Cross-platform mobile development refers to the development of mobile apps that can be used on multiple mobile platforms. In native platform development, you need to develop the apps for iOS, Android, and Windows separately by multiplying the development efforts. Each platform requires it’s own separate development effort as the languages do not cross over.
Cross-platform mobile application development is no cakewalk for developers these days thanks to the amount of new mobile devices storming the market each day. Simultaneously, the market is building more and more development tools that can develop apps that can run on various mobile platforms.
In the near future, the need for such tools is anticipated to flourish by leaps and bounds as found by Gartner.
Xamarin enables you to develop native apps for various platforms like native iOS, Android, and Windows apps, with the aid of a single shared c# codebase. Unlike the common myth, Xamarin permits you to do anything in c# that can be done in Objective-C, Java or Swift. It allows you to use the same language, IDE, and API anywhere.
The Git integration is built straight into the Xamarin Studio. Through the company’s cloud service apps developed with Xamarin can be tested on hundreds of devices. Native API access, ability to add components directly from an interface, forms interfaces for sharing code, and integration with backends, such as Microsoft Azure, Parse, and SAP are some of the features offered by Xamarin.
- Its easy to market and cost-efficient
- The sample apps are written making it easy to use.
- It ensures seamless integration and also offers its Android emulator by its functionality of testing and quality assurance for numerous devices.
Cons: Because of compatibility issues, it has limitations of using several open-source libraries. A significant project cannot be developed with the free version.
Monocross is an open-source, cross-platform mobile framework that uses Microsoft.NET, C#. It enables you to create applications for Windows Phone, iPhones, iPads, Webkit-enabled devices and Android smartphones and tablets.
- While coding in C#, you get full access to native device APIs.
- You needn’t be aware of the low-level elaborations of all platforms as you get access to several APIs which are required to deploy your apps.
Cons: Limitations in terms availability of online resources for documentation and support can hinder the process of developing apps using Monocross.
RhoMobile Suite is based on the Rhodes framework. It comprises a band of tools for developing multi-platform, data-centered and native mobile consumer and enterprise applications. With the aid of RhoStudio, a free Eclipse plugin, developers can easily debug, generate, test and develop applications without the need for any hardware or emulator requirements.
- RhoElements offers Object Relational Mapper enabling automatic synchronization of the backend data and also features automatic data encryption
- To make offline data access available like Convertigo, RhoConnect allows developers to integrate offline data synchronization into apps.
Cons: Its RhoElements RFID plug-in for Windows Mobile/CE isn’t available free or as open source.
- A prototype can be built rapidly and efficiently to evaluate user interaction with UI.
- With Appcelerator, seamless integration can be done to existent continuous delivery systems like SCM and MDM solutions.
- It provides pre-built connectors available for MS Azure, MS SQL, Salesforce, MongoDB, Box, etc.
- It allows you to deploy data models with no setup efforts with the hof schema-less data store called ArrowDB.
Cons:The older version is said to be slow and filled with bugs and inadequate support from the developer’s community. The new version is comparatively more stable.
- You can exploit in-app, integrated payments via the App Store for iOS, the Google Play Store for Android and many other platforms.
- A single code base can be deployed to various platforms like Firefox OS, Android, BlackBerry, iOS, Windows Phone, etc.
- It follows a plugin-able architecture so that access to native device APIs and more can be extended in a modular way.
Cons:PhoneGap Apps that are highly graphical tend to show deficient performance. The quickly found plugins are either obsolete or unsupported based on the target platforms.
6. KONY MOBILE PLATFORM
Kony Mobility Platform is an integrated, cross-platform mobile app development platform that caters API connections, app preview facility, coding features and a lot of added features. Its apt for developing universal mobile applications.
- Perfect as a precursor for developers as it offers pre-built apps.
- Back End systems can be supported by the unified mobile infrastructure services provided by Kony Mobility Platform.
Cons:Limitation in documentation and support.
Codename One is a Cross-Platform Mobile App Development Tool which enables deep integration with the native platform with possible native speeds. Codename One enables easy usability and rapid application development. While coding in Java, Codename One’s simulator devices and test automation tools allow you to test and verify your application.
