asper brothers team sandra
13 Dec 2020 12 min to read

Cross-Platform App Development – Explore Frameworks, Technology and Business Benefits

Cross-platform app development is regarded as one of the most popular software development trends. In fact, according to Statista, around one-third of developers use cross-platform technologies or frameworks, with the rest opting for native apps. This shouldn’t come as a surprise – using this approach allows companies to save time, money, and effort.

In the following article, we’re going to discuss what cross-platform development is, what benefits it brings, and what frameworks you can use for it. Let’s dive in!

What is Cross-Platform App Development?

Cross-platform application development is about building a single application that can run on various operating systems, instead of developing different app versions for each platform.

The driving force for cross-platform application development is to produce software that works well in more than one specific digital environment, with the main purpose of selling it to a wider customer base.

Business Benefits of Cross-Platform Development

Let’s review the benefits associated with cross-platform application development.

Launching the software simultaneously on various platforms

When you work on cross-platform app development, you can launch your software quickly on various platforms. The source code is written once for all platforms. This means you don’t need to hire a separate software development team for each platform, as it’s possible to launch and update the software by using a variety of cross-platform development tools.

The number of smartphone users around the world is predicted to hit 3.5 billion by the end of 2020. 87% of smartphone users spend their mobile time on apps. The mobile app market will generate up to $581.9 billion in revenue by the end of 2020.

Source: Statista.com

Faster development time

It requires the deployment of a single script, instead of writing separate scripts for each platform. This significantly speeds up development time and cuts time to market, which benefits everyone, from the dev team all the way to marketing.

Reaching a wider audience

Cross-platform application development offers you an opportunity to reach a larger audience. How so? Think about it – if your app is compatible with multiple platforms and operating systems like web, iOS, and Android it can be used by a larger number of users. It’s a great way to maximize your exposure – with less effort and time.

Faster and easier updates

Since cross-platform applications are Internet-based, updates are nice and easy. Users don’t have to download separate updates, which would require the maintenance and support of multiple app versions. The app is updated automatically for all customers to ensure they always have the most current version of the app, which also positively impacts its performance.

Cost savings & shorter time to profitability

All of the above-mentioned advantages entail significant cost savings. With the development speed, cross-platform development brings, your time-to-market for each platform is shorter than if you had to create each app from scratch. This means you can get your software to generate revenue much sooner. Also, you don’t need to maintain a software development team for each platform you launch your app to, which will bring significant savings over time.

Cross-Platform applications are often the best choice for our partners. In case the company wants to deliver the product quickly on a reasonable budget, this technology gives the best results. There is also a growing awareness of customers who ask for such solutions themselves. This is particularly popular in the first phase of launching a digital service. Mike Jackowski COO, ASPER BROTHERS

That said, you might be wondering whether there are any disadvantages you should be aware of. As explained by Techopedia, cross-platform development can make programs less efficient, in that you will need to maintain file storage for all the systems the software supports. This could also potentially mean that you would be limited by various technologies’ constraints when choosing the right software environment. All in all, these drawbacks do not make cross-platform development any less popular, with the advantages outweighing the solution’s limitations.

 

Cross-Platform Technology and Frameworks

Hopefully, we’ve managed to persuade you that cross-platform application development is an approach worth considering. Now it’s time to take a look at some of the frameworks which you can use while building your apps starting with Flutter.

Flutter

Flutter is considered the perfect framework for developing high-performance web apps. Brought to life by Google in 2018, it’s an advanced, open-source software development kit (SDK). Since it is one of the descendants of the above-mentioned tech giant, it’s pretty much guaranteed that Flutter will be continuously developed, and its community of supporters will grow.

Using Flutter as your cross-platform app development framework can bring benefits like:

  • A wide choice of UI elements and widgets, which not only make app development fast but also visually appealing
  • High-performance rendering engine that enables developers to quickly customize animations
  • Hot-reload feature, which lets programmers view any coding changes live without the necessity to save their work.

 

React Native

React Native is a cross-platform app development framework most frequently chosen by developers, as indicated by the graphic below. It was launched in 2015, by Facebook. It’s a mobile framework based on JavaScript, which enables building natively-rendered mobile apps for iOS and Android.

