Our dependency on technology has seen a meteoric rise in the last decade. Mobile applications have become an integral part of our lifestyle. We rely on them for everything from inter-city commuting and ordering food to online shopping and staying connected with friends. A world without mobile applications to assist is hard to imagine.
Over the years, many mobile application development frameworks have been created to make app development faster and more efficient. In this article, we will look at several mobile app development frameworks and explore how one differs from the other. We will also explain how you, as a mobile app developer, can choose the right framework to build your next awesome app!
What is a Mobile App Development Framework?
A mobile app development framework is a collection of tools or libraries that are used by mobile developers to develop great mobile apps for specific environments. In short, a mobile app development framework provides a fundamental layout to support mobile app development.
A framework makes mobile app development faster, efficient, and extremely cost-effective. Several frameworks have become popular over the years and have helped in shaping some of the greatest products. Let’s look at the top mobile app development frameworks in the market today.
Types of Mobile Application Development Frameworks
Mobile app development frameworks can be broadly divided into three categories.
a) Native Frameworks – for platform-specific app development.
b) Web Apps – for delivering web pages compatible with multiple platforms and devices.
c) Hybrid Frameworks – a combination of native and web apps. Hybrid apps can be developed with a single code base.
Top 12 Mobile App Development Frameworks in 2020
Now that we have an idea of what frameworks are, let us explore the 12 best mobile app development frameworks used in 2020.
1) React Native
Back in 2012, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg suggested a need for a better framework that can eliminate the drawbacks of using HTML code. Facebook then released the first version of React Native in 2015. It has grown to become one of the most recommended frameworks in the mobile development industry.
React Native is a hybrid framework that can develop mobile apps in iOS and Android. It uses a single code-base to build an application compatible with both the platforms, making it extremely cost-efficient. Being an open-source technology, React Native has gathered a large following and community around it. This community support makes it easy even for beginners to solve doubts and program with ease.
Some of the most famous apps like Instagram, Uber Eats, and SoundCloud have been built using React Native.
Flutter is a UI software development toolkit developed by Google and was first launched in 2017. A comparatively new framework, Flutter is quickly becoming a favorite amongst the mobile development community.
Just like React, Flutter is also a hybrid, open-source framework that can develop apps for multiple operating systems using a single code-base. The best feature of Flutter is its widget library. It offers a vast array of ready-to-use widgets that make app development extremely quick and easy. Beginners can also start developing through a simple drag-and-drop facility. It’s hot reload feature helps developers to try out UI components at run-time with no constant rendering.
Some popular products built using Flutter include SpaceX Go, Watermaniac, and Google Ads.
3) Adobe PhoneGap
PhoneGap is a mobile application development framework that was initially developed by Nitobi. In 2011, Adobe purchased PhoneGap and rebranded it as Apache Cordova which is now an open-source platform.
The most popular apps built using PhoneGap include Wikipedia, Builder, and TripCase.
The best feature of the Ionic framework is that it has its own command-line interface. Since it is built on Cordova, ionic provides Cordova-based app packages.
Many successful apps like MarketWatch and Amtrak have been built using Ionic.
Xamarin is an open-source framework used for developing mobile applications that Microsoft acquired in 2016. Xamarin is based on .Net and allows you to build apps that are compatible with iOS, Android, and Windows operating systems. It provides a rich library of tools that make app development efficient. Xamarin also enables easy integration of third-party APIs. Xamarin reported in 2017 that the framework was actively being used by almost 1.4 million developers around the world.
Some popular apps developed using Xamarin include OLO, Stroyo, and Alaska Airlines.
6) JQuery Mobile
JQuery is a mobile app development framework that was first released back in 2010. It is one of the oldest mobile app development frameworks. JQuery is primarily known for its flexibility and responsiveness. It is based on HTML5 and comes with various plugins like image sliders, pop-ups, and content-sliders that help in building several UI components.
The best feature of JQuery is that it is easily compatible with other mobile app development frameworks like PhoneGap. JQuery also provides UI widgets that are touch sensitive and platform agnostic.
Examples of products built using JQuery include Veev and Untapped.
7) Corona SDK
Corona SDK is one of the oldest open-source software development kits that Corona Labs released in 2009. It was later rebranded as Solar2D. Corona SDK can help you in building 2D mobile apps for Android, iOS, and Kindle.
Corona is built on top of C++ and OpenGL and is excellent for building graphic apps. It currently comes in two categories: Solar2D Native and Solar2D Simulator.
Many popular gaming apps like Designer City, Mandora, and Fun Run 2 have been built using the Corona SDK.
8) Mobile Angular UI
Mobile Angular UI is an open-source mobile app development framework that is known for its flexibility and responsiveness. It is maintained primarily by Google. Mobile Angular UI merges features of Bootstrap and Angular JS to provide an efficient development environment. It also comes with a library of widgets like scroll bars, switches, and sidebars, making it a great choice for building UI components. Mobile Angular UI is one of the best choices when it comes to converting web apps to mobile apps.
Some popular apps built using Mobile Angular JS include Hotelier News and iKeyBox.
9) Appcelerator Titanium
Some popular apps developed using titanium include Avis and Comerica.
10) Native Scripts
Applications built using NativeScript are MayMyPhotos and Smart Evaluation.
11) Framework 7
Framework 7 is another popular open-source mobile app development framework that can help you in developing mobile and desktop-based applications. Framework 7 offers compatibility with other frameworks like React and Vue.js which makes it flexible and easy to integrate. It allows for easy customization due to the availability of UI component libraries.
There are several famous apps that have used Framework 7. Some examples include Wappler and Kidoverse.
Finally, Swiftic is another open-source mobile development framework that is fast gaining popularity. Swiftic brands itself as one of the first DIY platforms. It has a rich library that provides UI components that can be dragged and dropped while building an app. This makes app development possible for beginners as well.
Swiftic can be used to build applications for Android and iOS operating systems. It uses a single code-base which makes it cost-effective. It also allows easy third-party API integrations making it a dynamic framework.
Being a relatively new framework, Swiftic is becoming popular with a lot of medium-sized businesses around the world. Here are a few examples of products using Swiftic for app development.
How To Choose The Right App Development Framework
Let us turn our attention to the next big question: ‘Which framework would be the best for your app?’ This is a hard one for most product owners but there are a few important factors one can consider while choosing the right framework for their app:
- The purpose of your app
- The operating systems that need be compatible
- The device features you need (geolocation, camera, etc)
- The level of encryption your app requires
- Type of storage for your app (local storage or cloud storage)
The above-mentioned factors form the foundational features of any good application. Keeping them in mind, explore the various zend frameworks available in the market and identify their strengths and weaknesses to find the right fit for yourself.
Stay updated with evolving technology
As mobile technology evolves, every framework is an attempt to make mobile app development easier, faster, and efficient. Further, every framework comes with distinct advantages. If you are an app developer, make sure you stay updated with new frameworks and actively try to be a part of the development community. Experimenting with multiple frameworks will help you become a better developer and stay ahead of the curve.