The market for mobile applications is vast and is rapidly increasing day by day. As per a 2021 Statista report, 119 billion apps were downloaded from the Play Store throughout the year. The same figures for App Store summed up to 36 billion downloads.
Moreover, these figures are forecasted to reach up to 187 billion in Play Store and 43 billion in App Store. Therefore, businesses cannot ignore the highly potent market of app users.
Every app present in the store is made by either following a cross-platform app development approach or native app development.
Individuals and business owners who want to develop applications are always confused with the terms native and cross-platform development approaches.
It is important to choose the right app development approach to avoid problems in the future. This blog has provided detailed information about the cross-platform approach to app development.
However, if you wish to have details of the native approach, you can read our depth guide on native app development. There you can find crucial information on various topics like cost, pros, cons, and much more about the approach.
We strongly recommend you save this article link or bookmark it. This is because here you will find all useful information in one place regarding multi-platform mobile app development.
If you look at the technology in your surroundings, you will realize that most of the devices are based on either Android or iOS operating systems.
Moreover, a report by Buildfire has stated that there are 2.87 million applications available on the Play Store for users to download. The same for App Store is an astonishing sum of 1.96 million applications.
Nevertheless, both Android and iOS have their audiences divided into different demographics. It, therefore, is difficult to tell whether Android or iOS will be the best for developing an application for these audiences.
Moreover, creating an app for one platform and neglecting the other can turn out to be a massive loss of potential business and customer loyalty.
This article has primarily focused on cross-platform mobile development, and therefore we will discuss two of the most popular OS, Android and iOS.
Cross-platform is a way of developing an app in which the developer creates a single app that can run on multiple platforms. This approach is also commonly referred to as multi-platform app development.
It is different from native development, in which the developer needs to code separately for Android and iOS apps. This is because the native Android codes cannot run on iOS and vice versa.
This approach costs around 30% to 40% less than a native app. Owing to this factor, businesses of all scales can now own an application. Read further to know about the merits and demerits of the cross-platform approach.
The choice of app development approach is of no value to the application’s end-user. However, for businesses, various factors come into consideration, such as user experience, timeline, cost, maintenance, etc. All these factors are variable with different approaches.
Businesses must realize that every technology has a specific purpose to serve. As a result, these technologies have their own advantages and disadvantages. The same fundamentals apply to building cross-platform applications.
Multiple factors need to be considered and evaluated before selecting the cross-platform approach to building an app.
Businesses operate on a budget, and therefore, the cost to develop an application is a vital factor. The cost of creating an application is dependent on several criteria.
However, two key factors are the number of developers working on the project and the time they spend on development. Less use of manpower and lower development time results in less development cost and vice-versa.
In the cross-platform approach, developers can develop an application for multiple platforms with a single code. This is different from the native approach, in which the developer needs to follow the development cycle multiple times for the same project.
This results in a lesser cost to build a cross-platform mobile app. We will thoroughly discuss the costing part later in this article, so read the article until the end.
Coding is a technical task and therefore requires skilled and talented people. The development process of cross-platform apps is quicker than that of native ones. This is because native code needs to be developed separately for Android and iOS.
As a result, the developer needs to follow the whole development process twice. On the other hand, one will require less workforce (developers) to create a cross-platform app. Since the same code can work for both platforms, the developer must only follow the development cycle once.
For each application, it is necessary to follow all the stages of the development cycle. Every phase contributes to the time it will take to create an app.
In cross-platform development, one needs to follow the app development cycle for a single time, and therefore there is less time required for the final deployment of the app.
Moreover, in the cross-platform approach, there are so many frameworks available like Flutter, Xamarin, React Native, etc., which further boost the app development process (framework is a library that eases the coding process for developers).
With cross-platform mobile app development, businesses that have a limited budget do not have to choose between Android and iOS markets. This allows owners of the cross-platform app to have a broad market reach and more platform support.
As app owners have more audience reach with the cross-platform approach, they can significantly and efficiently cover the market of potential customers. Therefore, even with less budget, a business can expand its offerings to many people.
Every framework used to build a cross-platform app comes with a plugin with the best cloud setting. In addition, multiple plugins and extensions work with a single code base. This makes it handy for developers to develop a highly flexible application effortlessly.
Additionally, cloud integration offers a certain extent (not complete) of security to the app. This factor helps businesses to extensively benefit from the cloud hosting service providers.
