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As an app developer, Brthrs likes to work as efficiently as possible. So it is not for nothing that we regularly write about cross-platform app development, also called hybrid apps. Through this method, you develop apps that can be used on different operating systems. So both on iOS and Android.

But, in the world of mobile app development, several technologies and methods are available to build cross-platform apps. Two popular options are Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) and Flutter. In this article, we take a closer look at these technologies and cover the differences.

Why develop a cross-platform/hybrid app?

Cross-platform/hybrid app development offers an opportunity to launch apps used on different platforms with less work. Often this means you only have to write the code for an app once.

This provides a huge time savings. Before this was possible, separate code had to be written for each platform (iOS, Android etc). The impact of cross-platform app development benefits both app builders and clients.

An Android phoneBenefits for app developers

For app developers, this means faster delivery of projects. After all, the code only needs to be written once.

In addition, less expertise is needed. Internet agencies no longer need to employ both an iOS developer and an Android developer. The work can be done by one developer.

A final advantage of cross-platform app development is that maintenance and updates are easier to support. A “bug fix” can be improved and implemented once. Again, this saves time, which also benefits the client.

Benefits for clients

For clients, the benefit is reflected in the lower cost of cross-platform app development. This way, having an app created becomes accessible to more organizations.

In addition, cross-platform development provides a consistent user experience for the target audience. Because the code is the same for different platforms, there will also be fewer inconsistencies. Therefore, the app feels the same on both iOS and Android phones.

Photo of the Brthrs team

Some of the Brthrs team at work in the Utrecht office

What are Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)?

A Progressive Web App (PWA) is not a native app, but a web app. However, this piece of software pretends to be a native app. This puts the focus on mobile usage, which enhances the user experience.

A PWA can take advantage of a cell phone’s functionalities, such as its camera, microphone and GPS. The user experience of a PWA is basically similar to that of an app.

The main difference is that a PWA is not an app you download from the app store, but a Web page you reach through a browser. A PWA offers the ability to use many features you would normally expect from a native app, such as getting location data and receiving push notifications.

Advantages of PWAs over mobile applications are mainly found in lower development costs and the fact that they can be used immediately, without a download. Standard apps must comply with the rules of app stores as well as be manually downloaded by the user. PWAs need only be opened in the browser.

This makes PWAs an interesting alternative to cross-platform/hybrid mobile applications. Brthrs develops web apps using the JavaScript framework React.

A meeting at the office in Utrecht.

A meeting at the Brthrs office in Utrecht.

What is Flutter?

Clearly, hybrid/cross-platform app development offers many advantages over building native apps. One of the technologies that enables hybrid app development is Flutter.

As a toolkit, Flutter can be used to build mobile apps that can be used on different platforms within a short period of time. These hybrid apps are exported to the various platforms from a single codebase. Since 2020, Flutter can also be used to develop PWAs.

Flutter is open-source and developed by Google. The popularity of the toolkit is growing rapidly. Companies such as BMW, eBay and Toyota have had their apps developed through Flutter.

An alternative to Flutter can be found in the JavaScript framework developed and published by Facebook: React Native. Brthrs uses this framework to develop cross-platform/hybrid apps. Click to read more about the difference between React and React Native.

Flutter versus Progressive Web Apps (PWAs)

At first glance, web apps and hybrid apps are completely different options. But, both technologies offer an easy way to make features and content accessible to a wide audience. To some extent, web apps and hybrid apps can both be used for the same problem.

The choice between a hybrid app via Flutter (or React Native) and a Progressive Web App depends on several factors. Above all, the application of the final product and the available budget are decisive.

Robert van Brths looks at a computer screen with Sharon Dijksma, the mayor of Utrecht.

Robert van Brths talks with Sharon Dijksma, the mayor of Utrecht, at the Utrecht office

Have mobile application or web application created

Brthrs is happy to help with the choice between having a web app developed and a hybrid app. We create digital products that really make a deep connection with users.

Our multidisciplinary team of developers, designers and content strategists is eager to create even more digital products that make people better. We help brands and organizations imagine, design and develop beautiful, smart and user-friendly solutions.

Do you have a challenge? Assignment? Or maybe just an idea? We’d love to hear from you! Please feel free to contact us for more information.

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