Developing cross platform mobile applications

Mobile phones have evolved very rapidly over a very short span of time. The very first mobile devices provided only Voice and Messaging (SMS) services. This did not provide much scope for developing any new applications for the mobile that would add some value to it. As mobile devices started evolving, they started packing in a lot more features and every mobile device manufacturer started having their own operating systems for their devices. This provided the opportunity for developing 3rd party applications like games, business applications and other utilities.

Most of the applications were developed for a particular mobile operating system, screen resolution and hardware. So, the developers had to constantly keep releasing new builds to suite the evolving hardware and software. Even a small update to the application required the same to be implemented across all the different builds. Imagine the plight of the developers maintaining a separate code base for different mobile OS and different screen resolutions! It used to be a nightmare for the developers.

Hence, developers saw the need for a solution where they could code just once and deploy the application across different mobile OS and hardware configurations without having to change anything in the code. By using a combination of HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript, developers were able to deliver feature-packed applications with highly appealing UI which follows the same look, feel and experience over a wide range of mobile OS and screen resolutions. A lot of tools like PhoneGap, MoSync and Sencha Touch became available that could compile HTML5 + CSS3 + JavaScript into OS specific native applications.

Using these tools, the developer had the freedom to develop applications without having to worry too much about the target OS or screen resolution. The following are the advantages of using HTML5 + CSS3 + JavaScript for mobile application development

  • Open Source
  • Reduction in development and deployment time
  • Lower maintenance cost
  • Short learning curve
  • Technical skill required is lower than the skill required to develop using Native SDK
  • Supported across major mobile operation systems (Android, iOS, Windows, Blackberry, Symbian)

Some tools like PhoneGap also allow the access of the device’s hardware features like GPS, Accelerometer and Camera.PhoneGap has become the choice of most mobile application developers since it supports the maximum number of mobile platforms. Anyone with HTML, CSS and JavaScript knowledge can start developing mobile applications making it one of the most sought after technology.


Shanmuga Prabu is a software engineer at Compassites. He has experience in developing e-commerce applications in which he has spent the last 5 years. Prior to Compassites, he has worked with Wifin Technologies at Chennai where he handled mobile application development and e-commerce projects. Shan also enjoys travelling and photography.

Further Reading on Enterprise Mobility

The Pros of Native Apps

Mobile Application Development Using Parse


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