Thinking Cross Platform Mobile Apps? Think XAMARIN!

Thinking Cross Platform Mobile Apps? Think XAMARIN!

When it comes to developing apps for iOS or Android, Objective-C, Swift and Java are the players that immediately come to mind. For years, these native tech stacks have been the go-to weapon of choice for many developers, but thanks to the advent of Xamarin, there’s now an alternative for building user-friendly apps that can dominate the mobile space and enable more businesses to serve customers in their “Mobile Moments”.

What is Xamarin?

Xamarin is a cross-platform mobile app development tool based on the Microsoft Technology stack, with 90% of its code shareable across platforms. Founded in 2011, Xamarin was acquired by Microsoft in 2016 and became a hugely popular tool in their ecosystem. Although initially a commercial project, Microsoft converted Xamarin SDK into an open-source entity.
This has led to a raging debate between purists who still prefer native systems and developers who have embraced Xamarin. Sure, it has some disadvantages, but it’s been widely proven that Xamarin ensures a much lower total cost of ownership(TCO) when you compare it to native mobile app development tools. Given that just about any business needs a mobile app today (and presence across platforms is almost mandatory), Xamarin’s cross-platform capability is extremely helpful to get a stable and secure app up and running on all platforms in no time. Infact, mobile capability is an extremely important tech building block to disrupt your competition. Let’s delve into some details and see how Xamarin really compares to native.

Advantages of Xamarin:

One Stack to Rule all Platforms

Because it uses C# along with the .Net framework, Xamarin means a shorter engineering cycle. You don’t have to switch between development environments, and you can simply create your Xamarin apps in Visual Studio. And the cross-platform tools? They’re built-in and completely free.

Performance? You Bet!

Xamarin’s performance is as good as that of its native counterparts. Of course, code needs to be well-optimized but aside from that, Xamarin gives the same user experience and performance you get from native apps. And when you compare the performance stats of Xamarin with Java for Android and Objective-C or Swift for iOS, you’ll see that they’re pretty darn close. Xamarin’s performance standards are also continuously evolving, and for a minimal additional fee you can also run UI tests in the Visual Studio App Centre before your app’s release.

Create Smooth User Experiences, Faster.

The Xamarin.Forms tool allows you to create simple cross-platform apps in which the app UI components are converted into platform-specific elements. This really speeds up the app development pace. It creates a seamless UX i.e. user experience and is perfect if your project has a commercial focus.

Say Goodbye to Hardware Issues

By using plugins and specific APIs, Xamarin resolves all problems related to hardware compatibility. Xamarin also supports linking to native libraries, allowing for more effective customization and native-level functionality.

Open Source Freedom, Backed by Microsoft.

Xamarin SDK — including all libraries, runtime and command line tools — are open source and available under the MIT license. This greatly reduces licensing costs, which used to be a huge constraint in mobile app development. Xamarin is also supported by Unity, JetBrains, Red Hat and the .NET foundation and has become a significant tech stack in itself.

Extremely Simple Cross-Platform Maintenance.

Cross-platform functionality means you can simply update the source file and the changes will be applied to both iOS and Android apps —saving time, resources and money.

All-in-one, Turnkey Ecosystem.

Xamarin is a full-featured development toolset with its own IDE, platforms, testing tools, distribution and analytics platforms— in other words, everything you need. No need to purchase additional tools or third-party apps. Xamarin ensures that you can build, test and deploy your apps all by itself.

Summary of Key Criteria Supporting Xamarin for Cross Platform Mobile App Development

Criteria Native / Other App Dev Platforms Xamarin
 License Expensive licenses needed Open source
Support Community Unofficial, non-centralized “community” support Backed by Microsoft
Ecosystem Additional tool purchases may be required Turnkey: complete set of ecosystem tools
Organizational Expertise iOS Swift and Objective C are difficult to learn Consistent with in-house development expertise; Easy to learn.
Device Support Possible software compatibility issues Uses plugins and APIs to resolve any hardware compatibility issues
Ongoing Maintenance Requires separate updates for individual platforms Updating the source file will update the app across platforms
Cost of Building Higher costs due to longer build cycle Reduced time and engineering costs
Cost of Ownership Expensive licenses and additional tools Open source with cross platform tools built in
Native User Experience Acceptable, but impractical if you have limited time as each platform requires its own maintenance Very smooth because it converts app UI into platform-specific elements
App Performance Very good, but evolution is very slow Almost as good as native platform performance and constantly evolving

Download a PDF version of this summary here

CoStrategix has used many different platforms to develop Mobile Apps for clients from various industries and domains — from native apps to Titanium Appcelerator, Sencha, PhoneGap and others. But lately, Xamarin has been playing a major role in our mobile application development projects with its phenomenal cross-platform capabilities.
We’ve already built many killer apps on Xamarin—and the results have been astounding, with smooth customer experiences and outstanding performance. If you are looking for a cross-platform app development solution which lowers both your engineering costs and time to market, we believe Xamarin is the solution. It’s not perfect (but nothing is), but drawbacks are negligible when you consider the flexibility, durability and the lower TCO it offers when compared to native development tools.
Xamarin is definitely here to stay.
Want your business mobile app to be built on Xamarin? We are happy to help!

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