Everything you need to know about cross platform app development

Avatar of Andy Jones by Andy Jones , 04 Jun 2021 Custom Software Development, Software Development Company

The days of consumers sticking to a particular device are long gone.

With 61% of UK consumers accessing the internet on both computers and mobile devices (compared to 10% who only access the internet via smartphone), cross platform app development is now essential for reaching users across multiple touchpoints.

With cross platform apps, you can create a single piece of source code and use it to develop applications that can run on multiple operating systems. You can also ensure that you reach your target audience on their preferred device.

This is preferable to a native app approach, as you don’t need to develop an app that’s limited to a specific operating system; you can simply build one app that you distribute across multiple platforms.

In this article, we’re going to look at why cross platform apps are important, what platforms you can develop an app for, and the top frameworks for developing them.

Why is cross platform app development important?

Developing a cross platform app is important because it allows you to build an app that you can use to reach customers on multiple platforms and communicate with the widest possible customer base.

Cross platform apps aren’t restricted to a single platform or OS, which means users from all types of devices and OS’s can access them.

Some of the platforms you can build cross platform apps for include the following:

Web – Applications that are available in web browsers such as Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Edge.

Desktop – Applications that are available on desktop computers running on Windows, Mac OS and Linux.

AndroidMobile applications that are available for smartphone users on Android devices.

iOS – Mobile applications that are available on iPhones and iPads that use iOS.

At the same time, developing a cross platform app is also the most cost-effective way of building apps for multiple devices. This is because you can write the source code once to cover all platforms, rather than writing unique code for each platform or device.

Reusing the source code also has the added advantage of speeding up the development process, as the developer has less code to write for a cross platform app than they would if they were writing to produce multiple native apps. This consequently reduces the overall time to market.

Close up view of some applications on a smartphone

3 benefits of cross platform apps

There are many benefits to developing a cross platform web app, from increasing your reach to reducing costs throughout the development process and simplifying the overall maintenance needed to run the platform.

Below, we’re going to look at some of the key benefits of developing a cross platform app:

1. Reach a larger audience

By creating an application that’s available on multiple devices, you can maximise exposure to your target audience. This way, you won’t run the risk of failing to engage customers that are on platforms that you don’t have a native application to support.

2. Cost savings

Instead of developing a native app for each platform where you want to reach your customers, you can create one piece of universal source code and reuse it across multiple platforms.

As mentioned above, this reduces the time to market, which in turn reduces the overall amount you spend during the development process.

3. Easier to maintain

Given that you’re only managing a single application running across multiple platforms, it’s much easier to maintain the application’s performance and provide a compelling user experience than it is with a native development approach.

This is because you can edit the overarching source code, rather than editing the source code for each native platform.

Top 4 frameworks for cross platform apps

When choosing what framework to use to develop a cross platform app, there are many choices for you to choose from, with each framework having its own set of advantages.

Below, we’ve outlined some of the most popular frameworks that developers can use to build cross platform apps:

1. Flutter

Flutter is a cross platform development framework based on the dart programming language. This is popular among developers because it enables them to build cross platform apps for iOS and Android.

It also provides a “hot reload” feature that allows developers to view the effect of code changes quickly and easily.

2. React Native

React Native is a cross platform app framework based on Javascript that was developed by Facebook in 2015. React Native is widely used because it is reliable, with APIs that enable the development of native components and enhanced native performance.

3. Ionic

Ionic is an open-source cross platform app framework originally produced in 2013. Ionic offers a library of platform-specific UI components for iOS and Android that developers can use to develop native features for each application.

4. Electron

Electron is an open-source web development framework that was released in 2013 that enables developers to build web apps with JavaScript, HTML and CSS.

The framework is ideal for creating desktop apps because it has a range of APIs that developers can use to add features and push out automatic updates.

Cross platform app development: A diverse approach

If you want to reach the widest audience possible, then cross platform app development is well worth exploring. Building a cross platform app will provide you with everything you need to reach your users, no matter what platform they’re on.

When considering developing a cross platform app, it’s important to work with an experienced developer so that they can guide you through the process of developing an app that’s fit for you and your user’s needs – and that’s exactly what we do here at Make IT Simple!

So, if you’re looking for help to develop a first-class cross platform app for your organisation, contact us today…

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