Cross-Platform Application Development: how to make the right choice?

Homepage Cross-Platform Application Development: how to make the right choice?

In today’s market mobile device and desktop users have a wide choice of operating systems. They’ll run Android and iOS and choose between Windows, MacOS and Linux, but not matter what they choose, they’ll still demand that your application run on their device.

In the past supporting a user base with diverse tastes in device and OS might mean hiring a development team to build a native application for every use case. Mobile application firms would hire and resource an iOS development team and then, as their application gained steam, hire an Android team, too. On the desktop developers might start by developing their application for the small but lucrative MacOS market before expanding to target the larger enterprise and consumer markets using Microsoft Windows. There was a lot of duplicated work, inefficiency reigned, and costs rose as teams kept native application releases in sync across platforms.

More recently, though, the possibility to embrace a cross-platform application development strategy has allowed app developers to reduce their costs and lift their efficiency, and all while maintaining a consistent user interface and experience across platforms. As interest in cross-platform development rises, what should you consider before adopting a cross-platform development approach? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this approach, and what app development framework should be on your radar?

Read on for Witekio’s short introduction to making the right cross-platform application development choice for your company.

Native vs. Cross-Platform Application Development

Despite the popularity of cross-platform development, there remain some good reasons to consider native development options.

For one, native applications don’t suffer from the same third-party dependencies as cross-platform applications. As a result, they generally suffer fewer performance issues and users praise the lower memory and lighter weight native applications that demand less memory and less computing power to run. Overall, native applications represent the lower-risk option in terms of reliability and plenty of leading mobile applications have been developed natively in the past for this reason.

However, there are some significant drawbacks to selecting a native application development approach, too.

1/ First and foremost, every operating system demands its own software development team. For mobile users this would normally mean at least one Android and one iOS team, while for desktop applications it might mean separate Windows, MacOS, and Linux teams, depending on the application and its intended user base.

2/ Second, developers building native applications in parallel will necessarily be duplicating their work. Every feature, design update, and every user test will need to be duplicated to ensure that the parallel native apps are working as designed.

As a result, this concurrent development model is automatically more expensive for the company. Instead of employing a single, cross-platform development team, the company needs to employ two teams, budget adequate resources to support both, and expend twice the time and money they would otherwise need to.

In the face of such costs and after weighing the pros and cons, it’s little surprise that most application development teams are concluding that choosing the cross-platform alternative is their preferred application development model.

Cross-Platform Development Frameworks

There are several cross-platform development frameworks available to companies seeking to build applications ready to deploy on every device and operating system. Both React Native and Flutter have fans, as do older cross-platform frameworks like Phone Gap. A couple, stand out from the others for their wide support and active development community.

Xamarin is a Microsoft-backed cross-platform development framework. Xamarin extends the .NET developer platform with tools and libraries in C# specifically for building apps for platforms including Android, iOS, Windows, and MacOS.

Ionic is an open-source software development kit, or SDK, that enables developers to build from common web frameworks, such as Angular, React or Vue.js, and produce mobile or desktop applications that are responsive, cross-platform and with native interfaces.

Flutter is an open-source framework developed by Google that allows you to design multi-platform applications from the same “codebase” with performance close to native applications.

Qt is a solution that lets you connect the dots across platforms and between online and physical experience. it is used to create native embedded, desktop and mobile applications.

Witekio engineers have extensive experience working with both Xamarin and Ionic and a track record of helping clients deploy cross-platform applications built on these frameworks. At L’Oréal, for example, Witekio engineers were challenged to develop a cloud-connected solution for Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 that could also be ported directly to iOS. The Xamarin based solution was able to be deployed on Windows machines as well as Apple iPads in Lancôme stores where it allowed for the control of the company’s overall Le Teint Particulier process from skin scanning to personalized makeup dispensing.

The Witekio Process

With extensive experience in cross-platform application development, Witekio applies a four-step process to ensure customer needs are understood and expectations are met

1/ The first point of contact is generally a member of the Sales Team. In this first step the client explains the general outline of their project and the Witekio Salesperson asks initial screening questions to connect the client with the most appropriate architect.

2/ The second step involves the Software Architect connecting with the client in order to align on three key areas. First, to fully understand the needs of the client and the use case for the application. Second, to understand the client’s own expertise, in-house development experience, budgets and constraints. Third and finally, the Architect advises the client on the best framework for their project based on their needs, desires, and the eventual use case.

3/ The third step involves the Architect working in collaboration with Witekio’s UX Designers to develop a project price estimate for the development of the cross-platform application. This is delivered to the client and, upon agreement.

4/ The fourth stage – development of the cross-platform application itself – is begun.

System Design

At Witekio we’ve been designing, developing, and delivering custom embedded software for the industry for as long as it has existed. From consulting services to architecture, IoT solutions, embedded software development to application and GUI builds, our teams offer a complete and customized software development services.

Embedded Software Development Services

Our embedded software services run from low-level development to mobile applications. We have an experienced full-stack development team as well as experts in low level (BSP, drivers, firmware), middleware (OS, connectivity), and embedded software development (Linux and more).

UX Design: Our User Centric Approach

our engineers help guide you in defining and designing your software architecture, so your product meets the expectations of your customers and end-users, as well as your own. Whatever your device and innovation, your software choices are critical to the success of your innovation.

Léo Derossis - Software engineer
07 January 2022