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Are Cross-Platform Frameworks the Future of Mobile App Development for Businesses?

phoneGap

In today’s marketplace, it’s no big secret that if you want to capture the attention of consumers and convert these viewers into customers, having a branded mobile app goes a long way. However, just because this concept is common knowledge, that doesn’t make the process of developing an offering of your own any easier – especially with so many options standing in front of your business.

Should you focus on cross-platform functionality via powerful frameworks like PhoneGap, or is it better to generate offerings via native tools? Which path offers an economical and efficient solution for your brand? To answer these questions, and show why so many of the leading brands are leaning on the inherent power and flexibility of the cross-platform framework approach moving forward, let’s spend a little time breaking down the pros and cons of both sides of this discussion.

Understanding the Difference between Cross-Platform App Frameworks and Native App Development

Before going any farther, it’s a good idea to lay out the differences between cross-platform app frameworks and those tethered to the native approach. As John Koetsier of Venture Beat explains, the fundamental difference between the two paths comes in the form of your end result.

Native app development eschews the complexity of creating a sustainable product that spans multiple platforms and instead focuses on generating a competent design that stays close to the target platform; Android, iOS, etc. On the other hand, cross-platform frameworks seek to generate an app that reaches out to as many followers of your brand as possible by covering a wide number of end devices during the programming and creation process.

The Benefits of the Native Approach

At first glance, you’re probably wondering why companies like your own would bother with native app development at all anymore, especially when these organizations could simply provide customers with a cross-platform response that functions on numerous devices. While this is a perfectly reasonable response, the team of experts behind Application Development Trends magazine point out that there are still a few reasons to at least consider native app development as a potential option.

native app

To start, there is something favorable to be said about the simplicity of working with a single platform as you create a functional and attractive app. Developing apps across multiple platforms traditionally does require additional time, resources, and expertise in comparison, so the native approach can serve as a streamlined and efficient alternative in some instances.

Additionally, native app development stands as a great option if the target audience of your business exists solely on one platform or portion of the mobile market. Think of it this way: There’s really no reason to invest in the production of an identical app for Android if the vast majority of your target demographic prefers and relies upon iOS-driven mobile devices.

A Look at the Power Held Within the Cross-Platform Process

Even with these corner case benefits standing on the side of native app development, it’s hard not to see how much cross-platform frameworks offer businesses that are looking to develop apps that span a variety of devices and target audience segments. In his look at the myriad reasons why cross-platform frameworks – from PhoneGap to Adobe AIR – are the future of this industry, Jim Cowart of Developer Economics shows exactly why these offerings are making it easier, faster, and more economical for virtually any business to launch a series of mobile apps across any platform imaginable.

In terms of viable and useful cross-platform options, there’s no shortage of frameworks that are worth your consideration. From the substantial set of intuitive APIs that cover things like threading, networking, and animation offered up by Qt, to Appcelerator’s utilization of familiar native UI components, it’s safe to say that the rise of powerful cross-platform options is in full swing.

However, the biggest player in the room, by far, is PhoneGap. As Cowart goes on to explain, the benefits of the framework once known as Apache Cordova are seemingly endless. At the top of the list of reasons to consider using a developer that relies upon PhoneGap is that fact that this framework makes use of HTML, JavaScript, and CSS programming languages, creating a situation in which the existing skills of these professionals can be put to good use. To put it in plain terms, instead of facing a steep learning curve, the people in charge of the development of your app can focus instead on extracting the maximum amount of value and flexibility out of a system that is completely comfortable and familiar.

Outside of providing a virtually universal development platform, this selection found within the cross-platform portion of the industry utilizes access to native device APIs and installation practices to increase app store discoverability. Essentially, PhoneGap takes much of the appeal of the native approach and transports it into the world of developing business apps for multiple devices and platforms.

If that wasn’t enough of a reason to consider this solution as a viable alternative, there’s also the fact that PhoneGap has been around from quite some time, starting with its days under the Apache Cordova listing. This timeframe has allowed understanding of the system to mature, thus creating additionally flexibility and power, as well as the emergence of value-added offerings – like cloud integration – to also enter the design space.

Gauging the Impact of PhoneGap and Other Cross-Platform Frameworks

After delving into the advantages and disadvantages of both the native and cross-platform approaches, it’s clear to see that the future of app development for businesses that are serious about reaching customers lies within the utilization of frameworks like PhoneGap. In fact, some of the leading brands have already hopped onto the cross-platform bandwagon and made great use of this leading framework.

cross platform

If you’re looking for a few shining examples of success via PhoneGap’s cross-platform approach, you won’t have to look very far. For instance, Sworkit – a workout app that provides a guided exercise experience – has been downloaded over four million times across the Apple App Store, Amazon Appstore, Google Play, and Xiamoi Market.

Snowbuddy, on the other hand, focuses exclusively on Android and iOS integration. The developers of this app note that by using the PhoneGap framework, they were able to seize the moment and quickly develop an app that fit a glaring need among ski app users. This example shows that even with the added burden of developing a solution across multiple devices, cross-platform app creation can still be responsive and expedient.

Making the Right Call for Your Business

At the end of the day, no two businesses are alike, so it’s impossible to boil down the questions surrounding how best to develop a branded app to one universal answer. However, you don’t have to be an expert in the industry with years of programming experience under your belt to see that cross-platform frameworks are the future of mobile app development.

Yes, there might never come a time when native app creation is completely marginalized or removed from the development picture. Despite this fact, you’ll still be hard pressed to find many instances where working with a team that’s not familiar with powerful cross-platform frameworks is the right call for your business as it explores the potential for a mobile app of its own.

About the Author
Amit Manchanda
Amit Manchanda is working as Project Lead at Net Solutions and has over 9 years of experience in technologies like ASP, Adobe Flex and Android. He has been part of SME (Subject Matter Expert) Group for RIA applications. He has good understanding of analyzing the technical need/problem of client and providing them the best solution. He enjoys interacting with his team & is passionate about his work. In his free time he loves to listen music, watch Cricket and play with his daughter.

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