It is important to address the fact that 80% of internet users have a smartphone. This number will keep growing with Google’s cheap smartphone programs, as well as with many cell phone companies giving away free smartphones with their contracts. Building a mobile strategy has become vital for growing a business in 2017.
Eric Schmidt, then-chairman of Google called for a “mobile-first” strategy, but many analysts think this approach is dangerous. Numbers show that conversion rates for mobile are lower than those on the desktop. Customers, especially in the West, still use desktops for detailed review and purchasing. It is explained by what comScore calls the Multichannel Majority. The question of “going mobile” is not about hopping aboard the “mobile gravy train,” but rather of addressing a need for multi-platform systems that will result in a much more flexible and complete experience for a customer. According to comScore, Android has a 52% share of the smartphone market, the iPhone has 42% and Windows Phones just 3%. When considering your mobile app development software options, you should take into consideration all three of the major platforms for your app will run on.
Common tools and technologies used in Mobile Development
Native Mobile App Development
If the app is written for iOS and Android, the iOS app is developed using such platforms as Swift or Objective-C using Xcode, while the Android version must be written from scratch in Java using Android app development software such as Studio or Eclipse. Two separate code bases will likely require two teams developing and maintaining the app. This leads to significant expenses during development and even higher expenses in the long run while maintaining it. This can be crippling for start-ups and drain the budgets of bigger companies. We have seen this problem for a long time and have been researching ways of making less expensive apps without cutting corners. This is how we started building apps on Xamarin platform.
Xamarin Mobile Development
Xamarin mobile development tool enables users to create truly native cross-platform mobile apps without the need for engaging two teams who are, in a sense, making two separate apps. There are many pros and cons to using Xamarin for app development that you must consider.
Four Ultimate Advantages of Using Xamarin:
- Native experience: The claim that if you want a quality app you MUST develop it natively has become outdated. Many big companies such as Coca-Cola, Siemens, Pinterest and more use Xamarin to develop their apps. Xamarin gives you an ability to develop applications for iOS, Android and Windows Phone with shared C# UI Code and shared C# Logic.
- Costs: There is no need for separate teams working on the app. This reduces costs for developing and expenses for maintaining the app.
- Hardware: Xamarin allows for a native-level functionality. It provides support for hardware features, such as the camera and other sensors using special plugins and platform-specific APIs.
- Maintenance: Because the app is developed using a code base that is shared across platforms, you can avoid many bugs in the code and decrease the time and expenses for maintaining the app.
However, sometimes Xamarin app development platform does not fit the project objectives.
Four Disadvantages of Xamarin Platform:
- One can have a hard time building Xamarin mobile solutions that are heavily loaded with complex graphics and animations. This platform is restricted in many ways in this regard, but at the same time, it is not impossible to develop games and visually appealing apps on Xamarin. A good example is the Kimberly-Clark field sales app and a console-to-tablet port of the video game “Bastion.”
- Hardware functionality such as gestures, multi-touch events, geolocation tracking, etc. have been restricted for the longest time. However, because Xamarin is open-source, more and more developers create new plugins and APIs. This problem is solvable.
- Xamarin apps are heavier. An app that is developed natively will occupy fewer megabytes than a Xamarin app.
- Xamarin community is small compared to other platforms. This leads to setbacks in developing new features and APIs. It was the reason many considered Xamarin a cheap alternative for application development compared to the “proper”, native approach. But due to the fact that Xamarin SDK is open-source and a free tool within Microsoft Visual Studio, it keeps growing. New plugins and APIs are being developed every day, and many problems that Xamarin previously had have already been solved.
Xamarin App for Foster Parents
Developing mobile applications with Xamarin makes mobile programming more efficient and cost-effective while still maintaining all the features of a natively developed app.
One of our clients needed a solution with two powerful separate components: a mobile app specifically created for the requirements of the caseworkers and another mobile app optimized for the needs of foster parents. Our team had been studying Xamarin for a while at the time and felt comfortable using it. This came out to be very beneficial for us as well as for the client. iOS and Android app development would have been time-consuming and would have resulted in many expenses along the way. Our hands-on experience has shown us that bringing business to the mobile is possible without enormous budgets and a long hiring process.
The applications were developed and successfully launched on iOS and Android. Our team was involved in the following stages of product development: requirements definition, application development, test design, execution, support & maintenance.
We also use Xamarin when we are tasked to step up, “revive” and expand old projects. Everything written for Android, iOS or Windows Phone can be recreated, improved and optimized for multi-platform using Xamarin.
While it is relatively new and small, Xamarin opens up a world of new possibilities. Of course, any developer’s first objective is to ensure that the applications support the business goals. In many cases, we have found Xamarin to be a successful tool that dramatically cuts both development and maintenance costs without compromising on quality. And while we find it important to acknowledge Xamarin’s current shortcomings as they stand today, we also see it as a potential game-changer for many.