Cross-Platform App Development: Definition, Advantages, Costs, and the Best Tools to use in 2022
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The development of a mobile application takes a lot of resources and needs to be thoughtfully planned. Usually, a high ROI is expected from this type of software and it brings up one of the most noticeable issues, connected to mobile applications development.
Which platform will bring you more profits? Android, with more users or Apple, with a higher return of investment rate?
This problem has been solved years ago with cross-platform app development. With it, the development of mobile applications for different platforms is possible and this is why lots of businesses around the world feel inclined towards it.
In this article, we will tell you about the advantages of cross-platform development and what are the best tools for it.
Cross-platform app development: what is it?
Usually, when a company builds a mobile application, they’re targeting one of the two market stakeholders; iOS and Android devices. In most cases, a company decides on the most profitable platform and starts a native application development. Sometimes, a company might have large technical department or two separate development teams to work on two native applications; one for iOS, and one for Android. But this is extremely cost-consuming and usually, only large enterprises are ready to go for it.
This is why cross-platform development is such a bright solution. Basically, this approach to mobile application development allows creating an app that is compatible with many operation systems, like iOS, Android, or even Windows. The created reusable code is uploaded to a codebase and this way the app may be exported to desired operative systems. It proves to be cost-efficient and the applications created with this approach, do not lack in quality.
Cross-platform mobile app development is the best solution for SMEs since it fastens the development and helps get more attention at the start. If your application is on both iOS and Android markets, you already have the benefit of engaging more customers. And, considering that more than 98% of the market is consumed by Apple or Android devices users, cross-platform solutions are capable of the highest ROI compared to the native apps.
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TOP 3 benefits of cross-platform mobile app development
Now, let’s dive deep into the most noticeable benefits you’ll get with the high-quality cross-platform mobile app development. We will focus on the most crucial ones, but you can easily find more reasons why a cross-platform app development solution can help your business.
We’ve already mentioned it above, but let’s look through the detail. Return of investment is important for any business that decides to digitalize, and everyone wants to get this number as high as possible. With cross-platform development, it is more than real. There is a number of reasons why hybrid mobile applications have higher ROI.
First, cross-platform development is faster. It unties your development team’s hands as they don’t have to create a unique app from scratch for different platforms when you decide to scale. It also helps with updates, since the code is in codebase your developers only need to update it there. The changes then will be reflected on different platforms.
Second, it is more budget-friendly. Since it takes more time, you pay your developers less (if they have hourly rates). It also allows you to get more from cross-platform app development for the same price as native applications.
And finally, it covers a larger audience. You don’t have to focus on one OS and one market, you can scale on the initial stage of your business growth.
So, given the same time and money for two different projects, one native and one cross-platform, you will gain more profits with the second one. Here’s the estimated ROI for the imaginary project (50% reduction on time-to-market and 50% on maintenance costs).
We’ve mentioned the convenient system of updates for the cross-platform mobile applications, but it does not limit the convenience you get with this approach to the development.
Due to the reusability of the code, cross-platform applications are easier to work with. This way, you could get more features implemented and work with specialists who have broad expertise. A wide variety of UX solutions you can implement into your application will help you hook on the user, and you get this variety due to the absence of usual limits set by native frameworks. Mobile apps like this also are easier to maintain since you have one code for every platform when using a cross-platform app development approach. Your developers would need to put the changes only once and all versions will be synced.
It’s important to note that integration with the cloud for cross-platform mobile applications is easy. This gives you more opportunities to scale and add new UI/UX elements to the app.
Cross-platform app development is extremely cost-effective. The maintenance will take less time and so, it will be cheaper. The development will take less time, and will be cheaper. You can get fewer specialists engaged or they can work on this project part-time since the time of its release still allows you to outrun the competitors. You basically get more than you could’ve expected for the same amount of effort you’d put into the native mobile app development.
Of course, there are some downsides of cross-platform apps as well. For example, you could get native-like performance issues. However, if you work with a reliable development team, downsides won’t get to you.