One of the most crucial and well-known merits of developing a cross-platform mobile app is that one code can be reused easily. The developer no longer needs to make different codes for different platforms.
A single code gets used for running the app on every platform. It helps to minimize the task of coding for the same features and reduces the time and resources it takes to build an app.
In the native approach, applications are made for specific platforms and have direct access to low-level APIs. On the other hand, in the cross-platform approach, the app depends on third-party plugins (Like Cordova) to access OS-level hardware like Bluetooth and Microphone.
As a result, applications lack to respond faster and create a negative user experience. Moreover, the developer needs to add extra codes to the app to make it compatible with different devices. This simply results in decreased app performance.
If an application works with a late and lagging response, the users tend to shift to the other application. As discussed earlier, apps made with cross-platform mobile development face performance issues, negatively affecting user experience.
Moreover, developers may face challenges in managing the codebase of the app. This is because they need to integrate multiple compatibility codes into a single code.
In the end, they fail to optimize the code, which directly results in compromised app performance. The user experience largely suffers because of this, resulting in the user shifting to another application.
Modern app users prefer applications that include eye-catching designs, smooth transitions, engaging graphics, and 3D support. Adding these features to a cross-platform app is difficult and often results in decreased app functionality and performance.
This decreases the user experience, due to which the business can face a loss and lose its market value. Facebook is a good example of this situation, as it realized this drawback and shifted from cross-platform app development to native.
It is often challenging for developers to develop a cross-platform app that works with features like local settings, preferences, and notifications.
Because of this factor, the developer needs to depend on third-party plugins to work on changes related to functionality. Only after that, the app can perform well on the targetted platforms.
Moreover, if Google or Apple introduce any updates, the developers need to wait for third-party plugins to update as well. Only after that can the developers implement changes in their code.
That is not the case with the native approach because they directly access the OS level.
With an increase in the number of cyberattacks and security breaches, app owners consider app security a serious concern. Compared to cross-platform, apps developed in a native manner have an extra level of OS security.
In addition to that, native applications use official APIs. As a result, native apps can rectify security loopholes faster whenever Google and Apple release security updates. On the contrary, it is not that easy for cross-platform apps to overcome security issues.
Businesses have sensitive information about themself as well as of their customers on the app. It is difficult to ensure that this information is secure with cross-platform mobile application development.
This was all about the advantages and disadvantages of developing a cross-platform app. We are sure this will help you to make a better choice.
However, the vital question still remains unanswered- “what to choose – native or cross-platform?”. Keep reading to find the answer to this question.
To answer this question, you need to determine your requirements and expectations from the application. Therefore, you yourself can get the answer to this question. You need to compare the following given points with your requirements to do this.
If your needs match with a cross-platform application, you can choose this approach or go with the native approach. So let’s start with the first point.
There are businesses for whom exceptional application performance is a crucial factor. A cross-platform app consists of multiple compatibility codes in a single code and relies on third-party plugins.
As a result, the performance of these applications is sub-standard. Therefore, if you are willing to settle for compromised app performance, you can select cross-platform development for iOS and Android.
As a matter of fact, Facebook, which is a well-known company shifted from the cross-platform approach to the native one to ensure high app performance.
A tip here is to start with the native approach if you don’t want to compromise with performance, provided that you have a high budget.
Do you want to analyze your data and access information collected from a network? If yes, we recommend choosing the cross-platform development approach.
However, if your app requires collecting and modifying information with low-level API and OS-level hardware communication, it is highly recommended to go with the native approach.
A tip here is, native is a better option if you feel your application requires heavy processing and execution of collected information.
Developing an app is a costly affair. However, compared to native, creating a cross-platform app is less expensive. Therefore, the first step is to determine your budget for application development.
Consulting with a mobile app development company will help you find the cost of developing each type of app. If a native approach to creating an app is under your budget, choose it; or even go with multi-platform solutions.
A tip here is the initial cost of developing a cross-platform application is low. However, when upgrading or modifying the app, the cost goes higher.
Therefore, it becomes equally expensive (Because native takes higher initial cost and cross-platform takes higher post-launch cost).
Thus, you can make your investment wisely and choose to go native and not compromise on app performance.
It is commonly known by now that for every application, there is an app development process that the developers need to follow. For cross-platform application development, we need to follow the process once.
