Cross-Platform Mobile App Development - Pros and Cons

Digital Transformation Tech Tips
June 12th, 2024
Robert Kehoe

In the realm of mobile app development, the choice between native and cross-platform approaches stands as a pivotal decision for both businesses and developers. Cross-platform mobile app development emerges as an intriguing option, offering the potential to create applications accessible across various platforms: iOS, Android, and sometimes even web browsers. Like any technological innovation, it presents a unique array of advantages and limitations when you consider application lifespan, code reusability, and other pertinent factors of application development.

Pros of Cross-Platform Mobile App Development

Cross-platform mobile solutions offer a host of practical benefits. With a single codebase, businesses can streamline development across various platforms while simultaneously cutting costs and expediting time-to-market. The potential for code reusability ensures consistency and reduces the risk of bugs throughout the course of development. Embracing cross-platform development means broader audience reach, simplified maintenance, and faster development cycles. It’s a practical choice for businesses looking to optimize resources while maximizing their app’s impact.


The immediate benefit that attracts most people is the potential for substantial cost savings. By constructing a singular codebase deployable across all of your user’s devices, unnecessary development and maintenance costs are avoided for each of the native applications being replaced. The more devices your users utilize regularly, the more potential value there is in opting for cross-platform development.

While developing a cross-platform application may require slightly more time and come at a higher initial cost compared to a native application, the long-term savings easily outweigh this investment. The true cost of software development extends beyond simply the hourly rate charged for development work.

For each application maintained, there are various additional expenses to consider, such as ongoing maintenance, server costs, and the development of new features. With a cross-platform application, these additional costs are consolidated into a single application. On the flip side, native applications might necessitate separate teams to ensure smooth operations across different devices.

Code Reusability

Assuming proper planning and strategizing, development teams can effectively reuse code components throughout the application. This substantially expedites their development process by componentizing the logic of a single functionality and calling it again for reuse later on as needed. This underlying development principle allows for a much more efficient approach to the creation of your application itself.

Expedited Time to Market

The accessibility of cross-platform frameworks such as React Native, Flutter, and Xamarin provides a wide library of pre-assembled functionalities that keep development teams from having to start from “scratch.” Not to mention that each framework has large community support from their respective development audiences, providing even more opportunities to find reliable, componentized resources for use in your own project. The sheer amount of resources available for these frameworks allows a much shorter journey to market, enabling businesses to cast a wider net of audience outreach at a much quicker pace.

Expanded Reach

By harnessing the potential of a singular codebase, cross-platform apps can easily surpass native applications by reaching an expansive audience that encompasses users of iOS, Android, and Windows devices. This proves particularly advantageous for startups and small-scale enterprises looking to grow their outreach without the burden of investing in individual development teams for each platform.

Streamlined Maintenance

Managing a singular codebase provides a much simpler maintenance and update schedule compared to multiple native applications. This allows developers to address urgent maintenance items while simultaneously focusing on the future application roadmap.

Cons of Cross-Platform Mobile App Development

Cross-platform mobile app development presents numerous advantages, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. Performance limitations can arise, particularly in apps with complex graphics or demanding computations. Furthermore, relying on cross-platform frameworks may restrict access to platform-specific features, potentially compromising functionality or user experience. Development teams may encounter a learning curve as they familiarize themselves with platform-specific nuances and APIs. Additionally, delayed access to the latest platform updates and the risk of vendor lock-in can pose hurdles.

Delayed Access to Latest Features

Cross-platform frameworks may not always provide immediate access to the latest platform features and updates. Developers could find themselves awaiting framework updates or relying on third-party plugins to access novel features, potentially impeding the integration of cutting-edge functionalities.

Does this slow down roadmaps?

Not necessarily. Rather than “slowing down” your roadmap, this simply puts a higher priority on the planning and strategizing that takes place throughout roadmap development. By remaining up to date with the industry and these cross-platform frameworks, roadmaps can be realistically crafted to accommodate the shifted timeline.

A quick reference guide of for choosing a develompent approach for your mobile application.

Image courtesy of Railsware

Performance Limitations

Despite the strides undertaken in performance optimization by cross-platform frameworks, they may still lag behind their native counterparts in performance, especially within the domain of apps featuring intricate graphics or compute-intensive operations. The choice to use cross-platform frameworks or other hybrid/PWA approaches can be heavily influenced by the overall performance you’re looking to achieve as well as the content of the application itself.

An e-commerce platform with large amounts of assets that need to be displayed across mobile networks wouldn’t be the best contender for cross-platform. On the flip side, a growing service franchise looking to expand its reach across its region could be interested in its capabilities and offerings.

Platform Limitations

Cross-platform development frameworks often lean on native components and APIs to interface with device features. This reliance can sometimes impose constraints on the ability to harness the full range of platform-specific capabilities, compromising the functionality or user experience of the final application.

Learning Curve

While cross-platform frameworks aspire to streamline development through a unified codebase, they still require their developers to familiarize themselves with platform-specific intricacies and APIs. This learning curve might prove steep for developers accustomed to native development ecosystems. The solution to this? Well-written documentation, structured knowledge transfer processes, and training for those developers having to bridge that gap.

Resource Lock-In

Embracing a specific cross-platform development framework harbors the potential for vendor lock-in, where transitioning to an alternative framework or platform quickly morphs into a daunting and costly endeavor. Leadership needs to be aware of the development resources required to keep the application up to date with evolving technology. These development resources could be internal, contracted freelancers, or an entire development agency.

So What’s Best For You?

Unfortunately, it’s not quite that simple. The decision between cross-platform and native development hinges on project requirements, target demographics, and overarching business goals.
While cross-platform mobile app development offers an enticing proposition for businesses aiming to balance cost-efficiency and expedited development, it is not an endeavor to be approached hastily. It's essential to weigh these advantages against potential challenges like performance limitations and the risk of vendor lock-in.

If you or your business are curious about cross-platform app development and looking to chat with a team of app developers, you’re in the right place. Contact us for a free consultation of your existing application and processes to see if it’s a fit for your overall business goals.

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