Pros and Cons of Using Xamarin for iOS and Android Development

In addressing the fact that an increasing number of internet users access the internet via smartphones, a mobile strategy becomes an obvious necessity for businesses striving for online success. The question of going mobile for a company means satisfying the needs of several platforms, which is why we should talk about cross-platform mobile app development

Mobile Market Penetration in Figures

The statistics are core indicators in evaluating the significance of mobile devices in today’s life. Let’s take a look at the market as of 2019:

  • 3.3 billion people — 42.62% of the world’s population — are smartphone users, according to Statista
  • 5.15 billion people — 66.6% of the world’s population — possess mobile devices (cell phones, tablets, IoT devices), according to GSMA Intelligence
  • Statista estimates market shares of mobile operating systems as: Android — 76.08%, iOS — 22.01%, KaiOS — 0.81%, Windows Phone — 0.2%

Mobile operating systems’ market share worldwide

Mobile-operating-systems-cross-platform-photo

Creating a solution that meets the needs of multi-platform systems will result in a much more flexible and complete experience for customers.

Native vs. Cross-Platform Mobile App Development

When considering the creation of your mobile application software, you should take into account all of the major platforms on which it will run.

Native development implies creating a separate version of an application for each mobile platform, which means using different technologies, languages and tools.

For instance, a solution for iOS requires Swift or Objective-C languages and the Xcode environment, while an Android version must be written from scratch in Java or C/C++ using app development software such as Android Studio or Eclipse. As a result, two teams are needed to develop two separate code bases and then maintain them.

Although native development has always been preferable in terms of better performance and user experience, it leads to significant expenses both during creation and in the long run, for maintaining the solution. This can be financially crippling for start-ups and can even drain the budget of bigger companies.

Cross-platform development is the process of building software that can run across multiple platforms using a single technology stack and without sacrificing user experience. Such an approach solves the problem of high expenses and the long timelines of traditional native projects and results in secure and stable custom solutions.

The core feature of cross-platform engineering is platform agnosticism, meaning that the software is not tied to a specific platform and is compatible with different devices and operating systems.

Tools-for-Mobile-Development-photo

What Is Xamarin?

Initially based on the Mono project, Xamarin was acquired by Microsoft in 2016 and integrated into the .NET platform. Today, it is a highly popular open-source framework for cross-platform mobile development. A single technology stack of Xamarin, C# language and .NET framework, together with the ability to reuse up to 95 percent of the code, enable the quick and easy creation of mobile apps for Android, iOS and Windows operating systems.

Xamarin-mobile-cross-platform-photo

An independent tech media site Hacker Noon cited $7.9 billion as the value of the cross-platform application market in 2019. Xamarin’s current share in this market is 18.89 percent, according to Datanyze. The fact that several industry leaders have based their solutions on this platform proves its reliability and efficiency.

Advantages of Xamarin

To understand what makes Xamarin so popular and why a company should opt for it instead of developing native mobile apps separately, let’s take a closer look at Xamarin’s prominent features and core advantages for business.

Shareable Code

Xamarin is often referred to as a “write once, use everywhere” development platform because it enables creating 60-95% of reusable code. That is, a single codebase can run on various platforms providing native performance and may require slight changes only.

Native Look-and-Feel

You don’t have to sacrifice user experience when developing a cross-platform solution because Xamarin provides the look-and-feel that is comparable to native applications.

The nativeness is possible due to the usage of platform-specific elements and technologies available in C# and Visual Studio:

  • Xamarin.Android and Xamarin.iOS give .NET developers access to complete Android and iOS SDKs
  • Xamarin.Essentials library provides access to core overlapping native APIs
  • Xamarin.Forms exposes a user interface (UI) toolkit for all mobile platforms

Thus, you can take advantage of all the unique elements in one place and create a single solution with platform-specific interfaces.

Time and Costs Saving

Since everything is written in C# and within the .NET framework, there is no need for separate teams working on the app. Using a single team reduces development costs and maintenance expenses.

It is especially beneficial for companies with limited human and hardware resources.

Moreover, the processes of creation, testing and deployment are significantly streamlined when performed by a single team and using a single technological stack, which also provides minimal time to market.

Technical Support by Microsoft

Xamarin guarantees stability, continuous technical backing and fast issue resolution as it is supported by Microsoft — one of the world’s leading tech software companies.

What’s more, Microsoft provides access to robust educational opportunities, including Xamarin courses, which can be self-paced, and comprehensive tech documents on the official Microsoft Learn platform. So, developers are not working in a vacuum and can receive support while improving their expertise.

Disadvantages of Xamarin

Like any other software product, Xamarin is not ideal for all projects. Here are some cons that may prevent you from using this cross-platform development tool.

Heavy Applications

Compared to a native app, the size of a Xamarin-based application is bigger. This is caused by the usage of numerous core libraries and functionality. A couple of additional megabytes may cause an inconvenience and require extra adjustment.

Not for Apps with Complicated Graphics

It’s extremely hard to build appealing Xamarin solutions loaded with complex graphic elements or animation. Hence, this platform is not the best choice for creating apps with advanced visualization or for gaming development.

