Cross-platform App Development – Should Startups Invest in it or Not?
- by Pratik Patel
- 18 minutes read
- 37.0k Views
One of the most difficult challenges for startups is determining the best mode and method for app development, which clouds their judgment of what is best for their business. Cross-platform app development and native app development are the routes of confusion.
As you already know the app plays quite an important role to beef up the online presence of the business, discussing its mobile app development process is something we might not consider doing a detailed analysis for.
Here our topic is to know whether startups should opt for cross-platform app development or not, let’s see what conclusion we reach.
Here we are going to state every vital thing that is related to cross-platform app development to realize if it’s worth giving a shot for startups or not. Let’s begin:
What is Cross-platform App Development?
Cross-platform app development is the process of developing an application that can run on multiple operating systems like iOS, Android, Linux, etc. Such kinds of applications are not limited to a single platform.
In cross-platform app development, developers need to write code only once which can be used multiple times which makes the process of creating cross-platform quite easier and quicker.
The Current Scenario of Cross-platform App Development
- According to Statista’s report, global developers conducted a survey in 2021, and over six in 10 respondents reported targeting web and Windows for cross-platform software development. Approximately 53% of respondents reported targeting Linux, while 47% reported making multi-platform software for Android.
- In 2021, Flutter was the most prevalent cross-platform mobile framework used by global developers, according to a 2021 developer survey done by Statista. Based on the survey, 42% of software developers used Flutter.
Why Do Most Startups Choose Cross-Platform Over Native App Development?
Here are the top 7 reasons why startups generally prefer cross-platform app development over native app development, let’s check them out:
1. Multi-platform support
This is the most prominent feature of cross-platform: multi-platform support. As a startup, you certainly want your product or application to reach as many users as possible.
With cross-platform app development, it’s quite possible as it gives you the flexibility to launch your app on multiple platforms/ operating systems so that it becomes easier for the users to find your app be it any platform they are using: Android, iOS, Linux, and so on.
2. Perfect for releasing MVP (minimum viable product)
Technology experts always advise launching startups their MVP at first as it involves minimal risk factors. Startups have the advantage of cross-platform app development as it is known to be an ideal choice when it comes to minimum viable products.
Moreover, you can always add more features to your MVP to make it customized for users after a specific period of time by taking care of what your audience wants from your app.
Learn in detail about how Flutter is an ideal choice for MVP development
3. Customized experience with a simple backend architecture
Yet another reason why startups delightfully opt for cross-platform development is the flexibility it offers. Developers can offer a native experience with cross-platform app development, and that too with a simple backend architecture.
A ting of extra effort in creating a seamless design interface will result in a smooth user experience because of stunning UI design and functionality.
4. Easy to code
Cross-platform app development is highly popular due to its native-like-app experience regardless of its simple infrastructure.
It has come a long way as startups are enjoying its experience, and of course, they will, who would deny the option that allows you to cut short the process of coding every time you want to launch your product or app on a different operating system?
In a nutshell, cross-platform app development is a win-win solution for startups.
5. Oodles of development tools are available
Cross-platform app development is a vast concept. It has a large number of development tools and frameworks available like Flutter, React Native, Kotlin, Ionic, and so on, accessible to be used.
With these tools and frameworks, developers can create stunning UI designs keeping the app’s functionality smooth with the help of available toolkits. So, cross-platform app development becomes comparatively easier than native one.
6. Cross-platform apps can be upgraded easily and quickly
Cross-platform apps are quite easy to upgrade due to their speed and usability. The development tools of cross-platform have a major contribution as they allow the apps to translate the code in a pretty simple way. This also guarantees that the program is updated automatically through the internet.
7. Simple integration
This is the second big reason behind the popularity of cross-platform applications in the IT industry. Cross-platform apps are easily able to be integrated with other apps.
As cross-platform apps effortlessly associate with the device’s framework climate, customers do not get to experience the smallest of creaks thus they get to obtain a fruitful and smooth experience.
When Should Startups Consider Using Cross-platform Application Development?
Opting for cross-platform app development would be your best decision if obtaining reach is your prime focus. With cross-platform app development, you can obtain the expected reach as your app is accessible on multiple platforms.
So users will surely get an equally awesome experience even though the operating systems are different.
This especially makes sense if the startups have just started with their project and it is only in the discovery phase and it could be probably scaled in the future if it gets anticipated audience reach.
Still, I would like to mention the following instances where cross-platform app development would fit unquestionably:
- When you have to release a mobile application for multiple platforms but you are pressed by time. Also, you do not have sufficient resources and funding.
- When your target audience is both Android and iOS app users.
- If the case of quicker app development is your priority.
- When you want to create simple applications that have specified functionalities and features.
- When you prefer only a single codebase for the application logic while taking whole control over user interface elements. Only some cross-platform frameworks like Kotlin Multiplatform enable you to implement this.
- When you believe in upgrading your application on specific durations and not stuffing your app with complex features at the time of its launch.
