Is Cross-Platform Mobile Application Development the Future?
The mobile ecosystem is hopelessly fragmented, with a multitude of devices, powered by divergent flavors of multiple operating systems. Developing native platform specific apps in such a state of affairs is akin to battling against desert sand. Cross-platform development would seem as the obvious choice in such a state of affairs. Many developers simply embrace cross-platform development instead. Gartner estimates about 50% of apps are now hybrid.
The obvious benefit of cross-platform mobile application development is reduced costs. Developers spend their time and resources only once, rather than reinvent the wheel for each platform. The savings that emerge when only one instance of the software has to be maintained, on a periodic basis, offers even greater savings. Updates sync automatically to all platforms. Code re-usability and enhanced cloud-based deployments contribute to reduced costs in a big way as well. Such benefits are invaluable in a highly competitive environment where businesses are looking to cut costs and improve process efficiency in a big way.
Cross-platform development infuses consistency to the app, cutting across platforms and devices. A uniform look and feel go a long way in reinforcing the brand image and improving retention rates.
A unified code base enables rapid deployment or faster time to market. This is critical in today’s fast-paced business environment, where apps generally have a short shelf life, and changes in technology make apps obsolete by the day. It especially alleviates the issue of developers cutting corners with testing, for want of time.
HTML5 held promise as the harbinger of a cross-platform world. However, it has lost its luster in the last couple of years as it strived to forge a middle ground and ended up being neither here nor there. One of the biggest stumbling blocks of HTML5 was its inability to trump the distinct UIs of Android and Apple phones. Newer tools such as Appcelerator, PhoneGap, and others resolve such imbroglio by offering several modules and extensions that bridge the gap between platforms, and also offer unique functionality not available elsewhere. Management systems such as parallels.com enable development teams to overcome common development issues, cutting across location.
The following are some of the new tools that give cross platform mobile application development a boost:
- Appcelerator, the mobile app development platform delivers native apps, with real-time mobile analytics
- PhoneGap utilizes the FOSS environment to create HTML and Java based apps, compatible with most OS landscape.
- Xamarin offers C# codebase and code-sharing functionality on multiple platforms
- RhoMobile’s Rhodes, an open source framework, facilitates cross-platform mobile application development based on Ruby.
- Kinvey offers a cloud-based backend service for developers
- Xojo offers maintenance-free web app hosting for businesses
- Dropsource offers automated programming to source code
- Corona Labs’ tool for building 2D educational and gaming apps supports all major platforms
- Yapp allows users to create personalized mobile apps
- Cocos2D enables creating 2D apps from a single code base, cutting across platforms
- GameSalad offers applied game development solutions in an easy drag-and-drop fashion, for cross-platform deployment
- BiznessApps allow small businesses to create and manage apps without any programming knowledge
- MobinCube, a drag and drop, web-based app builder, offer rich templates that cut across platforms
- Qt allows users to code in C++ and export the app to different platforms
These tools make creating apps very easy, and within the realms of even a novice, a big development from a few years ago when mobile app development required extensive coding, possible only though seasoned developers. The ease of development facilitated by these tools further plays into making cross platform mobile application development the preferred option.
A hybrid cross-platform app leverages the power of simplicity. However, the advantages realize only when development is done the right way. For instance, extensive customization may fritter away the gains from having only a code-base. In fact, faulty implementation that fritter away the advantages is the big reason why cross-platform development has not become the established norm yet. An experienced partner helps you gain the full benefits of cross-platform application development, keeping pitfalls at bay. Get in touch with us now to leverage the expertise of our talented team, and the wealth of experience we have accumulated over several cutting edge projects.