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Today, it is difficult to overestimate the role of mobile technologies in human life. With the help of a compact device in our pocket, we can quickly contact our relatives and coworkers at any time, find out the state of our health, manage our finances, or find necessary information. The whole world is now surrounded by millions of mobile solutions, the main share of which is for Android from Google and iOS from Apple. Furthermore, there are numerous available mobile application development solutions. Therefore, it is essential to select one that would enable you to construct a universal software product, reducing time and lowering development expenses.

Many people seem to believe that Swift, Kotlin, Flutter, and React Native are the only options when it comes to developing apps for Android and iOS. This list can be extended by Xamarin. It’s a great option for multiplatform mobile app development with a single code base to speed up the app-building process while keeping as much of each platform’s native features as possible.

If you’re looking for a way to manage and secure devices, apps, and data from a single console for your business, consider implementing Enterprise Mobility Management with Xamarin and cross-platform development. This approach provides greater control over corporate data and improves the overall security of internal assets through comprehensive control of all mobile gadgets that interact with the enterprise (devices used by employees to access the digital workspace, communicate, etc.).

And today’s article will help you delve into how this technology works, what features it offers, what strengths and weaknesses it has, how long it has left, and what will come to replace it. So, what is Xamarin?

Xamarin Development: Main Features

Applications that can run on multiple platforms at once are more competitive in the modern world since there is a vast array of different devices and operating systems. The choice of cross-platform mobile app development services allows companies to expand their presence in the Android, Microsoft, and iOS markets. Cross-platform implementation can be approached in several ways: either by writing native code for each platform (in fact, the creation of two separate applications) or by utilizing specialized frameworks that let you create a single code for all cases.

Xamarin is an open-source framework from Microsoft used to build cross-platform apps for iOS, Android, and Windows using a single C# and .NET codebase. Mobile apps from well-known companies like Bosch, Siemens, Slack, Pinterest, and others were based on it.

Mobile application development using Xamarin: features, types, pros, and cons

Xamarin, which was first presented in 2001 and was based on the Mono project initially, was acquired by Microsoft in 2016 and has since been included in the .NET platform. It is now firmly in the C#/.NET/Visual Studio family and is one of the world’s most famous cross-platform tech stacks due to its rich features, flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and faster mobile app development.

Developers have two ways to perform Xamarin mobile application development. Either they use Xamarin.Native (Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android) or Xamarin.Forms. Typically, the main difference between the two platforms is that Xamarin.Forms allows you to reuse the same UI code across multiple OSes, while Xamarin.Native is tailored to platform-specific APIs like Windows, iOS, and Android. At a deeper level, there are many other characteristics of each platform and implications to consider—let’s take a closer look.

Mobile application development using Xamarin: features, types, pros, and cons

What is Xamarin.Native?

Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android are traditionally referred to as Xamarin.Native. This is a set of native Xamarin development tools for creating Android, iOS, and Windows apps. The environments are specifically designed for various OSes, and the codebase is adapted to meet highly specific hardware requirements. Teams that wish to offer their users a native experience while utilizing a single technology stack frequently use Xamarin.Native.

What is Xamarin.Forms?

Xamarin.Forms is a user interface framework for writing a common code base for Windows, iOS, and Android applications. It’s often called an extended version of Xamarin.Native, which helps developers implement cross-platform Xamarin mobile application development from a single common codebase. Applications are developed using Xamarin.Forms inherit all the features of Xamarin. With Xamarin.Forms, developers can write business logic using C#, and the user interface can be defined either in code or in XAML format so that it can be used on all platforms. This can greatly speed up prototyping as well as all stages of application development.

There are significant distinctions in the process of mobile app development with Xamarin, although the end product of using both is similar. Let’s examine these distinctions in more detail below.

Xamarin.Forms and Xamarin.Native: What’s the Difference?

Mobile application development using Xamarin: features, types, pros, and cons

Time Spent on Mobile Development With Xamarin

With a 75% code sharing rate, Xamarin.Native is currently well known for its capacity to operate with singular, shared code. 

Xamarin.Forms, on the other hand, provides greater time efficiency as code sharing is as high as 95%. Additionally, it speeds up the cross-platform development cycle because, unlike Xamarin.Native, it enables developers to write and share the same UI code across platforms.

Costs of Mobile App Development Using Xamarin

The choice between Xamarin.Native and Xamarin.Forms is not only a choice between platforms, but also between native and hybrid applications. Native apps are usually more expensive to produce because the app needs to be rewritten to port it to another OS. With XamarinNative, you require a developer who has sufficient familiarity with native platforms and can provide high-quality code for each user interface. This may result in some additional costs.