However, nothing is impossible: since the platform is open-source, developers are free to create new APIs and plugins that will expand the capacity and add new possibilities.

Updating Lag

When updates for Android, iOS, Windows are released, Xamarin developers can’t use them immediately. They need some time to properly integrate new features into the ecosystem, which causes some lag time and may affect the company’s reputation.

Smaller Community

Platform-specific mobile developer communities (for iOS, Android) significantly outnumber the Xamarin community, which may also have a negative impact on creating new features, solving problems and improving the technology. But the community keeps growing and seems very promising.

Our Experience with Xamarin

SaM Solutions’ Xamarin experts have been providing services for more than five years and have successfully completed more than ten projects. Our competencies include:

  • Business needs and requirements analysis
  • App development
  • Support and maintenance
  • UI/UX design
  • Legacy native mobile apps improvement and performance optimization
  • Mobile testing services

One of our clients needed a solution with two separate mobile apps for the collaboration of two specific groups of users.

Developing separate apps for iOS and Android would have been time-consuming and would have resulted in high expenses along the way. That’s why the client opted for Xamarin cross-platform development.

As a result, the cross-platform solution was developed and successfully launched on iOS and Android. Our team was involved in the following stages of product creation: requirements definition, application development, testing, design, execution, support and maintenance.

In another project, the challenge was to develop a mobile application for both iOS and Android platforms that would control electronic locks and groups of locks in smart home systems.

Our Xamarin team was responsible for system architecture design, development, quality assurance and automated testing. This IoT mobile application was successfully created and launched.

Making a Choice

Developing mobile applications with Xamarin makes programming more efficient and cost-effective while still maintaining all the features of natively developed apps. But this is not a “one fits all” solution.

In many cases, we have found Xamarin to be a successful tool that dramatically cuts both creation and maintenance-related costs without compromising quality. So, we see it as a potential game-changer for many.

Still, Android and iOS continue to rule the mobile industry, and you have to weigh the pros and cons of native vs. cross-platform development while choosing the fastest, cheapest and most efficient way to build your solution.

We have deep experience in creating both native and cross-platform mobile apps. You can contact our specialists for a detailed discussion of your future project.

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About the author

Natallia Sakovich
Natallia Sakovich

A copywriter at SaM Solutions, Natallia is devoted to her motto — to write simply and clearly about complicated things. Backed up with a 5-year experience in copywriting, she creates informative but exciting articles on high technologies.

12 Comments

  • Thx for the review,
    Is there any active project in the company where Xamarin is used?

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    • Hello Siarhei,

      Thank you for the request regarding our Xamarin experience. Yes, currently we have active projects where we use Xamarin tool, as well as number of successfully completed ones. In addition, here you can gather some information about our experience in cross-platform mobile development: https://www.sam-solutions.com/services/mobile-and-web-app/cross-platform-app-development/

      Kind regards,
      SaM’s Team

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  • Technology never ceases to amaze me. Every other say there are new developments and even more interesting things being talked about for future. Endless possibilities makes me even more curious. Wonderful insights here at you blog. Shall keep watching this space for more! 🙂

    Rating: 5.0/5. From 1 vote. Show votes.
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    • Thank you for your feedback!

      Kind regards,
      SaM’s Team

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  • Xamarin is a tool used to develop cross-platform mobile applications. It works through the Mono framework to communicate with the Application Program Interface (API) of common mobile device functions including contacts, camera, and geo-location for popular iOS, Android, and Windows operating systems.

    Pros

    Xamarin excels at being a tool that delivers high performance with device-specific experiences using native API’s to create a User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UE) that the users of specific devices are accustomed to. Additionally Xamarin allows QA and functionality testing for bugs on thousands of devices to ensure perfect integration.

    Cons

    Platform Cost

    A major point of using a hybrid or a cross development platform is to reduce costs of building an app. While Xamarin has a community level software tool at no cost, it is pretty useless for developers who need good functionality on all devices and who have to add any complexity to the app’s UI.

    The business subscription for Xamarin licensing is right at $1000 per developer, per device and platform. If a developer plans to create only one app, this is pretty pricey.

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  • Wonderful insights here at you blog. It is Very informative post.
    Nice collaboration, keep it up.

    Rating: 4.5/5. From 1 vote. Show votes.
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  • Thank you for sharing your article. This is very informative article to Xamarin mobile apps development.
    Keep it up.

    Rating: 4.5/5. From 1 vote. Show votes.
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  • Exactly what I was looking for, appreciate it for posting .

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  • Ohh, great to share this information thanks..
    I am really happy to say it’s an interesting post to read . I learn new information from your article

    Rating: 4.5/5. From 1 vote. Show votes.
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  • This very nice article, it would be helpful to me for my further projects, Thanks for sharing.

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  • Hi,

    Wonderful insights & very informative blog. Xamarin is one of the best cross platform technology and is highly preferred by developers. If anyone want to hire Xamarin App Developers in USA then i want to suggest Synsoft Global, which is considered as a leading Mobile App Development.

    Thanks
    John Wilcox

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  • Wow, amazing post. Thanks for sharing such informative post about Xamarin Cross-Platform App Development.

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