Here are the main benefits of using React Native as your cross-platform app development framework:

  • Hot-reload; just like in Flutter’s case, developers can monitor any code changes live, without having to save them first
  • It allows access to third-party plugins
  • Its User Interface is simpler and resembles a JS library rather than a framework, as it focuses on mobile UI
  • It offers a more stable app in comparison to all other frameworks.

 

react native popularity

React Native is not without reason so popular. It is a great tool that will work in most cases. / source: statista.com

Progressive Web App (PWA) frameworks for web applications

Next to native app development, PWA is also a popular cross-platform development method. Let’s look at three popular progressive web app frameworks below.

Angular

Angular is an open-source cross-platform framework owned and controlled by Google. It utilizes TypeScript and HTML for the creation of single-page web applications. It is one of the most popular, powerful, and efficient JavaScript frameworks.

What are the benefits of using Angular?

  • One of the major benefits of Angular is that it allows the developer to convert HTML (which is originally static) documents into dynamic content. With this dynamic feature, your web application will be able to update its contents periodically. Static web app’s contents are known to be the same
  • It is created with a Model-View-Controller. This means that whenever data changes in the model, the view of the application changes as well
  • It has a large community that supports each other.

 

forbes-angular

The front-end of the digital version of Forbes Magazine is based on Angular Framework. / Source: Forbes.com

Vue

Vue is a popular JavaScript framework used by developers for creating simple-paged web applications and User Interfaces. It is also referred to as Vue.js. Developers can utilize Vue’s high decoupling capability to create progressive web applications. Vue is used in thousands of companies all over the world. Companies like Alibaba, Gitlab, and Xiaomi use Vue for their web development projects.

Here are a few benefits of using this cross-platform app development framework:

  • The size of the Vue framework is extremely small. The downloadable zip file weighs 18 KB. It is fast and easy to install
  • It has a good performance level when it comes to creating a progressive web application
  • If developers have separate CSS, JavaScript, and HTML files for their app, Vue will couple everything as a component
  • It is excellent for unit testing.

 

React.js

React.js, also referred to as React, is an open-source, JavaScript front-end framework that lets you build interfaces quickly and efficiently. It is not to be mistaken with the above-mentioned React Native, which is a native mobile app development framework.

Created by Facebook for internal use (such as powering the platform’s News Feed and Instagram functionalities), React became open-sourced in 2013. According to Stack Overflow’s 2020 annual survey, it is the second most loved web framework among the developer community.

react js popularity

React.js is one of the most appreciated technologies according to recent research on developers. /source: insights.stackoverflow.com

What makes React this popular? Let’s take a look at the top benefits:

  • It’s easy to scale; you can start off with as little or as much of its features as you need
  • It offers a gentle learning curve and has an extensive developer toolset
  • Like several of the above-mentioned frameworks, React boasts a thriving online community
  • The cross-platform app development framework is stable – changes to ‘child’ structures don’t affect the major, ‘parent’ architecture.
  • It is SEO-friendly; even when React is used for creating a mobile app, the data is still analyzed by browsers like in the case of a webpage.

 

Summary

Cross-platform app development has become an important alternative to traditional, native development. There are many reasons behind its rising popularity. Firstly, it allows you to launch your app to various platforms simultaneously. This means you can reach a wider audience than in the case of developing an app for a single platform. Secondly, it offers a quicker time-to-market, as the code doesn’t need to be written from scratch separately for web, iOS, and Android. Finally, this translates to significant savings in the development and maintenance phase, as you only need one development team to cover all platforms.

There are two types of cross-platform app development services you will see in your search online – native and PWA. The first approach includes the popular React Native and Flutter, while the latter lets you create your app with React.js, Vue, and Angular, among others. When deciding on the right approach, we recommend that you refer to the article above to make an educated decision for your business.

Good luck with your app development project!

 

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If you are considering using cross-platform applications in your business, we will be glad to show you possible scenarios. We will recommend the best technology and plan development together.

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