TOP 3 languages for cross-platform app development
So, the benefits of cross-platform mobile app development are notable and can help your business prosper. Some would say that cross-platform development should be your first step on a business digitalization level. And if you’ve decided to finally take this step, there are some important technical nuances you need to know.
For example, let’s look through the best tools and frameworks you can use for cross-platform mobile app development.
React Native is the most used tech for cross-platform mobile apps development. It allows writing modules in C, Swift, and Java languages, and faster converts the custom elements to the native code. Basically, any high-skilled JS developer can figure out how to develop cross-platform applications using React Native. It also makes rapid prototyping possible and allows video processing. React Native is ideal for Agile methodology and some tend to believe that it is more enterprise-friendly than other tools. It also has a large community, which makes the support and maintenance after the release of a cross-platform app development product a little less stressful. Most famous apps build on it: Facebook, Instagram.
Cross-platform app development costs
The cross-platform mobile app development will be more cost-effective, than a native one but still remains a major investment. On average, for cross-platform app development, you’ll spend about $10,000 - $100,000.
Small applications will cost you around $10,000 - $20,000. They can include a few of the most crucial features, like user profile, in-app purchases, some of the popular payment options, etc. These applications will satisfy your needs if you’re a startup owner or run a small business and want to digitalize.
Moderate applications will have a higher price approximately around $30,000 and higher. They will give you an opportunity to include larger functionality, like geolocation tracking and more options for payment. They are still a good choice for startups and SMEs.
And, lastly, the advanced cross-platform mobile apps, that are capable of satisfying the needs of any business from small to big. These will cost you from $40,000 to $100,000 and will contain any amount of useful features you need. They will be 100% compatible with your business needs, but we advise you to order a consulting service along with it. It’ll help you determine the effectiveness of software and find the most crucial features to implement.
Cross-Platform Mobile App Development Example
In RexSoft, we’ve already completed several projects connected with cross-platform app development. One of these cases was the development of a special IoT app C24 designed from scratch by the RexSoft team. The essence of C24 is renting e-scooters with no hassle just from the application. For the fastest implementation of the task, we’ve created a team who worked on the project to make efforts even more efficient. There was the following cast of the C24 development team.
- A PM who guided the whole process and supervised the completion of tasks.
- Designers whose mission was to create a user-friendly and intuitive interface to use the app without any problem.
- Developers who were skilled in IoT technologies and provided both front-end and back-end development of the application.
As for the technologies that came in handy for the C24 project, there were two basic technologies to perform the task. Our team used:
- Flutter as the basic ecosystem was the win-win option as it offers the same codebase for both iOS and Android. It allowed our team to create a cross-platform app that works as a native one.
- Node JS was chosen to empower the speed of the application so the customer can use it in real-time without any delay. Besides, using Node JS as back-end development technology speeded up the whole process of the product’s release so we’ve launched it on the market several times faster.
As for time and money expenses we’ve faced while working on IoT mobile cross-platform app development, they were as follows:
- In total, time expenses reached 1020 hours that were dispersed among app developers, designers, API developers, administrators. The most time-consuming task was front-end and back-end cross-platform app development.
- If talking about the cost, the total cost was $40,000+ and we can say, it is the most optimal price today.
Moreover, cost reduction was available because of hiring the offshore team that included Ukrainian developers and designers. On average, their rates are 30% lower than rated claimed by the US team. So if you want to develop a cross-platform app using top-notch technologies and skilled teamwork it is better to apply for the services of a remote offshore team based on Ukrainian specialists as their skills and requirements combo is optimal.
Factors determining the cross-platform mobile app development costs
The numbers we stated above are only an average cost you’d have to pay for mobile app development. However, some of the factors can change the pricing of your cross-platform applications. Let’s take a look at some of them.
The location of your developers
The place where your development partner is located determines the rates they have per hour. These rates will be one of the most important factors that influence the cost of cross-platform development. So, the average time the development of a cross-platform mobile app would take is from 3 to 6 months. Three months are about 480 hours of working time, and six months are almost a thousand hours.
Now, let’s take a look at the developers’ rates.
The most expensive is the US developers with an average rate of $70/hour. Developers from the former Soviet Union have one of the smallest rates — $49/hour. And Western Europe developers are in the middle with moderate-high rates of $63/hour.
