Imagine eagerly anticipating the release of a new app but finding that it is not compatible with your device. This all-too-common scenario often leaves users frustrated and discouraged, destroying their perception of the app before they even had a chance to experience it. This unfortunate introduction can prematurely end what could have been a positive customer relationship. This difficult situation raises a critical question: is adopting a multiplatform approach the most effective solution? And if so, what steps can be taken to ensure its success? Learn all about it in our article!

What is multiplatform development?

The multiplatform application development approach involves developing separate versions of an application for each platform or operating system. Each version is specifically tailored to the platform it is intended for, which may include iOS, Android, Windows, etc. The development process often involves using native programming languages and tools specific to each platform, such as Swift for iOS or Kotlin for Android.

An example of a multiplatform application can be Spotify. It has different versions for iOS, Android, and Windows, etc, and each of them is tailored to the specific OS to ensure the best performance and user experience.

Are multiplatform and cross-platform approaches the same?

Despite popular belief, those terms have different meanings. The difference between multiplatform and cross-platform app development is the approach to compatibility and use of code across different operating systems and devices.

While multiplatform is about developing separate applications for various operating systems, the cross-platform approach focuses on creating a single app that can run on multiple platforms without the need for different versions. This is achieved by using universal programming languages and frameworks such as React Native, Xamarin and Flutter, which enable developers to write a single code base that is compatible across platforms.

If you would like to know more about the differences, read the article Building a custom platform or using a ready solution when launching a video streaming service? 

Advantages of adopting a multiplatform strategy

Optimised user experience

By tailoring apps to each platform using native tools and languages, multiplatform development often achieves a higher level of performance and a user experience that feels “right at home” on each platform.

Customisation opportunities

The multiplatform approach allows for greater customisation in terms of design and functionality, satisfying users’ specific preferences and expectations on each platform.

Improved performance and reliability

Native apps typically perform better and are more reliable, as they are optimised for their specific platform.

Diverse monetisation strategies

Different platforms offer different monetisation opportunities and strategies, such as in-app purchases, subscriptions or ad integration. A multiplatform approach allows companies to tailor monetisation strategies to the norms and expectations of users on each platform.

Drawbacks of the multiplatform approach

Increased development cost and time

Developing separate applications for each platform is quite costly. Each version needs its development and maintenance team, tools, and resources, which can significantly increase the overall cost and extend the timeline.

Need for diverse skillsets

Developing for multiple platforms requires proficiency in different programming languages and environments. This often requires a diverse team of developers or outsourcing.

Inconsistency in features and performance

Ensuring consistent performance and feature parity across different platforms can be challenging. Implementing certain features might be easy on one platform but difficult on another, leading to discrepancies in the user experience.

Slower time to market

Developing separate applications for each platform takes longer than a single cross-platform application. This can lead to a slower time to market, which can be a disadvantage in fast-paced industries.

How to implement a multiplatform strategy?

Developing apps for multiple platforms raises the profile of the entire development process. In addition to ensuring performance across systems, developers must adapt their solutions to a wide range of devices. This requires extensive testing and a deep understanding of how certain elements appear on different screens. Engaging in these projects and harmonising all aspects requires years of practice and considerable experience.

Remember the target audience

A deep understanding of your target audience is essential. Who are they? Which devices do they use most frequently? This knowledge will guide you in prioritising platforms based on where your app can have the most significant impact. This includes creating user personas – fictional representations of ideal customers based on market research and actual data about existing customers. Age, gender, location, income level, education, occupation and interests should be considered. This information helps us understand the preferences, behaviours and needs of potential users.

User-centric approach

In multiplatform app development, prioritising user-centric design is crucial. This approach focuses on creating a consistent and intuitive user experience across different platforms. Key aspects include maintaining a uniform user interface while adapting navigation and interaction patterns to suit each platform’s unique characteristics. Additionally, ensuring accessibility for all users, including those with disabilities, is essential for inclusive design.

Frequent updates and maintenance

Each platform regularly updates its operating system, introducing new features and phasing out old ones. Keeping up with these changes for many platforms can be a challenge. Frequent updates are necessary to ensure compatibility, fix bugs and incorporate new platform features, which increases the maintenance burden.

Need for diverse expertise

Multiplatform app development requires experience in multiple programming languages and frameworks. For example, an application designed for iOS and Android will require developers to be proficient in Swift or Objective-C for iOS and Kotlin or Java for Android. This means the development team must have a more diverse skill set or more specialised personnel need to be hired.

Integrating with third parties

Integrating with third-party services can significantly improve application functionality and user experience when developing multiplatform apps. Key considerations include choosing integrations such as payment systems, social media or analytics tools, ensuring compatibility across platforms, and maintaining data security and privacy standards. Properly implemented third-party integrations can significantly enhance an app’s capabilities and appeal.

Implementing agile methodologies

Agile development practices are particularly beneficial in multiplatform projects. They allow for iterative development, continuous feedback and flexibility to adapt to changing requirements or market trends. This approach ensures that the app remains relevant and can evolve with user needs and technological advances.

Marketing and monetisation strategies

Effective marketing and a solid monetisation strategy are critical to the success of any app. Multiplatform apps have the advantage of reaching different audiences, but they also require customised marketing strategies for each platform. Likewise, monetisation strategies can vary from platform to platform based on user behaviour and preferences.

To sum up

In conclusion, you should conduct thorough research and rely on expert guidance to create a multiplatform application. While self-education, including through resources like this article, is invaluable, the complexity of multiplatform application development necessitates the support of top-notch specialists. Choose sources and partners with a proven track record of reliability to ensure a smooth development process.

If you require a consultation or assistance with multiplatform solutions, the Spyrosoft team is ready to provide the necessary support and expertise. Check our Media and Entertainment services offering.

About the author

Ida Ożarowska

Ida Ozarowska

Business Researcher