desired features.
In LANARS, we are working out projects with Flutter which is a Google's UI toolkit designed for creating native apps for various platforms including web, mobile, and desktop using a single codebase.
When Multi-Platform App Development Is Better Than Native Development
What is the main purpose of developing a cross-platform app? Unlike native apps, apps of this kind are compatible with more than one OS. To create such an app you need to develop code once and then launch your product both on App Store and Google Play market reaching a wide audience.
Although cross-platform software development may reduce development costs more than twice, save developer’s time, and be easy to update, it is limited in design customization and not always provide you with access to the whole range of operating systems and hardware features. According to this, the approach is not suitable for such types of startups:
- IoT-related products that should incorporate with specific device features
- Apps whose strength is customized design
- Products should stand up to date considering native software updates
- Apps that should proceed incoming information fast (for drivers or operators)
- Products need to work online (does not accept cloud technology)
Cross-platform web development should not be fully associated with hybrid app development, however, they have some common features. For example, they are considered to be a cloud-based sustainable universal solution. They are also often standardized in design as they are built out of ready modules with the help of a development framework.
So what about projects that fit cross-platform development perfectly? Today’s cross-platform apps are more reliable and user-friendly than their previous versions. They are commonly used in such cases:
— You need a wide selection of users
Choose cross-platform website development or app development if you are limited on funds and your aim is to prove your business idea for yourself or your investors. It will allow you to specify your target audience, study user behavior, and prepare for full-scope native apps development.
— Design is not an issue
You may be surprised, but not every app has to be extremely beautiful. Take stock trading tools or apps for web analytics. Sometimes, if you have a great digital idea, there is no urgent need to present it in a fancy custom-designed way. Functions come first.
— You develop a corporate app
Even if there are thousands of workers in your company that is nothing comparing to the global app market. Native apps for corporate use are too expensive. And again, your employees will anyway use your app so it’s not a problem if it is a bit uniformed.
Cross-platform mobile development is not a clear winner of native app against cross-platform app development opposition. At the same time, it has lots of significant advantages that make the approach the only possible solution for certain types of startupers.
Cross-platform development is faster, cheaper, and easier. It is a perfect tool to test the startup idea or present it to investors before assigning money in native app development. In addition, it works perfectly for sustainable corporate apps.
There are also a couple of arguments against multi-platform mobile app development. Cross-platform apps usually have lower operating speed and responsiveness, poor UX and UI, and may not support hardware features.
Another frequent criticism is its inseparability from the framework the app is built with. Once you’ve created an app using Xamarin or React Native, you’ve got no chances to use the same code within another framework.
Remember, that apart from cross-platform apps there are hybrid (cheap, but not suitable that much for hardware features integration) and progressive web apps (good for eCommerce). We advise you to choose wisely and if you’ve got questions ask them here. LANARS managers are glad to help you!