It will not be wrong if we call our mobiles as “Saviors”, because they actually are. Right from shopping applications to security applications, enterprise applications to consumer applications, marketing application to games, we are becoming quite dependent on our mobile devices including iPhones, Android devices, tablets, Windows Phones, BlackBerry Phones and several other hand held devices that are facilitating our daily lives. Keeping in mind the demand of end user one cannot expect developers / development companies to stick to native application development for all types of projects. Therefore, Cross Platform Mobile Development is the biggest need of the hour.

cross platform mobile app development

Cross Platform Mobile Development methodologies have facilitated the development of applications that run seamlessly across multiple mobile platforms. In short, you get to see the following types of applications running on each mobile platform just the way a native app would, with a single executable file / same code:

  1. iPhone Applications (Objective-C development for native apps)
  2. iPad Applications
  3. Android Applications (JAVA development for native apps)
  4. BlackBerry Applications
  5. Windows Applications (.NET development for native apps)
  6. Symbion Applications
  7. Facebook Applications

Cross Platform mobile development answers all big concerns that a developer has such as:

  • How to develop one app that runs on multiple platforms without tweaking the code for each native version?
  • How to avoid continuous revisions of apps on every platform?
  • Version Control without losing track of applied updates.
  • Develop cost effective applications / mobile solutions.
  • Maximum utilization of resources in terms of expertise and time consumption.

Comparison of Frameworks of Cross Platform Development

Now that we have talked about the benefits of Cross Platform Mobile Development, the next step is to educate our readers on the best tools available to develop flexible mobile applications with seamless compatibility.

  • PhoneGap (Apache Cordova) – This is an open source award winning platform that enables developers to create mobile applications compatible with Android, iPhone, iPads, Palm, BlackBerry and Symbian. This framework is based on simple technologies like CSS3, HTML and JavaScript. The overall efficiency is further enhanced as it provides free access to hardware components like GPS tracker, Accelerometer and the device Camera. This is the most famous platform especially among the beginners, while being in use for a large number of apps being used by around 2 billion Android and iOS users.
  • Sencha Touch – This is an HTML5 based cross-platform framework that provides fully functional API’s and offers a component based approach for building mobile applications. The latest release is Sencha Touch 2.4 that has empowered developers to build powerful applications that run on iOS, BlackBerry, Android, Windows Phone along with advance BlackBerry components for BlackBerry 10, Q5 and Q10 devices. Moreover, this framework makes apps faster and responsive, while creating unparalleled user experiences.
  • MonoSync – This framework supports C/C++, PHP, Java, JavaScript, Python and Ruby. The ideal characteristic of this framework is that it allows the native mobile applications to be transformed for other platforms including Symbian, Linux Mobile, iOS, Android, iPad and Windows Phone platforms without any complications.
  • Appcelerator - This is a Software Development Kit (SDK) that is used for the development of native and hybrid mobile applications, while using a single codebase. This platform enables developers to mobilize all types of data sources, while enabling faster application testing due to its live prototyping and fully optimized code.
  • Corona – Again an SDK that uses Lua along with C++ / OPenGL and enables cross platform mobile applications development with one code, while building the application to iOS, Android, Kindle Fire and NOOK.
  • Adobe AIR – A perfect framework to build Cross functional apps for Google Android, Apple iOS, BlackBerry Tablet OS platforms. Applications with in-app billing, push notifications and browser based games are built quite commonly using this platform.
  • Xmarin – I would rather call this an advanced and versatile framework mostly used by remotely operated development companies. Xmarin is C# based platform that enables users to call the native API’s in the resulting mobile applications. The code is executed on a .NET framework at the runtime, while giving a native dialect of either iOS or Android.
  • RhoMobile – This is an integrated framework based on ROR, while enabling developers to create apps for iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, Symbian and RIM with several Add-on features.
  • jQuery Mobile – This is also a very famous Cross Platform Mobile development framework used to create websites that mimic the iOS look and feel. This framework also enables developers to use Windows UI and Windows Phone specific features.
  • QT – Ideal framework for creating Symbian, desktop OS, N9 and BlackBerry 10 applications

Latest Cross-Platform Mobile Toolkit of Sencha Touch – Sencha Space

Sencha Touch is an HTML5 based Cross Platform Mobile Applications Development framework that has empowered the development of technologically advanced applications that work on multitude of platforms including Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Android and iOS. A few more platforms (operating systems) are also supported. The latest released version Sencha Touch 2.4 offers a number of special BlackBerry components to match their native counterparts. These advanced components enable the developers to create native-like graphical interfaces of BB devices.
Excellent Speed of Apps by Sencha Touch
Most of us (the end users) are more concerned with the speed and responsiveness of an application rather than thinking whether it should be a native app or a cross platform application. Sencha Touch uses HTML5 and CSS3 to accelerate the hardware performance, while enhancing the speed of the application overall no matter what browser or mobile device is being used.
Built-in Resources & Features

The highlighted features of Sencha Touch are listed below:

  • Brilliant User Interface
  • 300 Built-in Icons
  • MVC (Model View Controller) Support for keeping the Business Logic, Data Access and Graphical interfaces separate.
  • Theming Support
  • Data Bindings Package
  • 8 Examples & Detailed Documentation / Learning Resource for beginners
  • Complete Application Lifecycle Management from Architecture and Design to Testing and Management with around 10,000 end users and 2,000,000 development users.

