A Detailed Guide to Cross-platform App Development for Beginners

Being an entrepreneur, launching your app in the constantly increasing market as soon as possible might be challenging for you. Also, you might want to cover a wider target audience with fewer app development budget.

annual app downloads

Source: Statista

With all these conditions, you need a perfect solution that fits into your budget and estimated timeline. Thus, you need a cross platform app development approach to tap into your industry to gain a competitive advantage.

Therefore, being the best mobile app development company, we have discussed with our cross platform app developers and written a complete guide highlighting cross-platform development. This will help you launch your app quickly in the market. Let’s dive in.

What is a Cross-platform App?

Cross-platform mobile apps have the ability to run on various mobile platforms, such as iOS, Android, and Windows. Therefore, you do not require separate coding to build an app for each different platform. Also, you should know the complete difference between Native vs Cross Platform app development as well. Choosing the right app development type directly affects your cost as well.

Also, as the cross-platform is compatible with multiple platforms, it is easy to reach a broader audience.

With all the benefits, it is one of the most popular app development methods for startups and enterprises who are looking to resolve mobile application development challenges efficiently.

As we know about cross-platform apps, we will discuss all the benefits of cross-platform apps in detail. Let’s dive in to discover why a cross-platform is the right choice for your requirements.

Want to Build a Cross-platform App?

Space-O is a leading cross-platform mobile app development company that has experience designing and developing more than 4400 mobile apps for leading startups and enterprises.

What are the Advantages of Cross-platform Apps?

In this section, we are going to discuss the pros of cross-platform apps in detail, so you know how cross-platform mobile apps help your enterprise business grow.

  1. Wide Reach to Target Audience

    Building a cross-platform app means you can launch it on various mobile app development platforms, including the web. As Android and iOS hold a majority of the market share for operating systems, it is essential to build an app that targets both operating systems.

    market share for operating systems

    Source: Statista

    So by developing a single app, you can target several platforms, such as iOS and Android. This helps you expand the reach of your products or services and increase revenue by making them available for both Android and iOS users.

  2. Lower App Development Costs

    The cross-platform app is developed based on the concept of ‘write once, run everywhere’. Additionally, when it comes to native app development for a specific platform, it is an expensive and difficult task to achieve. Therefore, it generally increases the cost of app development.

    However, this is not the case with cross-platform applications. This means you easily cut their development costs in half by developing cross-platform apps that run on various platforms. Hence, cross-platform app development is a more cost-effective approach to developing an app.

  3. Quick App Development Process

    Building a cross-platform app means you are able to launch the application in the market sooner. In addition, a similar codebase helps you to lower your efforts by 50 to 80%, helping you to be faster in the market.

    Suppose you are building an app for an Android device. Then you need to program in Java along with mastering mobile app development tools, such as Android SDK, Android NDK, and IntelliJ IDEA. This rule also applies to the iOS platform, where you need to program with Swift and other iOS app development software.

    But when you are developing a cross-platform app, you can use the same code for various platforms by using a “write once, use everywhere” approach. Therefore, it is possible for mobile app developers to deliver cross-platform applications within the estimated app development timeline.

  4. Reusable App Codes

    If you choose to build a cross-platform app, then you can use a similar code multiple times. This helps developers to save time as they can choose to avoid writing new codes for every platform.

    This saves time to develop an app as well as your resources by eliminating the repetition in the task of creating codes. Hence, with the cross-platform app, you can reuse the same code multiple times and save your app development time.

  5. Integration to Clouds

    The best part about developing cross-platform applications is that you are able to use a variety of plugins integrated with the cloud settings, as cross-platform apps are compatible with plugins.

    As you will be building a cross-platform app, you can infuse single source code with different plugins and extensions to improve the quality and performance of the application.

  6. Easy Maintenance and Deployment

    As a cross-platform app runs over several platforms, you only need to maintain a single application. This brings the benefit of maintaining and deploying code after the changes are made. Even, you can hire dedicated developer in case if you have complex mobile app to maintain.

    Whatever change you make will automatically be synced over all platforms and devices, helping you save time and money and maintain your app efficiently.

    Suppose you find a bug or defect in the codebase. Now, you are only required to fix it once, and it will get changed to all other places where the same code is used. This is how it is easy to maintain your cross-platform application by saving your time and money.

    We have discussed some of the advantages of a cross-platform app. However, just like every other app development approach, it also has its cons. In the next section, we are going to discuss the cons of a cross-platform app.

What are the Disadvantages of Cross-platform Apps?

Even though there are several advantages associated with cross-platform app development, it comes with various challenges. So let’s dive in to discuss the cons of the cross-platform app in detail.

  1. Poor UX/UI

    Building a cross-platform application means you run it over various platforms, including iOS and Android. So when you develop a cross-platform app, it isn’t easy to focus on the UX and UI design that fits every OS device.

