With the increased fragmentations on mobile landscape, need for cross-platform app development is increasing steadily, and developers have to focus on offering native-like user experiences, features, and functionality in the hybrid mobile app development. Here are some useful technical tips to manage the cross-platform mobile application development project effectively.
When we go to the mobile application, things change altogether. There is a sharp device (Hardware) and operating system (Software) fragmentation existing on the mobile landscape. Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, and so on operating systems and each platform has a range different devices running with different OS versions.
What a bizarre thing for a mobile developer when addressing a vast audience available on mobile devices is a target! Initially, it has given birth to the web apps running on mobile browsers using only capacities of browsers, not much access to the hardware device or features of the operating system.
It results in weird user experiences and so much inferiority from the native mobile applications. Later on, solutions were invented in the form of hybrid mobile applications, which were falling in between the native and web apps. Wrappers of code invented to access the native capabilities.
Thus, cross-platform mobile app development becomes a unique process, and its management also proves unique one. At this juncture, I would like to suggest some useful tips for cross-platform developers as well as clients looking for it.
#1: Make Your Cross-platform App Users Feel At Home
When your app users are going to use the app, they always expect the native-like experiences, just like feel at home. Earlier, it was tough to achieve the same, but with the advent of technologies, we have programming technologies, cross-platform frameworks, tools, and technologies to simulate it.
App developers can follow the design guidelines released by respective mobile OS platforms such as
- iOS Design Resources at iOS Developer Library
- Android Design at Android Developers center
- Design a Windows Dev Center
These guidelines provide a comprehensive and standard set of ideal user interfaces. Of course, we cannot follow it ditto in hybrid app development but at least can try to simulate the look and feel to a greater extent.
#2: Use UI Frameworks
It is tough to manage tons of UI components, styles, patterns, and animation in hybrid UI/UX app design and development realm without powerful frameworks and their tools. In due course, you can take help of various types of UI frameworks, such as:
- Commercial – Kendo UI
- Open-source – Ionic
- Common UI – jQuery Mobile and Onsen UI
- Platform-specific UIs – Sencha Touch & ChocolateChip-UI
Some are pixel perfect while some sloppy, but they help us to keep control over the performance and cut the overhead.
#3: Performance Optimization
Performance always an issue in cross-platform mobile app development. The main issues behind it are tons of heavy animations and multimedia components as well as infusing backward compatibility to run the apps on older devices or OS versions.
Apart from these, developers have to take care of the following things in performance optimization:
- Optimizing DOM and CSS sectors
- Cutting rendering time
- Reducing rendering time
- Minimizing incidents of reflows and repaint
#4: Native-like Header Bar
The header bar is the most prominent UI element in app design and useful thanks to Up and Back buttons. If you want to win the app users, you should mimic the header bar design a native-looking.
In due course, HTML and CSS solutions can help to do it. Unfortunately, most of the popular cross-platform frameworks missing it and developers have to add minimal DOM, and some lines of CSS code for each mobile OS platform, particularly for iOS and Android is easy.
#5: Justify High-Resolution Screens
Recent statistics reveal that nearly 80% of iOS devices and 70% of Android devices have high-resolution screens. It compels app designers to include images with double or triple dimensions to appear crisp and manage retina display ready.
Heavy images again become the causes of emergence of other issues for cross-platform designers such as
- Bandwidth issues
- Code maintainability
- Browser support
However, at first glance SVG seems good solutions for static images, but support from most of the browser is in question. Adding CSS for a number of images in the image-intensive app like news app is exhausting and responsive web designers find a solution on the server side.
#6: Justify System Fonts
Have you carefully observed that system fonts for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone platforms are apparently different from each other? For instance,
- System fonts for iOS mostly include Helvetica Neue, Helvetica, Arial, and Sans-serif
- System fonts for Android mostly include RobotoRegular, Droid Sans, and Sans-serif
- System fonts for Windows Mobile mostly include Segoe UI, Segoe, Tahoma, Geneva, and Sans-serif
Therefore, it becomes a daunting task for hybrid app developers to manage the font families for each platform devices. However, Apple has introduced font presets in iOS 7 and upward versions that can set correct font family automatically to improve user experiences.
#7: Manage Perceived Speed
Some actions take too long to accomplish while some are fast. Users, in general, are unaware of such technicality. Therefore, it becomes essential to divert the attention of users towards something else or pull the delayed actions in the background and engage users in the next or useful actions.
These kinds of arrangements let users perceive that app is fast and working uninterruptedly. For instance, Instagram upload image in the background without displaying animation or icon on the frontend. Instead, it engages users in adding tags and sharing.
To achieve the perceived speed, developers have some tricks like:
- Avoid the click or tap delay on mobile devices
- Use some CSS to depict the active state of the app screen
- Use loading indicator other than animated GIF
#8: Use Scrolling Righteously
The mobile users love to scroll infinitely, and native apps have built-in features to support the scrolling. For cross-platform applications, developers have to manage the scrolling through coding because they have to fix the header and footer while making content scrollable.
Hybrid app developers can manage basic scrolling feature righteously in following ways:
- Enabling touch-friendly momentum effect to scroll quickly using some simple CSS
- Apply appropriate code solutions for Pull Down to Refresh feature
- Implement scroll to top feature for each platform
#9: Managing Touch Gestures
If cross-platform app developers missing managing touch gestures, offering native-like experiences would remain nightmares. Therefore, use QuoJS and Hammer.js like known libraries to support various touch gestures including zoom, long-tap, swipe, pinch, and drag.
For cross-platform mobile app developer simulating, native-like user experiences is a big challenge and above-given tips are just a tip of the iceberg under the sea surface. Therefore, need of highly experienced and expert team arising to manage cross-platform mobile application development projects efficiently and profitably.
I think taking help of mobile app consultancy and development services offered by SysBunny is not a bad idea at all.