It would seem that everyone should have already accustomed themselves to the idea of rapid technological improvement. But people still get a skeptic ‘too much of a good thing’ feeling when they encounter something new and impressive. Something like a framework for creating an application, which would be easily deployed on multiple platforms and, at the same time, would look and perform 100% natively – Xamarin framework.
Sure, people have the right for doubts: “So if Xamarin is really capable of that, how come it hasn’t overthrown native development yet?”
The truth is, native development can’t be overthrown by anything and will always be supported by large corporations no matter what powerful alternatives appear on the market. Native development was the start of it all, and it will continue getting the heftiest promotion from numerous influential brands.
However, this is not a reason to disgrace Xamarin’s capabilities and underestimate its actual potential. Especially now that Xamarin has been acquired by not so very small a brand – Microsoft.
What Exactly is so Good About Xamarin?
In order to make ourselves as clear as possible, we’d like to briefly highlight the key benefits of Xamarin applications once again:
- Deployed on iOS and Android
- 100% native performance
- 100% native UI (in Xamarin.Android / .iOS)
- Quickly developed (one codebase for two platforms)
- Cheaply maintained (one developer instead of two)
A statement like that naturally makes people question if it isn’t a mere marketing exaggeration. That’s why in this article we’ve collected the most probable doubts a client would harbor about Xamarin development, and provided our experts’ most honest answers to them.
Cross-examining the capabilities of Xamarin development
– Can an app written in C# really have near-native performance on Android and iOS?
To be executable on iOS and Android, C# is processed by Xamarin’s Mono virtual machine / compiler. In case of iOS,C# iscompiled into the machine code that all Objective-C apps are compiled into; while in case of Android it is translated into the Mono VM bytecode. The bytecode is then communicated to and easily recognized by the Android’s built-in VM – Dalvik.
In both cases C# takes the same route any Objective-C or Java code does, and the final code of any Xamarin application is treated as if it was native. So in fact, Xamarin apps’ performance is not near, but absolutely native.
– Other non-native development tools honestly admit that their apps have certain limitations. How is Xamarin different?
Unlike hybrid Cordova-like development platforms, Xamarin doesn’t produce apps that are contained in invisible browsers and are basically web apps with their ensuing disadvantages in performance. Since Xamarin apps are actual applications that speak the language of the platform they are created for, they’re not limited by anything. They directly address OS and therefore can easily connect to the devices’ hardware and perform with the speed, common for native apps.
– Non-native apps can’t be native in design, can they?
Xamarin leaves the design choice up to you. If you want your app to look and feel native, you can develop it with Xamarin.Android / .iOS. In this type of a Xamarin framework, developers can edit every screen of an application and tailor it to the looks of a certain platform. As a result, you will see a native interface and will enjoy the natural platform navigation.
– How cost-effective is Xamarin development?
With Xamarin you get Android and iOS apps out of the common C# codebase. So in comparison to the implementation of two native apps, you need to hire 2 mobile C# experts instead of 4 – 2 Java and 2 Objective-C developers.
Moreover, as the business logics for two apps is created once, it’s much easier, quicker and therefore cheaper to find and correct the mistakes, and line both projects up, than it is when the apps are created separately by different teams and in different languages.
– If surpassing native development is conceptually impossible, why can’t Xamarin replace weaker hybrid development at least?
We believe that the great volume of alternatives is what is great about today’s mobile development and that each project deserves to be treated individually. Despite appreciating the capabilities of Xamarin development, we don’t think that it is a silver bullet and admit that there are projects which can benefit from other frameworks more.
For instance, choosing Xamarin to create apps, which performance, high FPS or native UI aren’t a fundamental concern, wouldn’t be wise from any non-biased developer’s point of view. Hybrid development is more reasonable in this case, since it’s cheaper, quicker and perfectly suits implementation of simple apps. It has all the rights to provide competition to cross-platform frameworks like Xamarin, since it covers the development of smaller projects.
Now that we’ve dispelled probable doubts, you can see that Xamarin is indeed able to do what it claims to be capable of. Hopefully, getting rid of all the marketing bluff and understanding the nature of this type of development will help you make the right choice or recruit app developers with a much better picture in your head.
ScienceSoft welcomes any of your further questions regarding Xamarin development, hybrid development or specifically about your application project implementation.