The mobile application market is already more than ten years old, but it is still booming. The demand for the creation of mobile apps is constantly growing and it still significantly exceeds supply, which leads to a constant increase in the cost of development. One of the solutions to reduce the cost of this process is cross-platform development when the same code is used on all platforms.
If the mobile app development company
in the process of writing an application use a programming language adopted for a specific platform, be it Objective-C or Swift for iOS or Java or Kotlin for Android, such an application will be called native.
Advantages of native applications:
- Speed and responsive interface.
- Clear and easy access to device functions and sensors. For the mobile app development company, there is no problem working with geolocation, push notifications, taking photos and video through the camera, sound, accelerometer, and other sensors;
- The possibility of in-depth work with the functions of the smartphone.
- Native interface for the platform. Native applications
usually operate on “platform” interface elements: menus, navigation, forms, and all other design elements are taken from the operating system and therefore familiar and understandable to the user.
- The high cost of development and support. For each platform, you need to write your own code.
Cross-platform apps are written for several platforms at once in one language different from the native one. How can such code work on different devices? There are two approaches:
The first is that, at the stage of preparing an app for publication, it becomes native to a particular platform using transpiler. In fact, one cross-platform programming language is “translated” into another.
The second is that a certain wrapper is added to the resulting code, which, already working on the device, transmits calls from a non-native code to the system’s native functions on the fly.
It is assumed that most of this code can be transferred between platforms - it is obvious that, for example, the logic of making purchases, saving goods to the cart, calculating the route for a taxi, writing a message to the messenger does not change depending on whether the client has Android or iOS. It is only necessary to refine the UI and UX for the platforms.
- Cost and speed of development. Since the code must be written noticeably less, and the cost of work is reduced;
- Opportunity to use the internal resources of the company.
- Non-native interface or, at a minimum, the need to work with the interface of each platform separately. Each system has its own requirements for the design of elements and sometimes they are mutually exclusive.
- Problems in the implementation of complex functions or possible problems of work, even with simple procedures due to errors of the development frameworks themselves. The cross-platform environment only translates requests to system calls and interfaces in the system, the format understood by it, and therefore at this stage both difficulties in understanding and the occurrence of errors within the framework itself are possible;
- The speed of work. Since the cross-platform environment is a “superstructure” above the code, it causes its own delays and pauses in the development of user actions and the output to the screen. This was especially noticeable a few years ago on smartphones, which are more low-powered compared to today's ones, but now, with an increase in the performance of mobile devices, this can be neglected.
As you can see, these two methods are practically a mirror image of each other - that the advantages of native development, the disadvantages of cross-platform, and vice versa.
Popular platforms and cross-platform development tools
As we wrote above, there are two approaches - turning the code into native at the assembly stage or adding a specific wrapper that translates calls to and from the system.
Cordova and PWA are two tools that work in the ideology of the wrapper.
Cordova and HTML5
This is one of the most popular destinations in the cross-platform development. In fact, a mobile site is created that “turns around” with a small platform code that transmits calls from system to app and back.
For this approach, a huge number of frameworks have been created, but they all actually do the same thing. The difference between them is that Cordova (PhoneGap) does not set restrictions and patterns on logic and UI for your HTML5 project, and frameworks operate with their own ready-made UI-elements that mimic mobile platforms and their development logic.
PWA (Progressive Web Applications)
without wrapper from PhoneGap can work as native. They can be installed on the home screen, bypassing the app store, working offline, working with push notifications, with native functions.
The problem is that not all platforms even now support these “certain technologies”. First of all, it concerns Apple, which apparently doesn’t like the opportunity to distribute applications around the App Store.
Taking into account all the shortcomings of HTML5 solutions, many companies have created tools that allow you to write code in one, not native, language, and then it is translated into native.
It uses the standard for enterprise development C# programming language, cross-platform development environment - Visual Studio. It results in native apps for iOS, Android and Windows.
Being a relatively young platform, React Native is still suffering from a lack of development tools and documentation.
Cross-platform app development is a good and understandable direction. Its advantages and disadvantages need to be borne in mind before starting the project. A cross-platform app is obviously better than a non-native one. Meet with mobile app development company for your cross-platform app development. Back