App revenue across the US sits in the tens of billions of dollars per year range. That massive figure shows us how integral mobile applications are to consumer’s daily lives. It also says that there’s serious opportunity out there if you want to make money in app development.
While developing an application that works on one platform is difficult enough, a goal that many development teams pursue is successful cross-platform app development.
Cross-platform app development is a concept that many starting or self-taught developers don’t have a great grip on. To help bridge that learning gap, below, our team breaks down the basics, sharing with app developers what cross-platform is, its benefits, and challenges.
Keep reading to learn more!
What Is Cross-Platform App Development?
Cross-platform app development is the process where a development team takes an application that is native to a single platform and ports it to another. This might happen after the original app is crafted or the app may be developed for two platforms in tandem.
An example of cross-platform app development that happens frequently is building or porting apps between iOS and Android. Given that both mobile platforms have sizeable markets, development teams see opportunities in releasing their products in both spaces.
What Barriers Exist in Cross-Platform Mobile App Development?
In a world where decisions wouldn’t require resources, it would always make sense to have your application on multiple platforms. Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world. Therefore, teams need to carefully consider the barriers to cross-platform development prior to pursuing it.
While barriers will vary from situation to situation, here are common cross-platform hangups to be aware of:
It stands to reason that developing an application for two platforms as opposed to one will take more time. That’s not to suggest it’ll take you exactly twice the amount of time to move from one platform to two.
It can easily add 30%+ onto your timeline though so you’ll have to weigh that reality against any deadlines you have.
As any app developer can tell you, time is money. And with an extended timeline in place to pursue cross-platform app development, you can be sure your bills will start piling up.
Before you get surprised by additional payroll, software, and other expenses associated with cross-platform projects, take the time to understand what you can and can’t afford. If your budget is tight producing an application for a single platform, pause on your cross-platform ambitions until a future stage in your product lifecycle.
Is your team made up of a bunch of cross-platform savvy ASAP Developers? Probably not.
Most Android developer teams have Java experts on them and iOS teams are masters at Swift. If you’re planning on porting or dual developing apps, you’ll need to diversify your talent pool.
Sourcing diverse talent may mean hiring out portions of your jobs to contractors. It could also mean interviewing new, in-house people which comes with its own set of complications and expenses that go beyond the scope of this post.
How Do Teams Circumvent Issues?
For every problem, we like to think there’s almost always a solution. That’s certainly the case in the world of cross-platform app development!
Here are how teams find ways around some of the barriers we’ve described.
There are tools out there that are making it increasingly simple for app developers to create products across platforms. For example, apps created in Unity can be exported to both iOS and Android.
Limitations do exist when coding apps into software that can help you port your products to multiple platforms. If you can learn a few intricacies and get ahead of those problems though, you’ll find that leveraging specialized development environments could be the most economical way to produce your app.
Round Your Team From the Start
When you’re building your team, do so with the intention of getting your app onto all popular platforms. That intention should make it so you prioritize people that have varying skill sets and pedigrees.
Bottom line, don’t just hire a team of iOS developers if you have a vision for getting your app onto Android as well!
If you’re a studio that has a recognizable name or your application is getting good press, you may be in luck! There is precedent where platforms have offered developers subsidies to get their apps ported onto their services.
Subsidies to develop applications aren’t a given, and again, notoriety helps.
You never know what could happen if you ask though. So, consider putting together a media kit and sending it out to platforms you’d like financial help developing for.
Is Developing Apps for Multiple Platforms Worth the Hassle?
As you’ve learned, there are plenty of pitfalls and workarounds development teams need to navigate to achieve successful cross-platform app development. That begs the question… Is the quest worth the payoff?
Being on multiple platforms opens your app up to millions upon millions of new customers. Therefore, we’re willing to say that in most cases, the work is certainly warranted. And with a little bit of planning and patience, you’ll find that cross-platform work will eventually become second nature!
Our team wishes you the best as you explore your development possibilities. If you find that you’d like additional context on cross-platform development along the way, you’re in luck! Our team posts new dev content on our blog regularly.
We welcome you to explore that additional content to fulfill your need to know!