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Why cross-platform mobile app development tools beat hybrid, native

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Get a comparison of hybrid and JavaScript-native mobile app development tools versus iOS and Android native dev tools in this podcast with developer Jen Looper.

The advantages of developing a mobile application on a native platform are many, but they are outweighed by being limited to one platform, usually either iOS or Android, according to veteran mobile developer Jen Looper. With cross-platform mobile app development tools, developers can create products that deliver the performance and security of native apps.

Enterprises have to provide support for multiple mobile app platforms, such as iOS, Android and others, said Progress developer advocate Looper. While native development simplifies vendor support and app store requirements, it also requires hiring expert developers for each device platform. New cross-platform mobile app development tools, which use JavaScript, can be more effective than hybrid mobile app development tools and native approaches in making sure apps perform well on multiple types of devices.

Jen Looper, developer advocate, ProgressJen Looper

In this podcast, Looper compares native app development platforms for iOS and Android with hybrid mobile app development frameworks and JavaScript cross-platform mobile app development tools. As she discusses Xamarin, Ionic, Appcelerator Titanium, NativeScript and other tools, she also gives advice on the skills needed for cross-platform mobile app development and considerations when planning projects.

Looper talks about troublesome problem areas in mobile app development in this excerpt of the podcast.

What are the problems that developers are most worried about in mobile app development?

There are a lot of dodgy apps in the marketplace that are, like, stuffed full of malware.
Jen Looperdeveloper advocate, Progress

Jen Looper: In the enterprise specifically, there's a lot of concern about security [and performance]. There are a lot of dodgy apps in the marketplace that are, like, stuffed full of malware. You have to be protective both of your user base -- make sure there's nothing in your apps that will harm them -- but also you have to make sure that you protect your own intellectual property as developers and your own security.

You have to architect your app in a secure fashion. You might be looking at ways to obfuscate your code so that it can't be cracked, so that it can't be swiped on or hacked on, especially on [the] Google Play store. It happened to me. I know. If you don't care about security, it's very easy for someone to just come in, grab the API off of the Google Play store, compile it and swipe everything out of it.

[As for performance,] nobody wants to sit around waiting for apps to open. They want to have something that's snappy, something that's beautiful on both Android and iOS -- not just one or the other -- and something that performs in a native fashion.

How are technologies that provide native-like mobile app performance and security evolving?

Looper: So, I think the cross-platform mobile app development story has kind of been evolving away a little bit away from hybrid. We're seeing a lot of interest in Xamarin. Xamarin … is a way that you can write, for example, in C# and compile cross-platform. Appcelerator Titanium has been doing the JavaScript cross-platform story for a more native experience. It's not a hybrid app. It's a cross-compiled app. They've been doing that for a while. To plug my own company's product, we have NativeScript, another JavaScript native app.

JavaScript native apps … are really a new sort of way of building an app. You're using JavaScript, and it's creating these native apps for you that are really performant and also can be secure. NativeScript has some nice plug-ins to obfuscate your code.

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