What is Cross Platform Application Development?

Miquido | 8 Oct | 8 min read

Learn how cross-platform development can help your reach your business goals, all the while cutting your costs and time-to-market.

Creating a mobile app must always be preceded with a few fundamental decisions. One of the most crucial is choosing a development platform and language. If your goal is a single system like iOS, Android or Apple, it’s a piece of cake – but what if you aim to target all of them simultaneously?

The answer is cross-platform app development. Learn how it can improve your app coding and reduce costs.

What is cross platform development?

Cross-platform mobile app development means creating mobile apps which you use within multiple platforms. The trick is, you write only one universal codebase instead of a few different native codes.

This technology provides developers with the ability to produce the code only once, and then to use it across all target platforms by implementing only slight adjustments. Cross-platform development is an effective solution to make an app compatible with all target mobile operating systems.

Why use cross platform application techniques?

Building a native application is surely less expensive and less time-consuming. However, focusing on only one operating system, meaning one target group using the device of their choice, may reduce income and directly lead to loss. According to the latest market research, 47% of consumers in the US are Apple users, while 52% prefer Android. This is where cross platform development comes in: it makes it possible to easily build an app suitable for all operating systems and avoid the tedium of writing in multiple native codes.

Moreover, aside from the purely technical aspects, the main advantage of cross-platform development is the ability to keep the same UX quality in each channel. As we explained in one of our latest posts, providing customers with a perfect User Experience is crucial if you want them to be satisfied. So, creating a close-to-native app for all target platforms can help you reach a broad audience and absolutely skyrocket your revenue. 

Cross platform applications – pros and cons

Obviously, a cross-platform application framework has its pros and cons worth considering. On the one hand, you definitely shouldn’t miss your chance to be available on every platform. On the other, in a few cases, cross-platform mobile application development might be risky.

Let’s take a look at the advantages of cross-platform apps.

Cost savings

Developing a cross-platform app typically requires fewer developers, as it’s not critical to involve a number of native language specialists. This allows you to reduce the number of members on your team, as it’s enough to hire just a few developers capable of building cross-platform solutions.

Maintainability

Continuing with cost-saving, cross-platform apps are also easy to maintain. Most of the necessary changes are made in only one universal codebase and then generated for each platform.

Efficiency and comfort

Developing a cross-platform app is simply more straightforward, easier, and more comfortable in terms of both programming and development team management.

Short time to market

Cross-platform application development is also more time-efficient and leads to instant results, as there’s no need to produce code in a dozen of languages.

Great market reach

As cross-platform applications let you be present in multiple markets and reach users with various device preferences, it will let you achieve higher ROI and extend your consumer base. Thus, by investing in a cross-platform solution you can improve your distribution and diminish your marketing efforts.

However, before you start getting too enthusiastic about cross-platform development, remember to mind the potential setbacks. The most clear-cut cons are:

Technical barriers

Cross-platform app coding might run into a few technological barriers. Thus, cross-platform mobile app development is a better choice for developing products with reasonable amounts of functions, with verifying the feasibility prior to development.

Legal issues

Cross-platform mobile apps development means decreased independence. For instance, there’s always a risk that Apple will prohibit cross-platform coding for iOS and Android, so you might end up with no choice.

Cross platform or native app?

Prior to making the final decision, first of all, you should always carefully consider your business needs and goals. Although cross-platform development tends to be cost-saving, it may turn out that producing two native platforms is actually cheaper.

To make sure which option is more appealing for you, we recommend that you seek advice from an experienced cross-platform mobile development company and ask for a cost estimate.

However, beside the budget, remember to also consider:

  • Platform-specific features
    If you need any features specific to Apple, Microsoft, Google, or any other OS, take into account whether cross-platform presence is a priority for you.
  • Device-specific features
    Consider what kind of tools different mobile devices usually have that you need to use for the app. Talk to an experienced developer to make sure this is manageable within cross-platform coding.
  • Time to market
    Cross-platform mobile app development might not be right for urgent projects. If you’re in a hurry, you may need to replace cross-platform development with native coding. However, always ask your mobile app development company for time estimates of both available solutions.
  • Updates
    If you expect frequent updates of your app, make sure it’s manageable with cross-platform apps and that you have competent staff at your disposal.

How to build cross platform apps

There are already a number of tools and frameworks dedicated to cross-platform app developers. Thus, choosing the right one might be quite challenging.

Let’s take a look at the most popular cross-platform development tools and approaches.

  • Flutter
    This solution is based on using an open-source software development tool provided by Google. It enables the creation of extraordinary stable apps dedicated to the most frequently used operating systems without updating the code after OS updates and customizations.

  • Progressive web app (PWA) development
    Progressive web apps are websites performing similarly to mobile apps. They have native mobile device features, but spare the end user from having to download from an app store.

  • React Native
    Similarly to Flutter, React Native is an open- source software development kit by Facebook. It enables fast and convenient creation of both native and cross platform apps dedicated for Android, iOS, Web and UWP.

Is cross platform development right for me?

When undertaking a mobile app development idea, it’s critical to prepare for different scenarios. If you’re still wondering whether a cross-platform mobile app development is the right solution for you, don’t hesitate to contact us here. We will be happy to support you with professional expertise and help you make profitable business decisions!