A number of factors make developing a mobile app difficult, such as the existence of multiple mobile app platforms, various operating system versions for each platform, and multiple device types, each with its own set of unique features. Given this variety, there are also many ways to design a mobile app, but the three most common methods are native app development, cross-platform development, and web app development. The company must decide which of these types of development methods is most suited for its needs. This decision should be guided primarily by what makes the most sense for the customer.
Let’s now discuss Cross-Platform Development along with key characteristics and situations in which this type of method should be chosen.
Cross-Platform Development—This method involves developing the app once on a cross-platform app development framework and then running it on multiple platforms after making suitable adjustments for each platform. The apps are listed in the mobile app store of each platform and can be accessed and downloaded.
Key characteristics of this method are as follows:
- Ability to Use Operating System and Device Functionality—Apps that are developed using the cross-platform development method do not have as much ability to use the operating systems and device functionality as apps developed using the native app development method since some features are made available only to native app developers by a mobile platform in order to promote the platform. In addition, any new upgrades to the operating system of a platform or additional device features are not immediately available to cross-platform frameworks—and sometimes are not made available at all.
- Ability to Be Used Offline—Because cross-platform apps are installed directly on mobile devices, just like native apps, some or all features may be used even when there is no Internet connection because the app can use data stored locally on the device. Once an Internet connection is restored, the mobile app can synchronize new data with a central server.
- Cost of Development—The cost of developing apps for multiple platforms using a cross-platform framework is much lower than the cost for developing native apps for each platform. The cost savings are a result of the fact that the basic code of an app built using a cross-platform framework is the same across platforms with only small adjustments being required for each platform. Most of the development effort for one platform can be reused for all other platforms.
- Level of Skills Required—If a company wants to create apps for multiple platforms using a cross-platform framework, the app development team only needs to know how to create apps on one framework. Thus, even moderately skilled resources might provide enough expertise in app development if the company chooses this method of development.
Here is an example of Cross-Platform Development: