Utilize Xamarin for Cross-Platform Development
TechAhead Logo

Unlocking Efficiency: Why Utilize Xamarin for Cross-Platform Development?

Published datePublished: May 24, 2024 ViewsViews: 237
Vikas Kaushik

Vikas Kaushik

CEO
Vikas manages the Global Operations at TechAhead and is responsible for TechAhead’s growth, global expansion strategy, and ensuring customer delight.
Unlocking Efficiency: Why Utilize Xamarin for Cross-Platform Development?

Imagine starting a business that requires building mobile applications for end users. If you invest in native development to build separate apps for Android and iOS users, the development time and budget will skyrocket, let alone the project complexity, workflow management, etc. 

What do you do to solve this problem? Well, cross-platform development is the best choice for handling such situations where you build just one app instead of two. This app will run seamlessly on both mobile platforms and provide end users with a similar experience. Before you start cross-platform development, choosing the right languages or frameworks is crucial.

You might ask, what is the most powerful cross-platform framework? Xamarin is currently one of the most powerful cross-platform frameworks for mobile app development. According to Statista, about 12% of global developers use Xamarin cross-platform development framework to build cross-platform apps.

This framework is owned by Microsoft and uses C# programming language to build apps for multiple platforms. It also uses the .NET framework to provide superior native development environments. Xamarin comes with the necessary SDKs to make cross-platform development more convenient.

Let’s dive deep into Xamarin to explore its benefits, challenges, and why you should choose Xamarin over other frameworks for cross-platform development.

Understanding Cross-Platform Development

Understanding Cross-Platform Development

The term ‘cross-platform’ is used to express a development process where a single application is built to run on multiple operating systems. Take Android and iOS, for example. If you build an app that can run on Android and iOS, the development process will be called cross-platform. 

Multi-platform compatibility has become a necessity in this era as many users are now constantly switching between platforms. Businesses need to bridge this gap by building cross-platform apps. 

Let us give you some solid reasons behind the popularity of cross-platform development.

1. Reusable and Sharable Codes

Each platform has its guidelines for developing an app. When building native apps, two different codebases are required for different versions of the same app. But cross-platform development lets developers use the same codebase for different platforms. 

They can reuse various portions of the codebase, so the development and maintenance become less complex.

2. It Is Much Faster Than Native Development

Similar businesses are always in a hurry to release their top products before everyone else. So, every second of the development process matters. Using cross-platform frameworks allows developers to work more efficiently and roll out products faster.

3. Cross-Platform Development Requires Less Resources

Consider hiring two different teams of developers with skillsets in native development for two platforms. It will demand a lot more resources than having a single team of cross-platform developers. Down the lane, you will save a lot of resources in the testing, deployment, bug fixing, and maintenance phases.

4. It Increases Customer Retention Rate

Building a loyal customer base is much easier when you provide them with a consistent app experience regardless of the platform they use. As cross-platform apps have a similar appearance on all platforms, customers find them easier to use. It results in a higher customer retention rate. The feedback from customers also helps you lower the customer acquisition cost.

5. Cross-Platform Apps Are More Future-proof

What if the market share of one of the major platforms collapses the next day? Well, you will still have apps ready to run on other platforms if you choose cross-platform development. So, cross-platform helps you future-proof your apps.

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

Challenges of Cross-Platform Development

Challenges of Cross-Platform Development

Like all other development approaches, cross-platform development has its downsides. So, what is the disadvantage of cross-platform applications? Find out below.

  • Performance Issues: You will often hear people ask, why are cross-platform apps slower? Cross-platform apps are slower than native apps due to the additional layers added to the development process. Especially if an app is resource-hungry, you will notice huge performance gaps between native and cross-platform apps.
  • Inconsistent UI: Cross-platform development demands a unified UI for all platforms. As developers need to follow different design guidelines for various platforms, it becomes challenging to come up with a UI design that works consistently for all platforms.
  • Lack of Native Features: Cross-platform apps have come a long way, but they still lag behind in native features. These apps can’t often access many native features, resulting in a bad user experience.
  • Language Compatibility: Different cross-platform frameworks are based on specific languages. So, the preferred framework often depends on the question of which language is best for cross-platform app development. C#, Java, etc., are the top language for cross-platform app development. 

Exploring Cross-Platform Frameworks

Exploring Cross-Platform Frameworks

Tons of best cross-platform frameworks are available in the industry, but only a few among them have gained much more popularity than others. Xamarin, Flutter, React Native, Ionic, etc., are some of the top cross-platform frameworks. Get a detailed overview of these frameworks to find out the best option for you.

1. Xamarin

Xamarin is a Microsoft-owned cross-platform framework that provides a native-like experience. It uses C# programming language and the .NET framework from Microsoft to develop cross-platform apps. Microsoft acquired Xamarin in 2016. You might be curious and ask, how much did Microsoft pay for Xamarin?

Even though the terms aren’t disclosed, Microsoft is assumed to pay about $400 million to acquire Xamarin. This framework is popular for the following features.

  • Native-like appearance and functionality are two strong features of Xamarin. If you consider Xamarin vs. native development, Xamarin is preferable. 
  • It allows customization through native library linking.
  • Third-party codebases can be reused in the Xamarin app development framework.
  • Xamarin has compile-time checking, which reduces the development time noticeably.

2. Flutter

Google owns this cross-platform framework that allows developers to build dynamic cross-platform apps. The following features make Flutter one of the top cross-platform frameworks.

  • Developers don’t need to go through manual updates of the UI. Once the necessary variables are updated, the framework automatically updates the UI.
  • The built-in graphic engine in Flutter helps developers make unified user interfaces for different platforms.
  • Flutter is highly popular for its capability to develop an MVP faster than other frameworks.
  • As Flutter has a large community, developers can use the community support better.

3. React Native

React Native is based on JavaScript and ReactJS where developers can write codes using different languages. Developers prefer React Native to build performance-oriented cross-platform apps. Here are the features that make React Native stand out.

  • It follows the WORA protocol, just like Flutter. So, developers can reuse the codes written for one platform on another.
  • Apps developed with React Native have more responsive UI than others. 
  • Hot reload makes cross-platform development more convenient by updating the real-time changes.

4. Ionic

Ionic is an open-source cross-platform framework focused on mobile app or progressive web app development. Here are some notable features of Ionic.

  • It works as a base for building apps with diverse UI components.
  • Ionic allows the use of native features on different platforms.
  • This framework has rich libraries of various development components and superior community support.

Why Xamarin Stands Out?

Why Xamarin Stands Out

Recourse fragmentation is one of the major challenges of cross-platform development. Xamarin comes as a solution to this problem with its large community as a trusted backup.

Let us share some of the benefits of Xamarin for cross-platform development. These benefits might make you lean toward Xamarin heavily.

Xamarin Is Developer-Friendly

To use most frameworks, developers need to master multiple languages or use different technology stacks. As Xamarin uses C# programming language, developers of a single stack can easily utilize the framework to develop cross-platform apps.

This might induce a question regarding the preferable platform, which is better, .NET or Flutter? Well, Flutter is better if you want to conclude the development project faster. It also provides higher device support. But if your project demands more compatibility, .NET is a better choice.

Use of Native APIs

Ensuring access to all the native features is a challenge for cross-platform developers. Xamarin solves that problem with its native capabilities and helps developers deliver native-like apps for all platforms.

You might think, why use cross-platform development when it has limitations in terms of native features? The benefits of cross-platform development outweigh the challenges like the lack of native features. So, cross-platform development is still a worthy choice.

Xamarin Has Rich Libraries

As codes written on Xamarin are sharable across platforms, developers can manage projects much more easily. Also, the app remains more consistent across platforms.

Comparing Xamarin with Other Frameworks

Developers or businesses often get confused about which framework to choose for the cross-platform development project at hand. The following comparison will help you make more informed decisions with Xamarin advantages for cross-platform apps.

Xamarin vs. Flutter

Xamarin vs. Flutter
  1. Xamarin is more suitable for enterprise-grade applications due to its compatibility with existing resources. Flutter, on the other hand, is more suitable for creating attractive UIs for rapid prototypes.
  2. Both Xamarin and Flutter offer access to native features.
  3. Xamarin has a large community, but it is growing slowly. Flutter also has a large community with rapid growth.
  4. Using native UI controls is possible with Xamarin. Flutter offers more flexibility.
  5. Apps built with Flutter offer a slightly better performance compared to mobile app development using Xamarin, especially performance-oriented apps.

The above comparison may lead you to think, is Flutter better than Xamarin? It depends on the app design, feature requirements, platform compatibility, and other factors. 

Xamarin vs. React Native

Xamarin vs. React Native
  1. The coding environment is much more familiar in Xamarin, especially for native developers. React Native depends on JavaScript, which is more accessible for developers with different backgrounds.
  2. Xamarin is better for building apps with high computational needs. 
  3. Apps built with Xamarin have a more native-like appearance compared to React Native.
  4. React Native allows developers to build apps faster compared to Xamarin for iOS and Android apps.
  5. Both Xamarin and React Native are integrated with mature ecosystems.

As these frameworks deliver almost similar benefits in terms of performance and UI, why is Xamarin better than React Native? This is because Xamarin helps developers build native-like apps with platform-specific UI components. Also, Xamarin is more compatible with the existing .NET ecosystem for enterprise applications.

If you want to get an in-depth comparison, read React Native vs. Xamarin: What to Choose for Cross-Platform App Development?

Xamarin vs. .NET MAUI

Xamarin vs. .NET MAUI
  1. In cross-platform app development with Xamarin, developers can keep core business logic codes separate from platform-specific codes. The .NET MAUI uses a single project approach.
  2. The core UI framework has cross-platform compatibility with Xamarin. .NET MAUI is an extended version of Xamarin.Forms for cross-platform UI development.
  3. Xamarin uses wrappers to access platform-specific APIs, whereas .NET MAUI uses the rendering pipeline and other features in .NET 6.
  4. The community of Xamarin is larger and more active compared to the .NET MAUI community. But the .NET MAUI community is growing rapidly.

Even though Xamarin has a lot of unique features, why do developers choose MAUI over Xamarin? This is because MAUI provides better responsiveness than Xamarin. Also, MAUI can leverage platform-specific features better.

The existing codebase in Xamarin can be fully transitioned into MAUI without any compatibility issues. So, MAUI is getting popular day by day. It leads us to the next question, is .NET MAUI replacing Xamarin? According to Microsoft, the official support for Xamarin will terminate on May 1, 2024.

All of the Xamarin software development kits will stop receiving official support and updates and .NET MAUI is expected to take over. You might wonder, should I still use Xamarin? Well, you can still use Xamarin to build cross-platform apps. 

Doing simplified cross-platform development with Xamarin is still profitable. As .NET MAUI is fully compatible with the Xamarin codebase, there will be no issues in using Xamarin.

The Future of Xamarin

The Future of Xamarin

As many competitors emerge in the scenario, the future of Xamarin seems to be full of threats. Does that draw the curtain on Xamarin’s performance? No, at least not yet. While .NET MAUI is growing as a reliable cross-platform app development framework, Xamarin will retain relevance in the foreseeable future.

So, does Xamarin have a future? The official support might end soon, but the community support of Xamarin will still be a great resource for developers using Xamarin. The ease of the development process, faster development cycles, shareable codebases, and Xamarin app performance optimization will keep developers using Xamarin over other frameworks. 

Besides, superior integration, enhanced performance, and higher efficiency will attract people to Xamarin as the go-to choice for cross-platform development.

Those looking for better alternatives may ask, what is replacing Xamarin? A newer framework called the .NET MAUI is getting more attention from Microsoft. Over time, it will grow as a mature framework for cross-platform development and be used as a good alternative to Xamarin.

However, making the best use of this framework requires experienced development teams that have the necessary expertise and experience to develop highly functional cross-platform apps. Learn How to Choose the Best Cross-Platform App Development Company.

Conclusion

Xamarin is a highly flexible cross-platform development framework based on C# programming language. It stands out because of its developer-friendly nature, rich libraries, great community support, and the use of native APIs. Xamarin provides a native-like appearance and performance, so it is one of the top choices for developers to build cross-platform apps.

There are several other frameworks commonly used for cross-platform development. The landscape is so crowded with cross-platform frameworks that you start thinking, is cross-platform app development the future? 

Yes, cross-platform app development is getting more popular because of its faster output, lower budget, less maintenance, and less complexity. Xamarin is still a bright star in the sky of cross-platform development with its excellent benefits for businesses, developers, and end users.

FAQs

We covered some of the most frequently asked questions regarding cross-platform development here. Check them out.

Q: Is there anything better than Flutter? 

Well, of course. Xamarin, React Native, etc. provide competitive advantages for cross-platform development.

Q: What is the best way to make a cross-platform app? 

You need to be familiar with cross-platform frameworks and languages and weigh them to pick the right one for your needs.

Cross-platform development is popular because of code reusability, less resource requirements, higher customer retention rate, future-proofing, etc. Also, cross-platform development lets businesses reach a broader audience.

Q: Can Kotlin and Java coexist? 

Yes, Kotlin and Java can be used in the same project as the Java code can be migrated to Kotlin seamlessly.

Q: What is the difference between Xamarin and native development? 

In native development, the same code can’t be used for different platforms. But Xamarin can do that for multiple platforms.

back to top