How to develop a cross platform app

Published on Jan 01, 2018 in Cross Platform Developers Resources
How to develop a cross platform app

Cross platform app development is the creation of a mobile app that can be used on multiple mobile devices and operating systems. The application is developed using a single source code. With the increased use of handheld devices, which include tablets and smartphones, mobile apps have become must-haves. The modern day consumer can do just about anything on a mobile app from shopping to banking or research. However, people use applications developed for specific devices or operating systems like Android and iOS. It means that app owners have to come up with apps that are compatible across different systems. With global mobile app download set to reach 284 billion by 2020, businesses have to jump on the bandwagon sooner rather than later.


The use of a single source code when creating a mobile app makes it possible to repurpose it on different platforms. Initially, building a backend that ensured compatibility across different platforms was difficult and expensive, but that has changed because mobile app developers have more than one option.

Native cross platform applications

A native app is developed for an individual operating system, each of which has its own software development kit. The SDKs are designed to accept particular programming languages, which a cross platform app development companies must consider. For example, Android supports Java while iOS prefers Swift and Objective-C. An application that uses the official SDK of an OS is referred to as native. For cross platform native apps, the mobile app development companies use Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), which are found in SDKs to write code in a language not supported by that particular OS.

A third-party vendor has to be involved to provide the unified API, which is capable of using a single source code for multiple operating systems. Businesses have several frameworks to choose from when developing native cross platform apps. Xamarin is one of the top options that uses C# language. Native Script, Appcelerator Titanium and QT are other frameworks to look at for cross platform app development.

Hybrid cross platform apps

In the development of hybrids cross platform apps, mobile app development companies use a bit of HTML5 and native programming. The core of the platform is built as an HTML5 app, but the cross platform app developer uses the WebView component found in native app SDKs to wrap the hybrid app. The WebView browser engine facilitates the rendering of the HTML5 and JavaScript. Cordova and PhoneGap are popular frameworks used to develop hybrid cross platform apps.

Enterprises can use it for major smartphone OS. When creating another app, a cross platform app development company can use the same HTML5 app core, but it’s necessary to write another native shell to house the mobile app. For this reason, companies spend less time developing multiple apps for various devices. Cross platform app development companies don’t have to rewrite the entire app to suit each customer interface. Just like native apps, hybrid cross platform applications are put up in app stores for distribution.


Knowing what to look for in framework when developing a cross platform application should be a priority for any business. The features present in each framework determine the quality of the app and its functionalities.


The plugins available on a cross platform framework allow a mobile app developer to create a native library. Native platforms have a host of features which are designed with different APIs. Plugins provide the interface needed to access those features and share them across multiple platforms. Some of these features include geolocation, motion sensors and battery status among others. Some frameworks allow cross platform app development companies to create their own plugins and add them to the platform.


Deeplinking refers to the ability of a user to search for data hidden deep in a native app. Users should be able to navigate the app seamlessly. When the user keys in a search term, the cross platform application publishes the metadata of the referenced page. Users have several search engine alternatives for deeplinking depending on the specific framework. Xamarin, for instance, has web search, Google search, and Spotlight.

Fast compilation

When selecting a cross platform framework for your mobile apps, consider the compilation offered. The time it takes for your app to load influences the user experience, so you want to ensure that it is good enough. Compare compilation speeds from different frameworks before settling on one.

Service support

You want a framework that can offer cloud support when necessary. Check the communication avenues provided by a cross platform framework before using it.


Cross platform app development is fundamental to business growth, but it comes with challenges. For one, phones do not carry the raw processing power of desktops, which presents a problem when powering some HTML5 apps. With a few strategies, you can ensure that your enterprise makes the most of cross platform apps without wasting money.

Code reuse should be a consideration when building a cross platform mobile app. However, be realistic about how much code you can reuse. You can recycle 50-80% of the code. Before you start the cross platform app development, evaluate the code and isolate the parts that will be useful for other apps.

Do not focus on the appearance and specs too much that you undermine the user experience. Know what type of app user experience you want consumers to have. Remember to factor in the platform-specific interface standards when defining the user experience. Whether it is Windows, iOS or Android, find ways to exploit the different features.

Learn about a specific platform before building a cross platform app so you know what features are available. Every OS has its functionalities and features which control their behaviors. You can’t always be sure about how a particular platform is going to respond with your cross platform app. Go through the user interface guidelines for every platform to learn more.

Take the time to pick the framework where you are going to build your cross platform application. Work with a platform that offers a little bit of everything. Reliability is paramount when deciding on a cross platform framework. Ask about the features offered, technical support and maintenance before paying for any cross platform development tools.

Any enterprise that wants to reach its consumers on mobile must think about investing in cross platform apps. These applications allow users on Blackberry, Android, Amazon Kindle or iOS among others to use your business platform. Developing cross platform apps reduces costs and it is less time consuming than having individual apps for different devices and OS.

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