We rely on apps for everything. From our homes to our workplaces, and even when we're relaxing and watching our favorite shows, there seems to be an app that accompanies us everywhere we go. Whether we're using laptops, tablets, mobile phones, or even wearables, we can easily access these applications.
How An App is Developed?
The apps that we use every day are a result of the hard work of developers who bring the ideas of a business or an individual to life. The process begins with an idea, which is then transformed into a set of features and designs. It is the job of the developers to turn these features and designs into fully functioning apps.
Until 2011, apps were developed separately for different platforms. The process of app development changed with the introduction of Xamarain.
What is Cross-Platform App Development?
Cross-platform App development is nothing but developing the app for several platforms like Apple, Linux, Windows, and Android simultaneously. There are several platforms available in the market, that can help developers in creating an app. Let us take a look at some of the best cross-platform app development frameworks.
Best Cross-Platform App Development Frameworks in 2024
According to Statista, when it comes to cross-platform app development flutter is the developer’s choice.
With its unique set of features, Flutter has redefined the way developers build cross-platform applications. With Flutter, developers have access to a powerful toolset that allows them to create high-quality, visually engaging, and highly responsive applications that work seamlessly across multiple platforms.
Top Features Of Flutter
Single Codebase, Multiple Platforms:
This feature is one of the best of Flutter. It allows developers to use a single codebase for both iOS and Android platforms, which reduces development time and effort and ensures a consistent user experience across devices.
Expressive UI with Widgets:
Flutter's user interface is created using a set of customizable widgets that not only look good but also contribute to a responsive and fluid user experience.
Hot Reload functionality is one of Flutter’s top features. Developers can instantly view the impact of code changes in real time, allowing for quick iterations and efficient debugging.
High Performance with Dart:
Flutter uses the Dart programming language, known for its performance optimization. The framework compiles Dart code to native ARM code, resulting in faster execution and reduced startup times.
Custom Animations and Motion:
Flutter helps developers create captivating and interactive user experiences with its robust support for custom animations and motion. The framework allows for the smooth implementation of intricate animations, enhancing the overall visual appeal of applications.
Top Companies That Use Flutter
- Google – Flutter was developed by Google. Google uses it in its products like Google Pay, Google Ads, and Google Stadia.
- Ebay Motors – As a part of Ebay, this app helps them in selling vehicles and accessories.
- Tencent – They’re one of China’s biggest enterprises. They have used Flutter for various apps including DingDang, AITeacher, K12, and much more.
Cons of Flutter
- Large App Size – Flutter apps tend to have a larger file size compared to native applications. This is primarily due to the inclusion of the Flutter engine in the final binary.
- Limited Third-Party Libraries – Although Flutter has a growing ecosystem of packages and plugins, it may not have the same breadth and maturity as some native platforms.
React Native is another cross-platform framework that developers around the world. It is an open-source framework created by meta platforms. This framework allows developers to create apps for Android, Android TV, macOS, tvOS, Windows, etc.
Top Features Of React Native:
Same as Flutter, React Native also has a Hot Reload feature that allows developers to see the immediate results of code changes without restarting the application.
React Native follows a component-based architecture, which means developers can create modular and reusable UI components.
React Native bridges the gap between web and native development by using native components. This ensures that the applications built with React Native have a performance comparable to those developed using native languages providing a close native experience to users.
Third-Party Plugin Integration:
React Native allows seamless integration of third-party plugins and modules, enhancing the functionality of the applications. The extensive ecosystem of libraries and plugins ensures that developers have access to a wide range of tools and functionalities.
Top Companies That Use React Native
- Facebook – Introduced by Facebook, the Facebook App is built with React Native.
- Instagram – Owned by Facebook, the app was transitioned to React Native 2016.
- Uber Eats – Uber Eats gives different dashboards to its users with the help of React Native.
Cons Of React Native
- Release Cycle Dependency – React Native's updates may introduce breaking changes, and staying up-to-date with the latest version might require adjustments to the codebase.
- Lack of Support for Some Native Features – React Native might not fully support certain advanced native features or APIs immediately after their release. Developers may need to wait for updates.
Top Features Of Ionic
Ionic comes with a rich library of pre-built UI components and elements that follow the native design guidelines of popular mobile platforms. This ensures a consistent and native-like user experience across different devices.
Ionic integrates with Apache Cordova, a platform for building native mobile applications using web technologies. This integration allows Ionic apps to access native device features and APIs, such as cameras, geolocation, and sensors, enhancing the app's functionality.
Ionic is built on top of Angular, a powerful and widely used web application framework. The integration with Angular provides developers with a robust structure for building scalable and maintainable applications.
Themability and Customization:
Developers can easily customize the appearance of Ionic apps using CSS and pre-built themes. This flexibility allows for branding and theming to match the visual identity of the application or the client's requirements.
Live Reload and Debugging:
Ionic also comes with live reload and debugging features like Flutter and React Native. Additionally, debugging tools are available to facilitate the identification and resolution of issues.
Top Companies That Use Ionic
- Southwest Airlines – They have created an app with Ionic, to create a for new hires, helping them provide quality service.
- Sanvello – A top mental health app that’s built with Ionic.
- Instantpop – A recipe finding, and grocery listing app is completely built on Ionic.
Cons Of Ionic
- Performance Issues – Ionic uses web view to run hybrid applications. This may cause performance issues and might be slower than native apps.
