What actually is a cross-platform app?
It is a matter of difficult choice for app developers whether to build an app on cross-platform or a native one. As a business marketing, we aim for browser compatibility because different customers use different devices and you need to require a mobile app which can run on all kind of devices laptop, desktop, mobile (Android, iOS, Windows, etc.).
The cross-platform apps work on multiple operating systems with a single code base. There are 2 types of cross-platform apps:
- Native Cross-Platform Apps
- Hybrid ‘HTML5’ Cross-Platform Apps
Native Cross-Platform Apps:
All kind of mobile operating system has its own SDK (Software Development Kit) to create mobile apps. These SDKs consists of programming languages which are supported by the OS vendor. For example, for iOS, Objective-C and Swift are the preferred programming languages supported by Apple, whereas for Android, Java is the preferred language supported by Google. The conclusion is that the apps created with such languages using the official SDK are called as Native apps”.
A cross-platform native app is created generally by a third party vendor. They choose a programming language and create a unified API on top of the native SDKs provided by the various OS vendors. This unified API supports multiple operating systems with a single code base. The third-party vendor generally provides an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) which handles the process of creating the native application bundle for iOS and Android the single cross-platform codebase.
One of the popular approaches taken in the development of native cross-platform involves writing business logic and web service calls using cross-platform libraries while GUI related code is written with platform specific libraries. Depending on the application, this allows 30% to 60% code reuse.
Hybrid ‘HTML5’ cross-platform Apps
Pros of cross-platform mobile app development
- If planned well, the coding can be reused for next applications which help in faster development, less time and low cost.
- The cross-platform development has more perks while going through the maintenance period. If a bug is found in a common code-base it requires the only one-time fix.
- We can use existing programming talent rather than learning a platform specific development language.
- It is an advantage for B2B apps and business process automation apps, where development time and effective utilization of resources is more important than a polished look.
Cons of cross-platform mobile app development
- On the platform of raw processing power, desktops are more powerful than mobile phones. Many mobile phones don’t support HTML5 animations. This leads to inactive UI of HTML5 hybrid apps on low and mid-range phones. Also, the browsers older than 3 years cannot support HTML5 animations.
- Due to advanced features like gradients, requires a lot of CPU and GPU resources. This results in high battery power consumption when compared to native apps or native cross-platform applications.
- To communicate with native plugins, HTML5 hybrid apps depend on call-back-style programming, which makes the code futile complicated. Also, this leads to a very slow development of the process.
- Native cross-platform app SDKs are still new for developers. GUI needs to be coded multiple times to obtain platform specific presentation.
- Many successful apps are developed as native apps (either Android or iOS) because designing and building an app for multiple platforms with platform-specific user experience is too difficult. This is due to all platforms defining their own human interface guidelines and supporting them with a single code base becomes a bigger challenge.
- Growing version of mobile apps creates pressure on the mobile developers to keep adding new features in each version. This creates more work for the cross-platform SDK vendors to generate a new application in short time period.
This whole can be concluded as one line in a simple way as, Though native app development provides 100% platform compatibility and smooth performance, for B2B solutions and business process automation projects, native cross-platform or HTML5 hybrid application development techniques can offer good enough performance in a more cost effective manner.