Cross-platform mobile app development offers some big benefits. But what are they? And how does this affect your project? In a nutshell, speed, cost and efficiency. But there’s even more to it than that – we talked to our tech experts to dig a little deeper.

But first, let’s back-track a little – what is cross-platform mobile app development? It’s a method of building mobile apps which allows developers to write code just once, then deploy across all platforms – Android, iOS, Windows – rather than be restricted to one. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? It is. But what about other options?



What about native mobile app development?

Native mobile app development is the primary alternative to cross-platform and logically means building for a single platform, ‘native’ to that operating system, using technologies like Swift, Objective C, Java and Kotlin. While this can be the right choice for some, it restricts developers from easily replicating code in future.

Another option is hybrid app development, which employs standard web technologies – HTML, CSS, JavaScript – wrapped in an embedded browser. Sounds fancy, but in reality this approach typically produces apps with limited functionality and sluggish performance.

Also worth mentioning progressive web apps (PWA) though they aren’t really mobile apps at all. They are simply web applications that mimic the look and feel of a native app, but lack key features and functionality that rely on native compatibility.

The benefits of cross-platform development

Understandably, consensus is that cross-platform is the way to go in most scenarios, with React Native being our technology of choice, among others like Flutter and Ionic. But what specific benefits can developers expect? And what does that mean for your project and your business? Here’s our take on the upside…

Code only once, then rinse, recycle, repeat

The central benefit of developing cross-platform is that source code need only be written once. This is a huge bonus for development teams, particularly when this code can quickly and easily be repurposed across multiple platforms or broken into chunks and reused for future projects. Writing solid, reusable code is best practice for all developers and the cornerstone of any efficient, productive software team.

Development costs are relatively low

Budget (or lack of it) is the natural enemy of many a mobile app project. No matter how brilliant an app idea, it can be derailed through lack of funds. So, costs are key, and cross-platform app development is certainly cost-effective. And because it’s extremely quick to get a working prototype ready, beta testing, live market feedback and subsequent edits are all possible without the big financial outlay required for traditional methods.

“We recognise multiple benefits from working with cross-platform technologies, including steep reduction in development effort, reduced training needs and quicker ramp-up times.

Thimal Jayasooriya, Salpo Technologies


Quick development, deployment and delivery

Speed is always paramount in software development, particularly when businesses are striving to be first to market or meet critical deadlines. Thanks to a single code base, cross-platform development supports not just a faster overall process, but also quicker code re-writes, testing phases and upgrades. This extends to in-life product maintenance, with inevitable bug fixes and other improvements being far quicker and easier.

Cloud integration is a breeze

Yep, you’ve guessed it, cross-platform apps can be easily integrated with cloud hosting services. This makes these apps more functional and easily scalable, as the single source code base can be quickly integrated with reusable features, plugins and components.

Product uniformity and market reach

Another key strength of cross-platform development is the relative ease of maintaining consistency across multiple platforms. The single code base means look, feel and function should be seamless, with an identical UI (User Interface) and UX (User Experience) regardless of operating system. This consistent app experience supports brand engagement and integrity. And with simultaneous deployment across all operating systems and outlets – Google Play, App Store – market reach, impact and momentum are also maximised.

 

Cross-platform gives our development team the ability to use familiar tools and technologies, while producing for a completely different platform. This leads to greater control over the full solution and empowers teams to understand and build for the gamut of customer experiences.

Thimal Jayasooriya, Salpo Technologies





Some minimal but notable downsides

While we’re big fans of cross-platform development (if you hadn’t guessed) we must flag a couple of minor drawbacks. Firstly, thanks to shared code, cross-platform developed apps can be slightly diluted. Because developers are unable to harness platform-specific capabilities, they lose access to features and functionality, potentially impacting user experience. Secondly, there my be a time lag between operating system updates being released and subsequently reflected in the cross-platform framework.

Consider your options and do your research

On balance, we believe the positives far outweigh the negatives. But you should carefully consider all your options, do your research and question prospective development teams. From a technical perspective, there are many more intricacies we could discuss – and perhaps we will at a later date – but this should give you a good idea.

If you have any questions, or a custom software development project you’d like to discuss, please get in touch. To find our more about our software services, just click below.

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