Cross-Platform Mobile Development: Five Best Frameworks

Cross-Platform-Mobile-Development

Mobile apps have become a must for many businesses across various industries. It’s essential that such applications run seamlessly on multiple platforms such as iOS, Android and Windows. Leveraging the cross-platform mobile development approach, you can create such solutions quickly and cost-efficiently.

Let’s talk about the pros and cons of cross-platform app development and discuss the top tools you can use to build multiplatform solutions.

What Is Cross-Platform Development?

The term “cross-platform mobile app development” or “hybrid mobile app development” speaks for itself: this is an approach that allows developers to build a mobile solution that is simultaneously compatible with several operating systems and platforms (Android, iOS, Windows).

Hybrid applications have a native look and feel due to the combination of native code with independent code that’s suitable for multiple platforms. Developers write the code once and then reuse it, thus making it possible to release a product quickly.

To code cross-platform software, developers use intermediate programming languages — HTML, JavaScript and CSS — not native to devices and OSs. Then, apps are packaged into native containers and integrated into platforms.

Read also: Top 10 Programming Languages and Their Use Cases

Native vs. Cross-Platform Apps

There are two app building approaches for creating mobile solutions: native and hybrid/cross-platform. They both have advantages and disadvantages and can suit your project depending on your needs and use scenario.

Cross-Platform-vs-Native-Applications

Native development relies on tools and programming languages designed specifically for one platform. They are original for the device and the operating system. For example, Objective-C and Swift are used for iOS apps; Java, C/C++ and Kotlin help create Android solutions; C# and Visual Basic are optimal for Windows Phone.

When creating native applications, developers are guided by specific OS requirements. Installed on a targeted computing device, a native app can fully use the available features and capabilities.

The drawback is that a native app is not compatible with other platforms. To reach wider audiences, you would need to develop several solutions (one app for each targeted platform), which is time-consuming and cost-intensive.

Cross-platform development aims at creating a single application that runs identically on several platforms. It uses platform-agnostic technologies such as HTML and CSS and helps businesses cover many end devices at lower costs.

Pros and Cons of Cross-Platform Mobile Development

Multiplatform mobile app development is continuously evolving due to emerging technologies, becoming more dynamic and attractive for developers.

Cross-Platform-Mobile-Development

Benefits

  • Creating separate native apps for each platform is expensive, while a hybrid application uses a single sharable code, which helps you keep within your budget.
  • Costs are reduced since only one team of programmers is required to develop and maintain an app. What is more, basic knowledge of standard languages is sufficient — development tools will do the rest of the work.
  • Cross-platform apps have a native look and feel, which is great for user experience.
  • Hybrid development is definitely the way to go for companies that want to attract users of various mobile devices and release the product to market quicker at a lower cost.

However, there are some issues you may face.

Challenges

  • The more complicated code of hybrid solutions combines native and non-native components, which may affect the performance.
  • Cross-platform apps can’t support all native-only functions and features of mobile devices, such as advanced graphics and animation or 3D effects. This results in limited functionality and poorer app design.
  • When Google and Apple add new features to Android and iOS platforms, native solutions can immediately start using them. But hybrid apps have to wait until these updates are adjusted to the chosen cross-platform framework. Thus, there always will be an updating delay.

These challenges may be critical or not for your project; that’s up to you to decide.

Cross-platform development is appropriate for solutions that:

  • don’t require advanced design;
  • don’t need to process incoming data online;
  • don’t need access to all device-specific features.

Top Five Frameworks for Hybrid Mobile App Development

Depending on the tool you use, the process and deliverables of software development can vary. To create a native-like application, it is crucial to pick the right framework. We’ve compiled a list of the five best frameworks for cross-platform mobile development that are more frequently used.

1. Xamarin

xamarin-logo

Xamarin is a leading free, open-source platform for building hybrid mobile apps. Xamarin-based solutions are compatible with any mobile platform and provide the same performance and user experience as native solutions.

This popular Microsoft cross-platform mobile app framework relies on the C# programming language complemented with .NET framework and is available under the MIT license as part of Visual Studio. Its development toolset includes the following components:

  • Xamarin Studio/Visual Studio (its own IDE)
  • Xamarin SDKs
  • Xamarin Test Cloud
  • Xamarin.Mac to build native Mac apps

2. React Native

React-native-cross-platform

React Native is one of the top cross-platform mobile development frameworks. It is based on React — a best-in-class JavaScript library for creating user interfaces — and targets mobile platforms.

