Let’s face it—the raging debate on which mobile development strategies to use has confused businesses. While the two mobile development strategies—native or web-based—have their fair share of merits as well their demerits, it’s important to look at the big picture when deciding on which approach to use for your business bottom line.

The demerits of each of the two mobile development strategies—native and web-based— have led organizations to try out new approaches that are more robust and flexible about the development of mobile applications. It’s no longer the case that your organization will have a single Android app.

Whether your business is small,  or medium or large, you still to have a mobile application that supports various mobile devices such as the iPad, the Amazon Kindles, the Android devices, BlackBerry devices and Windows Phone devices. Truth be told, developing mobile applications for all these devices is a major challenge for businesses, regarding costs and time.

So, how does the cross-platform mobile development fit it in to address these challenges? Keep reading.

Well, a cross-platform mobile development—a mobile development technique that allows one codebase for mobile apps to be used on different mobile operating systems—allows mobile apps to be developed with limited resources in a reasonable amount of time. Ideally, you’ll be developing mobile apps that can run on iOS, Android OS, Windows Phone OS and BlackBerry platforms.

But this doesn’t mean that these approach is perfect. Just like any other mobile development strategy, this approach has its fair share of merits and demerits. In “Cross-Platform Mobile Development: Pros and Cons”, we review the advantages and disadvantages of the cross-platform mobile development approach.

Let’s dive in and find out these merits and demerits.

The Pros of Cross-Platform Mobile Development

The benefits of this mobile development approach are multifold. First, this platform supports code reuse. The mobile application developer can use the existing code for a software that has already been developed—using the re-usability principles—to develop a new software. This improves the speed with which mobile applications can be developed because you’ll be leveraging the existing code base as opposed to starting from scratch.

Second, there are reduced developmental costs when you use the cross-platform mobile development approach. Perhaps, this can be viewed as one of the biggest advantages that this mobile development approach has over native and web-based methods. Your business can just develop another mobile app or another version without having to invest in another development team, thereby saving significant costs.

Thirdly, cross-platform mobile development approach supports cloud-based and enterprise services. Most of the frameworks that are available for cross-platform mobile development—such as the PhoneGap, the Appcelerator's Titanium and the Rhodes–can easily integrate with the cloud services such as the Salesforce.com, the AWS, the Box.net just to mention few.

Fourth, web developers will find this approach easier and flexible to work with as opposed to native or web-based development approaches. As a matter of fact, most frameworks are dynamic—they use the scripting languages which supports HTML5 and CSS3—which means that web developers will find it easy to develop mobile applications as they access the native functions.

Finally, the cross-platform mobile development approach creates mobile apps that easy to deploy. This is because the process of deploying and compiling your apps is much faster—if you’re using the new cloud-based development tools—as opposed to using the native or web-based approach.

The cons of cross-platform mobile development

This method of mobile development has its fair share of demerits. First, the mobile apps that have been developed by this approach may not integrate easily with most mobile device’s preferences, storage options, and local settings. For you to integrate these apps with most of the mobile devices from different manufacturers, you have to use third party plugins that can be cloud-based.

Second, because of the screen layouts and functions that are present in various mobile devices, it’s difficult to design one user interface that fits-all. As a matter of fact, successful mobile apps that have been developed have used the native approach because of the manner in which native mobile development handles the user experience.

Third, each mobile platform has its distinctive style of the way it handles the applications.  For, instance, the way Android OS manages its applications is completely different from iOS. This means that one app that has been developed using a particular mobile platform may not necessarily fit on another platform. This is a major challenge for mobile application developers who will be developing a single app for multiple mobile platforms.

Fourth, the mobile code may not run as fast as you may anticipate. This is because the cross-platform compilation process can take a lot of time. As a matter fact, native mobile apps compiles and executes faster compared to cross-platform mobile apps.

Finally, this approach has limited support for the high-end graphics and the 3D support. For you to utilize these features, you have to install additional plugins.


Acknowledgement: Thanks to Natalia for highlighting a need for this blog and to Peter for helping me in the write-up. 


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