To be more responsive and competitive in the marketplace, mobile app development companies need to deliver apps on as many platforms as possible. However, this often creates budget and speed-to-market challenges.
Since the mobile market is dominated by iOS and Android, these two platforms are mandatory. Very few developers can afford to ignore either of these platforms.
The standard approach most app development companies take is native development. But expecting speed and cost efficiency in native development doesn’t make sense. Native development requires you to get SDKs, tools and developers for each platform. You’ll also need to create multiple code bases and design UI/UX for each platform exclusively.
The approach that makes the most sense is to follow what modern companies and app developers do – write once and run anywhere with cross platform development.
Cross-platform development means you develop apps that can run on multiple platforms. By cutting out all the extra time and personnel required for native development, you can significantly lower development costs.
When it comes to cross-platform development for mobile, there are really three choices – PhoneGap, Titanium and Xamarin. These three frameworks solve the problem of developing a single app for multiple platforms.
However, there are vast technical, business and philosophical differences between the three.
Which cross-platform should you choose? Which framework is easier, better and supports your specific requirements?
Let’s take a deep dive into all three and find out.
PhoneGap allows you to create mobile apps using Web APIs, which wrap web applications in a native app shell for use on native stores and different platforms. It also uses a cloud-based service called Build so you can compile apps for several operating systems without having to install the SDKs of each platform.
- Small, simple native API sets provide easy porting to different environments
- Anything written as a webpage can be easily wrapped up as a native mobile application
- Supports many platforms and operating systems, including iOS, Android, Windows, Blackberry, Firefox OS and Ubuntu
- Low performance of apps due to web app original codes that launch via a web browser
- Many fragmented libraries
- Frameworks are at a basic level
- UI varies depending on the quality of the Web View rendered
Of the three, it is the most complicated. Developers need to learn the UI and API of each platform. This can become complex when building large apps.
Additionally, Titanium only currently supports Android and iOS.
- Better performance due to native API usage
- Access to elements and features of iOS and Android
- Better look and feel to applications as the UI is essentially native
- No support for third-party libraries
- Difficult to develop complex apps
- Without HTML5 and CSS, animations and DOM elements can lag and become less responsive
Originally called MonoTouch, Xamarin is another cross-platform framework that has entered the development market with its own IDE.
Xamarin works on C# within a .NET framework, allowing you to create native apps by using the native APIs and UIs of each platform. With the Xamarin.Forms library, you only have to write the native UI once. You just share and convert them to platform specific UIs.
- Features TestCloud for automatic testing of apps
- Provides 100% code reuse with Xamarin.Forms UI development, saving a lot of time and resources
- Supports patterns like MVC and MVVM
- Supports iOS, Android and Windows
- Allows development for Blackberry by compiling Android apps
- Supports Google Glass devices, Android Wear and Firephone
- If your team knows C#, it is easy to start app development
- Doesn’t provide access to certain Android-specific UI controls
- Has its own runtime which impacts load times
- Doesn’t support the sharing of code outside the Xamarin environment for native or HTML5 development
The Bottom Line
Unfortunately, there is no single answer. What we’ve provided is a background analysis of their differences. Your choice between PhoneGap, Titanium and Xamarin will still depend on your purpose, scope of project and resource availability.
To provide some extra help, here is a side-by-side comparison:
While there may not be a perfect fit, all of them will get the job done. As a company or developer, choose the one that best meets your needs.
If you have any questions or need further insight, we’re here to help. Contact our expert today at email@example.com