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Cross Platform Beats Native When Done Right

· Java Zone

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Reading Juhani Lehtimaki's posts on dzone in which he claims inferior results when using cross platform frameworks finally convinced me to write about this.

He has a point. Most developers look at Cross Platform tools as a means of saving money and cut corners when using them. Resulting in lower ratings and low quality apps.
However, there are great cross platform apps e.g. Music Cloud (LWUIT/Codename One based), Waze & Telmap (LWUIT 1.2, a pretty old version).

I won't talk about the frameworks Juhani mentioned, since I would tend to agree that they all fall into 1 of two categories: HTML or Lowest Common Denominator. Both are IMO terrible approaches for cross platform unlike Codename One which is radically different.

When users ask for Native apps they mean: High quality, fast app that received developer investment and QA. They aren't asking you to code your app in Objective-C or make it look like all the other apps.

Waze, looks nothing like a native app yet has a tremendous user rating. How come?

The developers took the time saved on porting & QA (which is faster since bug fixes are ported too) to deliver functionality. Functionality trumps everything.

When creating a native app you are giving up on some functionality and on niche platforms.

The problem is that throwing money/developers at the problem of building mobile apps doesn't make it scale better/faster. So even if you have an unlimited financial budget you will end up with less functionality and longer release cycles when doing native coding.

A friend recently told me: "The only reason anyone ever does cross platform is to save money".

Unfortunately that's usually true, but my response was: "They shouldn't. They should use cross platform to provide a distinct experience and more features.".

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