In the current century, a lot of mobile app development keep increasing every other day. Approximately 1.8 million applications on the Apple App Store and 2.5 million applications are on the Google Play Store. This implies that the applications are expected to keep advancing in the years to come.
The applications are meant to improve the user experience on online platforms. That is why businesses ensure they have either of the platforms. However, native applications aren’t efficient enough for many businesses. That is why cross-platform app development is here to help the businesses which target both iOS and Android. But then, what is a cross-platform framework?
In simple terms, a cross-platform app development frameworks is a system that enables developers to come up with an operating system that supports two or more operating systems — for example, Android and iOS. With cross-platform frameworks, you can create only one code which can run on other platforms without experiencing difficulties. This enables a developer to release a quality software/product at a faster rate with improved security.
The Distinction Between Cross-Platform and Native App Development
Cross-platform and Native apps keep the technological world moving under different terms of service. Some developers prefer cross-platform apps over native apps, while others go for native apps over cross-platform apps. Both applications are still developing slowly by slowly, and for this reason, there is no basis of measuring the most potent app over the other.
Native mobile app development concentrates on building a competent yet straightforward design that focuses on the targeted platform. For this reason, there are no complications since the final product is aimed at the required platform. In simple terms, the final product does not support multiple platforms.
On the other hand, cross-platform frameworks focus on building applications that support many platforms so as to reach a wide range of customers.
Importance of Cross-Platform App Frameworks
- You can integrate with cloud environment with ease and faster.
- You can use the code for multiple platforms which saves your time and efforts.
- The costs of development are lower as compared to native app development
- Hosting to corresponding app stores is easy.
- Cross-platform apps usually penetrate the market at a faster rate and have extensive coverage.
- Marketing costs are minimized since the apps are available on several platforms in the market.
5 top Cross-Platform App Frameworks
There are many cross-platforms app frameworks existing, but there are those who are competitive and widely used. However, each one of them has some advantages and some disadvantages. Let us analyze the top 5 most competitive cross-platform app frameworks:
In 2015, Facebook launched react native which later trended in the market very fast. Up to date, it is among the popular cross-platform applications used in the market.
Advantages of React Native
- You can use the code on multiple platforms
- You get the results immediately, which makes the process of development quite short.
- Developers can view the changes made in the code instantly due to the hot reloading feature.
- As a developer, you can easily access some powerful native functionalities such as camera and accelerometer, which improves user-experience.
- React native responds quickly to issues
Disadvantages of React Native
- The app is poor in releasing the latest updates
- As much as the app improves the development speed, it is unfortunate that the debugging process also takes more time, more so on Android devices.
- The app requires different codes on Android and iOS devices to function well on other applications. For instance, native components will be required for accelerometer and camera to function well. This implies that the app is not a fully cross-platform app.
- The app delays the operation of native apps at times because it is not compatible with both Android and iOS. Some of the applications made with React Native cross-platform framework include Pinterest, Instagram, Tesla, Bloomberg, and Skype.
Another open-source and cross-platform framework is known as flutter. The app is used when creating an interface for iOS and Android, and it is maintained by Google; a platform which develops Android native frameworks. According to the developer’s study of 2019, flutter is the most used and treasured frameworks. Some of the apps made with flutter include Google, Tencent, Alibaba, and Google ads.
Advantages of Flutter
- The framework is perfect for the minimum viable product because a developer can create a flutter mobile app that looks native on iOS and android. This implies that you will save money on different applications.
- Flutter has an object-oriented programming language known as dart which makes work easy for developers
- Through flutter, developers can highlight code changes with a short time with the help of hot reloading feature found in the flutter.
- A developer can work continuously by incorporating Travis and Jenkins platforms with the help of many ready-made solutions for iOS and Android
Disadvantages of Flutter
- It is unfortunate that despite the fact that flutter is developed by Google, there are some libraries which are not functional on native development.
- The flutter framework does not support Apple TV and Android TV
- Only larger size apps; 4 MBs and above can operate on flutter app framework.
Advantages of Adobe PhoneGap
- A developer can create an app directly because PhoneGap offers a cloud solution.
- The framework has features that make it more advanced when compared to other frameworks. Such features include access to third-party tools and a number of great plugins.
- The app allows developers to share the app’s information with the team in order to make recommended changes.
Disadvantages of Adobe PhoneGap
- The cross-platform framework depends on iOS SDKs to create an app. It is unfortunate that SDKs needs a Mac to be downloaded.
- Applications created with PhoneGap performs poorly when compared to native applications.
- Since PhoneGap’s performance is poor, it means that the app cannot be used on some applications like gaming because they lack UI widgets and their performance rate is low.
Ever searches for an app used to create lightning, well, ionic is the app which uses HTML5 to operate, and it is licensed by MIT. The app enables a developer to create native-hybrid applications for both iOS and android because it has elements of android and iOS at the same time. The application is comparable to AngularJS in terms of structure and design. Some of the applications made with Ionic app framework include SAP, IBM, NASA, and ING.
Advantages of Ionic
- Many developers prefer ionic from all over the world. This implies that the app framework is quite powerful
- The app framework enables developers to create a reliable mobile operating system by giving user interface options which creates useful applications.
- With an ionic framework, a developer can ship at any time whenever the need arises without limitations.
Disadvantages of Ionic
- The developers find it hard to use the user interface router, making the process to be a bit hard.
- The app relies at times on AngularJS aspects to build better apps.
Xamarin is an open-source, cross-platform app framework which came into being in 2011. However, the app was later on taken by Microsoft, a move which made the app more known to developers. The reason why the app was formed was to lessen the expenses incurred in developing mobile applications by removing the native technology stack in the equation. Some of the applications made with Xamarin Cross-Platform App Framework include American Cancer Society, Fox Sports, BBC Good Food, Alaska Airlines, and HCL.
Advantages of Xamarin
- The app makes the process of development easy and faster
- The app receives massive support from more than 3,700 companies
- The app works smoothly on both Android and iOS platforms because it uses c# for coding
- With Xamarin, you can share one code across many platforms
Disadvantages of Xamarin
- The app is not suitable for applications which require strong graphics. The reason behind this is because different platforms portray visuals on the screens differently.
- Xamarin is limited to specified libraries which are vital for mobile development, meaning developers must use the libraries to complete the development process but unfortunately, it becomes impossible.
- The Xamarin cross-platform application is quite expensive. The app is only free for beginners, but an established enterprise has to purchase a license.
Any developer will prefer a cross-platform solution to ease the process of app development. Such cross-platform apps were barely used in the previous years since the technology was not that advanced by then. However, in this era, mobile development is split into two; iOS and Android. Cross-platform framework help the developers to create mobile apps faster and without spending much by creating applications which are compatible with both iOS and Android devices. Cross-platform framework application is one of the technologies expected to keep growing in the coming years.
Having discussed some of the cross-platform applications, it is upon you as a developer to choose which one suits your needs more.