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Cross Platform Mobile Application

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Cross-platform mobile development is the process whereby you create apps that will be compatible with multiple mobile operating systems. These apps are usually a fusion of native which is developed for a specific mobile platforms and web application. This process involves writing the codes in web programming languages that will adopts native elements of the mobile platform, which makes the cross-platform application adaptable and gives access to the platform API. The code of such apps is transmitted into languages native for each platform. Apparently, the most popular hybrid app is used by the infamous LinkedIn.

Though during the later times, they did shift towards native platform, which was exclusively for technical reasons like availability of good development tools and to avail device-specific features. Need for Cross Platform Application: Basically, the complexity of developing mobile apps was compounded by the difficulty of building out a back end that worked across multiple platforms. Although writing codes for each operating system separately is time consuming and expensive, it was considered easier to build native applications for each mobile operating system (OS) than a hybrid cross platform application, even though very little code that was written for each operating system could be reused. One of the most challenging situations for app developers is, whether to develop a native mobile app or go for cross-platform. Of course, as a business, you require dealing with different types of customers who possess different types of devices. Therefore, you’d need to have a mobile app that could work seamlessly on almost all the platforms (i.e. Android, iOS, Windows, etc.) Recently, the hybrid approach has been considered to be the most reasonable. Thus, according to technology experts, by 2020 more than a half of all mobile apps will be hybrid cross platform applications.

Different Approaches for Cross-Platform Applications: Today, it is easier for programmers to develop cross-platform apps. Newer approaches to cross-platform development include: l Native Cross-Platform Apps – uses IDE (Integrated Development Environment) that handles the process of creating the native application bundle by a unified API on top of the native SDKs. l Hybrid HTML5 app development – developers write the core of the application as an HTML5 or JavaScript mobile app and then place a native device wrapper around it. l Rapid mobile app development (RMAD) – developers use code-free programming tools. RMAD offers business users the ability to quickly build and manage “good-enough” internal apps to address specific business issues. l Windows universal apps – uses one codebase for all Windows devices. Enable the same app to run on a Windows PC, tablet, smartphone, smartwatch or XBox.

Native Cross-Platform Apps Every major mobile operating system has its own SDK (Software Development Kit) to create mobile apps. These SDKs also have preferred programming languages which are supported by the OS vendor. For example, for iOS, Objective-C and Swift are the preferred programming languages supported by Apple, whereas for Android, Java is the preferred language supported by Google. Generally, apps created with these languages using the official SDK are called as “native apps”. However, it is possible to use APIs (Application Programming Interface) provided by the native SDK, in other programming languages which are not supported by the OS vendor. This is how “cross-platform” native apps are created. Generally, a third-party vendor chooses a programming language and creates a unified API on top of the native SDKs provided by the various OS vendors. Using this unified API, it is possible to support multiple operating systems with a single code base. The third-party vendor generally provides an IDE (Integrated Development Environment) which handles the process of creating the native application bundle for iOS and Android from the single cross-platform codebase.

Since, the final app produced still uses the native APIs, the cross-platform native apps can achieve near native performance without any visible lag to the user. Hybrid ‘HTML5’ cross-platform Apps Mobile apps are essentially GUI applications. Most mobile apps depend on backend web services for large parts of their business logic. Roughly speaking, in mobile apps, especially in the business process automation domain, almost 60% of the code deals with creating and managing the GUI. iOS, Android and Windows Phone, all have a very advanced browser component in their SDKs. By leveraging this WebView component, programmers are able to use standard HTML5 web technologies to design and program parts of their application. So, in the end, the application is composed of at least a native frame and HTML/JavaScript executed in a WebView – which is why they are called “hybrid”. Application features which need sensor input like geolocation, camera or lower level functions like accessing the file system usually use some JavaScript-to-native bridge provided by the hybrid application framework. Benefits of Cross Application Platform: l Cross-compatibility of Web technologies (HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript). l the use of native component to leverage device-specific features. l with careful planning around 50%-80% code reuse can be realized in cross-platforms. This results in faster development and reduced costs. l Cross-platform development provides more benefits during the maintenance period. If a bug is found in a common codebase it needs to be fixed only once. l Unit tests are required to be written only once for the common code, hence the saved budget can be used to write more thorough unit tests. l It is possible to use existing programming talent rather than learning platform specific development language. l Ideal for B2B apps and business process automation apps, where time to deployment and efficient utilization of resources is more important than sleek look and feel.

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Cross Platform Mobile Application. (2019, January 28). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 23, 2022, from
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