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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.
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.
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