    On the contrary, when you are building a native app, it is easier to focus on UX and UI design as you have to target only one operating system.

    Also, cross-platform apps use a single codebase for all the platforms; they can’t use all in-built features provided by mobile devices. Therefore, the UX/UI experience is poor in cross-platform apps compared to native apps.

  2. Lower App Performance

    You must be ready to face performance-related challenges if you are building a cross-platform app. It depends on multiple factors.

    However, in comparison with native apps, both having the same functionalities, the native app will perform better as native apps are specially designed for a specific platform, such as either Android or iOS.

    Even though cross-platform apps are easy to deploy, they may work slower than native apps as it is difficult for the developers to create mobile apps that perfectly align with native performance.

  3. Compliance

    Problems may arise when you try to integrate non-native components with native components to build a cross-platform app. This leads to creating inconsistencies in the app.

    Therefore, you will need to constantly readjust the design and functionalities of a cross-platform app to ensure that the app is running seamlessly on various types of platforms.

    It might create some challenges in the mobile app development process. However, you can hire experienced developers from a leading app development company to resolve such app development challenges.

  4. Low Security

    Apart from the lack of performance, cross-platform apps come with high-security risks, as cross-platform apps have lower update frequency. While in native apps, the software is less vulnerable to any security risks as there is a frequent update for native apps.

    However, whatever the app development approach is selected, the security threat is something that might occur at any time. Therefore, to address this issue, hire a top mobile app development company with experience building cross-platform apps for various industries.

  5. Poor Customization

    You might know that cross-platform apps support various native features. However, it is not always possible if development frameworks can’t support the required features of a cross-platform app.

    You may customize your cross-platform application. But on the other hand, it may limit you from integrating some of the essential features and hardware functionalities of an app, such as notifications, cameras, and GPS.

  6. Delay in Updates

    If any new update is added to the specific OS, it will take time for the cross-platform app to reflect the same updates.

    This is because the framework you will be using might not have been packed with the latest features of the latest version of the new release. This will result in late app updates.

    We discussed the major challenges you might encounter with cross-platform app development. However, you can streamline the cross-platform app development process with the following cross-platform frameworks. So let’s discuss them in detail.

6 Best Cross-platform App Frameworks

best cross-platform app frameworks

In this section, we will discuss the top cross-platform app development frameworks that will help you build robust cross-platform apps for your startup or enterprise business.

A report by Statista suggests that these are the top cross-platform frameworks that are used by developers worldwide.

  • React Native
  • Flutter
  • Ionic
  • Cordova
  • Unity
  • Xamarin

So before we move ahead to discuss these frameworks, let’s have a quick comparison of all these cross-platform app development frameworks.

FrameworkDeveloperInitial ReleaseWritten InPopular Apps
React NativeFacebook2015
  • JavaScript
  • Java
  • C++
  • Objective-C
  • Python
  • UberEats
  • Skype
FlutterGoogle2017
  • Dart
  • Hamilton
  • Alibaba
IonicDrifty2013
  • JavaScript
  • Sanvello
  • JustWatch
CordovaNitobi2009
  • C#
  • C++
  • CSS
  • HTML
  • Java
  • JavaScript
  • Objective-C
  • FanReact
  • Pacifica
UnityUnity Technologies2005
  • C#
  • C++
  • Pokémon Go
  • Call of Duty Mobile
XamarinMicrosoft2011
  • C#
  • Alaska Airlines
  • Outback Steakhouse

Now, let’s discuss all these frameworks in detail.

  1. React Native

    Ever had a question like, is React Native good for mobile app development? It is an open-source, cross-platform framework developed by Facebook to create cross-platform iOS and Android applications. The application logic runs in JavaScript but still offers 100% native UI. So with React Native, you easily avoid many compromises generally associated with HTML5-based UI.

    With React Native, you easily build a cross-platform app using the same UI components and codebase. You can also use React Native in your existing Android and iOS apps or use it to create a completely new cross-platform app from scratch.

    Top Advantages of Using React Native for Cross Platform App Development

    • Almost 90% of the code is reused between the iOS and Android platforms
    • React Native performs like native apps as it leverages graphics processing units
    • You get pre-developed UI components with React Native
    • Get live and hot reloading feature to preserve the local state of the code on refresh
  2. Flutter

    It is the best cross-platform app framework that you can use to develop apps for Android and iOS without having to write different codebases. In fact, with the same codebase, you can build web apps for browsers, Windows, and Linux.

    Flutter is very famous in the market. Currently, it is used by Google for the modules of the Google Assistant and the UI of the Google Home hub.

    Besides Google, big eCommerce giants like eBay and Alibaba Group also use Flutter for a uniform look and feel in mobile and web apps.

