Technology is now well into its mobile phase and it shouldn’t come as a surprise. According to a recent study conducted by comScore, 58% of users are now spending most of their time on mobile apps (that’s two of every three digital media minutes).
This phenomenon has got startups and established brands rushing to build the next innovative mobile app. But when we talk about software engineering, you have to first consider all aspects of the code, design, and user experience (UX) while you envision it on paper.
Usually, one of the first questions that pop up during the planning stages is what platform it should be built on. This is important as the specific platform that’s chosen for mobile development will have its own set of technical pros and cons. As a result, it’s important to clearly define what’s needed to build a minimum viable product (MVP) during the discovery process.
This is where Microsoft owned Xamarin’s development tools come in handy. Xamarin can be utilized to build, test, and monitor cross-platform mobile apps (predominantly iOS and Android). Further, you can do all this without having to sacrifice native experience.
As a result, product managers, software engineers, and designers often choose Xamarin as it’s a lot easier to deal with when it comes to integrating multiple technologies and languages efficiently. Further, the primary benefits here are the fact that you can really save your budget and development time by embracing this cross-platform approach.
A Cross-Platform Approach is the Way Forward
Think about it, Android and iOS platforms are the most popular when it comes to mobile, so you can’t really afford to pick one and ignore the other. Further, building an app for two separate platforms and then trying to make them work the same way to offer the same UX will eat up your capital (as you would need a lot of manpower to build it).
Hybrid development with Xamarin is also much faster as you’re essentially writing code that works across platforms (so there’s no scenario where two teams are working on separate sets of code while striving to achieve the same goal). So a single developer or team can be responsible for the complete app.
This also makes it much easier to maintain and support as one codebase runs across platforms. This means that all updates or code fixes can happen on all platforms concurrently and automatically.
So how does the cross-platform development approach with Xamarin offer these key benefits? It’s possible because of the following reasons:
- You can significantly reduce the time it takes to get the app to market (which can be crucial)
- It makes the whole process much easier because you’re focused on a single language (can stick with C# and not have to write code again in Objective-C)
- Compared to HTML5 frameworks and PhoneGap, Xamarin is able to provide a native UX on both Android and iOS (and end users won’t be able to tell the difference)
- Xamarin Insights can save you time in identifying bugs and also offers early warnings that help you respond to issue quickly
- It performs much better than web-based and hybrid counterparts
- Xamarin offers extensibility as it’s possible to write and re-use existing objective-c or java code
Where Does Xamarin Fall Short?
Like most things in life, it’s not completely perfect. This approach will require the app to include its own run-time and this can lead to some small deficiencies in the app’s performance and the size of the app package.
Further, app developers also need to be aware of iOS and Android specifics when it comes to the user interface (UI). The main reason for this is because specific features like geo-positioning, camera access, and sensors are abstracted behind a unified API, but not when it comes to the UI.
Further, the time it takes to compile and test will also be a little bit longer as the build and deployment process will be a little more complicated.
There are also limitations when it comes to generating reusable components and modules outside the Xamarin development environment (as your code, for example, won’t transfer to an HTML5 environment).
So there can be different bugs that come up and the developer or the team will have to deal with it. It isn’t really Xamarin’s fault, these things happen regardless of which development platform you choose to go with. I have to say that the pros definitely outweigh the cons when it comes to app mobile development with Xamarin.
Featured image courtesy of Technoduce.