Latest Trends, Tactics and Tools in Cross-Platform Mobile App Development

Latest Trends, Tactics and Tools in Cross-Platform Mobile App Development

With so many mobile devices multiplying within the enterprise, organizations that need to make applications to boost their workers' efficiency can discover the assignment challenging. Curating cross-platform portable advancement for any number of frameworks is no treat for a company's cadre of developers.

That's why the market is developing development tools that can make apps able of running over mobile platforms. Request for those tools is anticipated to jump within the coming years.

Forrester estimates that more than 60 percent of enterprises are as of now locked in in cross-platform development, and IDC estimates that the market for cross-platform development tools will increase at a compound annual growth rate of more than 38 percent, reaching $4.8 billion by 2017. Meanwhile, Gartner expects more than 20 million enterprise apps to be developed by 2018.

Device Proliferation

Convenience isn't the only reason companies are cozying up to cross-platform mobile development tools. "Given the exponential increase within the cost of per platform development and the need for fast time to market, cross-platform development is the way to go for the enterprise," famous Gautam Agrawal, senior director of product management at Sencha, maker of a web application development platform

Enterprise Coders Need Only Apply

As engaging as cross-platform development tools are to enterprise developers, they're less so to code warriors working on consumer apps. That's because cross-platform tools do not permit a developer to take advantage of the native nuances found in modern mobile operating systems.

"Consumer developers want to take advantage of each garish capability on a platform," said Morgan Reed, executive director of ACT|The App Association, which represents 5,000 app and information technology companies around the world.

Performance Matters

In addition, cross-platform apps confront execution challenges. "There's a consistent battle to induce the execution as near as possible to native," Reed observed.

Parashuram Narasimhan, a senior program manager for Microsoft Open Technologies additionally involved in Apache Cordova—an open source software project used as the basis for a number of cross-platform development products—acknowledges the limitations of the cross-platform approach. "Cross-platform development is good for certain sorts of apps," he said. "Writing games is pretty hard, but if you're writing applications for displaying content or calendar apps, mail apps or to-do records, they're good for that."

In addition, cross-platform apps share unsettling problems with their native cousins. "One thing that developers who are using this 'write-once run-everywhere approach' have to be be mindful of is that it doesn't essentially apply to security," cautioned Kevin Watkins, chief architect and founder of Appthority, a mobile application risk management company. "We've found vulnerabilities within the underlying platforms that translate their code, which means insecure programming practices will carry over to all the stages as well."

Companies getting into cross-platform mobile app development range from ancient hands to newcomers. Here are 10 standouts within the field, in no particular order.

1. Adobe

Adobe's cross-platform development offerings include PhoneGap Build, which is based in the cloud, and PhoneGap, an open source arrangement. PhoneGap is based on Apache Cordova.

Cordova is an open source set of device APIs that allow developed applications to access specific, native device functions across a variety of device platforms. Using Cordova's APIs, as well as cross-platform plug-ins, developers can build and code applications using CSS3, HTML5, and Java Web languages. Those languages are hosted locally within the app and are presented in different device platforms.

The conclusion result is that instead of using multiple native software development kits (SDKs), such as Android SDK, Windows SDK, and Xcode for iOS, developers can use a single codebase to form an app that functions over different platforms.

"The thought behind Cordova is lovely simple," Microsoft's Narasimhan said. "You write an app once and you will be able to run it on all your devices, like Android, iOS, BlackBerry, and a whole suite of devices."

Not as it were does that simplify the rollout of enterprise mobile apps, but it's a great resource saver, too. "Enterprises have invested a lot of effort in development skills, and those skills can be quickly transferred to Cordova," Narasimhan explained.

2. Xamarin

Xamarin is another cross-platform development tool that lets developers build native iOS, Android, and Windows apps, using a single shared C# codebase. Apps created with the platform can be tested on hundreds of devices through the company's cloud service. Xamarin offers its possess interface development tool and online classes through its Xamarin University program.

3. Appcelerator

Appcelerator focuses on speeding the time-to-market for cross-platform apps. Its offering uses a single JavaScript codebase for its apps and supports real-time mobile analytics. The Appcelerator environment is open and extensible, and can deliver apps for iOS, Android, and BlackBerry, as well as HTML5 and hybrid apps. It includes an open-source SDK with support for more than 5,000 devices and OS APIs, the Eclipse-based IDE Studio, and the MVC framework Alloy.

4. iFactr

iFactr is additionally outlined for speedy delivery of apps. The solution can be learned with minimal spending of sweat equity. Developers can start hammering out apps after just two or three days of training, according to iFactr. Prototypes can too be quickly made for fast feedback from employees. iFactr uses Xamarin to create iOS and Android apps, and the solution too supports Adobe PhoneGap.

5. Kony

Kony's products sprawl across the entire software development life cycle. The platform's services can be delivered through an on-premise solution, in a hosted private cloud, or in the open cloud. Cloud services are scalable and can be adjusted on demand. Testing tools and analytics are implanted within the platform.

Offerings include Kony Visualizer, which integrates design capabilities into the development environment; Kony Studio, which has visual development tools and allows developers to add cross-platform JavaScript code and to connect to backend APIs; and Kony Management for deploying and administering mobile device apps.

Kony can be a great fit for organizations managing with large populations of diverse devices and needing apps that integrate with SAP and Oracle backends.