Today, there is a rapid increase in demand for mobile apps because every organization wants to provide an interface for customers on iOS and Android devices. Whether you are a B2B or B2C, mobile apps are requisite for a business to survive the violent waves of competition. Since iOS and Android carry almost equal market share, you need to develop your app for both the operating systems. This whole process will consume a lot of time and money. This is because you have to hire different developers for different platforms.
By the time technology graduated from platform-specific development to cross-platform development, (i.e one code for different platforms) many cross-platform app development tools as Xamarin came into existence, Xamarin remained the most used and recommended tool of its kind.
The most favorable reason that drags developers to use Xamarin is that it allows you to build a cross-platform native app along with an option to share 90 percent of the codes for the other platforms.
What is Xamarin?
Xamarin is a software company that has created a cross-platform app development tool. It is an implementation of the common language infrastructure and specification i.e. .NET framework. The company was acquired by Microsoft in 2016. Xamarin uses a single language i.e. C# for creating mobile apps for all the platforms. This platform has two major products i.e. Xamarin iOS and Xamarin Android. For iOS, the codes are directly converted into assembly languages. On the other hand, Android Xamarin apps are first compiled into machine language, then to the assembly language. In both cases, the process is automated that helps the mobile app developer to develop cross-platform applications more efficiently. The apps developed through Xamarin provide a better user experience as compared to the hybrid apps developed through other platforms.
Common features of Xamarin
Cross-platform development is becoming popular because it has certain advantages over native app development. It is a reality that the majority of the mobile app are developed compatible with more than one platform. For developing a compatible app, developers have to phase issues such as :
- They have to use different approaches for different platforms
- They have to prepare different APIs
- Use of different tools
Therefore, to develop an app compatible with all the platforms, you have to hire a developer for each platform. These will affect the total cost of your project. Xamarin is a tool that allows you to build apps using C# and .NET framework compatible with all platforms. Here are some of the features of Xamarin tool :
- Uses a single code for all the platforms
- The platform provides direct access to native APIs for all the platforms
- The use of the .NET framework and coding language C# that make the tool more productive, clear and simple helping you to learn quickly.
Pros of Xamarin
Here are some of the benefits of using Xamarin
- The Fast App Development Cycle
The possibility of single coding for all the platforms (iOS and Android) is the only purpose of the Xamarin tool. It allows you to code for the cross-platform apps using a single language i.e. C#. This tool also contains the reusable codes that can be utilized for the development of the apps for different platforms. Since, the developers are allowed to reuse the codes that reduce their time, effort, and resources. This feature of the Xamarin tool makes it the most effective tool in the department.
- Better Performance Than Native
The main objective of the Xamarin tool is to help you to build cross-platform apps. The performance of this tool is comparable with that of Java for Android apps and Objective-C or Swift for native iOS app development. Apart from that the performance of the Xamarin tool is increasing constantly to match the standards of the other native app development tools. Visual Studio enables you to build, test, and track the app performance. With the help of a visual studio app centre, you can run an automated UI test and identify the limitations before the launch of the app in the app stores.
- Native User Experience
Xamarin app development tool allows the users to develop native apps with the help of the single coding language C# for all platforms. The platform-specific UI element will help you to create a perfect experience for the users. At the app runtime, the elements convert the UI components according to the specific platform-specific interface. Along with that, the tool provides you with access to Native API and uses Native UI, SDKs, etc. The apps that are built using the tool will run and can be complied with the preferred languages of the other platforms.
- Simplified App Maintenance
The Xamarin cross-platform tool has made the app maintenance process easier and quicker. You have to simply move the updates and changes to the source file and they will automatically be applied to the respective platforms i.e. iOS or Android. There is a limitation of this tool that the changes will apply to the applications that use Xamarin.Forms or the business logic, shared code, updates for Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android apps. However, it will indirectly help you to save time and resources involved in getting your app updated.
Cons of Xamarin
- Costly for enterprises
Xamarin is offered free of charge to the individual developers but it might be costly for the enterprises. They have to spend a lot of money to purchase the licensed version of the Xamarin visual studio. For instance, the licensed version of Microsoft visual studio for business with core development tools will cost about $999 per year and $ 699 for renewable. On the other hand, for the enterprise, the cost will be about $ 1899 per year and $999 for renewal.
- Delayed support for latest updates
The Xamarin takes time to integrate the APIs and update them on the platforms. This thing also depends upon the development team because it is not possible for third party sites to immediately support the platforms. Therefore, it takes time to introduce the new plugin. For instance, when new SDKs are launched for iOS or Android, Xamarin needs time to properly combine them to maintain code sharing.
- Larger File size
There are several benefits of the Xamarin tool but the tool is accused of its large file size. It also depends upon the app type and complexity of the features. The Xamarin apps are generally twice the size of the native apps. That causes the developer to spend more time adjusting the file size. The reason for larger file size is the plentiful use of Xamarin core libraries and functionality. The Xamarin tool can add about 3–5 megabytes for the release and around 20 megabytes when debugging the app.
- Limited community
It is the biggest disadvantage of the hybrid app development tools is a limited community. The number of developers uses these tools are very less as compared to the other native app development tools. Therefore, it becomes a challenging task to find a Xamarin developer for their app. The community is growing after the acquisition by Microsoft. As per the survey, only 10 percent of the developers used the Xamarin framework as compared to React’s 30 percent ( this number includes standard React plus React Native) and Cordova’s 5 to 7 percent.
Developing an application using Xamarin has some ultimate benefits. Like, it keeps resources concentrated at one development process rather than switching focus from one version to another on a platform basis. To develop an application it’s always a right choice to consult an application development expert like Simpalm, one of the top app dev company in Chicago, who can give you an idea of how your application should be developed, and suggest the right tool and practices for the development according to your business needs rather than simply recommending the latest programming tool.