Because the cost of developing native applications is still high, cross platform app development is more important than ever. If you’re going to invest the time, energy and resources into developing a high quality piece of software, you always want to make sure that it works on as many platforms as possible. Though Apple’s iPhone and its iOS environment is still the proverbial “king of the hill” with regards to mobile devices, Apple is not the only game in town. You still need to think about the ever-popular Android, for example, along with classic operating system environments like BlackBerry and Windows Phone.
There are a few key tools for cross-platform web apps in particular that are definitely worth exploring.
A variety of different open source, cross-platform app development tools are based on Apache Cordova. The most famous of these is likely PhoneGap, which allows you to develop your mobile apps natively in eight different platforms – including both of today’s “top dogs,” iOS and Android. The key to Apache Cordova and related tools is that they let you develop mobile apps using all of the latest web technologies. Cordova is also one of the most trusted tools currently available thanks to the fact that it is also one of the oldest and most well-respected.
Pronounced “Gwit,” GWT is an open source development project that aims to both increase productivity for developers and performance for users. GWT is specifically designed to both build and optimize browser-based applications on a wide variety of different platforms. To put things into perspective, Google regularly uses GWT for many of its projects – some that you may not even realize. Good AdWords and Google Wallet, for example, are just two of the many Google projects that have been developed using the GWT toolkit.
J2ObjC is an objective C translation tool and runtime environment that is designed to make development from Java to the Apple iOS architecture as easy as possible. It’s an open source command line tool that was created by Google to help developers include Java code in applications built for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch iOS platforms. Data access, application logic and other important parameters can be written in an app’s non user interface code, at which point it can be shared via a variety of web apps using additional development tools like GWT. Support for Android apps is also available in addition to iOS applications, enabling true cross platform development in a fraction of the time. J2ObjC requires JDK 1.7 or higher, Xcode 5 or higher and is specifically designed to be used on the Mac OS X 10.9 or higher operating systems.
Xamarin is a lightweight tool designed with a simple yet lofty goal – to make the development of mobile apps written in C# as easy as possible. The apps that developers are creating with Xamarin are native, which means that both the interface and the performance of the app will see significant boosts. Windows Phone, Android, iOS and a huge range of other platforms are also natively supported thanks to an extensive selection of built-in APIs.