Cross-platform development is the ability to build and deliver apps that can run across multiple device platforms, such as iOS, Android, and the Universal Windows Platform. Beyond mobile, it is the process of creating software, applications, or services that can run on more than one platform or operating system.
Cross-platform development is the key to giving users software access across devices and platforms. In the past, it was enough for an app to work on a single platform, but today people expect apps that work across all devices and platforms. To stay relevant, companies will need to be able to provide employees with apps that run on any device—whether desktop, laptop, or mobile—and deliver seamless user experiences anywhere employees choose to work.
There are several different approaches to cross-platform development, including creating different versions of the same application, with each designed to work on different operating systems, such as Apple and Microsoft. Another popular strategy is to make specific parts of an application abstract in order to allow it to work within different software environments. This is often defined as “platform agnostic”, meaning the application doesn’t support any specific platform.
Cross-platform development enables companies to create low-cost custom apps that are secure, stable, easy to maintain, and easy to iterate—providing a faster development cycle that frees IT departments from the long timelines of traditional app development projects.
So, what is cross-platform development and why is it important in business? Let’s think about developing mobile business apps as an example where cross-platform development can be applied. Companies often must decide between developing native apps (i.e. developed for a specific operating system) or whether to create a single cross-platform or hybrid app, which can be used across multiple platforms. If they choose to develop a native app, it requires that teams create a separate application for each operating system.
Cross-platform development solutions enable IT to create applications that work across platforms, helping to reduce costs and save time. But in the future, companies will need to extend development beyond what device an employee is using. Business applications will need to push work to employees and allow them to complete tasks anywhere—not only on different devices, but to all the other places, such as company intranets or collaboration tools, where employees are working.