Why App Platforms Embrace Cross-Platform Tools
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Behind the Scenes: Why App Platforms Embrace Cross-Platform Tools

Published datePublished: May 31, 2024 ViewsViews: 177
Mukul Mayank

Mukul Mayank

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Behind the Scenes: Why App Platforms Embrace Cross-Platform Tools

In 2023, consumers spent about $47 billion on various apps and games in the Google Play Store. With the speedy growth of the app industry, businesses and developers are trying hard to bag a fair share of the money spent on apps. Stores like Play Store or App Store have specific policies for developers regarding the approval of an app.

These policies or guidelines may result in sanctions on cross-platform apps when the apps don’t meet the criteria of the respective app store. So, understanding the platform policies is of paramount importance for developers.

In today’s guide, we will talk about the popularity of cross-platform development, compare cross-platform and native apps, and give you a detailed overview of app store guidelines. 

We will also discuss the approval process for apps on different app stores and how to overcome hybrid app development challenges. Let’s get into more details.

Quick Facts

key statistics about various app stores

Here are some key statistics about various app stores.

  • As of 2024, the Google Play Store has about 3.3 million apps.
  • The number of apps on the App Store is about 1.81 million.
  • 97% of the apps in the Play Store and 95% of the apps in the App Store are free to download.
  • Instagram is at the top of the download list with 70 million downloads.

The Rise of Cross-Platform Development Tools

The Rise of Cross-Platform Development Tools

With the growing popularity of cross-platform app development, many tools and frameworks have come to light that provide developers with a convenient environment to build desired apps.

These best cross-platform development tools allow developers to write code once and reuse the code for different platforms. Developers can also design attractive apps using the UI components and meet platform-specific requirements.

Let us give you a detailed overview of some popular cross-platform development tools and frameworks.

React Native

React Native is a JavaScript-based cross-platform framework. It was launched in 2015 by Facebook, which has excellent code shareability. So, developers use this framework to build near-native apps.

Due to its efficiency in app development, React Native has become one of the most commonly used frameworks for cross-platform app development.

Xamarin

Xamarin was originally launched in 2011 and Microsoft acquired Xamarin in 2016. Since then, Xamarin has become an integral part of the Microsoft ecosystem for developing apps using C# and .NET.

Its integration with Microsoft’s popular IDE and superior app performance made Xamarin one of the most popular cross-platform tools.

Flutter

Google developed this open-source framework for cross-platform development. With Flutter, developers can use the same codebase and convert it into various native applications. The UI components in Flutter and its unique features are the main reasons behind the popularity of Flutter as a cross-platform framework.

Ionic

Ionic is based on Anuglar.js and is commonly used to make cross-platform apps with web technologies. Developers can leverage the UI components of Ionic to customize the apps to a whole new level. The simplicity of this framework and its performance make it a great tool for cross-platform development.

Advantages of Cross-Platform Development Tools for Developers and Businesses

Advantages of Cross-Platform Development Tools for Developers and Businesses

With the increased use of cross-platform tools, one question is more commonly asked than before. That is, what are the advantages and disadvantages of cross-platform development?

Cross-platform development tools and frameworks create a convenient environment for developers. Developers can use pre-made resources to speed up the development process. Also, they can avoid doing repetitive tasks, such as writing code for the app structure or execution. 

So, developers can increase their efficiency by using these frameworks. Businesses embrace these tools due to the faster development cycle and less use of resources. Cross-platform development is more affordable and convenient for businesses wanting to launch an app as soon as possible.

Also, businesses can reach a wider audience with cross-platform apps. Due to these reasons, cross-platform tools have become highly popular in recent times. According to Statista, cross-platform tools and frameworks like Flutter, React Native, Ionic, Xamarin, etc., have seen a rise in popularity.

Flutter, to be specific, has gained about 16% higher popularity from 2019 to 2022.

You can also read React Native vs Xamarin: What to Choose for Cross-Platform App Development?

App Platform Policies and Sanctions

App Platform Policies and Sanctions

App platforms like Play Store or App Store have strict policies in place to prevent the misuse of their platforms by creating and publishing malicious apps. Even if the app isn’t malicious, the subpar performance of an app can app platform restrictions. Let’s introduce you to some basic guidelines of app platforms.