Latest Mobile Toolkit by Sencha Touch – “Sencha Space”

Sencha Space is the latest release that allows enterprise / business class customers to manage their mobile applications and data across all type of mobile devices including Desktop, Laptop, Tablets and Mobile phones. Here are the latest additions.

Desktop Client Application – This is a whole new module that empowers the functionality of the modern browsers and, the management of applications on desktop / personal computers and laptops. With Sencha Space 1.2 developers are able to test, debug, deploy and manage a particular application within a single IDE (Integrated Development Environment), while providing secure access to data on any screen, anytime.

Custom Android Web View – The Android platform has one common issue experienced by the developers, which is fragmentation. Sencha Space 1.2 has addressed this problem by providing a chromium-based web view that is compatible with all Android devices right from version 4.x and higher. The hassle of building device-specific view & version control has ended, while enabling developers to deliver wonderful Android experiences.   

Remote Debugging – This module helps developers test the applications on the actual hardware / selected devices, while making the entire debugging process highly effective. Developers get to find and troubleshoot all the problems before the final deployment.

On-Premise Management and New API’s – The on-premise functionality enables enterprises to deploy the management functions on their private clouds and data centers.

Cross Platform Mobile Development Through Visual Studio

A developer’s biggest concern is to develop a cost effective application or game that reaches the target audience on multiple mobile platforms (cross platform enabled), in the shortest possible time. On the other hand customer / end user is looking for feature rich apps including animations, special effects and several other intricate features. In short they require an all-in-one app that handles the entire functionality in case of a business app and provides great entertainment in case it’s a game / fun app.

Great news for both the developers and end user is that Visual Studio 2013 Update 2 is now available that empowers Cross Platform Mobile Development with advance tools for Windows Phone 8.1, Universal Windows apps and several other new features. Applications can now be built for a multi-device environment while using the technology of choice that includes JavaScripting, C++ or .NET

Visual Studio in Combination with Apache Cordova

The latest release of Visual Studio offers great tools for Cross Platform Mobile Development, especially for Apache Cordova. Visual Studio together with Apache Cordova serve to be the perfect combination for developing Hybrid apps that are supported by multiple mobile platforms including iOS, Android and Windows Phone, while using a single project based on JavaScript and HTML.

Why Combine Apache Cordova and Visual Studio?

1- Apache Cordova comprises of the entire device API’s required for accessing the devices native functions including camera, GPS and accelerometer from JavaScript. Therefore, developers need not to explore more or acquire more training; they can simply use the existing HTML and JavaScript knowledge to create Cross Platform enabled Hybrid apps.

2- The tools offered by the Visual Studio cover end-to-end development of Cross-Platform mobile applications.

3- Project Templates are available in multiple formats including JavaScript and TypeScript, while enabling developers to pick the framework of their choice such as JQuery UI, Angular .js, WinJS and BootStrap.

4- The developed applications can run on several devices, emulators and web-based mobile simulators. By installing vsmda-remote npm package on Mac you can start your app on the iOS Simulator right from the Visual Studio.

Cross Platform Mobile Applications Development with Appcelerator Titanium

There are so many advanced Cross Platform mobile and web apps development technologies in the market that one can hardly decide what tool / software to pick. Here’s a set of questions that can help you make the decision faster:

  • What functions are required to be implemented? OR Nature / Purpose of the application.
  • What platforms / mobile operating systems need to be targeted?
  • How do you plan to launch your application: through the corresponding platform’s official app store such as AppStore in case of iOS and Google Play for Android, your business / corporate web site or a different source?

If we look at it from a developer’s perspective the technology has to be cost and time efficient, while addressing what approach / solution to go with such as a web based solution, Hybrid app or a Native application.

Now here’s a technology that answers all these questions for you, as it handles multiple Operating Systems, along with Hybrid and HTML5 solutions. It’s called Appcelerator Titanium; it suits perfectly if your team or the selected development team is proficient in JavaScripting.

Some Guidelines for Better Decision Making

– The more platforms you plan to target, the lesser the features you should be offering for a seamless launch.

– Titanium does save a lot of development time but you should expect the device testing time, QA testing time and project scheduling time to go up.

– Appcelerator Titanium serves to be a very efficient platform due to its ease of use and simplified programming approach

Cross Platform Support

Titanium offers support for Apple iOS with around 500 applications for iPhone and iPad, Android with over 125 apps, BlackBerry and mobile web applications. Moreover, the company plans to offer support for Windows Phone/RT in the near future.

Development Technique / Process for Titanium

All Titanium applications are written in JavaScript, which is the most in practice technology by mobile app developers. A special Titanium SDK (software Development Kit) is used that allows access to all the features / required frameworks to build cross platform solutions. However, there is no interfacing / screen design tool and no CSS is used. The developers create and modify applications through code mostly.

