Understanding The Cross-Platform App Development Approach

The cross-platform approach for mobile app development can have some advantages over the traditional native platform approach. Learn the pro's and con's to decide which method is best for your mobile app development plan.

December 10, 2021
Understanding The Cross-Platform App Development Approach

Unlike the early days of mobile devices, apps now need to be designed with more than one platform in mind. At a minimum, mobile apps should be compatible with Apple’s App Store and Google Play. While it's a necessary aspect of the evolving digital landscape, it can be a costly adjustment due to the  many differences between Apple and Google,

To tackle the challenges of developing two completely different apps in the native platforms, developers are now opting for the cross-platform approach. A cross-platform approach can make it easier to work on apps published on both iOS and Android. It's also much more cost-effective than developing completely separate mobile apps. But, as with any shortcut to complex problems, the cross-platform approach comes with its own set of drawbacks. This blog outlines the basics of the cross-platform approach and discusses why more developers have adopted it as their primary method of app development.

Challenges of the Cross-Platform Mobile App Development 

While the cross-platform approach is designed to address key issues of the native approach, it's not a perfect solution. It's come a long way from when it was first conceptualized, so if you looked into this approach a few years ago- be aware of its evolution. Most notably, the approach is now much more flexible and powerful than its earlier versions. But, there are pain points that haven’t been worked out. 

Some specific issues the cross-platform approach may have include:

  • They aren’t as adept at communicating as an app that is made on the native platform.
  • They tend to have more “glitches” and overall weaker performance, so more testing is required prior to the launch of the app. 
  • They can be more difficult when it comes to maintaining cross-compliance over the different platforms and operating systems. 

Additionally, more security issues may arise when trying to develop apps that are functional across platforms. For example, if an app is storing user data where a business manages part of its internal work, that data could be potentially compromised. 

Some of these issues have the potential to be serious, but there are ways to minimize the problem through good business best practices and robust testing. At the end of the day, the pros can outweigh the cons for a lot of companies. Choosing whether to take the cross-platform approach vs. the native should be decided on a case-by-case basis. 

Benefits of Cross-Platform Mobile App Development 

The cross-platform framework was designed to be compatible and cross-functional across the changing platform landscape. The competition between mobile apps has and will continue to grow, and this approach can mitigate the need to develop an entirely new app to reach a new target audience. It may have some kinks to work out, but there are a lot of positive considerations to take into account when deciding which approach is best for your mobile app development plan. Some of the benefits include:

It’s Cost-Effective

Developing a mobile app in a native platform may address some of the problems that come with the cross-platform approach but at a significantly higher cost.  It also means that most (if not all) of the hard work completed for the native-made app can’t be used for other platforms. Essentially, native apps require companies to pay twice for their audience. With a cross-platform approach, companies can pay once to create an app that will be able to reach their entire audience. So, if you’re really only focused on an audience within one platform-native could be a good choice for you. For apps that will be on several platforms (now or in the future), the cross-platform approach is a lot more cost-effective.  

It’s Quick to Develop and Easy to Maintain

Since the cross-platform approach creates compatibility across multiple platforms, as you’re working through the different stages of development you are making the same amount of progress for all platforms. There will be some specific changes for iOS and Android to ensure proper communication with the different components, but most of the code can be applied for all platforms. 

Cross-platform also builds a better foundation for maintaining and updating the mobile app. When changes are required, such as new laws, regulations, or technological advancements, it won’t take as long to make those changes. Working across multiple platforms at once for changes means you will be able to deliver a better product in a shorter amount of time. When a bug is reported by a user, for example, you can fix it in just one location as opposed to having to make edits in multiple native platforms. This is probably the biggest way that cross-platform saves on maintenance costs. 

It's Cloud Friendly

When an app is developed to work on multiple platforms, there’s a significant advantage when it comes to cloud integration. Cloud integration often encompasses numerous plugins to simplify the integration process, and with more universal coding, it is easier to find a quick and easy way to integrate a cross-platform app. This also means that the app will have greater scalability once it is integrated into the Cloud. 

It's Appearance is Consistent Across Platforms 

Every company has a brand, and your app is a part of your brand. Whether or not you’re intentionally building your brand, your customers are. Your images, fonts, voice, and products all represent who you are, and help your audience become familiar and comfortable with you. Working on a cross-platform approach can make your apps consistent, so users easily identify with you.  Tackling all of the platforms for the app also means that it will take less time to get the app to market. End-users won’t feel like preference is being given to one platform over another as all of your customers will have access to the app at the same time. 

Consistency is key. With a large number of users having devices that are on different platforms, the consistency between them will significantly improve the user experience. If customers customize the app on one platform, they won’t need to make changes for it to apply to their account on another device. This is a huge benefit to the end-user and saves a lot of their time.  Not only will it only take customers only one time to customize their app, but it will also look the same regardless of the device they are using.

Is Cross-Platform Approach Right For Your Mobile App?

There are a lot of elements that go into making an app, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Some apps are better when they are developed in the native platform, but for the majority of apps, the cross-platform approach makes a lot more sense. It not only saves time and money, but it also offers a more consistent experience regardless of which platform a customer uses. Ultimately, it is about knowing what your users want and how they are likely to interact with the app. 

Mobile App Development With Invemo LLC 

If you’re interested in developing a mobile app for your company, Invemo LLC can help! Named one of Los Angeles’s top app developers by Clutch, Invemo builds custom apps around brand narratives that deliver results. We also provide comprehensive consultations services throughout the process and can help you decide on an approach that fits the future of your app! For more information, contact one of our professionals today.