Let’s see how different rates will affect the average pricing of cross-platform mobile development.
An example is a moderate cross-platform app that was in the development stage for 3 months. Let’s imagine that 3 specialists were working on it full-time; 2 developers and a quality assurance engineer. And it took each developer 480 working hours, but the QA worked only half of that time — 240 hours.
If they were from the US, you’d pay about $33,600 to each of the developers ($67,200 total) and around $16,800 to the QA. The total paycheck for the moderate cross-platform mobile application would be $80,000. That’s almost 3 times higher than the average price.
Now, let’s imagine that the same amount of time the same specialists spent on the same app, but now they were from Western Europe. This time, you’d have to pay about $60,480 to the developers, and around $15,120 to the QA. The total sum for this mobile app would be around $75,600.
And, if those developers had been from Ukraine, one of the former Soviet Union countries, you’d pay $47,000 to the developers and $11,760 to the QA which is leaving you with a total of $58,760.
Ukraine has a lot of high-quality specialists with one of the lowest hourly rates in the world. Outsourcing the cross-platform development won’t make your mobile app worse in quality, but will allow you to make the process more cost-effective.
The weight of a cross-platform app
If your application is simple and has only a few crucial features, it may take less than 3 months to develop and may cost less. But, on contrary, if you need to implement immerse functionality, the development process will take longer and undoubtedly will cost you more.
The best way to make this process cost-effective is to work with the development companies that have consulting services. They will help you find the most needed features in your application and satisfy your business needs.
How to reduce cross-platform app development costs: TOP 3 advice
There are some ways to reduce the spendings for cross-platform development. If you want your mobile app to cost less, here are some tips we can share with you.
Outsource the cross-platform mobile development with the pleasant rates
You’ve seen the comparison above, the most cost-effective solution is to cooperate with developers from Ukraine or other Eastern European countries. But, unlike Poland, Ukrain has rates even lower but local developers still work hard to deliver technical excellence. Why would they have such low rates? It is due to the fact that living in Ukraine is generally not as expensive, as in most European Union countries. Ukraine has a large talent pool of more than 200,000 specialists ready to work on your project, and the lowest hourly rate in the country is only $30 per hour. Ukrainian developers mostly have bachelor’s or master’s degrees and lots of market leaders have outsourced development from here. One of them, for example, is Apple. This country is full of ideas, Grammarly, one of the most popular apps for grammar check, has roots here. So, for the lower rates, you get the same quality by ordering a cross-platform mobile app development here.
Portfolio speaks better than word
Always look for a development company with a portfolio. Make sure that they have experience in your business domain and they’ve already released a similar project. Check their style, look at how their former clients are doing. What you need is a high-qualified professional with experience in mobile development and expertise in one of the frameworks for cross-platform apps. You want to see if their solutions have high ROI and bring profits to those, who own them. Also, you may check how their website is looking. If it looks bad, then you shouldn’t proceed any further; it’s the front door of any software development company. And, if you have any questions, contact them. You may contact few development companies and then find out which one did you like better. The most important thing is to find the right technical partner and you’ll have the best cross-platform solution possible.
Start with an MVP
You can start with an MVP of your mobile app to see how the market will react to it. It’ll help you find out what functionality you lack and what features do people love most. This way you’ll reach a bigger audience and will have feedback to base the future updates on. Also, you can release the MVP on the market and get profits from it, while the development process is on hold. If you’re looking for a way to develop a high-quality cross-platform mobile app, this will help you achieve better results. Thoughtful analysis and budgeting will help you not only cut costs but earn more from the very start.
To create something that will grab the audience’s attention, you will have to put lots of effort into the development. But, the cross-platform app is worth it since it’ll give you a chance to reach more people and change more lives at the end of the day.
Mobile applications are our routine, the majority of people spend around 4 hours on their smartphones.
We’re living at the best time for mobile app development, and if you make it cross-platform you get to impact two times more people. So, don’t delay, contact us and get your cross-platform mobile app development in the highest quality!
Bogdan MisiurenkoBusiness Development Manager