How to Build One App for Both Android and iOS Platforms
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How to Build One App for Both Android and iOS Platforms

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When business and product owners start to think about building apps for both Android and iOS, their priorities usually include the following: achieving faster time to market, reducing development costs, having a smaller team to create an app for both Android and iOS, the possibility of developing a reusable codebase for scalability and additional versatility. And here is exactly when some questions might appear. What approach should be taken when developing an app for multiple platforms? What is the easiest way to develop a mobile app for all platforms? 

Since 2009, MobiDev has built a large number of mobile products as we help businesses reach their goals through our consulting and engineering services. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll find answers to all these questions and figure out the most popular options to develop one app for both Android and iOS. 

Developing Apps for Multiple Platforms: How and Why?

Developing an application for multiple platforms can be highly beneficial for businesses as it can give the product a competitive advantage and help increase user satisfaction with the product. Moreover, by targeting multiple platforms such as Android and iOS, businesses can reach a larger audience and tap into different market segments

Building an app for both Android and iOS platforms can be achieved through various approaches, including native development or the development of one app for various platforms. The choice between native development and developing one app across multiple platforms depends on multiple factors such as budget, time constraints, desired features, and target audience. Businesses should carefully evaluate their priorities and business needs to select the most suitable approach for their app development needs. 

Native Development 

While native development might be one of the most obvious options for building an app for Android and iOS, this implies creating different apps tailored specifically for each platform. In other words, you need to develop two products and employ two development teams which increases the development costs.  This approach utilizes platform-specific tools and languages (for example, Swift for iOS, Kotlin for Android) to build apps that seamlessly integrate with the respective operating systems. At the same time, the code written for one platform can’t be reused for another one which makes the development process and scaling the app more time-consuming and challenging.

However, native development has some advantages. Among them are the following:

  1. High performance. Native apps typically offer superior performance and responsiveness due to their optimized codebase. Depending on the device, this means faster load times, smoother animations, and more responsive interactions.
  2. Good UX. Native apps provide a consistent user experience that aligns with platform patterns. 
  3. Integrated security. Using platform-specific security features might ensure enhanced protection against vulnerabilities.

As I’ve already mentioned, native development requires separate apps for every platform.  Developing and maintaining separate codebases for each platform can consume lots of time and resources. Among other cons of a native development approach are:

  1. High cost. The requirement for platform-specific development expertise and resources might result in higher development costs.
  2. More time-consuming development. Building and testing apps for multiple platforms can extend the development timeline.
  3. Challenges in maintaining and updating. Managing updates and implementing changes across multiple codebases can be complex and time-consuming.

Building One App for Multiple Platforms 

All these disadvantages might be a real problem for business owners who want to build one app for multiple platforms, and here is when multi-platform development comes to mind. This option involves creating a single codebase that can be deployed across multiple platforms. The approach utilizes cross-platform development frameworks like React Native, Flutter, or .NET MAUI, allowing developers to write code once and deploy it across different platforms, share code, and implement reusable elements available for basically any framework.

Among the advantages of building one app for multiple platforms are: 

  1. Simultaneous development for different platforms. Developers can write code once and deploy it across various platforms, saving time and effort.
  2. Lower costs and faster releases. Cross-platform development reduces development costs and accelerates time-to-market by eliminating the need for separate codebases.
  3. Reusable code. With code reusability, it’s possible to minimize redundancy and streamline development and maintenance efforts.
  4. Easier maintenance and updates. Managing updates and implementing changes is less time-consuming and more convenient with a single codebase.

Among the disadvantages of this approach are:

  1. Performance. In some cases, multi-platform apps may experience performance issues, especially for graphics-intensive or resource-heavy applications. However, it depends on the platform, the tasks, and the framework. For example, Flutter shows near-native performance. 
  2. Complex сode architecture. Building one app for multiple platforms requires careful planning and architecture to accommodate platform-specific requirements.
  3. Potential OS update lag. Delayed support for new operating system features or SDK updates can affect app functionality and performance.