- The most common IDEs like NetBeans, IntelliJ IDEA, Eclipse, etc. are supported by Codename One.
- Codename One allows the UI to work seamlessly across all platforms due to its flexible architecture.
- Native iOS apps can be built without a Mac machine, and native Windows apps can be built without a Windows PC.
- It uses ParparVM which ensures compatibility with upcoming iOS versions as it uses the officially supported iOS toolchain.
Cons:It doesn’t cater to large projects like the Graphical UI Builder & default visual themes are naive. Maintaining a single file with all event handlers may seem difficult as projects scale increases.
- With its cross-platform Declarative UI support, you can use the apps UI once it is made on similar supported platforms.
- Angular.js 2 and TypeScript are aided with extensive embedded support.
- Together with complete accessibility to development libraries, apps have direct access to the Native APIs and use native components.
Cons: Multi-threading is a possible issue in the Native script that may be improved in later releases. There is a lack of in-depth examples and documentation on each of its feature.
Applying hardware acceleration techniques, Sencha Touch is a prominent cross-platform mobile web app framework which is used to build efficient applications. Sencha enables developers to create high-quality apps which are both well-tested and tightly-integrated UI components and libraries.
- The backend data package enables working with data sources.
- It caters to Android, iOS, BlackBerry, Windows Phone, and many other platforms.
- It supports PhoneGap/Cordova integration of native API access and packaging
- Suitable for major diverse platforms as it provides built-in native like themes.
Cons: Limitation in the availability of Native looking themes with complex commercial licensing structure.
Convertigo being an open-source software vendor that offers mobile enterprise application platform. The platform comprises four solutions namely Convertigo Cloud, Convertigo Studio, Convertigo Mobilizer and Convertigo Server.
- It allows connecting to enterprise data with a variety of connectors such as SQL databases or web services
- It lets you create business-driven events computed to notify users, even if the device is in standby mode
- Data can be accessed offline thanks to its full sync data replication feature.
- A diverse range of connectors such as web services or SQL databases allows linking to enterprise data.
- Notifications related to business-related events are not hindered when the device is in the standby mode.
Cons: Out of the 3 plans, Convertigo provides, the free plan only includes community support with no Fullsync offline data support.
Being in the market for years, with Version 3.0 of its SAP Mobile Platform, SAP enables cross-platform enterprise apps to be built from a single HTML5 codebase. SAP’s alliance with Cordova was done to intensively leverage Cordova.
Customers get to benefit as they can leverage a large number of SAP Fiori apps both on the desktop and mobile devices and optimize them for mobile usage with Cordova.
Cons:SAP’s cross-platform development tools have grown confusing over the past few years.
Adobe’s cross-platform development tools comprise Apache Cordova based PhoneGap, an open source solution and PhoneGap Build (Cloud-Based), and PhoneGap, an open source solution.
Cordova is an open-source set of device APIs that enables developed applications to access specific, native device functions across a large number of device platforms. Along with cross-platform plug-ins and Cordova’s APIs, developers can develop and code applications using HTML5, CSS3 and Java Web languages.
The languages presented in multiple device platforms are hosted in the app locally. Thus developers can use one codebase to develop an app that’s functional on several platforms. (Developers needn’t use multiple native software development kits (SDKs), such as Xcode for iOS, Windows SDK, and Android SDK).
- Once the app is written, you can run it on several devices like iOS, Android, and many other suites.
- The perfect resource saver that simplifies development of enterprise mobile apps.
The cross-platform mobile development tools are quite versatile and allow you to develop the original app on a native platform or develop the app in one environment to then send it to multiple native platforms including Android, BlackBerry/RIM, iOS and Windows Mobile. Like the two sides of a coin, the cross-platform mobile development has strengths and weaknesses. The primary downside is that mobile operating systems are frequently updated which implies that the applications should also be updated to be in a simpatico with the updated operating system. It may seem like a time-consuming process as each operating system requires a unique set of code.