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Cross-Platform Mobile Application Development: Key Factors

Considerations for cross-platform mobile application development.What is cross-platform mobile application development? Is it right for your organization?  We'll present the facts.

Native app development or cross-platform app development?

It’s the dilemma app developers constantly face — should they write native mobile apps for both iOS and Android, or instead do cross-platform mobile application development, which allows developers to write an app once, and then deploy it to both platforms?

cross platform app developmentOnce upon a time, there might have been good reasons to write native mobile apps rather than cross-platform apps, but given how advanced cross-platform mobile development frameworks and development tools have become, those days are well in the past.

What is Cross-Platform Mobile Application Development?

Cross-platform mobile app development involves developing web or mobile apps from one code base -- or low-code platform -- that works on multiple mobile operating systems. This development method reduces or eliminates coding by leveraging a single code base to run the app. Cross-platform app development speeds developer productivity by simplifying some complex aspects of traditional mobile app development. 

Cross-Platform Benefits

VDC Research Analyst Eric Klein sums up the reasons well in his blog post, “Cross-platform mobile application development is more viable than ever.”  He notes, “Many of these cross-platform mobile app development tools feature design, development, testing and deployment capabilities within a single integrated platform.”

By moving to a cross-platform tool, you’ll be dramatically cutting your cost of development because you won’t have to spend the time building and maintaining apps built for multiple platforms. This reduces development time, making high-quality app development for a range of operating systems very cost-effective.

Because some solutions have complex development features built-in, things like integration, security or offline capability can be faster and more affordable to build into apps.

Cross-Platform Products

Once you decide to go cross-platform, there are key factors you must consider before you’ll be able to go full-bore into application development. One of the most important is which app development platform to choose.

Consider your company size and development expertise, and, based on that, choose a product that matches your staff’s experience, but that lets you build an app in the minimum timeframe.

Make sure the cross-platform product you select has enterprise security. Ensure that it can securely connect to any data sources and enterprise apps you use. And Klein says you should “take advantage of open source components to augment their features." 

If users work in remote areas, make sure the solution can produce offline apps or apps that can work without an internet connection.

Cross-Platform Development

Once you’ve chosen the right cross-platform mobile app development solution, there are development factors to consider when building cross-platform apps.

Be careful when designing your apps that they aren’t targeted too much on one platform rather than another, because that can harm the usability of the app on the platform you ignored.

Keep in mind that you’ll need to take advantage of each platform’s unique hardware. The right low-code software can help greatly here, with built-in capabilities to take advantage of Android or iOS features.

Find reliable cross-platform modules to help in your development work. Also, look for dedicated API services for your cross-platform apps.

Cross-Platform User Experience

Make sure to focus on your target users, not on the people who develop your apps. It's important to build apps with great user experiences for the people who will be out in the field using them every day. Those perspectives can be very different from what cross-platform developers look for in apps.

You’ll have to do testing of the app on all the platforms to which you deploy. Make sure you have a user testing plan in place or volunteers lined up to test your cross-platform apps. 

When putting together your deployment schedule, keep in mind that you’ll have to build in time to get the apps reviewed and approved by Apple’s App Store and Google Play. It can take far longer than you might imagine, particularly if an app gets rejected.

Reducing native app development and enabling cross-platform developers will enable your organization to build user interfaces and deliver great user experiences on any device,

Learn about the power of Alpha Software products for cross-platform app development and why Alpha Anywhere is consistently ranked with near-perfect scores by customers on third-party product review websites.

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About Author

Amy Groden-Morrison
Amy Groden-Morrison

Amy Groden-Morrison has served more than 15 years in marketing communications leadership roles at companies such as TIBCO Software, RSA Security and Ziff-Davis. Most recently she was responsible for developing marketing programs that helped achieve 30%+ annual growth rate for analytics products at a $1Bil, NASDAQ-listed business integration Software Company. Her past accomplishments include establishing the first co-branded technology program with CNN, launching an events company on the NYSE, rebranding a NASDAQ-listed company amid a crisis, and positioning and marketing a Boston-area startup for successful acquisition. Amy currently serves as a Healthbox Accelerator Program Mentor, Marketing Committee Lead for the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge Launch Smart Clinics, and on the organizing team for Boston TechJam. She holds an MBA from Northeastern University.

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The Alpha platform is the only unified mobile and web app development and deployment environment with distinct “no-code” and “low-code” components. Using the Alpha TransForm no-code product, business users and developers can take full advantage of all the capabilities of the smartphone to turn any form into a mobile app in minutes, and power users can add advanced app functionality with Alpha TransForm's built-in programming language. IT developers can use the Alpha Anywhere low-code environment to develop complex web or mobile business apps from scratch, integrate data with existing systems of record and workflows (including data collected via Alpha TransForm), and add additional security or authentication requirements to protect corporate data.