Among the listed points, one aspect is crucial for businesses. Working with a single code base for different platforms means you only need to maintain one team that manages a framework-specific tech stack. This significantly saves money in the budget for developing new applications, further development, and maintenance. When it comes to maintenance and upgrading issues, a cross-platform approach is highly beneficial as you don’t need to deal with separate applications for different platforms. Bug fixing or launching new updates in native apps requires developers to submit these updates to the app stores and then rely on users to install these updates on a regular basis.

What are the Options for Multi-Platform Development?

With all the benefits of multi-platform development, it’s crucial to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all that suits every project perfectly. The selection of a framework largely depends on the unique requirements of your project, your goals, and other relevant factors. So, let’s look in detail at some of the best cross-platform development frameworks to see what they offer. 

1. Flutter 

Flutter, introduced by Google in 2017, is a versatile framework for developing mobile, web, and desktop applications using a unified codebase. The framework uses Dart, Google’s programming language, as its foundation.

Apps made with the usage of Flutter: eBay, Alibaba, Google Pay, apps by ByteDance

Key Features:

  1. Reusable codebase. Flutter allows developers to write a single codebase that can be used on multiple platforms, such as Android, iOS, web, and desktop, decreasing development time and cost.
  2. Hot reload feature. Flutter’s hot reload feature, enables developers to instantly visualize code changes in their application without the need for recompilation.
  3. Rich set of widgets. Leveraging Google’s Material Design, Flutter offers a rich array of visual and interactive widgets for developers to create engaging digital experiences.
  4. Access to native features. Developers can access native device features and APIs using Flutter plugins, making it easy to integrate device-specific functionalities into their apps.
  5. Active and engaged community. With an active global user base, Flutter benefits from an active community of developers who contribute to its evolution and widespread adoption.
  6. Performance. Flutter delivers satisfactory and near-native performance, especially for typical mobile applications.

Overall, Flutter allows developers to develop cycles, maintain code consistency across platforms, and create polished, feature-rich applications that align with modern design standards. 

Want to know more about Flutter app development?

Read the article

MOBIDEV SUCCESS STORY №1: DESIGNING A MOBILE CRM FOR THE LANDSCAPING INDUSTRY

The cooperation with Landscape Management Network Inc. started in 2019 with the client’s request to create a mobile app for both iOS and Android and incorporate it into the existing infrastructure. The app had to cover a part of the existing web functionality to help landscape contractors manage their leads and clients more efficiently. 

Project goal: Build a mobile version of the existing web CRM system

Industry: Landscaping

Cooperation model: Dedicated Development Team

Team composition: PM, QA, Flutter engineer, UI/UX Designer

What we delivered: 

  1. Tech strategy creation. The tech consulting stage allowed the client to create a clear scope of work, prioritize features, and break down the development process into milestones. The clear roadmap helped to optimize the budget and switch to a fixed-price model.
  2. Delivered the app within strict deadlines. The client had clear deadlines for the release of the first version of the application. That’s why, when choosing a technology, we concentrate on the speed of development of each option to meet the client’s needs. Flutter became our choice and allowed us to release the first version of the product within three months. 
  3. Implemented complex CRM logic on mobile. The application was developed as a mobile version of a web product, so the team had the task of transferring all the complex logic of the CRM system with the ability to manage jobs, track contacts, create estimates, send invoices, etc. on mobile platforms.
  4. Creating a permission hierarchy. The system implied a large number of roles and criteria for these roles, which needed to be conveniently displayed in the mobile application. Flutter’s built-in capabilities, such as style management and UI tools, made it easier and faster to implement this logic. 

Using Flutter, our development team created a multifunctional cross-platform application that allows users to experience the same wonderful experience as when interacting with the web version. At the same time, we significantly saved time on development because Flutter provides the same UX on iOS and Android.

Volodymyr Vysotskyi

Flutter/JS Developer

As a result, we’ve created a powerful SaaS solution that helps landscape contractors manage and build businesses. MobiDev continues to work with Landscape Management Network Inc. to develop and support LMN products.

2. React Native 

React Native, an open-source mobile application framework developed by Meta (formerly Facebook), entered the scene in March 2015. Since its launch, it has appeared as one of the leading frameworks for developing multi-platform mobile applications.  Being the second most favored option following Flutter, React Native continues to enjoy widespread adoption within the developer community.

