Cross-Platform Mobile App Development with Xamarin!
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Cross-Platform Mobile App Development with Xamarin!

Author: Gaurav Gupta | Categories: Mobile, Customer Experience, Software

One of the constant challenges that mobile product start-ups and enterprises with mobile apps face today is keeping the costs of mobile application development and maintenance down while still maintaining the same experience for customers. To match up with the ever-changing market dynamics and customer choices, mobile product development needs to be agile enough to support quick changes and releases. This can become a nightmare in case you are managing multiple mobile platforms that are all built and managed separately.

This is where the Xamarin cross-platform application development framework is significantly gaining traction among product startups as well as enterprises. What makes Xamarin unique is its ability to provide benefits of both the approaches – single code base and single development skill set – that keep costs low and turnaround time fast. At the same time, its unique approach enables the development of native UI along with enhancing the native performance for apps.

Through this blog, I am highlighting a few of the reasons why product start-ups and enterprises should use Xamarin for building apps:

Native UI and native performance for apps

One of the prime reasons why companies did not consider the cross-platform development approach in the past was because the developed apps did not contain the native UI, and the performance was not great either. This is where Xamarin scores perfectly. Xamarin allows the building of applications using C#. It then compiles the C# code into native iOS binary and native Android APK.

Xamarin provides access to all platform-specific native APIs. You can use the existing Objective-C code and Java code, frameworks, and custom controls in the Xamarin app using the automatic binding generator. Full support is also available for creating fully featured Android Wear and Apple Watch apps.

Xamarin stays updated with Android and iOS platforms and is real quick in providing platform OS upgrade support. You can take advantage of the new features as soon as they are available on iOS or Android platforms. In short, Xamarin has been able to remove all shortcomings previously associated with the cross-platform development approach. In fact, Xamarin is now a preferred tool for building apps that require specialized interactions, custom UI and access to platform-specific APIs.

Quick time to market

The other impressive benefit of using Xamarin is that it allows you to code once and share the application logic across iOS and Android platforms. This essentially saves effort to write the same code logic twice in Java for Android and Objective- C/ Swift for iOS. The beauty of Xamarin is that it allows you to write custom UI code again using C# to provide a native look and feel while leveraging the same logic across platforms. This approach helps you save on development time and you can go to market faster and with multiple platforms together.

Low development and maintenance cost

You can start your mobile application development project with a team that’s experienced in Visual Studio and C#. You do not need to build a separate team with iOS and Android skillsets, which are highly niche and expensive. Also, Xamarin allows a single person with C# experience to build both iOS and Android applications. So, this way, you need a smaller team to develop as well as maintain your applications going forward. This is a huge cost-saving measure for businesses both, in the short-term as well as long-term.

In the short term, the development costs come down by about 30% on an average, and in the long run, the support and maintenance manpower cost comes down by up to 50%.

Xamarin Component Store

Xamarin facilitates easy integration with hundreds of third-party libraries and services to help build high-quality features for mobile apps. SDKs and API integrations are available with major cloud service providers such as AWS, Azure, Oracle, Dropbox, and others. Sitecore Mobile SDKs are available for building seamless mobile applications, leveraging the Sitecore Experience Manager. SDKs are also available for platforms such as IBM MobileFirst, Salesforce, SAP, Adobe Mobile Services, and others. Apart from these, there is a huge library of User Interface components, Plugins, and Themes that simplify the development effort. This component store comes in real handy when you are building your mobile apps by integrating with existing back-end implementations. The platform-specific SDKs make development and integration real simpler and effective.

Automated testing on Xamarin test cloud

One of the critical factors influencing the success of a mobile app development project is testing. Not only does manual testing require a lot of effort – you need to test the same test cases on many devices across multiple platforms – you also need to maintain a huge inventory of physical devices too, to provide good test coverage. Xamarin comes with an on-cloud farm of thousands of actual devices that can be leveraged to test the applications without the need to maintain an inventory of physical devices. On top of it, Xamarin comes with a test recorder tool that enables users to create automated test cases for iOS and Android apps without the need for scripting the test cases. You can simply connect your mobile device and run the test on the app and it gets recorded. You can record all gestures like tap, swipe, text entry, and device rotation. You can also upload the test cases to the Xamarin test cloud and run these test cases on actual devices on the cloud. This gives you the flexibility to test your apps on the devices based on your customer’s profile. You also get a list of bugs with screenshots along with detailed reports. Xamarin also performs tests on non-functional aspects such as performance and memory utilization.

Track key metrics using the Hockey App

The Hockey app, again a Microsoft product, allows seamless app distribution, crash reporting, tracking of the main app metrics, and feedback gathering. At the time of user acceptance and beta testing, you can use the Hockey app to create distribution groups and gather feedback from all users in each group. Crash reports help you with information around crashes on a given day or during a specific duration. These also help you figure out if the crash is limited to certain devices or certain groups of people as well as the crash frequency. All this information is crucial in troubleshooting the app crash issue. The Hockey app also provides you data such as

  • Daily active users

  • Monthly active users

  • Net new users

This data helps refine customer engagement strategies.

In the end…

Xamarin is no doubt a powerful cross platform development framework that is suitable for mobile app development for product start-ups as well as enterprises. Having said that, the real strength of Xamarin lies in the ecosystem of products and services that provides the ability to develop cross platform apps, allows seamless third-party integrations using the huge component library, enables leveraging the devices on cloud for testing, automating the testing, seamlessly distributing the app for beta testing, and collecting insights and crash reports of your apps.