As the use of mobile devices is increasing drastically, businesses worldwide are creating their own mobile apps. These apps allow businesses to convey information about their products or services efficiently, improve customer relationships, and build brand loyalty. However, as people today own different types of devices, it’s essential that your mobile apps work seamlessly on several platforms, such as Windows, Android, and iOS. For this reason, businesses are now opting for cross-platform mobile app development. It allows developers to create cross-platform apps quickly, saving time and money. However, the cross-platform development process can be challenging, so it’s essential to choose the right framework.
Let’s discuss what cross-platform development really means and the top frameworks for creating cross-platform apps.
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What does cross-platform development mean?
Cross-platform app development means creating an app that is compatible with several platforms and operating systems, such as iOS, Android, and Windows. Cross-platform apps allow businesses to create apps quickly, reach a wider audience, and save time and costs. Most developers today use cross-platform app frameworks as they help create apps quickly and easily. The best frameworks enable developers to create mobile apps using a single codebase.
Cross-platform development vs. native app development
These apps use both native code and platform-agostic code that can adapt to multiple platforms. Hence, these apps have a native feel and look. In contrast, purely native apps are specially built with code written for a particular operating system. In other words, the code is written in programming languages designed specifically for the targeted platform or operating system. For example, if you build an app exclusively for iOS, you’d use Swift or Objective C programming language. With cross-platform development, developers don’t have to create separate codebases for different platforms.
Many people still prefer native development over cross-platform mobile development or hybrid mobile app development as it helps create an app with a fantastic user experience and optimal performance. For instance, native apps have a consistent UI. However, cross-platform apps have their own benefits.
What are the benefits of cross-platform mobile development?
- Since cross-platform apps are available on multiple platforms, they help businesses reach a wider audience and increase brand visibility.
- Building a cross-platform app means developers only have to write the code once and compile it for multiple platforms. As a result, cross-platform mobile app development helps develop cost-effective apps faster.
- Cross-platform mobile apps are easy to maintain as you can make updates to a single codebase and sync and deploy them across several platforms.
What are the best cross-platform mobile app development frameworks?
RAD Studio – The Leading IDE for cross-platform mobile app development
Embarcadero RAD Studio is the ultimate IDE for creating efficient, high-performance cross-platform apps. It offers a comprehensive set of features that one would need in an integrated development environment, such as code completion, error insight, intelligent macro and templates, deployment toolchains, and more.
- RAD Studio enables developers to build all different kinds of apps, such as those configurable with cloud services and IoT connectivity.
- It supports both Delphi and C++.
- With RAD Studio, developers can create cross-platform apps using a single codebase. Hence, developers can write code once and compile it on any major OS. The powerful cross-platform FireMonkey FMX UI framework and a run time library essentially enable developers to build functional apps with modern UI that can adapt to different platforms. For example, you can create an app for iOS and share most of the code to other platforms, such as Android, Windows, macOS, and Linux. This enables faster and smarter coding as developers don’t have to write separate code for each platform separately.
- It supports auto code completion, smart code navigation, auto restart of LSP server, and more.
- RAD Studio FireDAC, which is essentially a Universal Data Access library, enables the creation of applications for multiple devices connected to the databases of organizations. Its robust universal architecture enables direct access from Delphi and C++Builder to MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server, SQLite, InterBase, PostgreSQL, DB2, and more.
- RAD Studio offers multi-device preview and is compatible with iOS and Android simulators to tailor your app’s design.
- It comes with impressive visual design tools for building cross-platform apps.
- RAD Studio also offers FireMonkey App Low Code Wizard that helps with low-code app development. With the low-code wizard, you can build functional Delphi mobile apps with multiple screens. Additionally, the apps built with the low-code wizard can be modified easily.
- React native is open-source and has a large community that continuously fixes bugs and introduces new features. You can also get help from the community regarding react native app development. Additionally, several free components are also available from the community.
- React Native supports cross-platform mobile app development; you can use almost the same code for Android and iOS apps.
- React Native supports several third-party plugins, such as Google maps.
- Hot reload is another popular feature of React Native that allows you to view changes made to the app while it’s running without the need to recompile the app.
The Flutter logo. Source: Flutter.dev, used with permission
Flutter is another popular cross-platform framework built by Google back in 2017. It is written in the Dart programming language and is easy to use.
- Flutter provides a single codebase for creating cross-platform mobile apps for multiple platforms.
- You don’t need to manually update the UI contents of the apps built with Flutter. Developers only need to modify the variables, and the UI changes will appear automatically.
- Flutter comes with a built-in graphic engine. Hence, developers don’t have to create separate interfaces for iOS and Android apps.
- With Flutter’s hot reload feature, developers can see code changes live.
- It is open-source and easy to use.
Ionic logo. Source: Ionic website, used with permission
Ionic is an efficient tool for creating cross-platform apps for mobile, desktop, and web. It is based on Apache Cordova and Angular and can produce native apps. However, the applications built with Ionic can suffer some performance issues compared to truly native tools like RAD Studio. That said, Ionic is a credible tool.
- Ionic provides a single shared codebase for multiple platforms, saving time and costs.
- It is open-source and free to use. It enables developers to modify the code structure.
- Ionic is based on a SAAS UI framework that is specially built for mobile operating systems. Additionally, it comes with several pre-designed UI components for creating high-performance apps with a native look and feel.
- Ionic supports Angular, React, and Vue.
- It uses Cordova plugins, providing access to built-in features of devices, such as camera and audio recorder.
- Some other popular features of Ionic include out-of-the-box support for material design and live reload.
Xamarin logo. Source: Wikimedia Commons, used with permission
Developed by Microsoft, Xamarin is a free cross-platform framework that comes with a wide range of impressive features.
- Xamarin enables developers to develop apps with .NET and C++
- Applications you build with Xamarin have a native feel and look. They provide the same performance as native apps
- It allows developers to include Java, Objective-C, and C++ libraries. Additionally, it comes with a wide range of class libraries.
- It is open-source and free.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are the advantages of cross-platform mobile app development?
Cross-platform development helps create cost-effective apps quickly. They help businesses reach a wider audience and improve brand visibility.
How do I build cross-platform mobile applications?
You can create high-performance cross-platform apps quickly using a cross-platform app development framework, such as RAD Studio or Delphi. These frameworks offer a single codebase for multiple platforms.
What are the best frameworks for cross-platform mobile app development?
Some of the best cross-platform development frameworks include RAD Studio, Delphi, React Native, and Ionic. These frameworks help save time and reduce development costs.
Why not download a free trial of RAD Studio today and see how it can bring your cross platform development ideas to life!
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