Apps made with the usage of React Native: Instagram, Meta Ads Manager, Pinterest, Skype, Walmart, Tesla. 

Key features: 

  1. Reusable code. React Native enables code reuse across Android and iOS platforms, decreasing development time and effort.
  2. Hot reloading feature. Similar to Flutter, React Native supports hot reloading, enabling developers to instantly view changes in real-time without the need for app restarts.
  3. Native components. The framework grants access to native components, ensuring that applications maintain the look and feel of their native counterparts.
  4. Active community. React Native benefits from a robust and engaged community, offering an extensive array of libraries, plugins, and resources.

React Native has been successfully adopted by hundreds of businesses worldwide, making it one of the most popular options for multi-platform development. 

MOBIDEV SUCCESS STORY #2: BUILDING A REACT NATIVE-BASED APP FOR ROUTER SETUP

This cooperation began in 2020 when a client came to MobiDev with the task of developing a React Native-based application for router setup to offer better service and enhance customer experience. 

Project goal: to create a cross-platform application for Android and iOS to help users configure routers

Industry: Services 

Cooperation model: Dedicated development team 

What we delivered: 

  1. Began with the tech consulting stage. Our team analyzed all functional and non-functional requirements to build a clear development roadmap for the project.  Since the client’s existing infrastructure was built with React, the utilization of React Native for this project was an understandable choice to facilitate further application support.
  2. Created a customizable UI. Based on the deliverables of the previous stage, our team created a customizable UI of the app. The solution should have been mobile and tablet-responsive and highly customizable to ensure flexibility for the end-users. If necessary, the client should be able to change such elements as colors, logos, etc. React Native allowed us to achieve these goals using existing libraries.
  3. Integrated the app with a router. Implementation of complex logic for requests to the router and handling network connections were the most difficult tasks of this project. The developers had to deal with a challenge here: when the user was making changes to the router through the application, the router had to reboot and temporarily disappear from the network. To change this, we implemented the ability of the app to do all this work automatically. This made the experience with the app more user-friendly and optimized. 
  4. Delivered the solution within strict deadlines and a fixed price. The solution was developed within the framework of the fixed price model and had an approved budget and deadlines. With extensive React Native expertise, our team delivered the project within strict deadlines to meet the client’s needs.

This project showed that React Native is a good choice for working with networks. React Native allowed the developer team to simplify the process of carrying out all the necessary integrations, such as payment systems, audio and video calls, live chats, etc. A massive range of available NPM packages made it possible to find solutions even for narrow cases, which streamlines the process of developing a cross-platform application.

 

Want to learn more about React Native app development?

Read the guide

3. .NET MAUI

.NET Multi-platform App UI (.NET MAUI) is a framework that was released in May 2022 and is owned by Microsoft. It allows developers to develop native mobile and desktop apps with C# and XAML. .NET MAUI is an evolution of Xamarin.Forms, one of the functionalities of Xamarin, which provides native controls for the platforms supported by Xamarin.

Apps made with the usage of .NET MAUI: NBC Sports Next, Escola Agil, Irth Solutions.

Key features: 

  1. Cross-platform APIs. .NET MAUI offers cross-platform APIs for accessing native device functionalities such as GPS, accelerometer, battery, and network states.
  2. Reusability. Utilizing a single project system enabled by multi-targeting, developers can target Android, iOS, macOS, and Windows platforms.
  3. Hot reload support. With the inclusion of .NET hot reload support, developers can make modifications to their managed source code while the application is running.

Want to learn more about .NET MAUI mobile app development?

Read the guide

MOBIDEV SUCCESS STORY #3: BUILDING A COMPLEX WEB & MOBILE SAAS FOR CORPORATE CLIENTS

This cooperation started when our client, a company that has been providing quality improvement consulting, came to MobiDev with the task of developing a complex Web & Mobile SaaS focused on employee engagement and performance improvement for both mid-sized and large enterprises.

