When to Go Hybrid, Native or Cross-Platform for Mobile Application Development

Among the joys and discomforts of being a software developer is choosing the right tools for the task. Technology moves so quickly, and daily there are new frameworks and libraries being shown the world to help you do your task much better. You would believe this would always be an advantage, however choices can be hard. The best you can do is make the best options with the information you have, which information is constantly changing. We are going to have a look at some of the leading techniques that might be able to assist you create your mobile applications a little more efficiently.

We will now discuss that what a cross-platform mobile application is, which cross-platform frameworks and engines are most popular now, how they vary from the native apps for iOS or Android, and when it is not necessary to hang around on establishing a cross-platform.

Before we begin the argument on the subject of cross-platform development we need to ensure that we plainly understand the distinction in between cross-platform frameworks and native development. For simplicity, we will project the process of establishing cross-platform applications and compare it with the development of native applications for iOS. So, what is the hidden meaning behind these terms?


Native Applications

If we talk about the development of mobile applications for Apple iOS, than a native application will be the solution developed using the programming language Objective-C or Swift (Apple programming language for developing applications for iOS and OS X, provided at WWDC 2014), within an integrated development environment Xcode.

From a user point of view, the native application does not vary from the high-quality cross-platform application, however it’s worth noting that native applications developed for a certain mobile operating system, generally have an easy to use (native) interface. Convenience lies in the fact that throughout the development of native applications the lot of UI/UX specialist and a programmer is most effective: the designer knows precisely what UI approaches are usual for users of a certain os (e.g. the “Back” button and bottom Tab Bar in iOS) and iOS developer knows exactly the best ways to execute certain UI functions for Apple mobile phones. As a result, the user opens a native app and intuitively communicates with the new user interface.


Cross-platform Mobile Applications

It is very important to comprehend why the application is called cross-platform. The reality is that self-executable file assembled for one mobile platform can not be introduced in the other operating system. So if we develop a cross-platform solution and compile it for Android, it does not indicate that we can take a file with the extension *. apk and run it on iPad. The idea of cross-platform solutions is not in its usability, but in the optimization of mobile application development process. For that reason, cross-platform application is a solution developed to decrease development efforts by putting together the source code for further execution on numerous mobile platforms. However the result of each separate compilation will be a specific executable file. For instance, iOS executable file has.ipa extension, and for Android it is *. apk, etc.


Hybrid Applications

Usually this is an application developed using web technologies, instead of native development environment (ex. a lot of Xcode and Objective-C in case of establishing iOS app). The result is a web application that runs in a “wrapper” and serves not as a web page, but as a standalone application. It needs no installation and has a separate icon. Hybrid options are rather popular among developers of cross-platform engines. It is caused by that practically any mobile os can similarly manage the function of a web internet browser, which means if the application is currently running under any mobile OS, then there will not be any difficulty to run it on the other OS.


Background to the Rise of Cross-platform Solutions

What tasks can be addressed with cross-platform engines? Why someone chose that it makes sense? If you ask a Java-developer for Android or Objective-C developer for iOS what they think of cross-platform structures for mobile platforms, in many cases you will get a plainly negative response.

The main factor for such response is that excellent developers, like other specialists, are very sensitive to the concept of development, efficiency and efficiency; every of them has his own vision of “what is good and what is bad?”, however usually it is all about technology set that use, care and treasure. It is important to comprehend that not every developer can sacrifice programming love and make an unbiased evaluation of what is really helpful for business at a certain moment. In general it takes place that the budget decides everything, so the basic background for the introduction of cross-platform options was their benefits to business, namely:

  • While developing a mobile application for 2-3 mobile OSs using a cross-platform framework, the majority of the code can be written by someone. Hence you eliminate a need for full-time developers for every single OS;
  • Absence of skilled native iOS, Android, Windows and other popular mobile OS developers;
  • Relative ease of control of correspondence in between the app versions for different mobile os.


Many Popular Cross-platform Frameworks

It is very important to understand that there are numerous reasons one developer chooses this or other platform. For instance, RubyOnRails developer will hardly develop a mobile app using Xamarin, since most likely he would have restricted or no development experience in C #. But if Xamarin will be in hands of a seasoned C # developer, the customer will certainly get an application for Android and iOS that is extremely competitive with a native app.

On the other hand, despite the fact that the team has at least 2-3 knowledgeable C # developers, Xamarin can be pricey in application paving the way to much cheaper PhoneGap. Because PhoneGap can end up being a great alternative for jobs that do not require any special graphics and hardware handling of devices, and are planned just as MVP prototypes to test business design and should be carried out within an extremely limited budget. Another rather vital specification is the price to access the development environment in a certain framework.

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