- Debugging tools – Though there are several tools available for browser tools when it comes to debugging native features, there are only a few tools.
Xamarin is another popular framework that enables developers to build native mobile applications using the C# programming language. It was acquired by Microsoft in 2016. The framework's main advantage is that developers can write code once and deploy it on multiple platforms, including iOS, Android, and Windows.
Top Features Of Xamarain
Xamarin.Forms is a UI toolkit that enables the creation of shared user interfaces for Android, iOS, and Windows apps. It allows developers to design a single, shared UI that adapts to the native look and feel of each platform, while still maintaining code reusability.
Integrated with Visual Studio:
Xamarin seamlessly integrates with Microsoft's Visual Studio, providing a familiar and powerful development environment for C# developers. This integration streamlines the development process, offering features like code completion, debugging, and a rich set of tools.
Xamarin provides access to a vast set of cross-platform APIs that simplify the implementation of common functionalities across different platforms. This ensures consistency in-app behavior while still allowing developers to leverage platform-specific features when needed.
Xamarin.Essentials is a library that simplifies the implementation of common device functionalities. This helps developers save time by providing a unified API for these features across platforms.
Xamarin supports data binding, which simplifies the process of connecting application UI with data sources. This feature enhances the separation of concerns in the code, making it easier to manage and update the user interface based on changes in the underlying data.
Top Apps Built With Xamarain
- Fresh Direct – A top online grocery delivery app in the USA.
- UPS – United Parcel Services (UPS) uses an Xmamarain-based app, which helps its customers manage shipments, track parcels, etc.
- Alaska Airlines – They have created a complete traveling app with the help of Xamarain.
Cons Of Xamarain
- Limited Access – Xamarain relies on the platform and open-source libraries for elements. It also has limited access to third-party libraries, so developers have to spend time creating elements.
- Not Suitable For Heavy Graphics – If your app requires heavy graphics and lot of user interactions, then Xamarain may not be useful for you.
Top Features Cordova
Web Technologies Integration:
Cordova supports a robust plugin architecture, allowing developers to extend the functionality of their applications by integrating native device features.
Continuous Integration (CI) Support:
Cordova is compatible with continuous integration practices, allowing developers to automate the build and testing processes. This ensures the reliability and stability of the application throughout its development lifecycle.
Integration with Popular Frameworks:
Cordova can be easily integrated with popular web development frameworks such as Angular, React, and Vue.js. This flexibility allows developers to leverage their preferred frameworks and build feature-rich applications.
Top Apps And Businesses That Use Cordova
- Walmart – Walmart uses Cordova in their tech stack, to make sure their website is fast.
- Just Watch – A popular streaming guide app is completely built with Cordova.
- Fan React – A popular social media app for following sports teams, is built with Cordova.
Cons Of Cordova
- Cannot Handle Huge Data – If you are creating an app that uses lots of data, then Cordova is not suitable for your app.
- Limited UI features – If your app requires a lot of animations and components, then Cordova may not be the suitable option for you!
Kotlin has emerged as a programming language that not only seamlessly integrates with Java but also brings a plethora of modern features to the table.
Kotlin reduces boilerplate code significantly. With concise syntax and expressive language features, developers can achieve more with fewer lines of code. This not only enhances readability but also boosts productivity.
Interoperability with Java:
One of Kotlin's strengths lies in its interoperability with Java. Existing Java code can be easily integrated into Kotlin projects, and vice versa. This makes it an excellent choice for projects transitioning from Java or those that require collaboration between Java and Kotlin codebases.
Kotlin tackles the NullPointerException issue by incorporating null safety features. The type system distinguishes between nullable and non-nullable types, reducing the chances of null pointer exceptions. This helps in writing more robust and reliable code.
Kotlin introduces smart casts, enabling automatic casting of types after a type check. This eliminates the need for explicit casting, making the code cleaner and more concise. Developers can focus on the logic without getting bogged down by unnecessary type-checking rituals.
Extension functions allow developers to augment existing classes with new functionalities without modifying their source code. This promotes a clean and modular code structure, enhancing code maintainability and readability.
Top Apps Built With Kotlin
- Pinterest – A leading photo-sharing app, that is completely built with Kotlin.
- Coursera – One of the best e-learning apps, available worldwide partially relies on Kotlin.
- Uber – One of the renowned on-demand app service providers, relies on Kotlin to serve its customers.
Cons Of Kotlin
- Compilation Speed – Even though Kotlin is on par with Java when it comes to performance, at some compilations it might be slower.
- Very less Sources – Though Kotlin is a beginner-friendly language, there are very less sources available to learn Kotlin, which might make it difficult for young developers to learn it.
Why Should You Consider Cross-Platform Development?
Imagine you have a brilliant idea for a mobile application, and you decide to develop it exclusively for Android devices. Let's assume the app receives a great response from your customers, and they truly appreciate its features and user experience.
However, a competitor or an individual may take inspiration from your app and develop a similar one with additional features for platforms like iOS, Windows, macOS, and Linux by using cross-platform development. This could potentially attract a larger audience who do not use Android devices. If these users become accustomed to the additional features provided by your competitor's app, they may be less likely to switch to your app even if you release it later. Therefore, it is crucial to consider cross-platform development from the outset to ensure that your app can cater to a wider audience and remain competitive in the long run.
To Conclude, an app is something we all use daily. Cross-platform app development, allows you to create the app for multiple platforms, and help in reaching it for everyone. The above-listed