A well developed mobile application can help businesses increase customer satisfaction and engagement by allowing the company to be available to their target audience at all times, generate revenue and create additional channels for marketing. It is unsurprising, given the widespread use of mobile devices, that entrepreneur.com reports that this could translate to more than 268 billion application downloads and generate nearly $77 billion dollars in combined revenue by 2017.
Furthermore, Emarketer.com predicts that by 2017 more than one third of the population of the world will be smartphone users. Unfortunately, the market is segmented by different hardware with different Operating Systems (OS). People use many different types of mobile hardware, and it is imperative to build a mobile application that flawlessly functions across a diverse set of operating systems.
That said, it is not a question of whether or not to build a mobile application, but rather how. Companies looking to engage consumers on a mobile platform should ask themselves how to use cutting edge programming languages to develop variations of the same application for multiple operating systems. In this edition of Technical Perspectives, we explore a relatively new cross-platform programming language – Xamarin.
What is Xamarin?
First launched in 2011, Xamarin is a tool used to develop cross-platform mobile applications. It works through the Mono framework to communicate with the Application Program Interface (API) of common mobile device functions including contacts, camera, and geo-location for popular iOS, Android, and Windows operating systems. It allows developers to build robust applications using the C# programming language that runs on the .NET Common Language Infrastructure (CLI). Regarded as a “write once, run anywhere” tool, using Xamarin to develop mobile device applications has its positives and negatives.
Xamarin is great way to cut expenses down when developing intricate applications for multiple operating systems. Instead of developing a complete application for each system, which increases time to market and depletes monetary resources, developers can syndicate about two-thirds of a single codebase using C#. Xamarin excels at being a tool that delivers high performance with device-specific experiences using native API’s to create a User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UE) that the users of specific devices are accustomed to. Additionally Xamarin allows QA and functionality testing for bugs on thousands of devices to ensure perfect integration.
Although developing applications using Xamarin saves time and resources, there are some inherent disadvantages. When using Xamarin there is a lot of operational software overhead. This is due to the linking of codes and referencing between .NET frameworks and the target operating systems. This increases download and startup times of an application. The phrase ”write once run anywhere” does not exactly apply to Xamarin. A majority of the code can be syndicated across multiple platforms, but the core UI development is not portable. This means that some of the coding must be done for each platform and unfortunately, UI development can be very time consuming. Furthermore, there is limited support for the coding outside of Xamarin. Code developed in Xamarin will not transfer and cannot be reused for native or HTML5 applications for iOS or Android.
When bringing a mobile application idea to fruition the first decision is whether or not to develop natively or cross-platform. If the mobile application is not inherently complex and/or is not going to be released to multiple platforms native development may be the correct choice. If the application will be released on multiple platforms and time and resources are of the essence, then developing an application using Xamarin has some definitive benefits. Contacting a professional mobile and tablet software development specialist will help make the decision easier. They can suggest the applicable standards and efficient practices needed to develop a mobile application for any device. This depends on the intended use, audience, and functionality needed for your business, rather than simply suggesting the use of the newest coding tools available.
Chetu, Inc. does not affect the opinion of this article. Any mention of specific names for software, companies or individuals does not constitute an endorsement from either party unless otherwise specified. All case studies and blogs are written with the full cooperation, knowledge and participation of the individuals mentioned. This blog should not be construed as legal advice.
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