Feature Article

January 13, 2021

Best cross-platform mobile app development frameworks



The days when an entrepreneur could create a website and “build a web presence” like that are long gone. Today building a mobile app seems as important (if not more important) as developing a website. Given that the percent of mobile traffic will only grow during the next years, the ones neglecting mobile development, are risking to lose it all.   

 If you’ve thought about that matter, then you perhaps already know about two main dev approaches native vs cross-platform. They have their fans and skeptics, perks and flaws. Whereas it’s pretty simple with the native approach (unique apps for iOS and Android), the cross-platform path may seem like a “wild West” with many frameworks offered to you from the get-go. Flutter, PhoneGap, React Native, Corona, Ionic, Appcelerator, Xamarin... You’ve perhaps heard all these names or stumble across online discussions comparing the modern frameworks (if you’d like to see, which one is more profitable: Flutter or React Native, check this). 

 But which tech stack is the finest? What about the difference? What are the assets and drawbacks? You’ll find out all about it! 

Is cross-platform development good enough? 

 The first question, every entrepreneur willing to invest in an app, will have is about the distinction between native and cross-platform ways. Obviously, native apps are great, they’re built for a certain platform in mind and they fit this platform perfectly. But what’s with the cross-platform path? Are these apps really worth it? What are the benefits? 

 5 main advantages of cross-platform apps from the business perspective

  •  Cost-effectiveness (one solution fits every platform) 
  •  Quick time-to-market (less time to develop and deploy)
  •  Easy maintenance (one app will take less time to tweak than two separate apps) 
  •  Simplified marketing and audience outreach
  •  Wider choice of technologies and dev teams 

 So, as you can see, cross-platform mobile development has gained so many followers because it is cheaper, faster, and easier in a lot of ways. Why wouldn’t you want that?

 And now, when you’re aware of the main assets of this approach, let’s review five top cross-platform frameworks out there.

Top 5 cross-platform frameworks you should consider

 React Native 

 Perhaps, the most celebrated and trusted cross-platform tool these days, React Native has built a large strong community, which not only constantly improves the framework itself but also makes problem-solving so much easier.

The notable asset of React Native is the high percentage of code reusability (up to 80%), which has a positive impact on the development speed. Besides that, it is known for the so called “native-like” experience and smooth performance due to the focus on the user interface. 

 However, there sure are some cons you should know about. React Native allows introducing some native features, but it will require pieces of separate code for iOS and Android. Besides that, debugging may take a little longer, and updates release may not be that consistent. 

Flutter    

 This framework has gained a lot of popularity recently, but it hasn’t reached its peak yet. So if using state-of-the-art technology is important for you, consider using Flutter for your app. 

 It has been introduced by Google and that says a lot about the framework’s credibility! The developers find Flutter pretty easy to learn and work with, which already earned this framework the name of the “ideal MVP builder”. So if you need an app to test out the business idea or a new product, Flutter may be very helpful as the development will be cheap and fast, the user interface will be clear and easy-to-use. 

 But you should remember that, as a relatively young technology, Flutter still offers a limited amount of libraries, and TV support also will be limited as well.

Xamarin 

 Xamarin will definitely make it to the top three of the most popular cross-platform frameworks. Over the years (Xamarin was introduced in 2011) it has won the hearts of many developers and the trust of many businesses (UPS, The World Bank, and BBC GoodFood among them). 

In many ways, Xamarin can be compared to React Native. It also has a large amount of the code shared across the platforms, it enables quicker and cheaper delivery, it also guarantees that “native-like” feel every user appreciates. Besides that. Xamarin keeps the possible hardware compatibility issues to a minimum and gives the dev team many opportunities for customization. 

On the other hand, this framework may be on the pricier side as enterprises require a license (unlike individuals or startups).   

PhoneGap

Just like Xamarin, PhoneGap has been on the market for years (it also was introduced in 2011).  It’s safe to say that new technologies and frameworks have lured away a part of PhoneGap’s audience, but it’s still there and is still pretty popular. 

This framework is now for its ease of use, fast testing, and deployment, as well as cloud solution available. However, PhoneGap is not so fail-safe as most of the other frameworks and usually recommended for apps that tend to be simple and do not require high-performance. 

Ionic 

The main reason for Ionic’s popularity is the SaaS UI framework it’s based on. This means that the number of UI components that can be used during the development process is much higher. Ionic also provides access to the in-built device features like the camera or GPS. Unlike PhoneGap, Ionic is great for developing robust apps and implementing different ideas. 

But still, this framework also has some disadvantages to it. It includes greater exposure to security-related problems, a more complex debugging process, and overall plugin dependency. 

Conclusion

Cross-platform apps possess many great assets that will make any entrepreneur happy. And even though the number of cross-platform frameworks is impressive, there’s no “the best” or “the worst” one. Take your time and make the decision for yourself as no one knows your business as you do. Investigate, weigh the pros and cons, and may your decision be well-thought-out! Good luck!





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