  • Google Play Store and Apple App Store have similar policies in terms of app safety, objectionable content, user-generated content, etc. 
  • Before you submit a cross-platform app for review on app stores, you must test the app thoroughly for bugs and crashes.
  • You must provide complete and accurate information about the app, including the metadata.
  • Your apps must be safe for users. For example, they can’t have any objectionable content.
  • If you build apps for kids, you must select the right category and follow the specific policies for the category.

According to the Developer Policy Center, you must check if your app complies with the content policies before you submit it for approval. If the app doesn’t comply with the policy or local laws, the app can be restricted.

Whatever app you upload to the store should at least provide some functionality with a good user experience. If your app doesn’t perform as expected, crashes frequently, or isn’t functional at all, Play Store can impose sanctions on such cross-platform apps. The App Store has similar policies regarding the performance of cross-platform apps.

As cross-platform apps can have higher security concerns compared to native apps, app platforms often restrict cross-platform apps due to containing malware. 

Implications for Developers and Businesses

Besides restricting apps, app platforms can often impose sanctions on various cross-platform tools. If your framework or tools use APIs that access sensitive information, the tools can be restricted.

So, developers should be more careful about the choice of cross-platform languages, frameworks, or tools. Businesses must choose the right developers or companies who are aware of the app store guidelines and can successfully navigate the challenges of publishing cross-platform apps. Learn How to Choose the Best Cross Platform App Development Company.

Native App Development Limitations

Native App Development Limitations

Native development has always been the best choice for high-performance applications. However, the platform-specific approach of native development comes with some limitations. We compared native development with cross-platform development below to give you a clear picture.

In native development, developers need to use platform-specific languages or frameworks. To build the same app for two platforms, developers need to write code differently. But cross-platform developers can write the code once and use the codebase across different platforms.

As code reusability isn’t possible in native development, the development cycle is slower. Also, native development needs a higher budget than cross-platform development. On the other hand, cross-platform development requires less budget, less development time, and less maintenance.

Limitations of Native App Development

  • It is difficult to find developers with expertise in languages and frameworks for multiple platforms.
  • Even though native apps perform better on the target platform, they can’t attract a large number of users on other platforms.
  • Deployment and maintenance of native apps may be less efficient than cross-platform development.

You might ask, is cross-platform the best choice for mobile app development? Keeping the growing demand for versatile apps that run on multiple platforms, cross-platform is the best choice for mobile app development.

Why Is Multi-Platform Compatibility Important?

  1. Cross-platform frameworks are more versatile and can be used to develop apps with half the effort compared to native development.
  2. Multi-platform app development targets a broader audience, resulting in more traffic and higher revenue.
  3. Taking the cross-platform approach eliminates the need to search for developers experts in all platforms.

Challenges in Cross-Platform App Development

Though cross-platform app development seems convenient, it has some downsides. SDK restrictions and limitations can be tough hurdles to overcome in cross-platform development. Get aware of these challenges prior to starting the development project.

SDK Restrictions and Limitations

Challenges in Cross-Platform App Development
  • When using an SDK, it is your responsibility to ensure that the SDK doesn’t cause any violation of the app store policies. If the SDK doesn’t follow the policies regarding personal or sensitive user data, consent requirements, etc., the SDK can be restricted.
  • If the SDK you use causes any violation regarding the Android permissions or misuse of the OAuth token of other apps, it can be restricted.
  • A lot of other violations can cause restrictions on the SDK or sanctions on cross-platform tools, that are available in the app store guidelines.

Performance Consideration and Cross-Platform Compatibility Challenges

The main concern regarding cross-platform development is the lack of performance. When cross-platform compatibility is the main concern, the app functionality may be overlooked in many aspects.

App stores continuously monitor apps and analyze their performance. If a cross-platform app fails to display the minimum performance required according to the policies, the app can be removed from the app store.

Many wonder, what are the risks of cross-platform compatibility. Not being able to deliver the expected performance is the biggest risk here. Besides, cross-platform compatibility leads to higher security risks.

You can also read, Should I Choose Cross-Platform Mobile App Development Over Native Apps?

Navigating Platform-Specific Requirements

Navigating Platform-Specific Requirements

When developing a cross-platform app, complying with app store guidelines is a big challenge. You should keep in mind that the strategies for overcoming this challenge might be similar for all platforms. 

