What is Cross-platform App Development? [Tools + Benefits + Challenges]Home Glossary Mobile App What is Cross-platform App Development? By Rakesh Patel Last Updated: January 17, 2024 Table of ContentsWhat is Cross-platform App Development?Tools and Frameworks Used for Cross-platform Mobile Development10 Benefits of Cross-platform Mobile App Development5 Common Challenges of Cross-platform App DevelopmentWhat is Cross-platform App Development?Cross-platform app development is a method of creating applications that run with multiple mobile operating systems, such as iOS, Android and Windows from a single codebase. This method helps developers build code once and deploy it across several platforms, which saves a lot of time and resources.Let’s take an example of a popular cross-platform app to help you understand better:SkypeSkype is a communication platform where it is possible to make video calls, voice calls, chat and share files. It shows that one application can serve different types of devices while offering the same quality of use from device to device.Here are some key aspects of Skype:Available on Multiple Platforms: Skype is compatible to run on iOS, Android, Windows, and more.Efficient Development: Skype is built from a unified codebase, which simplifies updates and maintenance.Widespread Usage: Its global popularity showcases the success of cross-platform apps in reaching diverse audiences.Tools and Frameworks Used for Cross-platform Mobile DevelopmentHere is the table highlighting the tools and frameworks used to build cross-platform mobile apps.Framework/ToolBenefitsSupporting PlatformsReact NativeNative performanceLarge communityHot reloadingiOS, AndroidFlutterHigh-performance UIStrong widget libraryHot reloadiOS, Android, Web, DesktopXamarinNative user interfacesShared code across platformsStrong Microsoft supportiOS, Android, WindowsApache CordovaUse of web technologiesWide plugin ecosystemFlexible deploymentiOS, Android, Windows PhoneIonicEasy to learnStrong UI componentsEasy integration with Angular, React, VueiOS, Android, WebPhoneGapSimple development processAccess to device APIsAdobe supportiOS, Android, WindowsSencha Ext JSRich UI componentsRobust data packageAdvanced chartingiOS, Android, WebQtPowerful for complex UIsGood for embedded systemsStrong graphics supportiOS, Android, Windows, Linux, macOSUnityIdeal for 3D gamesStrong communityMulti-platform deploymentiOS, Android, Windows, macOS, Linux, WebKivyFree and open-sourceGood for rapid developmentSupports multi-touchiOS, Android, Windows, Linux, macOSYou now have an understanding of the tools and frameworks that are employed in building cross-platform mobile apps. For more information on these tools and other aspects related to cross-platform mobile app development, read this guide on cross-platform mobile app development.10 Benefits of Cross-platform Mobile App DevelopmentHere are the benefits associated with cross-platform mobile app development.Expanding Audience Reach with Multi-platform AccessibilityDevelop Windows, iOS and Android apps to reach a wider audience worldwide.Beneficial for businesses aiming to grow and diversify their user base.Reach different age groups, cultures, and preferences, enhancing your market presence and appeal.Unified Codebase for Cost-effective DevelopmentBuilding a single, versatile app for multiple platforms cuts down on extensive development expenses.Avoid the higher costs and complexities of maintaining separate, platform-specific apps.More efficient and strategic use of development resources, tools, and technologies.Streamlined Development for Faster Market EntryUnified codebase leads to faster development, testing, and launch times.Speed up the entire journey from initial concept to market entry.Implement efficient, time-saving development practices for quicker deployment and iteration.Efficient Cross-platform Maintenance and UpdatesSimultaneously update all platforms with a single, cohesive effort.Ensure uniform functionality, performance, and quality across all platforms.Significantly reduce the time and resources needed for app updates and bug fixes.Uniform Design and User Experience Across DevicesMaintain a cohesive and recognizable brand experience across different platforms.Ensure that experience is uniform for different platforms or devices.Employ a familiar interface for ease of transition among users.Wide Resource Availability in Cross-platform DevelopmentBenefit from the wide availability of skilled developers and advanced tools in frameworks like React Native, Flutter, and Xamarin.Easily find and recruit experienced developers from a large, skilled talent pool.Utilize the abundant libraries, comprehensive tools, and active community support available for these app development frameworks.Flexible Development with Diverse Language OptionsChoose from a wide array of programming languages and frameworks for tailored app development.Select the best app development tools and languages that precisely fit the project’s unique requirements.Enjoy the flexibility to adapt and pivot according to different