Xamarin is a runtime environment that makes it possible to use C# code for native apps on iOS, Android and Windows. In the meantime, the company behind Xamarin has been bought by Microsoft, which means that an even better integration of Xamarin into Visual Studio can be expected and should ensure its long-term development.

Why use Xamarin to Develop Apps?

If an app is to be used on multiple operating systems and implemented natively for usability and/or performance reasons, it requires large implementation effort for classic native implementation in Objective-C for iOS, Java for Android and C# for Windows. Knowledge of different programming languages, development tools, and operating systems are rare among individual programmers, hence multiple programmers for different platforms must implement the business logic, interface, and connectivity layer for each platform respectively. This form of cross-platform development is relatively costly and complicated, as the issues for each platform can be very different.

Xamarin takes a different approach: consisting of development tools and a framework, almost 100% of the native APIs from Android and iOS are made available as NET APIs. The development of native apps for all 3 platforms is thus done in Visual Studio (or Xamarin Studio) and C#, which makes it possible to use many code components for all platforms, avoiding the costly and error-prone re-implementation for each platform. The important thing to note here is that custom UI elements and resolutions can still be created for each platform – this increases the effort, but ensures native and platform-appropriate usability for the app. As an alternative, Xamarin Forms can be used instead.

Xamarin Advantages

  • Efficient development of Cross Platform Apps
  • Business Logic can be designed entirely as Shared Code
  • Supported by Visual Studio
  • Currently the fastest Cross Platform Solution

Xamarin Disadvantages

  • Depends on Xamarin for new APIs and Security Protocols
  • Lack of control on the native code, in exchange for performance in certain cases
  • Slower than Native Implementations for extremely Performance-Dependent tasks due to the extra layer provided by the Runtime Environment

Conclusion: Using Xamarin for Mobile Apps

Xamarin is the right platform for most apps that need to run on multiple platforms. Xamarin is unsuitable for apps that require more than 80% of its development on the user interface, since it usually has to be specifically developed on the Xamarin platform. Xamarin Forms only offers a good solution for apps that consist of the standard elements of the respective platform.

We now develop the majority of apps for clients using Xamarin as it is compatible with multiple platforms. 90% of the apps we develop use Xamarin, where clients save development time and budget.

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