If you select Xamarin.Forms, all you will need to do to construct the mobile app is employ a .NET developer with little to no mobile app development with Xamarin expertise. 

User Interface Complexity

Another important aspect is the application’s user interface and graphics complexity. As was already said, Xamarin.Forms let even the UI code be cross-platform, which could result in certain limitations on complexity. 

Complex graphics are simpler to produce with Xamarin.Native since it enables you to design a user experience for each platform. Some things might function well on one platform but not as well on another, necessitating some tinkering. For this, Xamarin.Native offers sufficient flexibility. 

Therefore, for more complex user interfaces with more intensive graphics and applications, Xamarin.Native is the best fit.

Updating and Maintenance

Maintaining a shared codebase for iOS and Android is cheaper and faster because you need to debug one piece of code at a time without doubling your workload. Therefore it is simpler to build a feature, make an update, or just manage an application using Xamarin.Forms.

You need to take care of the base code and then the individual sets of code for each platform independently with Xamarin.Native. There isn’t one way to complete everything at once. As a result, maintenance and improvements take longer and cost more money.

For apps that need updates quite frequently, Xamarin.Forms is a preferable choice. Otherwise it’s better to stick with Xamarin.Native.

Application Functionality

Some functions are available on some systems while others are not. For example, the Swipe Back gesture, familiar to iOS users, is not available on Android mobile devices—instead, Android’s navigation bar is used. Another example is that iOS does not use the navigation drawer, and top-level navigation is only on the tab bar. In such a case, the Xamarin.Forms core code alone will not be able to assist you if you want to use these capabilities on the platforms where they are offered. 

Xamarin.Native, on the other hand, can give you easy access to these specific features on certain platforms, while others work differently.

The best way to create applications with various functionalities for several platforms is to use Xamarin.Native.

Mobile Development with Xamarin

In addition to offering a cross-platform mobile development solution, Xamarin integrates all the characteristics of native platforms for mobile, tablet, and desktop apps. It also adds several strong features of its own, including:

Linking Software Development Kits (SDKs)

Xamarin has bindings for all platform SDKs for Android and iOS. These anchors are also simple to utilize and navigate. Additionally, they offer reliable type checking at build time and assist in the development of better and more error-free applications. 

Wide Arrays of Third-Party Codes

The platform provides the means to directly apply Java, Objective-C, and C++ libraries. So, a variety of third-party codes are available for use. Furthermore, mobile app development using Xamarin includes project-linking features that let users link native Objective-C and Java libraries using declarative syntax.

Using Modern Language Constructs

All Xamarin applications are developed in the C# programming language. This is a contemporary language with more dynamic functional constructs, including lambda expressions, LINQ, parallel programming, and more.

A Modern Integrated Development Environment (IDE)

Visual Studio on Windows and Visual Studio for Mac on macOS are used for Xamarin development. They are both contemporary IDEs. Code completion, an advanced project and solution management system, a sizable collection of project templates, integrated version control, and many more capabilities are also among its features. 

Xamarin IDE

The main software used for cross-platform Xamarin mobile development is Microsoft Visual Studio. This serves as an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for developing GUI, Console, web, and mobile applications. 

Because an IDE makes use of several tools from the Microsoft environment, it allows you to produce both managed code and native code. Among its numerous features are a sophisticated editor, debugging, native platform interaction with iOS, Mac, and Android, and native version management. As a result, it contains every piece of functionality users could need to create, test, and publish apps.

Advantages of Xamarin App Development

The important mission that Xamarin has set for itself is to give development teams an adaptable framework that will enable them to swiftly prototype and create applications to shorten the time to market. Let’s take a closer look at the advantages of using Xamarin.

Mobile Development With Xamarin in One Technology Stack

Xamarin apps are always created in C#, regardless of whether they are intended for Android, iOS, or other less popular mobile platforms. Using C#, programmers can benefit from the .NET platform, which handles a variety of common tasks like memory allocation, garbage collection, and compatibility with underlying platforms.

Tools for most application coding and user interface creation are built into Visual Studio itself and don’t require any other technologies, which is an additional advantage of the unified Xamarin technology stack.

Native User Interface and a Near-Native Performance Experience

By utilizing native components, Xamarin enables programmers to produce a platform-specific UI that assists in the development of a native application. When using Visual Studio, it’s possible to share some components between platforms, but for apps with a high level of complexity, developers should create native code for Android and iOS to provide a native user experience. 

