Here at Foresight, we get many enquiries from people with, of course, no experience of mobile app development whose first question is “How much is this going to cost me?“
One thing is for certain, having a stable and engaging app developed is not a small task. From start to finish, an app of medium complexity will take a developer or two four to six months to finish. Developers aren’t the cheapest of people to hire.
The second question we invariably get asked is “Do you do Android and iOS?”
Asking that question might cost you a lot of unnecessary spend. Here’s why.
THE EXPENSIVE WAY
As you’re probably aware, phones come with two operating systems - either Android, or Apple’s iOS. The two formats are incompatible, and, since both command roughly equal shares of the market, if you want to hit as many customers as possible, you should - theoretically speaking - have two separate versions of the app - one for Android, one for iOS.
Whilst cross platform development tools started off somewhat buggy and didn’t work as fast as native code, they’ve now matured to a state where they’re completely stable and almost as fast as native code - within a few percent of native code speed. With the latest incarnations of cross platform app technology, the code written also produces a web app as well.
THE CHEAP WAY
Choose your app developer well, and in 90% of cases, you don’t have to spend your hard earned money on two separate apps, or even biting the bullet and just going for a single platform app to start with.
Whilst most developers concentrate on writing apps in “Native” Android or iOS code only, there’s been somewhat of a revolution in software development over the last few years. Back in 2010, the first “cross platform” development tools started to appear.
The idea was simple. Write one codebase - one collection of code - use it to create two separate apps, one for Android and one for iOS. Less time to develop. Easier to support and maintain in future.
CROSS PLATFORM DEVELOPMENT
It’s reckoned that, using cross platform development, an app can be produced in 60% of the time (and hence cost) of developing separate Android and iOS apps. It also makes ongoing support and maintenance less problematic - there’s only one codebase to maintain.
So, easy choice, of course. Go for cross platform development - save 40% on development costs and also save on future maintenance of your app. Let’s factor in an extra 10% savings for support and maintenance. Result ? Half price app.
The two big names in cross platform development tools are Google’s Flutter and Facebook’s React Native. (Between the two, we’d suggest using Flutter - it’s faster and easier to work with for your developers.)
Another big plus for cross platform development is that the code written can also be used to create a separate web app as well, should you need one.
If you ask around, you’ll find that not all developers offer cross platform development. You might naturally get pushed to what frameworks the developers are skilled in. It won’t necessarily be the best or cheapest ones for the job.
So, given the savings, why isn’t everyone using cross platform tools?
One limiting factor for cross-platform development can be platform-specific functionality - for example, handling subscription purchases or AR functionality. An Apple phone won’t work in the same way as the Android phone as it contains different store implementations and AR frameworks.
Another factor can be the perception that a native app will have more of a ‘platform-native’ look and feel.
FIND A GOOD DEVELOPER
However, a good developer can help you to design an app which doesn’t necessarily hit these limitations. Modern app designs rarely mimic the design guidelines of the OS precisely, and work almost identically on either platform. Where platform-specific UX idioms are relevant we can lean on Flutter’s excellent Cupertino and Material widget sets to provide functionality that feels at home on either platform while still providing an engaging experience.
A good developer, like a good accountant, will work with you to find you ways of saving you money. They’ll suggest the best design methods, the best add-ons for your app, and plan it out with you as a collaborative exercise.
A good-looking, well-performing app, built as efficiently as possible equals happy customer. Also equals good client reviews and more repeat work.
Here at Foresight, we produce apps using Google’s Flutter. Simply put, it’s the best-looking, fastest to use and best technically-backed cross platform framework there is. You can read more about it here.
If you're looking for a UK-based Flutter agency check out our Flutter development services here !
So. If you’re looking for an app, and you don’t know where to start, click on this link and talk to us. We’re happy to chat any time.