- When you are supposed to create MVP i.e minimum viable product quickly. When it comes to developing an MVP and testing hypotheses, cross-platform development is an ideal choice as it’s quite faster in terms of implementation.
- If you do not have sufficient resources. With cross-platform development, you can manage to have a single team working on the development process as there is no need to recreate code for different operating systems.
Top 5 Best Cross-platform App Development Frameworks
These are the top 5 cross-platform app development frameworks that have been widely used in this whole year 2022 so far:
Flutter is the creation of Google and it has achieved great success and praise in such a short period of time. Recently, Google has gifted yet another solid upgraded version of Flutter which is Flutter 3 which is already winning hearts in the IT industry.
Flutter merges the plus points of both cross-platform and native approaches, which have been relished by many giant labels like Alibaba, Hamilton, Phillips, Hue, Dixie Group, and other popular businesses.
React Native is launched by Facebook that is eligible for supporting operating systems like iOS, macOS, Apple tvOS, Android tvOS, Android, Android TV, Web Windows, Web, and UWP. With this cross-platform framework, you are allowed to offer equally awesome experiences.
Moreover, this technology also allows you to work with the React library outside the browser in order to develop native applications with full access to system API platforms.
You can also refer to this article if you are confused about choosing between React Native and Flutter.
Xamarin, yet another apt framework for cross-platform applications, is an open-source platform that is an ideal choice for developing highly scalable applications for iOS, Android, and Windows with .NET.
This framework enables you to use at least 90% of the application code, that too without having you modify it across platforms. In Xamarin, you are able to write business logic in a single language without compromising on the interface, behavior, and performance characteristics of the mandated operating system (OS).
Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile
Kotlin Multiplatform lets you use a single source code for the subject area of the logic of Android and iOS applications. The only time the specific platform code is required is when you are working with platform-specific APIs to develop your user interface.
Ionic is one of the most popular cross-platform mobile app frameworks that is based on AngularJS. It allows developers to develop a stunning and creative user interface by adding user-friendly features to the application.
Apps developed with this framework are quite interactive and offer a native-like experience, making Ionic a perfect technology for progressive web app development as well.
Top 5 Benefits of Cross-platform App Development
Refer to these top benefits of cross-platform app development, especially for startups:
A single code can be used again on multiple platforms
Using the same code again is the biggest reason why cross-platform app development is quite popular in the mobile app development industry. As mentioned above, in cross-platform app development, developers can use the same code for multiple platforms.
Cross-platform app development is budget-friendly
Cross-platform app development is proven to be budget-friendly as well when it comes to comparing the same with native app development.
As you can see in cross-platform app development, developers do not really have to toil to create a whole new code for every platform they want to launch their application on, so this saves a whole lot of time and money. It’s ultimately a pretty budget-friendly option.
It does not take much time to become popular in the market
Cross-platform app development is simultaneously launched on multiple platforms/operating systems, which means the audience of the respective platform will be aware of the new app in the market.
It shows up quickly in the market
This benefit is inevitable when it comes to cross-platform app development. When the app developers do not have to create a whole new code for every platform they are planning to launch their app on, it’s clear that they will be saving a lot of time. This will ultimately help them launch their application quickly in the market.
While you are launching your application, you first need to be assured that you will be getting an expected amount of ROI in return, after all, expecting profit is inevitable. In such scenarios, cross-platform app development is the best option to go for.
With cross-platform app development, you are able to target the audience of both iOS and Android which will have you rest assured that you have managed to cover them all.
Whereas in native applications, if you want to target the audience of both iOS and Android users, then you have to create a whole new design interface and code again.
That’s why cross-platform app development is your go-to option for startups.
3 Key Drawbacks of Cross-platform App Development
Certain limitations of cross-platform app development that you need to refer to for a better understanding of cross-platform apps:
Not as faster as native applications
The code in cross-platform application development is more complicated, as it contains native and non-native components, which can result in unsatisfactory performance.
It’s quite possible to have limited functionality as it’s a cross-platform app and not native. When you are opting for cross-platform app development, your priorities and expectations should align with cross-platform’s features and capabilities.
Cross-platform applications are not in line with the application’s UI at times. This can result in a poor user experience.
7 Excellent Tips for Creating a Cross-platform App
Here are some on-point tips that can help you develop your cross-platform application seamlessly:
1. Go for platform-oriented development
Generally, developers tend to focus on creating applications keeping a single platform in mind. And, they often do test the application on a single OS/platform.
For bringing up the solution to this issue, cross-platform mobile app development should help software engineers create the application in the same way it helps create web service. This results in a robust structure for all the platforms if developers have the flexibility of using an independent programming module to set up the app.
2. Take care of the visual appeal
Needless to say that app functionality is the most important element that drives users, but visuals are also something to be considered when it comes to offering a good user experience. That does not mean you have to fill the app’s UI with fancy stuff; visuals have to be aesthetic and not fancy.
The UI should be consistent throughout, users should not be feeling muddled while interacting with the application.
