The Microsoft-owned Xamarin is one of the widely used cross-platform mobile app development tools with rich, cost-effective features and agility. However, when Xamarin mobile app development is considered, businesses can have a hard time choosing between Xamarin.Forms and Xamarin Native frameworks.
Xamarin.Android and Xamarin.iOS are collectively known as Xamarin Native. It allows developers to build mobile apps written in C# and .NET framework. Using it, developers can create apps for different platforms with a native interface. The primary tools used in implementing platform-specific functionalities include Xamarin.Mac, Xamarin.iOS, and Xamarin.Android.
Xamarin.Forms, on the other hand, is a set of tools and technologies that enable the creation of cross-platform apps with all their inherent characteristics. It’s a version of Xamarin Native using which, a single XAML can be written for multiple platforms at once. The Xamarin.Form framework inherits the entire set of functionalities of the Xamarin platform.
Selecting one of the 2 Xamarin frameworks should be based on the following factors.
Development time: Using Xamarin Native, developers can share only up to 75% of the code while with Xamarin.Forms, the number raises to 95%. Hence using the latter, developers can create and share one UI code across all platforms.
Development cycle is shorter when Xamarin.Forms is used.
Development costs: Besides the faster development cycle with Xamarin.Forms, development costs are also lower with this framework. This is because to develop mobile apps using Xamarin.Forms, one just needs an experienced .Net developer. Contrarily, Xamarin Native requires special expertise with the ability to write codes for UI for each platform, which adds to the project costs.
Xamarin.Forms is more cost-efficient.
UI complexity: If the app being built using Xamarin mobile app development involves a complicated UI that has specific elements for each platform, optimal performance can be ensured with Xamarin Native. Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android should be used for creating dynamic content which includes intensive graphics to the app.
Xamarin Native is the answer when the app involves a demanding UI.
App file size: Apps built using Xamarin.Forms are usually larger in size as compared to the ones built using Xamarin Native. App performance and agility may plummet when the size of the file gets significantly large. For building dynamic mobile apps with great UX, Xamarin Native is the ideal choice.
Xamarin Native helps in creating apps with smaller file sizes.
App maintenance: Maintenance of apps is easier with Xamarin.Forms since developers can use a consolidated approach as all updates are carried out on a single codebase. With Xamarin Native, there is a need to address the base code first followed by the platform-specific UI code, making the process more complex and time-consuming.
Xamarin.Forms facilitates easy app maintenance and upgrades.
When opting for Xamarin mobile app development, stakeholders can refer to the above-listed factors and assess them against the specific needs of the app. The pros and cons of both the Xamarin frameworks have been elaborated and one may reach a decision based on one’s project budget, timeline, and functionalities.