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Mobile apps are widely used in today’s tech-forward society. From online shopping to managing smart devices at home, people are acknowledging and making the most of mobile applications to make life easier.
With app usage becoming second nature to everyone, it is unsurprising that many enterprises and organizations want to tap into mobile app development. Apps enhance customer experience. They enable users to interact directly with a brand or business, create and manage personal accounts, perform financial transactions through secure, regulated channels, and more. Instead of going to a store to buy an item or filling out paperwork, people can do these things remotely and digitally, thanks to mobile apps.
There are two main approaches to app development today: cross-platform mobile development and progressive web app development. In this article, let’s discuss both, along with their respective pros and cons.
What Is Cross-Platform Mobile Development?
A few years ago, game developers, business owners, and companies that wanted to build a branded app could only do so natively. Developers could only create apps exclusively for an operating system, primarily iOS or Android. If they wanted to cater to users of both OS systems, they had to build their apps twice.
Fortunately, things have improved today. We now have frameworks that allow developers to build applications that will work on iOS, Android, and other operating systems in one go.
Cross-platform mobile app development is creating apps users can download, install, and use across various platforms and operating systems, including web browsers. Any modifications necessary to make an app function smoothly on a specific platform will be minimal.
Cross-platform mobile app development offers a more streamlined process than building native mobile apps. Hence, it is the preferred approach to app development today.
Which Framework Is Best for Cross-Platform Mobile Development?
If you opt for cross-platform mobile development, here are some programming frameworks or platforms that developers use to build these apps:
- Flutter – Google developed this software development kit and gave it a rich array of customizable widgets. Flutter uses Dart programming language and is excellent for building visually appealing applications.
What Is Progressive Web App Development?
Progressive web app development, or PWA, is another popular approach to app development. PWA bridges the gap between native apps running impeccably on a specific platform and users who want to use them but don’t own OS-compatible devices. PWA apps are web browser-based and designed to look, feel, and function like a mobile app. Users don’t have to download or install anything because they can access the app on their web browser and even use it offline.
PWAs are the most accessible apps because people can use them regardless of their operating system. Therefore, progressive web app development is a sound strategy for app developers who want the ease of use and reliability of native apps and the accessibility of cross-platform apps.
Now that you know the two primary app development methods, let’s delve into their pros and cons to gauge which approach is best for you or your organization.
Pros and Cons of Cross-Platform Mobile App Development
- Cost-effective – Developers can reuse a significant portion of their codebase to develop an app that works across multiple platforms. As a result, they work far fewer hours than if they were to build a native version of an app for every platform. This drives development costs down.
- Faster development and deployment – Since developers are essentially building and maintaining just one codebase, they can deploy apps more quickly and make them accessible across platforms and operating systems in a much shorter time than if they develop native apps.
- Wider reach – There are far fewer limitations to one’s reach with cross-platform mobile apps. Data from StatCounter shows that Android users constitute 70.89% of the global market share, while iOS takes up 28.36%. However, iOS is more dominant in the US, with 57.39% of Americans being Apple users and 42.27% being Android users. Creating native apps would mean catering to one market while isolating another. But with cross-platform apps, you can cater to all regardless of which mobile brand they use.
- Easier maintenance – Maintaining and debugging one codebase is far easier than managing numerous codebases simultaneously. This also brings us back to cost efficiency as it requires fewer specialists to look after one cross-platform app than multiple native apps.
- Consistent UI and UX – Cross-platform apps adapt to every platform and OS, offering people a uniform and equally satisfying user experience. You won’t be accused of favoring a specific group of customers because your app loads faster or has a better interface in either iOS or Android.
- UI and feature limitations – Even though cross-platform apps work on all operating systems, native apps still offer the highest rate in performance, UI, speed, etc. Some features may have to be sacrificed for each platform, too. For example, an app feature that works perfectly on Samsung devices can be buggy on Apple phones and vice versa.
- Platform-specific adjustments – This is directly related to the one above. Developers must find workarounds for their app’s limitations on each platform or operating system.
- Longer loading time – Cross-platform apps tend to load more slowly than native apps.
Pros and Cons of Progressive Web App Development
- Accessibility – PWAs are far more accessible than native or cross-platform applications. They eliminate the necessity of a specific OS or app store. Users can benefit from a progressive web app as long as their devices can load applications on a web browser.
- Fast load times – These apps are like websites that use caching, so they load quickly and use less bandwidth whenever they open the app again.
- Offline usability – Because PWAs can store resources locally in a user’s device (just like an open web page on a computer), they can work despite poor connection or if there’s no Internet service at all. Their offline functionality sets PWAs apart from ordinary websites and most mobile apps.
- SEO-friendly – Unlike mobile apps, PWAs can be indexed by search engines. This means they can appear in search engine results pages (SERPs) and be more visible to your target audience.
- Uniform updates – Developers won’t have to deal with platform-specific limitations. They only have to look after one web-based app, and users across operating systems will enjoy all updates they roll out.
- Limited features – Since PWAs are web-based, some can’t utilize useful features that would only work for traditional apps. For example, they may be unable to access your phone’s contact list, gallery, or files. PWAs that can utilize certain mobile features will likely require administrator access or permission first, making the user experience less smooth than native and cross-platform apps.
- Browser dependency – Web browsers can affect the performance and speed of PWAs. Developers will have to test various browsers to ensure consistency in functionality.
- Limited push notifications – One of the advantages of traditional mobile apps is that they can notify users with an alarm, vibration alert, or both. Some PWAs can provide push notifications that appear on the screen. However, they are less versatile, slower, and often not customizable.
Is Progressive Web App the Future of Web Development?
Given the advantages progressive web applications offer, progressive web app development will continue to be utilized in the future. It offers several benefits over native and cross-platform web app development, primarily search engine discoverability.
However, it would be unwise to disregard cross-platform mobile development, or even native app development. All these approaches have cons and benefits, and their differences mean they cater to different needs and situations. Moreover, certain apps are best suited for web browsers, while others are best created as native or cross-platform apps.
The best app development method will depend on your project’s requirements, goals, target audience, and future plans for your app.
Create High-Performance Mobile Apps with Jackrabbit Mobile
If you are in the market for mobile app development companies that can realize your vision of a highly functional and innovative app, Jackrabbit Mobile will be an excellent choice.
You can find app developers anywhere, but product development experts who have spent years working with business owners, brands, and non-profits don’t come by often. Fortunately, you can work with such professionals here at Jackrabbit Mobile. Our company is essentially a development hub offering full-service solutions for app development. We handle every stage of app development, from prototype design to post-launch maintenance.
Whatever your goals for your app – whether it’s for marketing, providing a secure online buying portal for your customers, or delivering customer service assistance – our developers can help you achieve them.
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