The Xamarin application development environment is currently being improved to increase capability and speed. Rendering will be more fluid with a thinner layer of abstraction, giving applications native-like functions and experience.

The Cross-Platform User Experience is Made More Constant Using Xamarin.Forms

The user interface of your application might be implemented using Xamarin.Forms rather than native libraries if you wish to further unify your codebase. In this instance, after implementing the user interface just once, the platforms are immediately converted and deployed. This can hasten the creation of prototypes and even applications.

Xamarin.Forms also provides other productivity tools, such as XAML hot reloading, to enable UI changes to be quickly updated during application testing without having to restart the program. 

Saving Time and Development Costs

The development cycle can be completed faster with a single technology stack and shared code base. Coding once allows developers to reuse a lot of it for different solutions while only making minor changes and saving time by skipping the same steps repeatedly. 

Since everything is written in C# and within the .NET framework, there is no need for separate teams to work on the app. When done by the same team, development, testing, and deployment are considerably streamlined. This prevents extra expenses and guarantees a quick time to market. 

Xamarin for mobile development is especially beneficial for companies with limited human and hardware resources.

It’s Easy to Keep up With the Times

Why fix something in two places when you could do it once? Xamarin for mobile development helps to simplify maintaining and updating apps by using a single programming language because they may be completed simultaneously. If updates, bug patches, or new features are needed, Xamarin developers can update any of the files, and Android, Windows, or iOS apps automatically get the new features, doing away with the requirement to update the source code of each application separately. Thus, by working on several projects at the same time, the developer needs less time to update applications.

A Common Application For All Platforms

What would happen if you had a fantastic desktop app that required a mobile version, or the other way around? This is not a concern with Xamarin mobile app development because it allows developers to, for instance, make different programs for Apple watchOS and tvOS. Because Android, iOS, and Windows can all be processed at the same time, there is no need for development teams to decide whether to focus on a single platform.

Comprehensive Testing

An effective tool for testing cross-platform business applications is Xamarin Testing Cloud. You can examine the flow of your program and spot problems early on by using UI testing.

Disadvantages of Mobile Development With Xamarin

Despite all of these benefits, Xamarin app development has some disadvantages as well:

Not Suited for Graphically Demanding Applications

Apps that involve a lot of user interaction or rely significantly on aesthetics will take longer to develop with Xamarin and demand in-depth familiarity with native iOS and Android technology.

Larger Application Size

The size of Xamarin-created mobile apps can vary and frequently exceeds that of native apps. Size is determined by the base class libraries used in Xamarin applications development, the Mono runtime, and the data libraries.

These are a few ways to reduce the size of large applications. The technique to reduce code and manage file size is through extra optimizations such as linking, which are frequently used by developers. Another way to reduce file size is to remove unnecessary code.

For Enterprise Customers, it’s an Expensive Option

For individual developers, it’s a free and open-source platform, but mobile application development using Xamarin might be an expensive option for businesses.

The Small Developer Community

Compared to Android and iOS native talent pools, Xamarin still has a relatively smaller developer community. This implies that it can be challenging to find a skilled professional to help with Xamarin application development.

How Long Does Xamarin Have Left, and What Will Replace it?

Xamarin’s lifecycle is coming to an end in just a few years, which means that Microsoft will stop providing fixes, updates, or online technical assistance from then on. Mobile apps created with Xamarin won’t get security upgrades without Microsoft’s help to protect devices from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malware that can steal personal information.

.NET 6 takes over from Xamarin for building Android, iOS, and cross-platform applications. Xamarin support will end on May 1, 2024 for all Xamarin SDKs. Xamarin.Android and Xamarin.iOS projects should be upgraded to .NET SDK-style projects. Xamarin.Forms projects should be upgraded to .NET Multi-platform App UI (MAUI).

This does not mean that all those who used Xamarin need to completely rewrite their code. However, there are some changes that need to be made to applications’ code, and it’s also possible to use the features of one project without merging all your Xamarin.Forms projects into one project.

Final Thoughts

Most business owners opt for Xamarin app development, particularly if they wish to cover a variety of platforms and systems while also minimizing platform-by-platform development costs. While it has its downsides, the benefits of flexibility and scalability it can bring to projects cannot be underestimated.

Judging by the overall Xamarin pros and cons, there is no disputing that it’s a terrific tool for contemporary developers to create powerful and dynamic programs for Android, iOS, and Windows.

If you are wondering how to choose a mobile app development company, work with NIX to get the Xamarin mobile app development team of your dreams to realize your mobile application projects or upgrade to a newer supported version. Contact us today and let’s take the first step toward your business goals!

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