project needs and challenges.Strong Community Support in Development FrameworksGain invaluable insights and support from the robust, engaged community around cross-platform frameworks.Access a wealth of shared knowledge, libraries, and troubleshooting resources within the community.Leverage the collective expertise and experiences of a large, supportive developer community.Scalable Solutions for Business Growth and ExpansionEasily scale your app to different platforms and devices as your business grows.Ideal for businesses planning to expand their reach and adapt to evolving market demands.Adjust and grow your app’s presence in line with your evolving business strategy.Risk Reduction through Diversified Platform StrategyReduce reliance and risk associated with a single platform by targeting multiple ecosystems.Cater to a diverse user base, ensuring balanced performance across different ecosystems.Establish a more resilient and diverse presence in the market by being accessible on various platforms.5 Common Challenges of Cross-platform App DevelopmentHere are the challenges of cross-platform app developmentCross-platform Performance IssuesCross-platform applications have been known to cause problems with their speed and lack of responsiveness. The reason for this is the additional abstraction level necessary to ensure the app operates on various platforms. However, this level converts the app’s code into the respective languages of each platform, causing ineffectiveness.Steps To Mitigate Cross-platform Performance IssuesOptimize code and use efficient cross-platform app frameworks like Flutter or React Native, which are known for closer-to-native performance.Regular performance testing on all target platforms can also help identify and address issues early.Restricted Access to Native FeaturesAccessing device-specific features such as camera, GPS, and gestures can be limited in cross-platform mobile applications. This is because these cross-platform apps are not developed with a specific platform’s native language, which naturally integrates these features.Steps To Mitigate Restricted Access to Native FeaturesUse platform-specific modules or plugins that extend the capabilities of cross-platform frameworks to access native features.Update these tools on a regular basis to guarantee compatibility with the most recent device features.UI/UX Consistency ChallengesThere are distinct design languages and interface guidelines for each platform whether it is iOS, Android, or Windows. Cross-platform development is often challenging in terms of ensuring the creation of a uniform UX that feels intuitive on all platforms.Steps To Mitigate UI/UX Consistency ChallengesFocus on designing a flexible user interface that adapts to each platform’s norms while maintaining the core design elements.Utilize platform-specific UI elements where necessary to align with user expectations on each platform.Dependency on Third-party FrameworksThird-party frameworks and tools are commonly used in cross-platform programming. Such dependencies may become problematic if tools are not regularly updated, and the features of new platforms are not supported.Steps to Mitigate Dependency on Third-party FrameworksChoose well-supported and regularly updated frameworks.Actively follow the development community for the chosen frameworks to stay informed about updates and best practices.Multi-platform Debugging and Testing ComplexitiesDebugging cross-platform apps can be more complex as certain bugs may appear on one platform but not another. This requires extensive and varied testing scenarios to ensure app stability across all platforms.Steps to Mitigate Multi-platform Debugging and Testing ComplexitiesImplement comprehensive testing strategies that include automated testing for common functionalities and platform-specific manual testing.Employ cloud-based testing to test on different devices and OS combinations.Cross-platform app development enables developers to construct the same app on iOS and Android using the same code base. React Native, Flutter, and Xamarin ensure performance and UX balance across devices.Nonetheless, this approach involves challenges like performance issues and maintaining consistency of user experience across platforms. Cross-platform app developers may address these challenges by optimizing code and emphasizing adaptive architectures. Overall, cross-platform development is an ideal approach to creating adaptable and accessible solutions.Subscribe0 Written byRakesh PatelRakesh Patel is the Founder and CEO of Space-O Technologies (Canada). He has 28 years of IT experience in business strategies, operations & information technology. He has expertise in various aspects of business like project planning, sales, and marketing, and has successfully defined flawless business models for the clients. A techie by mind and a writer at heart, he has authored two books – Enterprise Mobility: Strategy & Solutions and A Guide To Open311×Join our subscribers' list now! Get top insights and news on latest technologies and trends right to your inbox.