How to Balance Building an App for iOS & Android

Published: June 12, 2015 Author: Clearpoint Tags: Information Technology, IT Staffing Houston, Staffing Agency Houston, Employment Agency Houston, Building iOS Apps, Building Android Apps, Building Apps For Android, Top Careers In Houston

When building an app, many developers may find themselves forced to narrow their focus to either iOS or Android. Not only do these two platforms involve entirely different programming languages, they also have different behaviors and models. Building both simultaneously may seem like an impossible task, but it can actually be the most time-effective and sensible way to approach application development.

There are two goals to cross-platform development: don’t rewrite the same code, and make sure each app is native to its platform. Traditionally, developers have abandoned the former and written each application individually. This doubled the time commitment and dramatically increased the amount of effort involved in the process. So how can you accomplish both of your goals without sacrificing your time?

Use the Right Tools

There are tools available that can let you share code between iOS and Android without having to do the messy work of writing them individually. There are two levels of tools: those with high-level abstractions and those with low-level abstraction. PhoneGap and Appcelerator are examples of highly abstracted tools that actually let you work with common languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. This makes for a more fluid cross-platform experience, so your work is never redundant.

There is one drawback to this category of tools. Due to the hidden complexity, it’s extremely difficult to access the layers necessary to create individual looks for the iOS and Android apps. To do so, you’ll have to know Objective-C, Swift, and Java to create extensions that allow to you manipulate the look and feel of each app.

More advanced tools like Xamarin, however, aren’t as highly abstracted, so you can access the behaviors of both platforms. You have the opportunity to share all of the standard code, and create individual behaviors or features for your dedicated platforms. Xamarin requires fluency in C#, but it offers more flexibility in terms of individual development.

Which Do You Need?

Choosing the right tool depends on your needs for your applications. As mentioned before, the second goal of app development is creating an application that has the look and feel of its operating platform. An iOS app should have the look of iOS, and vice versa. If, however, this isn’t particularly important to you, you can create very visually similar (and functional) apps with high-level abstraction tools. If you need to have access to the unique functions of each platform, you’ll need to use something like Xamarin.

No matter which you choose, these tools will allow you to cut down on the time it takes to develop two separate applications. You’ll no longer be forced to dedicate your time to one or the other—rather, you can work on both simultaneously and share the code between them for increased efficiency.

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