Native cross-platform apps are created when you use APIs that are provided by the Apple or Android SDK, but implement them in other programming languages that aren’t supported by the operating system vendor. Generally, a third-party vendor provides an integrated development environment that handles the process of creating the native application bundle for iOS and Android from a single cross-platform codebase. In this case, the final product is an app that still uses native APIs, and cross-platform native apps can achieve almost native performance without any lag visible to the user. NativeScript, Xamarin, and React Native are the most common examples native cross-platform languages.
Hybrid apps make it possible to embed HTML5 apps inside a thin native container, combining the best (and worst) elements of native and HTML5 apps.
Hybrid HTML5 cross-platform apps have never gained too wide of recognition because this approach to development results in performance issues when an app’s UI is rich in components. HTML5 cross-platform apps have always struggled to achieve a fully native look and feel, since they are basically WebViews that run in browsers.
Often, cross-platform apps are cheaper to build and maintain due to a number of factors. When cross-platform apps are properly architected, at least half of their code can be used across platforms.
Developing a cross-platform application also means lower expenses in terms of quality assurance. How so? A cross-platform application has UI elements that are specific to each platform, plus a common codebase that contains the app’s general business logic. Developing a cross-platform app can’t help you with potential UI bugs, but it means that your debugging takes less time in total because you only need to fix bugs that are in the common codebase once. Unit tests also have to be written only once for the common code, which saves time and resources for testing.
Product owners who want a cross-platform application need only one team of developers that are trained in one set of technologies.
The React Native framework was created by Facebook, and its development started as a result of a hackathon back in 2013. React is an example of a technology that the developer community created for itself when developers were looking for a tool that would combine the good things about mobile development with the power and agility of the native React environment. React Native’s genesis resulted in a huge enthusiastic community investing into the framework’s development, and there are catalogs of freely available components that go with it.
React Native provides development tools for debugging and application packaging, which saves time.
NativeScript was created by Telerik, a Bulgarian software development company, and for several years in a row NativeScript has been chosen by Gartner Magic Quadrant for Mobile Application Development Platforms.
Xamarin is a Microsoft-owned cross-platform development tool that uses a C# codebase to develop cross-platform mobile apps for Android, iOS, and Windows devices. Xamarin allows code sharing on multiple platforms, and it has a cloud service that allows mobile app testing on various devices. With Xamarin, developers can use popular Portable Class Libraries (PCLs) like SQLite, Json.NET, or ReactiveUI on every platform. The Xamarin Component Store provides access to high-quality components that can be added directly to an app from the IDE. These components include a number of controls, web service APIs, and more, and also enable integration with popular backend solutions such as Microsoft Azure and Salesforce as well as enable integration with powerful security features including authentication and encryption.
The choice of a particular cross-platform development tool will depend on a number of factors and the needs of a particular project. At Arrange Systems, React Native is our top pick.