Industry: Services  

Cooperation model: Dedicated development team 

What we delivered: 

  • Started with the business analysis stage. Before diving into development, the MobiDev team conducted a detailed analysis to create requirements specifications and technical design documents. This helped minimize risks, optimize development costs, and get a clear technical vision to organize the development process efficiently. 
  • The business analysis stage was combined with UI/UX design to clarify the initial scope. After approving the scope of work, the team visualized the wireframes using Material Design practices. 
  • Choosing the optimal architectural solution. Our team decided to opt for Microsoft Azure as it was a sufficient solution to set up, support, and maintain this system.
  • Developed  Xamarin-based cross-platform mobile apps.  The choice of Xamarin allowed developers to cover iOS and Android with more than 80% of shared code, leading to significant savings in budget and development effort. Moreover, Xamarin enables dynamic switching between languages, a challenging task for native apps.

As a result, the company got a ready-to-use product that meets their business needs and matches budget considerations. Additionally, 80% of the codebase is shared, which makes the maintenance and update process faster and more convenient

Want to learn more about this project?

View the case study

How to Choose the Right Framework for Your Project

Choosing the right framework for your project involves considering various business requirements rather than solely technical arguments. Here are some key aspects to consider:

  1. Development costs. Evaluate the cost associated with hiring developers proficient in the chosen framework. Consider factors such as salary expectations, availability of talent, and the potential need for training or upskilling.
  2. Existing tech stack. Assess how the chosen framework aligns with the company’s existing tech stack. Compatibility with your existing tech expertise, current tools, languages, and infrastructure can streamline integration and maintenance efforts.
  3. Framework maturity. Consider the maturity level of the framework in terms of stability, community support, and long-term viability. A mature framework with a strong and active community is likely to offer better support, updates, and resources over time.
  4. Framework capabilities. Evaluate the framework’s capabilities in meeting the specific requirements of your project. Consider factors such as performance, scalability, ease of development, and compatibility with chosen platforms.
  5. UI customization.  Assess the framework’s flexibility in customizing the user interface to suit your project’s design requirements. Opt for features and tools that allow seamless UI customization without compromising performance or usability.
  6. Security. Prioritize frameworks that offer powerful security features and adhere to industry best practices for data protection. Consider factors such as built-in security mechanisms, support for encryption, and compliance with relevant security standards.

By carefully considering these aspects and aligning them with your project’s goals and constraints, you can choose a framework that best suits your business needs and sets your project up for success. For more information about the most popular cross-platform frameworks, download the comparison table. 

Comparison of the Best Cross-Platform App Development Frameworks

Download the full table

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It’s also possible to migrate from native to cross-platform if there is a need to do so. For example, companies like Shopify and Alibaba migrated their native apps to cross-platform technologies like React Native and Flutter for better scalability and agility. When considering migration, it’s important to analyze the existing system, prioritize code replacements, make technical decisions, and create a migration plan. 

If you’re unsure what to choose, MobiDev’s software architects and consultants can help align business objectives with technological capabilities and select the optimal technologies. Additionally, they can create a clear roadmap for product development to make the whole development process easier and more effective.

Need consultation with tech experts?

Contact us

Opt for MobiDev’s Multi-Platform Development Expertise for Your Product 

With the rising demand for mobile development in the market, you have several options for building an app for both Android and iOS. You can opt for a native approach or choose a framework for multi-platform development. 

To decide which option is the best way to make an app for both Android and iOS in a particular case, businesses should carefully evaluate their requirements, budget, and target audience to determine what works best for their app development needs. Whether opting for native development or one of the frameworks for multi-platform development, both approaches offer unique advantages and challenges that need to be weighed against specific project goals and constraints.

At MobiDev, we offer a range of collaboration options tailored to your immediate needs and long-term goals. Whether you require experienced mobile developers to enhance your existing team or seek a dedicated team for comprehensive product development, we have solutions to meet your requirements.

From technical consultation to ongoing development and support during a product launch, we are prepared to assist you in achieving your business objectives and help you choose which multi-platform framework suits your needs. Explore our multi-platform app development services to discover more about our collaboration opportunities and how we can contribute to your success. Feel free to reach out to us via your preferred communication channel for further discussion.

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