On the other hand, for the native approach, we need to follow the process twice as code needs to be developed separately. Each step has its own timeline. For that reason, app development and delivery are faster for cross-platform applications.
A tip here is to go with the native MVP development option before deciding to go for the cross-platform approach.
A consultation from an app development service provider will give you the timeline for cross-platform app development and native MVP development.
We recommend choosing this option if you are okay with the native MVP timeline.
Generally, developing a native MVP app takes more than developing a cross-platform MVP app. In some cases, it might take even more than fully developing a cross-platform app.
Every business aims to provide the best possible user experience to people using its application. As a result, the smooth performance of an app highly impacts business ROI.
Here, the cross-platform applications lack to provide a faster response because they depend on a third-party plugin for low-level API communication.
On the contrary, the native approach has direct access to hardware components. Consequently, applications with the native approach have smooth and high-end performance.
Here is a tip: If you are willing to spend time and money, go with a native approach, as the high responsiveness of the application will positively impact the customer experience. This will ensure a quicker return on investment and reduce user churn rates.
Sometimes, businesses are unsure about how the market will respond to their ideas after the app’s launch. Moreover, many app owners are unsure how digitalization will affect their business.
In this scenario, investing a hefty amount of money in the native approach is not a good option. However, later, if your ideas work well, you can shift from cross-platform app development to native.
Here is a tip: Start with MVP of native because it is also useful for testing ideas. We recommend this only if you have a good budget. Otherwise, the cross-platform approach is the way to go.
Developing a cross-platform app includes extra coding to make it compatible with multiple devices. Therefore, adding extra features or modifying existing features becomes a challenge for the developer.
If your application needs to upgrade with trends in the future, choosing a native approach for development is highly recommended.
This was all about whether you should choose cross-platform app development for your project or go with the native option. Below is one to one comparison for quick recap information.
The cost of building an application varies from industry to industry and individual requirements. App’s complexity, number of screens to design, framework, location, and many other factors have a role in calculating the cost of creating an app.
We can provide the average cost of your cross-platform application but don’t consider this as the final figure. You might get a complete application at a rate lower or higher than what is mentioned below.
|Discovery and Wireframing
|App Screen Design
|Total (Android and iPhone)
A framework is a set of libraries and components that help to achieve some technical goal or ease the process of developing an app. Demand for developing cross-platform mobile apps has grown significantly over the past few years.
Consequently, the number of available frameworks introduced to simplify the development process has increased. This article will discuss the top 5 frameworks used in the development sector.
This makes React Native one of the most popular cross-platform development frameworks. The React Native framework is best suited for image and video processing, which is not possible in other frameworks.
Both Instagram and Facebook are built on React Native framework. React Native enables developers to create various kinds of Android and iOS apps like Android TV, macOS, tvOS, and more.
Moreover, this framework is compatible with most third-party plugins like Google Map, AntDesign, Entypo, EvilIcons, Feather, etc.
Xamarin is C# and .net language-based cross-platform framework. This allows developers to efficiently build Android, iOS, and Windows applications in Microsoft Visual Studio.
The C# and .net developers can easily develop Xamarin applications. This is because it is easy to understand the codebase, and the framework has large community support.
In terms of development and compile-time, Xamarin offers robust checking. Consequently, developers can stay assured about errors and create a cross-platform mobile app of the best quality.
Furthermore, Xamarin can directly work with C++, Java, Objective-C, C, and many more language libraries.
With more than 70000 programmers and a large community continuously enhancing the software, developers get more productive with Xamarin.
Flutter is Google’s open-source framework, introduced in May 2017. This is one of the most promising app frameworks available today for developing cross-platform apps.
Flutter offers maximum customizability for developers due to its extensive set of material design options.
Flutter has an inbuilt graphic engine, and therefore the developers don’t need to worry about separate interfaces for iOS and Android. A few points that Flutter offers are,
The Ionic framework mainly focuses on the front-end, which is concerned with the app’s functionality and appearance. This ensures smooth UI interactions and an enhanced user experience. Ionic also provides support to React.js and Vue.js developers.
Ionic provides well-structured documentation, making it easy for the developers to make a cross-platform mobile app with this framework.
Applications developed with the Ionic framework are known to give a native-like experience and are therefore enjoyed by users.
