Sooner or later, every appreneur has to consider multi-platform app development. And that’s scary, given the complexities involved in such an endeavor. But are things really that bad, or are we jumping to conclusions — too soon? It’s a bit of both if we delve deeper into this subject.
Let’s start with the hard part first. Yes, multi-platform app development is challenging! Having to develop for Android and iOS concurrently means you’ll have to deal with the peculiarities of each platform. You’ll need to design, develop, and test your apps for a variety of hardware, feature sets, and screen resolutions.
If you only focus on a single platform, your development costs and time-to-market (TTM) drop significantly. However, the number of your potential app users drops in tandem. It’s perfectly okay to release on one platform early on, especially if you’re testing the market with a minimum viable product (MVP). But if your MVP proves successful, there’s no point in limiting yourself to a single platform.
Moreover, there’s never been a better time to target multiple platforms. And that’s because today’s development tools facilitate this so perfectly. Most popular development suites make it easy to target Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, Linux, and even the Web — from a single codebase!
The same applies to game engines, such as Unity and Unreal Engine, which support the above platforms, game consoles, and even AR/VR headsets. So, if you begin with a multi-platform development strategy, it will give your app almost limitless potential.
But we won’t stop there, as we’re about to debunk more myths about this subject matter below!
1. Multi-Platform Development Results In Buggy Apps
The quality of an app largely depends on the abilities of the developer. An inexperienced or negligent developer will produce shoddy apps, regardless of whether they target a single platform or several.
However, it’s not uncommon for a developer to release a flawless app for one platform and a substandard app for another. And that’s likely due to the developer having more experience developing for one platform over the other.
2. It’s Important To Have Platform Exclusivity
This only matters if a platform holder strikes a deal with you in advance so that your app appears exclusively in their store. In all likelihood, this won’t happen if you’re a new developer unless you’re creating a unique or outstanding app.
And that exclusivity deal better be worthwhile to make up for the loss of revenue gained from supporting additional platforms. In most cases, it’s more profitable to take the multi-platform route.
3. Targeting One Platform Allows For More Optimization
While this is true, it’s still not a valid excuse for supporting only one platform. A developer’s mindset should always revolve around optimizing apps proportionately across all platforms. And that’s because it’s never a good idea to treat users of a specific platform as second-class citizens.
Simply put, there are no better or lesser platforms. An experienced and reputable developer — such as NS804 — views all platforms and their users holistically.
4. Users Prefer Platform ‘X’ — So Why Bother With Others?
Sadly, fanboyism and popularity contests cloud the tech space. Android and iOS fans like to debate online about their favorite platforms and can often sway opinion. And it doesn’t end there, as smartphone manufacturers will regularly tout their latest sales figures and build up hype.
All this may leave you in a precarious position where you’re second-guessing which platform to support. But don’t ever do this, and look at the truth that’s right in front of you instead! Both Android and iOS remain hugely popular, and this trend will likely continue in the foreseeable future. So do the smart thing and support both if you have the budget and technical capabilities.
5. Multi-Platform Mobile Apps Only Run On Smartphones And Tablets
This may have been true over a decade ago, but no longer applicable. Apple and Google have grown and enriched their respective ecosystems beyond smartphones and tablets. Today, both tech giants also offer wearables, smart TVs, and even in-car options.
Furthermore, it’s now possible to run iOS apps on Mac and Android apps on Chromebooks and Windows 11 — but with a few caveats.
6. Apple’s Tools Make It Difficult To Target Other Platforms
There’s indeed some level of lock-in with Apple’s development tools. These tools work great when developing for iOS and macOS but are poor choices when targeting other platforms. However, developers don’t need to limit themselves to Apple’s development tools only.
Embarcadero, Google, JetBrains, Microsoft, and The QT Company all offer excellent development suites for multi-platform development. And most popular game engines are designed with multi-platform development in mind.
7. Monetization Can Get Messy With Multi-Platform Releases
It’s likely that you’ll implement different monetization strategies for Android and iOS. And the reason for this is that the user base for each platform differs considerably. Android users love free apps and don’t mind watching ads to unlock features. But iOS users prefer premium apps and don’t mind paying for them as long as they don’t have to deal with ads.
However, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as you’ll adjust monetization strategies during the lifecycle of your app in any case. So, don’t expect to keep everything uniform, as tweaking and experimenting are part and parcel of the app development process.
8. Web Apps Make Multi-Platform Mobile Apps Redundant
That’s not true at all, as web apps can never replace mobile apps — especially native ones. And that’s because users expect apps to run quickly and smoothly on their devices. Unfortunately, the web app experience comes short unless it’s a small and simple app we’re talking about.
But complex apps need to tap into the processing power of the devices they will run on, and not intermediary web technologies.
9. It’s Difficult Making Games That Run Well Across Mobile Platforms
Making games is difficult — period! If you’ve decided to make mobile games, then you’ve signed up for a world of hurt. And that counts double if you’re making a 3D game with large levels and complex artificial intelligence (AI).
But it’s not all doom and gloom, as modern game engines make life a lot easier for developers. These engines offer all the essential tools in a single suite to allow developers to hit the ground running. And cut down on development time, as it’s no longer necessary to worry about all the under-the-hood technicalities, which often hinder the game development process.
10. Maintaining Two Or More Codebases Isn’t Practical
But if you can only maintain a single codebase, you can code it in C# if you require near-native performance on Android and iOS. Or use Dart and the Flutter software development kit (SDK) for creating robust cross-platform apps.
The Bottom Line
Multi-platform development should always be a primary consideration for serious appreneurs and app developers. The days of releasing apps on a single platform are long gone, as users have embraced several platforms. Android and iOS lead the way in the mobile space, but with the growing popularity of dumbphones, more platforms will emerge that developers need to support.
But we understand the challenges involved with developing and releasing apps on multiple platforms, especially for newcomers to the mobile app industry. That’s why it’s crucial to partner with an experienced and reputable studio, such as NS804. Contact us today to learn how we’ll help you create phenomenal multi-platform apps for the most relevant platforms!