To make the app support two platforms requires increased working time, budgets, and efforts for product maintenance. Native application development requires higher level expertise and knowledge which requires more expensive developers.
The cross-platform app is faster and less expensive to build but has limitations. Cross-platform development tools arose to solve to above mentioned challenges. To simplify mobile app development process and reduces costs. Since the market is very competitive, tech providers must monitor quality in cross-platform technologies. There are numerous cross-platform development tools: Xamarian, Flutter, PhoneGap and React Native.
Xamarin is a leading cross-platform development platform enabling programmers to create apps for various operating systems including iOS and Android. Xamarin provides a single shared C# codebase and allows testing applications on multiple devices using Xamarin Cloud.
Since the appearance of Xamarin 2, the framework has transformed into one of the most popular cross-platform app development tools. Noteworthy that Xamarin has a strong partner community with such giants as Microsoft and IBM. Requires paid subscription with a free trial.
Concerning Xamarin features, the platform provides its own Xamarin Studio IDE, Xamarin. Forms interfaces, enabling programmers to share practically 100% of code across all mobile platforms. The framework offers native API access and allows to integrate backends like Parse and Microsoft Azure.
Cross-platform app development on Xamarin requires dev expertise in C#, iOS, and Android. The plus is that applications will be fully native (though written in C#) and the codebase volume won’t exceed 40%.
Flutter is rather a new cross-platform development tool, launched by Google to help software engineers to faster build beautiful high-performance native applications for iOS and Android.
Considering Flutter features, hot reload allows developers to faster and easier build UIs, implement product features, and make bug fixing. The framework provides flexible 3rd party SDKs, APIs for 2D, animation, gestures, and allows reusing the existing Java, Swift, and Objective-C code.
Inspired by Facebook React Native model, Flutter comes with the optional React-style tool and its own Material Design widgets.
Although this cross-platform app development tool is still very young, doesn’t have Windows support and IDE, it allows building high-performance modern apps.
By using this framework, programmers get the ability to simplify custom mobile app development: you build a native application that in fact reflects an embedded web browser and a single-page HTML.
There is no a direct access to API as all interface elements within a web page are just stylized as native ones. To access the system functionality, developers connect specific plugins, that add JS methods inside the web browser and link them with the native implementation on each platform.
React Native framework grew out of React.js, the latter created by Facebook to repair their chat. The main feature of React.js is a renderer layer, enabling the intermediate JSX language to render in HTML, which is already perceived by the browser.
Facebook realized that they can use the same approach for their mobile solutions. The React architecture adds a native renderer, turning JSX into native platform components. As a result, they called it React Native. React Native is probably the most interesting and promising cross-platform development framework. Being based on “write once, run anywhere” paradigm, this tool enables to create beautiful modern applications.
If you have strict interface requirements for different platforms, and it differs in different versions, developers will have to duplicate a significant portion of the UI. However, it’s possible to leave the business logic cross-platform. That is, using some external repositories for the state and creating the correct architecture for React Native, you will still save a lot of efforts.