Creating your future application on cross-platform technologies can be a winning idea for your project. Cross-platform development is a value-adding tactic since it allows for combining cost-effectiveness with top-notch quality and streamlined coding speed. 

However, the choice of the core tool to build your future app with is essential for getting all these benefits, and that’s why in this article, we will overview cross-platform mobile development frameworks to help you make the right decision. 

Cross-Platform Mobile Development, in a Nutshell

Imagine the app that runs seamlessly and bugs-free regardless of the platform you use. Each time you open such an app from the desktop browser, or the browsers pre-installed on your Android or iOS smartphone, the app automatically adjusts the UI according to the UI standards the platform follows. This is how the cross-platform apps work, delivering the close-to-native look, feel, UI and UX. 

The Main Benefits of Cross-Platform Development

Below are the main advantages of cross-platform mobile app development. Such a tactic is a top choice for the projects striving to cut the costs but create a pretty powerful application that will run on multiple platforms without losing the quality of UI and UX. 

  • Lower cost. A cross-platform application is usually more affordable to build compared to a native one. The matter is that the cross-platform app runs directly from the browser so there is no need to follow the requirements of official app stores. Following the best web development practices is enough to make a pretty powerful cross-platform solution. 
  • Better development speed. Cross-platform mobile development frameworks come with pre-developed UI elements the developers can customize according to the project requirements, speeding up the time to market. 
  • Close to native UI and UX. The main benefit of multi-platform mobile app development is that the final app delivers a close-to-native look, feel and experience. What’s more, the users don’t have to download the app to engage with it. 
  • Shared codebase. Cross-platform mobile apps have a shared codebase for Android, iOS, and web. That’s why transforming a cross-platform solution into a native one is easier than building a native app from scratch, allowing the business owners to validate their ideas with the help of mobile cross-platform app development, and then proceed with creating a native application if the target audience expects it. 
  • One team to hire. Choosing a cross-platform development strategy allows you to hire only one tech team, compared to the necessity to hire separate teams of Android and iOS developers to create two native apps. 
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The Best Cross-Platform App Development Frameworks

According to Statista, Flutter, React Native, Cordova, Ionic and Xanarin are the most popular cross-platform app development frameworks. Let’s review them in more detail to make the winning tech stack choice for your future project. 

  1. Flutter

To date, Flutter is the most popular mobile multi-platform development technology. There are several features that make Flutter stand out. Firstly, Flutter isn’t a framework. Instead, it is a software development kit (SDK) that comes with a wide range of tools, like libraries, documentation, integrations, APIs, and so on. 

Secondly, Flutter users Dart – a specific programming language that has something in common with JS. Flutter also comes with an in-built application builder that allows the developers to compile an app from pre-developed blocks and write the code for UI elements customization only. 

The developers say that the apps created with Flutter are pretty heavy but still robust and performant. So, Flutter can be a good choice for data-intensive apps, for example, social media solutions or greatly animated websites. 

  1. React Native

React Native hardly needs a long introduction. This is a second-ranked popular platform for creating cross-platform apps. This framework was created by Facebook, it has a great community, plus there are a lot of React Native developers on the market.

The main benefit this framework comes with is making the development process more speedy and affordable, following the “Learn Once, Run Anywhere” approach. React Native also comes with plenty of pre-developed and close-to-native UI elements, which can be instantly changed with the help of Hot Reloading and Fast Refresh features. The latter ones make the process of testing and bug fixing almost instant. 

  1. Apache Cordova (ex. Phone Gap)

Apache Cordova is another cross-platform development framework you are welcome to choose for your project. It is powered by popular and familiar technologies like HTML, CSS, and JS; it is free and open-source. 

The developers agree that Cordova is a good choice when you need to create a simple app on a budget, meeting a tight deadline. The apps created with this framework are less powerful and performant compared to the ones built with React or Flutter, plus Cordova can’t boast of ease of debugging and testing. 

  1. Ionic 

Ionic is one of the ever-green cross-platform development technologies. Being here for almost ten years already, it is still a popular choice for the apps that prioritize design consistency across the platforms, following the  “Write once, use anywhere” concept. Like Flutter, Ionic is an SDK as well, which is based on Angular and Apache Cordova. That’s why Ionic becomes a good choice for dynamic content websites and progressive web applications.

When it comes to practice, Ionic delivers all the benefits of cross-platform software development, like faster time to market, development cost optimization, codebase sharing, ease of testing, and a wide range of available integrations. The developers also say that in some cases Ionic is less performant compared to Flutter and React Native. 

  1. Xamarin

Xamarin is one of the most powerful and secure frameworks you can use for multi-platform development. It uses C# programming language that ensures perfect code predictability and security, plus is built on the top of the .NET framework. 

Xamarin platform comes with two separate products for Android and iOS, plus there are Xamarin Forms for quick prototyping and up to 96% code reusability. What’s more, creating cross-platform web apps isn’t the only use case of Xamarin. This framework can also be used in some stages of native development, plus it allows for creating apps for wearable devices, TV, and IoT. 

However, mastering and using Xamarin is challenging; that’s why the talent pool of Xamarin developers isn’t as large as the ones for React Native, Flutter, and Ionic. 

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Cross-Platform vs Native Development – Comparison Chart

Both cross-platform and native development tactics have their pros and cons. Below is the comparison chart of both software building approaches so that you can compare the options according to the most crucial parameters for your project. 

Cross-Platform DevelopmentNative Development 
Development speedCreating a cross-platform app is faster compared to a native one. Native app development takes more time, compared to cross-platform since the developers have to ensure the accurate app store requirements compliance
Development timeCross-platform app development usually takes less time compared to native app building. However, this rule may have exceptions – highly customized cross-platform apps require more time to be built compared to simpler but native ones.Depending on the native app complexity, it takes 6 months on average to build a mobile solution. That’s why cross-platform technologies are often used to build an MVP, validate it, and then switch to native development. 
Development costUsually, the cost to develop a cross-platform app is significantly lower compared to a native one. Highly-customized apps with multi-level architecture can be an exception. Native development is a pricer option compared to a cross-platform one, especially if you have to create two separate apps for Android and iOS. 
UI/UX qualityWhen designed and developed right, a cross-platform app delivers a seamless close-to-native experience and has a native-like UI. Native applications stand out with their quality, perfect mobile experience, and strict compliance with the requirements of app stores and user expectations. 
Ease of testing, support, and maintenanceCross-platform apps are pretty easy to test and maintain because of a single code baseNative apps are more challenging to test, support, and maintain since usually there are two code bases for each of the mobile platforms. 
Talent pool availableMastering cross-platform development technologies is relatively easy – that’s why the global talent pool is pretty wide. There are 5,9 million Android developers and 2,8 million iOS developers in the world, so you have an almost unlimited pool of candidates to attract to your project. 

Making the Final Decision

Both native and cross-platform app development can be winning tactics when accurately tailored to the project specifics, requirements, and budget. Native app development allows for creating the highest-end app that will deliver the best-in-class mobile experience – and that’s why it costs more compared to a cross-platform one. Cross-platform solutions, in turn, are simpler options, however, when created right, a cross-platform app can rightfully compete with a native one.

That’s why lean and smart startup founders often follow the next tactic. They get started with cross-platform development to create an affordable but still nice Minimum Viable Product and speed up the time to market. After the cross-platform MVP is validated, they proceed with creating a native app for Android, iOS, or both, depending on the customers’ expectations.

Idea In You would be happy to support you with implementing such a tactic as well! Our hands-on experience allows us to create top-notch cross-platform solutions that can easily be transformed into native and market-disruptive ones.

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