Building mobile apps: native vs Xamarin (or other cross-platform frameworks)

Building mobile apps: native vs Xamarin (or other cross-platform frameworks)

Decision to develop native mobile applications yields such benefits:

  • Application’s core code base is optimized to work under a certain platform
  • Application runs natively on any device with said platform without the need for compilation or web wrapping
  • All capabilities of any device are supported out-of-the-box
  • UX/UI can be made native, as every app version is developed for a certain platform
  • No limitations in terms of loading and work speed. The game with rich graphical content or an application run by  millions of users won’t lag (if the code is well-written and optimized, of course)
  • Usage and heavy customization of all interface functions and features is possible, as well as automatic updates with each new version of the chosen platform.

The constraints of developing mobile apps using native languages are the following:

  • Separate app versions should be developed for every platform
  • The developer company should have separate employees or teams for each platform
  • Different tech stacks, SDK’s and frameworks, which need to be regularly retrained
  • Increased expenses and overall time spent on developing, bug testing and updating every mobile application.

To sum it up, choosing native mobile app development provides excellent results. Unfortunately, such method has several limitations and imposes significant investments. The developer companies need to keep the developer teams trained up-to-date in order to remain competitive.

Pros and cons of Xamarin

Xamarin, one of cross-platform development tools, delivers such advantages:

  • A single code base written for each app, allowing to reuse up to 80-90% of code base and rendering the remainder using native libraries
  • A single developer team using a single tech stack to create apps for various platforms
  • UI rendering involves ‘native’ controls, so UI works nearly as fast as for native apps
  • Xamarin TestCloud: a tool for automated testing of your app’s behavior using above 2000 devices, helping to deploy, test, update and monitor how your app performs in the cloud after initial in-house development and public release
  • Xamarin uses specific APIs and connectors for every mobile platform to enable various hardware functions
  • Xamarin.Forms library is used for creating and rendering UI for your app. It employs native controls for each platform
  • Xamarin HockeyApp: online DevOps support for Xamarin-built apps, helping collect crash reports and feedback from live users as well as analyze testing results.
  • Multiple design patterns: MVC, MVVM, etc.
  • Companies like GitHub, Slack and FourSquare use Xamarin to develop their products

However, working with Xamarin (or other frameworks for cross-platform development like React Native, Appcelerator, or NativeScript) has certain disadvantages the developers should be aware of:

  • Some quantity of native code still needs to be written, so developers for each mobile OS are needed
  • App’s speed of load and work might be impacted to a certain degree, as some code rendering will take place “on the fly”
  • Full compliance with all requirements of all devices relies upon plugins and framework support
  • The same goes for interface customization, which heavily depends on the framework capabilities

Thus said, both cross-platform and native development method can be applicable to develop a mobile app. While native apps help deliver unmatched user experience and work speed, they demand OS-specific app versions to be created and maintained. While Xamarin and the tools alike allow cutting time and budget, they impose certain limitations on the app work speed along with overall convenience of usage.

Which approach to choose then? At QuanticApps we develop native apps along with cross-platform applications, helping our clients reach their business goals while meeting the budget limits and timeframes. Want a great app able to work on any device? Or a set of apps to cover all target audiences? Contact us and we will make it happen!


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