Business Advantages of Cross-Platform App Development

Not very long ago, the decision to build an app as a native, platform-targeted product or as a cross-platform framework (CPF) came down to decisions based mostly on app performance and UX. Native apps ran better and the platform SDK ensured access to the device’s API without hinderance. CPF were cheaper and faster to produce but didn’t perform as well.

But technology marches on and with the evolution of Microsoft’s Open Store providing a multi-platform business potential, the case for cross-platform apps has become much stronger. More importantly, emerging technology has narrowed the performance gap between native and cross-platform apps, making the already compelling business advantage of cross-platforming much stronger.

Microsoft states, “Cross-platform applications give you the power to write native mobile applications once, share code, and run them on iOS, Android, and Windows.”

Senior Director of Product Management at Sencha, Gautam Agrawal, has said, “Given the exponential increase in the cost of platform development and the need for rapid time to market, cross-platform development is the way to go for the enterprise.”

Points to consider

  • Native apps have a high development cost and longer runway to bring to market.
  • Businesses do not want to risk narrowing their consumer base by not being on as many platforms as possible. Trying to do this natively increases cost exponentially and requires a large development team. Frequent updates would be financially crippling.
  • A native app markets to the followers of a single platform, while a CPF seeks to reach out to as many followers of a brand as possible – covering many varieties of end devices during the creation process. Targeting people over platforms is always the better way to go.
  • App development technologies are constantly evolving. Given the public demand for platform agnostic software, CPF technology improving rapidly to increase reliability, quality, and cost to meet or exceed native app metrics.
  • CPF single code is easily portable. Once written, future platforms are easy to target.
  • CPF UI consistency has been limited but is improving rapidly.
  • While CPF does not have the seamless performance of an app that was built directly for an OS, it has an acceptable high performance, and compatibility issues have greatly improved.
  • In terms of maintenance, CPF is easy to deploy, synch, and update. Bugs in the common codebase are fixed once and sent out everywhere.
  • CPF easily coordinates with plug-ins integrated with cloud settings for greater scalability.
  • CPF provides a uniform UX on every platform it is present on.
  • It is vital when choosing a CPF development framework to understand the pros and cons relative to the kind of apps you are creating and the business you are in.

Cross-Platform Compliance Issues

Platform compliance on an OS or browser is straightforward as long as your app offers value and consumer expectations are met (nothing considered “trickery”). Where compliance can be complicated is in the distribution dimensions such as advertising, offers and stores. Each have their own compliance requirements and they are sometimes contradictory. The compliance requirements multiply more than you might expect. The ad networks, offers, and store rules and regulations often include proprietary requirements that shift from platform to platform.   

When you support multiple platforms, a compliance officer needs to stay on top of these multipoint compliance requirements and develop a strategy that maintains the broad reach of a cross-platform app without getting mired in unique standards.