Why, When & How should You Migrate a Native App to a Cross-Platform App?

One of the leading markets right now is mobile app development. According to a Business of Apps, it is estimated that the global number of smartphone users will increase to 3.5 billion by 2020. There are more than 4 million apps on both the Apple store and Android Playstore, which targets an audience of more than 2 billion. However, App development is not what it used to be. It has become more challenging to develop a functioning application these days.

The options that are available for app developers are myriad these days. App developers face the dilemma as to which is the platform they shall use for app development. Either they can choose to make a native app or a cross-platform app. This blog will explore more about how and when an app developer can transform a native app into a cross platform app. What is the benefit of such transformation? Before answering these crucial questions, let us have a quick look at what are these types of applications and what are the differences that exist between them.

Native App

A native application is specifically designed to run on a single platform. It will not run on other platforms. For instance , if an application is developed to run on an android, it would run on other platforms like Windows or IoS. You can use app development tools like Java or Kotlin to develop apps exclusively for android and applications like Swift and Objective C for IoS apps. 

While developing a native application certainly has its pros, it is not without its shortcomings. Let us dig a little deeper into these-

  • Pros 
    • Wider Functionality

Developing a native app offers seamless options to app developers to access all API and tools provided by the platform.

  • Better Support

You will get support from the app store if you have a native app. Additionally, it has more possibility for being rated as a top application in the app store as it also offers faster and much more efficient performance.

  • Better Performance

 A native app may offer better performance as there is a direct interaction between the code and underlying resources. It also offers device-specific features and a consistent UI.

  • Cons
    • Costly

Developing a native application can prove too much costlier than a cross platform application. You will have to constitute two different teams who will work on app development on two different platforms.

  • Less value for time

Time devoted to development of native apps can prove to be of lesser value, as it will only run on a single platform. ‘

  • Less Opportunity for growth

A native application can prove to give lesser returns for your time and money as it is bound to run on a single platform. It has much lesser Opportunity for growth as it will be available only on a single platform.

  • Lower Reach

Native apps can only reach out to a lesser number of people, as their usage is limited to only one single platform.

Cross-Platform Application

These applications are designed to run on multiple platforms like IOS and android. Various tools like ReactNative, Xamarin, and Flutter are used to achieve this. While the Cross-Platform application certainly has its shortcomings, like it compromises performance, its benefits outweigh them. It saves a lot of your precious time while offering a better return for your investment. So, if you have developed a native application, you would want to transform it to a cross-platform. 

Why should you migrate your native app to the Cross-platform?

  • Reusable Code: A cross-platform apps code is used to develop a single application on multiple platforms. This helps to save up time and effort for the development team 
  • Broader Reach: Your cross-platform application will reach out to a larger audience, which will in turn, prove to be a better return for your investment. 
  • Customization: A cross-platform application is customizable according to each platform. You do not need to devote extra time to customize the application separately for each application.  
  • Easier Maintenance: It is easier to maintain a cross-platform application as errors are rectifiable through a single code rather than working on the application on different platforms. 
  • Cloud Integration – Cross Platform apps come equipped with plugins and extensions, facilitating their integration with the cloud system.

When should you migrate your native app to a cross-platform app?

Well, it depends upon a lot of factors. As mentioned above, there are various shortcomings for a native application. There are various advantages associated with a cross-platform application. However, making the final decision lies squarely upon your shoulders; there are various factors that you must consider before making the final decision. Let us have a look at a few of them –

  • Nature of the Application: If you want to develop an application that involves complex tools and functions, you should probably stick to a native application. Some of these complexities in a native mobile application includes certain advanced features like real-time sync, media processing and custom animation. However, if your app uses basic features, then you could look for a cross-platform application.
  • Cost: As mentioned above, developing a native application could prove to be a costly affair, As you will have to develop two different teams working on app development for different platforms making a cross-platform is undoubtedly cost-effective.
  • UI/UX – If you are making an application that wishes to deliver breathtaking visuals and a much more enhanced application, you should opt for a native application as it would allow you to exploit UI/UX to deliver optimum experience fully.

How should you migrate your native app to a cross-platform app?

  • STEP 1

Selecting tool: The first step towards migrating your app to a cross-platform requires selecting an app development tool. There are various tools which you can use for this. A few of these are React Native, Flutter and Ionic. React Native is an open source programming language which supports both iOS and Android with a seamless UI/UX interface whereas Ionic is an open-source SDK for cross-platform mobile app development. Flutter on the other hand is the latest technology by Google which enables app developers to use a single codebase. 

  • STEP 2

UI/UX Design – App developers must abide by UI guidelines while simultaneously addressing the design needs for different platforms. Before, the proceeding must ensure that the app developer knows these design needs for different platforms.

  • STEP 3

Selecting App Modules – Another crucial aspect of cross-platform application development is selecting an app module for cross-platform app development. It significantly reduces the time for app development and helps give adequate exposure to native SDKs.

  • STEP 4

Choosing a dedicated library for both Android and iOS – When you are migrating your native mobile app to a cross-platform mobile application, you should have a dedicated library which is compatible in both Android and iOS. There are also several issues related to deployment and packing too. To avoid these, you should incrementally test your mobile application in both Android and iOS so that there no bugs are present during deployment. 

  • STEP 5

Accommodating features for different platforms – So, when you develop a cross-platform application the difference between different platforms is not limited to the programming language or operating system. There are numerous features in different platforms that might differ significantly from each other, like camera, geolocation, gyroscope, compass, Twitter, etc. Besides these, certain attributes could be specific to a device like a screen layout, keyboard layout, push notifications, touch, and gestures, etc.

  • STEP 6

App testing and App Store Approval –The last part of migrating your application to a cross-platform is perhaps the most critical one. It would help if you aimed for a rigorous process review for your application, as there is some margin for error after your app development. Make sure you thoroughly test your app before the final launch date.

In a nutshell, you should keep the factors in mind while you are migrating a native application to a cross-platform application. Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below. We will get back to you with the answers soon.

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