The release of a new mobile application always is the result of long and laborious work, which is paid quite highly. In addition, the production of mobile applications is, perhaps, one of the riskiest types of business: there is always a chance that after the release the application would not recoup development costs due to the small audience coverage, big competition, or the crudeness of the app idea. Additional problems arise due to creators and manufacturers of mobile devices. Today, there are three major operating systems for mobile devices (Android, iOS, and Windows), each of which is based on its own logic, uses specific languages and SDKs. This limits the number of possible buyers of the new application to the platform’s audience. Unless, of course, you are ready to pay for the development of three new product versions for each of the popular platforms, and release them simultaneously.

Naturally, an application can be developed with the help of cross-platform frameworks that greatly facilitate the adaptation of the finished software to different operating systems. Or is it better to avoid such apps? For native applications always have best performance and reactivity, and the number of problems with the finished native product often is significantly lower than with cross-platform.

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Before taking such an important business decision, it is necessary to carefully compare features of both development approaches, in particular Xamarin vs native.

Cross-platform or native: what to choose?

How do native app vs cross platform collate? The fact that native apps have fewer failures and errors, as well as run faster than cross-platform is widely known in the industry. After all, an application written in the language of the platform core architecture will provide the fastest possible response, minimizing conflicts. On the other hand, limiting the products to a single platform is not very profitable, but developing native versions of the same application for each needed platform is unaffordable for most developers.

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Cross-platform applications solve the problem of potential buyers coverage, allowing to build applications that are easily imported into any existing platform, in some cases, even without the need to finalize the product for other platforms. But what is the fee for such an approach? The difference in application and platform programming brings the varieties in Xamarin performance vs native and the need to write more code in the process of solving the compatibility problems, and as a result – higher size than native applications. This is the most notable difference between Xamarin and native.

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Difficult choice, is it not? However, the choice is not really so hard, if you carefully consider the inter-platform development tools.

Xamarin: strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities

Why use Xamarin? If you examine the Xamarin framework, you can find a lot of useful features, differentiating it from competing products.

The first thing that catches an eye when studying Xamarin is its main development language: unlike many other tools using mainly Java, JavaScript or Objective-C, Xamarin developers decided that there is nothing better than C# and .NET. Well, the choice was very successful. Everything that can be written using Objective-C, Swift or Java (generally used in cross-platform development), can be done faster and better with the help of C#. Extensive language capabilities allow to minimize the work on the application adaptation for other platforms: in the rewriting of the application built with Xamarin, from one platform to another, up to 96% of the original application code remains unchanged.

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Regarding the manner in which the code written in C# is ported to various platforms, Xamarin developers continue to surprise. The compilation of the source code and user interface elements is made through references to the APIs, native for each platform. In this respect, Xamarin vs Android Studio is even comparable.

In general, due to the peculiarities of Xamarin, the efficiency of applications based on it, approaches the same characteristics of the native. In the case of Xamarin vs native Android, the performance of both usually would be even.

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Is Xamarin really that good?

Of course, opportunities and solutions that Xamarin provides make it an outstanding framework. However, Xamarin should not be considered the “philosopher’s stone” in the field of mobile development that would qualitatively and quickly solve all the potential problems.

Serious Xamarin disadvantages can be called such:

– The high cost of the license. The price of an annual subscription is $999 per developer. This means that a team of ten developers will cost an additional $10,000 per year. This price is justified if Xamarin mobile application development is used constantly in business, but is prohibitively expensive for the creation of a couple small applications.

On the other hand, if the company is determined to build cross-platform applications full time, the Xamarin license can be considered a prospective advancement. The fee for the Xamarin usage is still less than the cost of the development of native applications for multiple platforms. Besides, Xamarin’s pricing policy underwent a lot of positive changes over years (today Xamarin is provided free to Visual Studio users, for instance). All in all, if the company can bear purchasing the Xamarin license, it means that it:

• Is successful enough to afford such expenses;

• Takes a strong enough position on the market to invest in the future.

– Limited access to open source libraries. Only those libraries that are supplied with Xamarin and individual components of .NET are available. Although the choice of tools and plug-ins provided by Xamarin cannot be called insufficient, such a policy, however, limits the Xamarin app development possibilities and reduces the number of achievable solutions in application development.

– Low community activity. Of course, Xamarin’s documentation is quite good, the manual is thorough and detailed, but it does not answer all the questions of users. Xamarin developer community is tied to the official website, and user forums are few and passive. This creates difficulties when mastering the framework, forcing users to spend extra time trying to figure out all the functions and features of Xamarin.

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Final thoughts

Xamarin or native what to choose? Despite some shortcomings, for which, however, solely Xamarin developers must not be blamed, this framework is a very qualitative and effective instrument for the creation of the cross-platform mobile applications. The activity of Xamarin team encourages their users by regularly modifying and improving their product. And the team’s willingness to meet customers expectation by changing pricing policies, says a lot about the developers of the framework, and its prospects. Today Xamarin is very popular with application developers, despite its high cost. Apparently, the price is consistent with the quality and breadth of capabilities provided. Though Xamarin is not as attractive for small software companies as free tools for cross-platform development, but for established enterprises employing the framework is a very promising direction. In fact, the very Xamarin comparison with other cross-platform frameworks is not entirely correct, since, unlike them, Xamarin generates code that is close to the native. And, if we compare the span of opportunities offered, then free tools clearly fall behind Xamarin, for instance if we.

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Still, native applications stand as the most trouble-free and efficient mobile apps today, despite the fact that software developed using some of the hybrid and cross-platform frameworks are coming closer to native by the performance every year. Not to mention that native programs have access to the full hardware and software capabilities of respective platforms and can work without the internet connection. We like to say, always go for the native apps, this is a choice you will never regret.

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Xamarin vs Native App Development: What to Choose?
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