The great thing about React Native is that you can use a universal JavaScript language as well as Java, Swift, or C — languages specific for native platforms to build cross-platform solutions. Thus, this framework can convert the source code into native elements, contributing to native user experience.

Web developers can easily use React Native to create mobile apps without obtaining new programming skills.

3. Ionic

ionic-logo

Ionic is definitely among the best hybrid app frameworks as it bridges the properties that are in demand: it’s open-source, easily maintained, scalable, and easy to read. Ionic provides a library of HTML, CSS and JS components optimized for mobile development that helps build interactive apps.

Ionic has a rich set of features and tools, including out-of-the-box support for material design, native-style mobile UI elements and layouts. It also provides its customers with regular updates and resources from the development community.

Ionic-based hybrid applications possess native functionalities, specific gestures and customizable tools that enhance user-friendliness. However, they rely on wrappers such as Cordova or PhoneGap to run as native.

4. Adobe PhoneGap

phonegap-logo

Backed by Adobe, PhoneGap is a distribution of the Cordova framework. This open-source mobile application development framework is usually regarded as the best and the most popular tool for hybrid solutions, not least because of its ease of use.

The tool allows apps to be written in HTML5, CSS3 and JavaScript. It provides native plugins and containers for each mobile platform enabling developers to create more features and access device functionality, such as camera, microphone, accelerometer, compass, file system, and more. After they’re created, apps run in a WebView browser inside a native container on the relevant platform.

Read also: 5 Reasons Why You Need a Mobile e-Commerce App

5. Sencha

sencha-logo

Sencha is the leader in enterprise-grade application development, as this comprehensive platform helps teams focus on building applications, not on constructing a framework. This tool is based on modern web technologies, including ES6, HTML5, JavaScript and CSS, so that developers can build data-intensive cross-platform web and mobile applications.

Originally named Sencha Touch, the service is no longer supported and has been merged with Ext JS to create Sencha Ext JS. It has a set of tools and themes that enhance productivity and facilitate optimization, deployment, design, theming and debugging.

How to Choose the Appropriate Hybrid App Framework

The choice of the best solution for hybrid development depends on a host of factors, and the following are the most significant:

  • The size of the company
  • Developers’ skills
  • The needed solution

Without taking these factors into consideration, it is impossible to say which of these tools for hybrid mobile application development is the best.

If you are a small company or an independent developer who wants to create a simple app, you might use Ionic. Large firms, agencies and enterprises that need powerful solutions may opt for Sencha, Xamarin, or other hybrid app development tools.

At the same time, if your priority is smooth performance and a full stack of native features, then native app development is the most appropriate.

Going Mobile Is Easy

Today, most companies create mobile versions of their websites to remain competitive. Cross-platform development is the most suitable solution for businesses as it allows them to efficiently create reliable applications that are compatible with all customer devices. You now know more about hybrid app development frameworks that you can use to develop your perfect app.

SaM Solutions provides a wide range of cross-platform app-development services, including development, consulting, support and maintenance.

Our core expertise:

  • Microsoft Visual Studio, Eclipse, Idea, RubyMine, Xamarin Studio
  • HTML5, CSS, JavaScript, C#, C++, PHP
  • Android, iOS, Windows Phone
  • Xamarin, Cordova, PhoneGap, Ionic, Sencha, Cocos 2DX

We create solutions according to each client’s specific requirements, which is why our clients always get the product that works best for them.

Contact our specialists for more information and they will help you get started with hybrid mobile app development.

Rating: 3.0/5. From 9 votes. Show votes.
Please wait...

About the author

Natallia Sakovich
Natallia Sakovich

A copywriter at SaM Solutions, Natallia is devoted to her motto — to write simply and clearly about complicated things. Backed up with a 5-year experience in copywriting, she creates informative but exciting articles on high technologies.

8 Comments

  • Thank you for these Informative and great tips (with great potential to learn from and apply). It helped me to improve my knowledge on hybrid mobile app development.

  • Amazing web-site. A lot of valuable information right here.

  • Very good information for app developers. These hybrid tools make it faster to develop the app for all platforms simultaneously. The features will improve slowly over some time. Still, it is a good start for developing apps faster. Thank you for the valuable information.

  • I have recently heard about the phone gap framework which is an open source platform for developing new applications so if you learn a bit of coding you will be able to make such apps.

  • Thanks a lot very much for the high quality and results-oriented help. I won’t think twice to endorse your blog post to anybody who wants and needs support about this area.