Depending on the goals of the future mobile application, you can choose one of two development paths: make two or more native applications or one cross-platform app that is suitable for several platforms at the same time. A cross-platform app is a perfect solution for MVP (Minimum Viable Product) when you have big potential, limited time and a small budget. Another reason to develop a cross-platform mobile app is if your company needs a simple mobile application without complex animations and functions.
To make the cross-platform app development process easier developers all over the world invented special frameworks. Cross-platform app frameworks allow developers to create mobile apps with one-time coding, and without a lot of changes run it on different platforms. Today, there are many good cross-platform frameworks for mobile app development that allow you to create quality applications. Each of them is good for solving a certain problem. In this article, we'll take a closer look at 8 of the most popular cross-platform development frameworks.
1. React Native
- Allows creating apps for different platforms Android, Android TV, iOS, macOS, tvOS, Web, Windows, and UWP.
- It is open-source and free thanks to that it has a large community to support and improve it if there are any issues.
- React Native focuses on UI and allows app developers to create a highly responsive interface.
- JS editor;
- Xcode and $100 per year per developer account to build and publish apps;
- Android Studio, SDK, Emulator.
Xamarin, same as React Native is also a free, open-source cross-platform app framework. It was developed in 2011 as an independent platform but five years later it was acquired by Microsoft.
Xamarin is much different from most cross-platform frameworks. It is based on the open-source implementation of the .NET platform – Mono. This implementation includes its own C# compiler, runtime, and core .NET libraries. The goal of the project is to allow programs written in C# to run on operating systems other than Windows – Unix systems, Mac OS, and others.
This framework consists of several main parts:
- Xamarin.IOS is a C# class library that provides developer access to the iOS SDK.
- Xamarin.Android is a C# class library that provides developer access to the Android SDK.
- Compilers for iOS and Android;
- Xamarin Studio IDE;
- .NET Framework;
- Plugin for Visual Studio.
- Free and open-source framework.
- Unlike many other cross-platform app development frameworks, Xamarin is pretty easy to use, because it's enough to know C# and .NET environment.
- Has a large community of companies and contributors.
- Xamarin Studio;
- Visual Studio Code.
- NativeScript supports all components from AndroidArsenal and Cocoapods.
- It supports calling native methods from native libraries.
- NativeScript uses a native platform rendering engine instead of WebView, which means it provides a truly native user interface.
It has a powerful back-end system that greatly speeds up the development process. It is best suited for developing simple mobile applications that do not make extensive use of native mobile phone features.
- Apps developed with PhoneGap show minimal differences on different platforms.
- The framework allows you to use embedded payment systems in the app via Google Play Store for Android, App Store for iOS, etc.
Thanks to Flutter's Hot-Reload you can modify your code and see the results in real-time. It takes just a few moments to update the app itself. With Flutter, you may build cross-platform mobile apps for iOS, Android, and other less popular mobile platforms. It is worth noting that today this is the only way to create an application for the Fuchsia OS.
- Mobile applications created with flutter are fast and highly efficient. Using Flutter gives more noticeable performance gains compared to another cross-platform app framework.
- Flutter has its own graphics engine (no need to make the interface separately for Android and iOS).
- Dart allows you to write a much more structured program code, which means you can create more complex applications and hierarchical structures.
- Android Studio;
- VS Code;
- There're many ready-made UI components available and easy to use.
- Lots of plugins to use native mobile phone features.
- The V8 engine is constantly pushing the boundaries and is one of the fastest dynamic language interpreters on the planet.
- With Node.js, you can execute all your database queries at once, reducing response times for slow requests.
- Node.js have a huge community.
8. Solar2D (Corona SDK)
Corona SDK was a very well-known and completely free open-source cross-platform app framework. Unfortunately, Corona SDK is no longer supported, but recently, its developers released a new game framework called Solar2D.
Like its predecessor, Solar2D is a free and open-source cross-platform app framework. It allows you to create mobile games for various devices like iPhones, Android phones and tablets, iPads, Amazon Fire, Desktops, connected TVs, and others.
- Solar2D is based on a Lua scripting language which makes it fast and powerful.
- With Solar2D Native you can call any native (C/C++/Obj-C/Java) library or API.
- Solar2D supports a lot of plugins for in-app advertising, analytics, media, etc.
We hope that the list of the best cross-platform app development frameworks, their descriptions, and the advantages were useful to you. This article will allow you to choose one technology that suits your needs based on its characteristics and the requirements of your project.
If you have the impression that cross-platform applications are only suitable for startups and small companies look at such cross-platform apps as Google Ads, Instagram, Pinterest, Skype, or Wikipedia. However, if you have a complex app development project that demands the latest technical features and complicated animations, then we recommend you to hire a mobile app development company.