In order to start the app building / development one needs to install the official SDK for a particular platform such as Xcode and iOS SDK for iPhone and iPad, Android SDK for Android platform etc. Once a build is made the project is tested on the original Titanium SDK to test for native performance in terms of User Interface and overall functionality of the application.

HTML5 Web Applications with Titanium

In case you plan to launch a web application Titanium provides a perfect development platform using HTML5, CSS and JavaScript.

Some of the advantages that Titanium web apps have are listed below:

– Standard UI / elements such as tables and buttons along with animation effects can be used.

– Network resources can be accessed via HTML with some security limitations.

– Data can be stored locally on your device

– Faster loading as the resources are pre-cached.

Listed below are some of the limitations:

– Restricted / Limited access to certain OS related mobile components such as Android Activities and local notifications iOS.

– Limited access to device camera, calendar and contacts list

Cross Platform Mobile Games Development

Gaming is totally on! A huge percentage of Customers / end users are into changing their mobile phones and tablets to try new platforms, shapes and sizes of their handheld devices. However, games are addictive; one gets used to playing a certain game and wants to have access to that game no matter what platform / device / phone it might be. Cross Platform development is the answer to all your questions and problems here.

Marmalade the Fastest Cross Platform Tool for Games Development

There are several tools / frameworks that are being used for Cross Platform mobile applications and games development. However, Marmalade has been rated as the fastest tool for C++ games development. Marmalade enables you to open Visual Studio and Xcode projects in a single Marmalade file, while compiling them for almost every platform including Mac, Windows Desktop, Tizen, iOS, Android and BlackBerry 10.

Marmalade as a package combines two major supplements, first one being Marmalade Juice that is a cross platform Software Development Kit for Objective-C. You can open a project and take advantage of all platform-specific/native features and compile for iOS, Android and several other operating systems.

Going further Marmalade offers Marmalade Quick, which is an acceleration tool offering more advanced, fast and flexible environment. Quick is a 2D RAD Lua-based cross platform development tool that was used to launch the game “Signal to Stars” to four different application stores at one time. Moreover, Marmalade Quick also caters Web development (through Web Marmalade) with native performance on the selected platforms.

Highlighted Features of Marmalade

Marmalade as a Cross platform development offers quicker development with fast revenue generation. Some of the prime plug-ins are as follows:

* In-App Purchasing

* Statistics & Analytics

* Advertising

* Monetization

Some of the Famous Games Marmalade is Used In:

– Plants vs Zombies

– Signal to the Stars

– Draw Something

– Talisman Prologue

– Vector

Cross Platform Mobile Application Development using Mac, Windows and Linux

Where we see a huge variety of handheld / mobile devices, there’s a range of operating systems available in the market. Most of us like using the common platforms like iOS, Android, BlackBerry and Symbian. However, there’s a huge customer base using other operating systems like Windows, Mac and Linux. Intel has launched a perfect Cross platform mobile app development tool that enables you to create applications for all these three operating systems, it’s called Intel XDK.

Advantages of Intel XDK

  • The biggest plus is that XDK offers a large number of UI templates that can be used without wasting any time on the graphics part. It supports excellent user interface frameworks such as TopCoat, jQuery Mobile and Twitter Bootstrap.
  • You can see live preview of your app on the device that is connected, while you are developing the application at the same time.
  • Intel XDK provides the easiest development approach i.e. drag and drop.
  • All tools right from building and development to testing and publishing are available together as a single package.

Installation & Workflow

  • Intel provides XDK in the form of an application that can be downloaded from its official website. Once installed, you sign-up to create an account that enables you to host your project in the cloud and start your development activities directly from the cloud.
  • The first screen that displays in front of you is the text editor based on Bracket editor (an open source editor built with HTML5 and maintained by Adobe).
  • Application prototyping can be done with the drag and drop approach, while using the App Designer or the App starter tool.
  • App starter is a simple tool mostly used by the beginners; it supports the basic application framework. However, App Designer is a little advanced tool supporting App framework, JQuery, TopCoat and BootStrap 3.
  • All tools are arranged into 7 tabs in the development order (Develop, Emulate, Testing, Debugging, Profiling, Building and Services).
  • You can simply connect the device for which you are building and keep checking the live preview at the same time. The real time testing and debugging enables you to develop a perfect front end in a lot less time. For testing, you simply need to download the preview on the testing device and execute it from the server.
  • The Emulator is based on Apache Ripple, while supporting some extra API’s and Cordova.
  • The Debug tab uses Chrome developer’s tools along with extra support for JavaScript and is available for Android 4.x devices
  • Profile tab allows you to collect information on application performance
  • The Intel XDK allows you to build for Windows 8 Phone, Tizen, Firefox OS (Beta), Amazon apps, iOS, Android, Chrome web applications and Facebook apps.
  • You can start unlimited private projects on the Intel XDK Cross Platform.
  • The last tab offers a lot of additional services that you could use such as Data Feeds, Push Notifications, Advertising and Social media.