An Independent View Cross-Platforming
Cross-platforming is a necessity to monetize mobile apps, but can be costly in terms of both time and resource. Particularly as mobile developers tend to be specialized for a particular OS, automated conversion can be the most efficient solution for all involved – but, from experience, selecting the right platform is crucial. Here are my experiences with 5 major platforms.
First launched to great fanfare in 2009, the framework has won several industry awards and was used for creation of numerous highly rated applications. However a common complaint is that hybrid apps run slower than native products, which raises some questions regarding the best ratio between development costs and app quality. In any case, this is a baseline option for app conversion that can be more than adequate for small-scale projects.
Upsides: simplicity, free of charge, cloud-based, all major platforms supported
Downsides: use of hybrid code, usability issues
This product is widely regarded as one of the better options for code conversion, having been around since the early days of the web 2.0 era. According to some estimates, around 10% of all smartphones have at least one Titanium-based app installed, regardless of the OS. Titanium is open-source product with several freestanding components, some of which may require a fee to install.
Upsides: fast development, access to native UI components, good for prototyping
Downsides: complex architecture, specific skills required
Downsides: latest SDK’s needed, limited native features
As a specialized tool for directly converting native code, MyAppConverter (currently in beta stage) is potentially a unique offering in the cross-platforming space. The platform is based on cloud technology, which converts native code created for one platform directly into native code for another – with no SDKs or no runtime. So it is potentially the most time and cost efficient option here (with no need to learn new languages).
Upsides: fast and automatic native to native code conversion, fully editable converted code project, cloud-based which is unique, free trial, no SDK download, no hidden code and no embedded runtime
Downsides: beta product, limited advanced options (current scope limited native iOS to native Android code conversion), Xcode IDE plug-in not yet available for the developers who don't trust the cloud based option
Xamarin was launched as recently as 2011, but it has already acquired a reputation in the industry, with a community of more than half a million developers. The platform uses a shared C# code library, which allows simple manufacturing of apps for any platform through native interfaces. In effect, developers can keep much of the same code, while adding features specific to the platform.
Xamarin also provides cloud-based debugging for a number of devices, further improving quality of the apps for Android, Windows Phone and iOS. And a starter kit can be obtained for free, with several higher levels of service available at ascending cost.
Upsides: shared code, debugging tools and high-quality native applications
Downsides: best features are not free, limited platform support