The current version of Ionic consists of Apache Cordova and AngularJS. This development platform is specially designed for mobile apps and is based on the SAAS UI framework.
It provides continuous support and new resources from the development community. To summarize, Ionic is the best framework that bridges the market’s current demand.
PhoneGap was introduced by Nitobo Software and was later acquired by Adobe in 2011. It holds the largest market share and is ideal for building a cross-platform mobile app.
A combination of Cordova Plugin and Phonegap can successfully replace the native app in terms of functionality. Once an app is created using Phonegap, it can run on the WebView browser of the relevant platform.
Therefore, PhoneGap is also a good choice if you plan to make a cross-platform app.
These are the top frameworks for cross-platform app development. Many more frameworks are available in the market, but we have enlisted only the five most popular ones.
You can find detailed information about more frameworks (listed below) on the internet.
Moving ahead, let’s find the answer to one of the most popularly asked questions-‘How to develop a cross-platform app?’
By now, you have received clarity about the pros, cons, technical aspects, and costs involved in the cross-platform approach. Another highly popular and commonly asked question is ‘How you can make an app with a cross-platform framework’.
Here are five ways to develop a cross-platform app. You can choose any of these ways and create an application with ease.
Failing to do so can directly increase the timeline to develop a cross-platform mobile app and affect its quality.
We do not prefer this option because applications pass from numerous stages like design, development, testing, deployment, and many more. One person cannot have expertise in all of these phases.
Therefore, in the end, one will need the help of additional resources, which will increase the cost and time of application.
If your application is static and has fewer complex features, then choosing an app builder can turn out to be a good option. It helps to reduce the cost of app development by up to 5 times and deliver applications in a very short time. You can easily build a small and simple application by app builder.
If you require any customization, you need to get support from either the app builder’s support team or from cross-platform mobile app developers. This can cost you more than you expect and raise the overall expenses.
The freelancers can bid on your project, and you can take interviews with selected freelancers to finalize the right developer.
Here, freelancers from all across the world can bid and send you a proposal. Therefore, make sure to first check the portfolio of freelancers before hiring them.
There is no guarantee of optimum development. Moreover, lack of a complete team, idea confidentiality, communication gap, and much more are a few issues one faces while hiring a freelancer.
Businesses need to hire app developers and designers as employees in this approach. These employees require proper development facilities, infrastructure, and resources to develop an app.
The full team then dedicatedly works on your project and provides a consistent report of the development stage. Well-known companies like Facebook, Alibaba, GoogleAds, and many more have an in-house team to work on their application.
This approach requires a high budget to hire resources, establish proper infrastructure, and ensure optimum maintenance.
Consequently, the overall time to build an app also increases. However, in the end, you will definitely get great output.
Eight out of ten businesses looking for app development prefer this approach. This is because the four approaches discussed above had their own limitations.
However, this method of developing an application has no significant drawbacks. By outsourcing app development from an agency, businesses can advantage from cost, delivery time, technical aspects, communication, and much more.
If you want to make a cross-platform mobile app with this option, you must follow the below-given steps.
We are also the leading company for app development outsourcing and offer cross-platform development solutions.
From startups to SMEs and individuals, we assist all of our clients in developing exceptional quality apps.
From creating an idea to designing a cross-platform development for ios and android, we take care of all your overall needs and ensure that you get constant updates on the project.
These were the different ways to get a cross-platform app built for your requirements. Every option except the last one has certain limitations. The option which you choose to go for completely depends on your requirements.
Therefore, we recommend you choose wisely and carefully to avoid future losses.
Cross-platform app development comes with various pros and cons of its own. Whether or not this approach is ideal for your project depends on your requirements, end goal, and the developers involved in it.
The suggestion here is to check your industry verticals and analyze your business nature. You should also determine your end goals, get insights about your audience, and compare this blog with your requirements.
This will ensure that you make a wise decision on the choice of approach. It is important to remember that making a wrong decision can cause a significant loss to your business operations, customer loyalty, revenue, and other things.
If you still have doubts or are not sure whether to go for cross-platform mobile app development or not, then connect with our experts. The Gray Bear has consulted 350+ businesses so far and has provided satisfying answers to their concerns. Our experts will gladly assist you with your concerns at any given time.
Lastly, please provide feedback on our article. Is anything missing, or do you wish to have more in-depth information? We will be happy to look at your feedback and will try to update the article based on it.