Several years ago it was looking like there might be BlackBerry, WebOS and Windows Phone that all needed to be supported independently, as well as iOS and Android. Clearly from that perspective a cross platform solution is almost a necessity.

In more recent times it looks like RIM (Blackberry) isn’t doing so well, and Windows Phone isn’t getting as much traction as Microsoft had hoped.

There are a few big contenders in the mobile cross platform space, the two we have experience with are PhoneGap and Appcelerator Titanium. Lets take a quick look at the two and our own personal experience using them.

PhoneGap essentially lets developers make apps in HTML, and Titanium lets you build them using a JavaScript based SDK. In 2010 we experimented with various cross platform and HTML / JavaScript based technologies. Unfortunately in reality the solutions generally perform slowly and are often buggy.

Issues we’ve encountered

Due to our need to deliver quality working solutions to our clients we don’t use cross platform solutions. Here are a couple of reasons why:

  1. The user experience is inferior both in speed and native interface widgets
  2. Apps using non native solutions are far more error prone
  3. You do not get very good support compared with the native SDKs (Software development kit)
  4. All new functionality added when a new version of iOS or Android comes out is only added the to Native SDKs
  5. If something isn’t available, or worse if it’s broken, then there isn’t much you can do except wait and hope that the developers of the cross platform library will add support soon
  6. If something does break and there’s no fix then the app may need to be scrapped and built in the native language, or a work around may be necessary

What’s all the hype?

We guess it’s the idea that sells well, but when looking at actual examples there are at best a handful of good apps ever made with it:

Most of those apps are super simple or very website / text heavy. The reasons to choose between: HTML5 Mobile Web, Cross Platform Mobile Solutions and Native vary on your needs.

What should you use?

If your application is web content heavy and you have an existing website then Responsive Design / HTML5 Mobile website is probably best. If however you require access to native phone hardware like camera, microphone, gps, calendar, push notifications, etc, then you need a proper natively built application.

We honestly believe that if your going to produce a proper app then you’re far better off with a native solution. You may save some time and may be able to target more platforms with a cross solution, but the question is which platforms do you need to target, and how much are you willing to compromise with the end user experience? It’s the age old question of quantity or quality.

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Phone: (07) 3878 1151

Address: Office 2, 59 Hardgrave Rd,
West End, Brisbane, 4101, QLD, Australia

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