Statista’s forecast states that in 2022, global mobile app revenues are projected to generate about 808 billion U.S. dollars which is almost 4 times more than in 2016. With 6.3 billion smartphone users worldwide, owners of any business from educational services to retail have no doubt: if they want to stand the competition, they need to develop a mobile app.
A few years ago, whenever a business went to a mobile app development company with an idea for an app, the immediate follow-up question used to be “Which would be the first platform to launch: Android or iOS?” And the cost of development for both platforms would come out to be very high. But if we roll today’s calendar, we can see that building an app is not expensive anymore – with the adoption and evolution of services like cross-platform mobile app development.
According to Gs.statcounter’s November 2021 data, the Android operating system holds an estimated share of 70.75%, whereas 28.53% market share belongs to iOS. By choosing one of them, you deprive users of another possibility to use your mobile application. Cross-platform app development, on the other hand, allows you to target almost 100% of users, reducing development cost and time.
What is cross platform mobile app development?
Cross-platform application development refers to the process of building a single application to be run on multiple mobile platforms and operating systems. It is usually compatible with both Android and Apple devices, although it can be developed as an app for any cross-channel uses.
Cross-platform mobile applications are built using programming languages and technical options that are not specific to a single platform. Therefore, such products are ready to deploy on the various systems via virtual “containers”, which allow them to work and interface with all platforms. In contrast, when creating native applications, the development team uses a native-to-the-operating-system programming language like Kotlin, Java or C++ for Android, Swift and Objective-C for iOS. Such mobile apps fit one particular platform that supports the specific code, which makes them not so beneficial for businesses.
Here are the top-performing cross-platform mobile apps without which it is difficult to imagine everyday life:
Reasons to develop a cross-platform mobile app
Let’s have a closer look at why you should invest in cross-platform applications and what value they will bring to your business.
Cross-platform mobile apps are supported by multiple mobile platforms and operating systems which means a larger number of potential users. It allows you to reach a wider audience with the same efforts as you would take when developing a native application. With a single cross-platform app, you can easily target various leading operating systems like iOS and Android and ultimately maximize the market reach. At the same time, both Android and iOS apps will have more limited exposure to the target audience.
Mobile developers can use a single codebase across all platforms. It allows them to remove repetitive tasks and increase the development speed. With the cross-platform application, developers cut down a lot of daily challenges like writing natively for each operating system and acquiring skills on numerous cross-platform development tools necessary for supporting every mobile device. Thus, it eliminates drudgery and minimizes the efforts of creating code repeatedly.
With a single codebase, cross-platform development time and efforts can be reduced by 60-70%. Frameworks like React Native, Flutter, or Xamarin can also speed up the development process and deployment, shortening the overall lifecycle. As a result, your product can be launched on the market faster.
Mobile applications can leverage various plugins integrated into the cloud settings, regardless of the platform used for cross-platform development. Moreover, a single codebase is coordinated with multiple plugins and extensions, making the integration process flexible and scalable. It also means that all the money-saving benefits that cloud-hosting offers can be used by the business.
Development cost can be calculated easily because it is mainly affected by the time and efforts that your development team puts into your app. So when developing a single application, it not only expedites the development process but also eliminates the risk of quality testing of multiple apps.
Cross-platform applications are also more cost-efficient when it comes to maintenance and support because all changes in code made within an app can be synchronized and pushed to all devices and operational systems, rather than engaging separate support teams for each application.
Factors Affecting Cross-Platform App Development Cost
As soon as the cost is the biggest concern of many business owners and entrepreneurs, let’s dive a bit deeper into the process of calculating the cost and factors that influence the final number.
For clarity, we have divided all factors into four categories:
App design can either attract users and keep them engaged with your product longer or push them away. Therefore, it is essential to create such a user experience that will make it comfortable and easy to interact with your app and make user interfaces consistent.
Design is not only about the look of the product’s interfaces but also about the feel of the experience. One can’t live without another, so keep it in mind when designing an app. If you consider hiring a creative agency or going for an outsourcing firm with design app services along with the development, try to define your app’s needs (and wants) as detailed as possible because the product requirements will influence the final cost.
The app's complexity is affected by the functionality, integrations, features, and various considerable things your mobile application needs to operate. The more features you want to have, the higher the complexity and development time. Depending on the complexity, apps can be split into three categories:
*Please note that all costs represented in this article are approximate and may vary depending on many factors. Before starting the development process, be sure to get a complex project estimation based on your specific needs and requirements to have a clear vision of the project budget.
Development costs of Android mobile apps will surely differ from iOS, as well as native may vary from cross-platform development. For example, on freelance platforms like Upwork, Freelancer.com, TopTal mobile app developers, rates can start from $18 to $150 per hour, depending on the skill set, background, and project requirements.
Location can also influence the development cost. Freelance mobile app developers from the US will charge $61-80/hr, while for Eastern Europe, it is around $40/hour, according to the ContractIQ report. The same tendency is seen when you hire an outsourcing company. Building a mobile app in Eastern Europe is 2x to 3x times more cost-effective than in Western Europe or the US.
Number of operating systems
The choice of mobile platforms to launch your application is one of the factors that influence the cost of development. There are two leading platforms that have conquered the mobile market — iOS and Android.
Most of the time, cross-platform apps are quicker to develop because of a single codebase that allows you to create multiple applications for different platforms without writing the new codebase for each of them. They are basically a mix of the web and native technologies run on various mobile devices. Therefore, as they take less development time, such products will cost you less. The starting price for a cross-platform application is around $15,000-$20,000 when a native app can cost one and a half to two times more.
We have described four essential factors that can influence the cost of cross-platform app development. They are app complexity, number of operating systems, developer's rates, and app design requirements. Hope it will help you prepare a robust and highly-quality app that will fit your project budget. One more thing - please be sure that your final decision is based not only on the development cost but also matches your project requirements and business goals. Cross-platform will be an excellent fit for your project when:
If all the stars have aligned, it's definitely worth paying attention to a cross-platform application rather than a native one. The development cost goes much cheaper, as less development time and effort are required due to a single codebase. Moreover, you will get a wider market reach, which allows you to target more audiences with your application.
For complete project estimations, it is better to contact a mobile application development company like UpsilonIT that can discover your particular case with all the requirements, technologies, and project scope in more detail and provide you with a required budget to turn your product into reality.