    Top Advantages of Using Flutter for Cross Platform App Development

    • Allows to use of the same UI and business logic for all platforms
    • Give similar native app performance
    • Offer custom animated UI for any complex app
    • Easy to do fast testing with the hot reload feature
  3. Ionic

    Ionic is an open-source SDK that allows developers to build high-quality cross-platform apps that show native experiences. It comes with a lot of mobile-optimized UI components and gestures that help you build robust cross-platform applications.

    Ionic lets you develop cross-platform apps using modern web development technologies, such as CSS and HTML, and then the apps are distributed through app stores for installation.

    Top Advantages of Using Ionic for Cross Platform App Development

    • Easy to customize the look and feel of the app with only HTML and CSS modifications
    • Get a lot of components and plugins with Ionic, including front-end building blocks, UI components, and app icons
    • UI components are used to construct a graphic UI and also can be customized
  4. Cordova

    Formerly known as PhoneGap, Apache Cordova enables app developers to perform hybrid mobile app development using standard technologies, such as CSS3, HTML5, and JavaScript. You use Cordova, which wraps your HTML/JavaScript app into a native container to access the device’s functions.

    With this, you have to write only one set of code that you can easily target on each device type and publish your cross-platform app on respective platforms.

    Top Advantages of Using Cordova for Cross Platform App Development

    • It is easy to target any platform that you want for your app
    • Apache Cordova plugins help developers to extend more features to an app
    • Cost-effective technology to build a high-quality app with advanced features
    • Can use the properties of the native resources to build an app
  5. Unity

    It is a cross-platform mobile development tool that is used to build cross-platform gaming apps. As of now, it is one of the most popular game engines for building apps for Android and iOS platforms because of its streamlined interface and workflow.

    However, it is not only limited to game development. You can also use Unity for animation, architectural visualization, and the previsualization of a film. In addition, Unity makes the development process easier by using an intuitive and rapid user interface.

    With Unity, you can drag and drop elements, such as adding an image or button or using a custom font size. In addition, as you will not require a background in XML to build UIs, you need less coding while working with Unity.

    Top Advantages of Using Unity Cross Platform App Development

    • Best graphics to optimize the gaming experience
    • Great for rendering 2D and 3D scenes in the cross-platform apps
    • Offers built-in analytics that help you with crucial insights into your game
    • Has drag and drop settings that allow you to build an app without having to write code
  6. Xamarin

    Xamarin has the tools and libraries that help you design a uniform UI across platforms or build apps for Android, iOS, and Windows. Also, leveraging the platform-specific hardware, Xamarin can offer you the best native performance.

    With Xamarin, you share more than 75% of the code to build an app, which helps you save time and resources, as this also follows the “write once, run anywhere” approach. You can also use your favorite frameworks, tools, and libraries and get access to native APIs and 2D graphics.

    Top Advantages of Using Xamarin Cross Platform App Development

    • Easy to use and takes less time to build cross-platform apps
    • As you share more than 75% of the code, the app development process becomes faster
    • Has direct access to Native APIs to get the native user experience
    • Offers APIs and plugins to build cross-platform apps, so there is no hardware compatibility issue

Want to Validate Your Cross-platform App Development Idea?

Talk to our app development consultants, who will discuss your app idea and help you optimize it according to your requirements.

After learning almost everything about cross-platform mobile app development, if you want to know where to find developers or what to look for before hiring a company, check the below FAQs.

FAQ About Cross-platform App Development

Where to find cross-platform mobile app developers?

Which factors to check before hiring a cross-platform app development company?

Here are a few factors to check if you are hiring a reliable app development agency to build a cross-platform app.

things to consider while choosing app development company

Apart from the above factors, you can also look for the following points.

  • Global presence and development team size
  • App design and development standards
  • NDA agreements

What are examples of cross-platform apps?

  • Instagram
  • Evernote

Build Your Own Cross-platform App

Through this guide, you learned about cross-platform application development. If you want to build and launch your app quickly in the market, leverage the benefits of hybrid mobile app development. We have also shared the top cross-platform development tools to help you streamline the development process efficiently.

In case you face any challenges while validating your app idea or building a cross-platform app, get in touch with our experienced mobile app developers. We have experience working with more than 1200 clients across the globe to deliver top apps like Glovo, which has received a total funding amount of $1.2B within a few years.

Get in touch with us through the Contact Us page, and we will get back to you within 24 hours.

Bhaval Patel

Written by

Bhaval Patel

Bhaval Patel is a Director (Operations) at Space-O Technologies. He has 20+ years of experience helping startups and enterprises with custom software solutions to drive maximum results. Under his leadership, Space-O has won the 8th GESIA annual award for being the best mobile app development company. So far, he has validated more than 300 app ideas and successfully delivered 100 custom solutions using the technologies, such as Swift, Kotlin, React Native, Flutter, PHP, RoR, IoT, AI, NFC, AR/VR, Blockchain, NFT, and more.