Strategies for Compliance with App Store Guidelines

  • Follow the design requirements, styles, fonts, icons, buttons, and other guidelines as different platforms want. Combining them into one unified design isn’t a good strategy. For example, keep the button placement different for Android and iOS apps to meet the respective store guidelines.
  • Keep your customizations within the context where you need to step out of the guidelines. For example, you might want to include a custom element that doesn’t fall under the scope of standard guidelines. In this case, try to be as close to the guidelines as possible.
  • Test the apps on different platforms to learn the user experience. Busy developers might overlook some small errors or inconsistencies that users’ eyes can catch. 
  • Balance platform restrictions with development goals. For example, choose an alternative development tool or SDK to achieve your development goal without getting restricted by the app stores.

Overcoming Hybrid App Development Challenges

Overcoming Hybrid App Development Challenges

Performance bottlenecks, offline functionality, security issues, etc., are the main challenges of developing hybrid apps. To overcome these challenges, you can use the following techniques.

  • Use Compatible and Updated Plugins: All third-party plugins used in your app should be compatible with target platforms and be regularly updated.
  • Local Data Caching: It allows users to access the app even when they are offline.
  • Use Data Encryptions: Encryption of sensitive data increases the security rating of hybrid apps.

Strategies for Optimizing Hybrid App Performance

Strategies for Optimizing Hybrid App Performance

The following strategies can help you improve cross-platform app performance.

  • Allow Access to More Native Features: The more native features you can provide, the better will be the user experience.
  • Use Fast-Loading Techniques: Asynchronous loading, compressing media files, etc., can make hybrid apps faster.

Ensuring Compatibility Across Multiple Platforms

The following tips can be helpful in ensuring compatibility across various platforms.

  1. Keep all possible responsiveness factors in mind while building the app so that it appears consistently on various platforms or devices.
  2. Identify platform-specific issues before deployment and solve them.
  3. Using web technologies can increase multi-platform compatibility for hybrid apps.

The App Store Approval Process

The App Store Approval Process

Regardless of what app store you choose to publish your app, you must go through the approval process. App stores review apps in multiple stages to decide whether the app can be published or not. 

Insights Into the App Store Approval Process

The approval process usually starts by creating a developer account. Google Play Store charges a $25 annual fee and Apple App Store charges a $99 annual fee for this. While submitting the app, developers need to provide complete information about the app.

In the next stage, app stores review the submitted app to ensure policy compliance. They check the design consistency, functionality, security, privacy, and other factors. 

The final stage is the manual review where human reviewers inspect the app. The whole process may take days or even weeks.

Common Reasons for Rejection and How to Avoid Them

According to Google, OAuth verification issues, app listing issues, and app readiness issues are the most common reasons for rejection.

To avoid rejection, developers must set up the OAuth consent screen correctly and complete the OAuth verification. The app shouldn’t be in the testing phase or have bugs. All the links should work correctly.

Tips for Increasing Chances of Approval

  • Provide excellent functionality, high-quality content, and a pleasant user experience.
  • Follow UI/UX guidelines, privacy guidelines, etc., strictly to avoid raising suspicions.
  • Test your apps thoroughly before submitting them for approval.

FAQs

It is common to run into the following questions regarding cross-platform app development. We clarified the most frequent ones.

Q: What is the main problem of cross-platform development?

Keeping the UI elements and functionality consistent across all platforms is the main problem of cross-platform development. It occurs due to the variation in the guidelines of app stores.

Q: Why are cross-platform apps slower?

Cross-platform apps don’t have platform-specific codes. Instead, they need to run the converted versions of the same codebase for various platforms. So, cross-platform apps are slower than native apps.

Q: Why are so many games not cross-platform?

Games have specific control methods that need to be compatible with a specific platform. Also, game companies sometimes have exclusivity contracts with platforms. So, many games aren’t cross-platform till now.

Q: What tends to be the biggest concern over apps that run on multiple platforms?

Providing users with a native-like experience regardless of their platforms is the biggest concern over cross-platform apps. Other concerns include SDK restrictions, app sanctions, etc.

Q: What is the main benefit of cross-platform development?

Code reusability, efficient development, lower budget, etc., are the main benefits of cross-platform development. Besides, cross-platform development ensures a better reach.

Q: Why choose cross-platform mobile development?

Cross-platform mobile development is more future-proof than native development. With more and more cross-platform development tools, this approach is becoming more convenient and affordable.

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