From Native to Hybrid: How a Cross-Platform Mobile App Can Do Wonders for Your Business

Peter A. Liefer II | Posted: September 4th, 2013 | Updated: July 26th, 2022

An app that can run across multiple platforms? It’s every business owner’s dream—one app that can work flawlessly all mobile platforms and connect to users of various mobile devices. Thanks to the developers of the cross-platform framework, entrepreneurs like you can take advantage of a great opportunity to simultaneously save on their marketing expenses and reach out to more potential customers through a cross-platform mobile app.

Imagine being presented with an app that can work on any device, regardless of the operating system that runs it. The proliferation of smartphones and tablets won’t be much of a concern to business owners anymore, as they have an option to invest on one app that can do what several native apps offer to do.

The problem of developers before is that they have to decide which one or two platforms to target and create an app for, because creating apps for all platforms is much too expensive and time-consuming. A cross-platform framework will now be able to solve that, providing a single solution for multiple marketing requirements.

Some of the more popular cross-platform or hybrid apps include VLC Player, Mozilla Firefox, DropBox, TeamViewer, and Thunderbird.


How Cross-Platform Mobile Development Came into the Picture?

Although there were already smartphones and apps before the iPhone as seen in Windows CE back in 1996, many people consider the start of the smartphone era when Apple launched the iPhone in 2007.

At first, Apple was adamant on keeping third party native apps from being installed but with the introduction of the Apple Store in 2008 came the opportunity for third party developers to create native apps. It did have certain limitations though as development needed a Mac, Xcode, and other requirements. The finished app also had to be examined and tested by Apple before being published.

Since the iPhone’s dominance at this point was very solid, mobile developers only had to target a single device and one platform, along with a series of OS versions.

This scenario changed when the Google launched their first Android device in 2008, where a multitude of devices were launched in quick succession since the G1. There are now more or less a hundred device running on Android and made by around 30 manufacturers worldwide.

The appeal of Android device, accounting for more than half of smartphone sales in the world, is its affordability and compatibility with so many devices. The devices differ to the iPhone in so many aspects such as resolution, screen size, features, processor speed, and memory.

Somewhere along this line began the challenge of creating and developing an app that is able to run smoothly on most, if not all, devices. It’s an idea that has come across the minds of many but its ultimate solution remains ever elusive, remaining as attractive as ever to developers, businessmen, and consumers alike.


Cross-Platform Mobile App Development Solutions

Cross-Platform Compiler

This option basically means Is capable of creating a program for a platform other than the one on which the compiler is running. It produces an object code for another operating system and are used to generate software applications that can run on other operating systems with a new architecture. A good example would be to use Appcelerator to cross-compile Android apps to iPhone. Xamarin, on the other hand, has a compiler that can target both the Android (MonoDroid) and the iOS (MonoTouch).

HTML 5 Web Apps

HTML 5 allows code running in web browsers to provide a smooth client-side experience, with features such as:

Local storage


Audio and video

Ability to work offline working

Improved graphics

The creation and development of the HTML5 has significantly blurred the lines between an app and a website. A good illustration is how the Amazon Kindle’s app is on iOS. They had to go with a pure HTML5 app because of the changes made in the Apple App Store but still managed to allowed users to download content for future use.

HTML5 Hybrid Apps

Another viable solution is using a combination of HTML5, JavasScript, and other web technologies, while also using a native-code wrapper, to develop an app. The result is getting the benefits of both HTML5 and native apps.

App users can now exceed the 5MB limit, while photos from their local devices can be uploaded. Some platforms can even allow background services to be run, along with other advantages.


Weighing the Pros and Cons

There are several noteworthy advantages that these technologies bring, including the following:

It reduces the amount of time it takes to market a brand by selling the apps to as many mobile device users as possible because of its capacity to run across different platforms.

The fact that it will be easier to maintain a single app than multiple apps running in various operating systems.

The chance to provide users with an app that has a uniform look and feel regardless of the device or operating system on which it is running.

Main setbacks other than not being able to support all platforms yet, depends on what a translator or driver can handle. Some hybrid apps may be able to access either local storage, Bluetooth, or WiFi, as some of these features it may not be available on all phones. There’s also a chance that on some phones, hybrid apps may also suffer performance wise, since the app’s code may not be well optimized for a particular phone.


Is the Native Apps’ Reign Coming to an End?

There are still apps that cannot be built using cross-platform technologies, including high-performance games and some low-level utilities, but this is a very small percentage. A good majority of apps already exhibit cross-platform features.


The Lowdown

Before making a big decision of shifting from a native app to one that has cross-platform compatibility, carefully consider what option will give you the best results and which will make all the time and your effort worth your while.

Will it be best for you to set up multiple development environments, or will you be more amenable to re-developing your app in multiple languages? Just keep in mind that the cross-platform framework is already one step ahead of many app development technologies you can use for your business.

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