Cross Platform App Development Done the Easy Way

Today we take a look at Marmalade Juice and RhoMobile, 2 tools designed to do the same thing: let your app run across mobile platforms.

So you want to build an iPhone app. And build a version for Android. And Windows. And Blackberry. Okay, Stop. Collaborate and listen. While it’s great to be able to have anyone and everyone be able to try your app no matter what device they’re on, ideally, you should build for one platform, see how it works out, then expand to others. So, ask yourself, is it time to move on up to another platform? If so, read ahead. (If not, stop now or we will keep singing Ice Ice Baby until your ears bleed)

No, not that kind of porting. That’s not even a real boat.

Taking an iPhone app and porting it – tech speak for rewriting and converting code – to another platform requires a lot of time, money, and patience. To give you an idea of how many dineros, some developers will quote about 40-50% of the original cost to convert an iPhone app to Android from scratch. So, if this money-grows-on-trees option is no bueno for you, one way to tackle this problem is to build a hybrid app. Another is to use a cross-platform SDK that aims to eliminate the headaches, time wasted, and money spent on platform-based coding by providing simple to use tools.

Here we’ll cover two examples of cost-effective, time-efficient cross platform app development tools: Marmalade Juice for a cross-platform SDK and RhoMobile‘s hybrid app framework.

Marmalade Juice

Building a game for iOS is no easy task, so you can imagine that porting it to Android or any other platform is also a challenge in and of itself. Marmalade Juice alleviates this problem by providing all the tools you need to take your iOS game and bring it to Android, BlackBerry10, Mac, and even smart TVs easily and painlessly. With Marmalade Juice, you can:
* Take Objective-C and native OS APIs and recompile them within the Marmalade SDK
* Port iOS games built on all iOS APIs with only minor modifications
* Use one single code base to port to any supported platform
* Update all platforms at the same time using one central code source

Arjun Dayal, Android Product Lead at Pocket Gems discusses how Marmalade Juice has helped them tremendously in taking the hit iOS game Tap Paradise Cove and bringing it to Android fans by minimizing development time and maximizing reach:


RhoMobile

The RhoMobile Suite is a cross platform app development software by Motorola. This is an example of a hybrid app framework that uses HTML5 in a native container. By using plug-in into the Eclipse IDE, you can use RhoMobile to quickly and easily develop, debug, and test apps for multiple operating systems in a more cost-effective way. Like Marmalade, RhoMobile lets you focus on optimizing and polishing your app instead of worrying about porting it to other platforms. Note that the Rho Studio primarily deals with business applications, but may also be used for consumer-class operating systems.

The drawback to software-based tools like Marmalade Juice and RhoMobile is that your developer may or may not be comfortable working in those environments. For example, Marmalade Juice is designed to work with the Marmalade SDK, while Rho Studio is native to RhoMobile. Another issue to consider is that using these tools creates a dependency between your app and these 3rd party services. You could find yourself waiting for Marmalade or RhoStudio to fix a bug in their code before your own app will work correctly, not to mention the troubles in finding good online documentation on these platforms. Before you go down this road, sit down with your team and have a chat. As helpful as these tools are, they’re only a great option so long as you and your developers are on the same page.

Have you heard of or used any cross-platform app builders? Share your thoughts below.

Image: Joe Shlabotnik and Gizmolord.com

About Sara Angeles

Sara is a copywriter, blogger, and content strategist for startups and lifestyle brands. She graduated from UC Irvine and has a background in law, finance, and business administration. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and follow her on Twitter. Her Google+ is lonely. Find out more about her at SaraAngeles.com.