You can have some variations added into the UI for the respective platform by keeping the core of your brand intact. Meaning, users should feel that they are interacting with the same app but with a different approach.
3. Take care of UI guidelines with respect to the platform’s core functionality
Taking this point into consideration is critically important, many times developers fail to develop apps that are in line with the UI of the respective platform.
The solution is to take care of separate UI guidelines for each and every platform you are supposed to launch the app on.
The developer’s responsible for being familiar with the UI of every single platform before starting the cross-platform app development process. Having referred to the UI guidelines makes a developer shrewd enough to understand how the user will interact with the design. Thus, it becomes quite a simple task to develop the app when the developer has studied the guidelines well.
4. Have the Designers’ opinions as well
While you are in the process of referring to the user guidelines, involving designers in the same can help you conduct the process more effectively.
Being designers, they have in-depth ideas and knowledge of user experience, hence implementing their opinions will reflect a great impact on your development process. Their suggestions can bring a huge difference in the app development process.
5. Always opt for robust and reliable cross-platform app modules
You will find multiple benefits of using a cross-platform app development process to streamline your development process. Application modules are mainly known for helping developers save a whole lot of time for different engines along with giving extensive exposure to native SDKs.
Also, modules are a good source of obtaining quality information related to your app development process.
Moreover, third-party modules can be a way of molding UX through diverse platforms. These modules help developers save ample time and effort as they have their own comprehensive toolsets. Opting for a reliable app module offers flexibility to add new features to the app.
6. Have your app tested
If it’s cross-platform app development then developers create all the same elements for every engine and add particular features with respect to the engine at the same time, well it is not a surprise.
Thus, if the developers are making the application compatible with all the engines or platforms then testing the app to check the compatibility is quite necessary.
Conducting this step in the process of developing the app gives you a bird’s-eye view of how your app will look like.
7. Consider the user on a prior note
Whether you are a native mobile app developer or a cross-platform app developer, the user should be your prime focus.
You need to understand what users are expecting from your app and manage to develop the same accordingly. Cross-platform application is available on multiple platforms, but their flexibility and customization are not up to what native apps offer.
Here the challenge for cross-platform developers is to develop an app that does not necessarily have to be a replica of a native app but is at least near to the same.
In a nutshell, understanding users’ requirements can help you focus easily on the elements that call for prior action.
Which One is the Winner? Native App or Cross Platform App – a Brief Comparison
Finally, here we are! Although I have already helped you with every minor detail that seems to be advantageous to startups, I would like to add a few more points that will help you decide better.
1 . Overall budget for development
Generally, startups’ biggest constraint is the budget; here cross-platform application is the clear winner. We have already discussed that cross-platform app development does not let you code for every specific platform, the same code works for every platform with some minor implementations.
So, startups do not have to worry about the budget as they have the option of cross-platform app development to acquire.
2. Performance efficiency
Mobile apps that demand high computing requirements like mobile games, these applications call for seamless integration and smooth performance. In such cases, native app development seems to fit well with the requirements.
Not that cross-platform applications are less performant; cross-platform app development can also be used for such complex apps. But, again, it calls for ample effort and time to optimize it. Native applications only work for a single operating system, but, since the developers work in accordance with the particular platform, efficiency and performance are guaranteed.
3. Market reach
This is a general concern for startups and new product lines. Startups are always concerned about the uncertainty of their product’s success. But cross-platform app development makes things easier as the app is now on multiple platforms, so the app won’t take slower to be widespread amongst its users.
Moreover, unlike native app development, startups do not have to invest huge amounts of money into the development process so the issues related to the budget do not hinder, too.
So, cross-platform app development is the clear winner here.
4. Robust Security
The matter of security should be taken into account from the very first stage of the app development process as it questions the competence of businesses if they fail to take care of security issues. Especially when you are providing mobile app development services for cybersecurity or banking applications for that matter.
Again, native applications are the accurate fit here as they have in-built security features apart from file encryption and intelligent fraud detection with the help of specific OS libraries.
Native apps should be the first choice here as they provide on-point security, stability, and scalability.
Winding it up here
Finally, after a comprehensive discussion, here we are reaching the conclusion that cross-platform app development is the perfect choice for startups. Especially when startups need to fix the issues related to high-budget and app marketing as cross-platform takes care of it all.
MindInventory has a dedicated team of Flutter, iOS, and React Native app developers that can help you create a highly efficient application for your startup to lead the industry in the coming years.
FAQs for Cross-platform App Development
The cost of developing a cross-platform mobile application relies on many factors like app complexity, features and functionalities, app design, geographic locations of developers, developers’ skills, experience, and so on, whether it’s for one platform or more than one platform. But you can obtain detailed information about the cost factor through reliable IT assistance and get the proper budget estimation with an apt plan.
Java, Dart, Objective-C, Swift, and, C# are the most popular cross-platform app development languages.
Hybrid apps have a finite access to device and OS features. Cross-platform has boundaries but less than Hybrid. However, it relies on the framework you opt for.