Mobile applications have changed businesses to a great extent. Many SMEs have created mobile apps for their business, and many more are creating it.
The most significant barrier for businesses to create a mobile application is the budget. Cross-platform frameworks have made mobile app development cost-effective.
Today, startups and SMEs choose cross-platform app development over native because of lesser development time and cost.
Using Cross-Platform Frameworks, you can launch native-like applications on different platforms like Android, iOS, Windows with a single codebase.
Hence, you can expand your reach to the targeted audience on all platforms at a much-reduced cost. To know the difference between a native and cross-platform app, refer this blog on native vs. hybrid app.
Now here we will talk about the cross-platform app frameworks or tools in a question-answer format.
What is a Cross-Platform Framework?
Cross-Platform is a kind of computer software that is useful for developing software products or services that can operate on different platforms with one code-base.
What are the best frameworks for developing cross platform mobile apps?
There are many Cross-platform frameworks available. Here is the list:
- React Native
- Adobe PhoneGap / Apache Cordova
- Corona SDK
- Appcelerator Titanium
Which framework can be used for developing Cross-Platform apps?
You can use almost all the above frameworks to create cross-platform apps.
Which are the best cross-platform frameworks for developing mobile applications?
It is tough to compare all the frameworks and choose the best without knowing mobile application requirements because each framework has its pros and cons. In most of the mobile app projects, React Native, Ionic, and Native SDKs are in use.
Which programming languages cross-platform app frameworks use?
Cross-platform app frameworks use the following languages:
Best Cross-Platform Frameworks for Mobile App Development
Ionic is a free, open-source framework for developing mobile apps and progressive web apps with ease. It is licensed under MIT.
You can build Ionic mobile apps with any web technology that you know like Angular.JS, React.JS, Vue.JS, or HTML5.
You can launch apps on different platforms with one codebase in Ionic. Now, it has 100+ mobile-optimized React UI components.
Ionic provides a wide range of Native plugins for native features like Bluetooth, HealthKit, FingerPint, Auth, etc. You can also use Cordova/Phonegap plugins and TypeScript extensions to get more native plugins.
Ionic has a tremendous community, documentation, and demos which help you to launch your application much faster.
Here are some advantages of the Ionic mobile app framework
- Utilizes a single codebase
- Highly favored by expert developers
- Quick to learn
- Clear documentation
- Quick prototyping
Moreover, Ionic is a complete mobile toolkit for app developers to create mobile apps.
Here are some disadvantages of the Ionic mobile app framework
- Dependent on Plugins
- Debugging is quite challenging
- Security-related issues
- Doesn’t offer Performance like native apps
2. React Native
React Native is a free and open-source mobile app framework created by Facebook.
You can create mobile applications for multiple platforms like Android, iOS, Web, and Windows, with a single code base in React Native.
You can create real native apps, without compromising with the performance using React Native.
The surplus benefit of React Native is that you can use it in your existing projects as well.
Various leading tech giants have chosen react native app development due to its amazing benefits.
React Native framework has a large number of built-in components. In case a component for your requirements does not exist, then you can search the npm registry or take the help of thousands of react-native developers’ community.
It is a Facebook supported, community-driven, best cross-platform app framework.
Here are some advantages of the React Native mobile app framework
- Effective Handling
- Quick Integration
- Highly useful for building robust apps
- Hot Reloading
If you are planning to build a budget-friendly app, then choose react-native framework for your next mobile application project.
Here are some disadvantages of the React Native mobile app framework
- Depend on third-party components
- Require help from native developers
- Less security
Flutter is yet another free and open-source UI software development kit by Google.
Flutter lets you develop apps for Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, Google Fuchsia, and web platforms from a single code base.
It uses Dart’s native compilers to compile Flutter code in the Native ARM machine code.
Hot Reload is a great feature that helps in experiments, building UI, fixing bugs, and adding new features. It gives a faster development time with hot reloading.
You can use Flutter’s built-in components like Cupertino widgets, motion APIs, material design, etc. to deliver an astounding user experience on your mobile app.
Flutter delivers the full native experience on Android and iOS apps with its widgets.
Google and its community members do further Flutter development.
Here are some advantages of the Flutter mobile app framework
- Quick App development
- Easy-to-use UI
- Wide range of widgets libraries
- Brief documentation
- Best for MVP App Development
“Google Ads, Hamilton Musical, and Alibaba eCommerce are some of the famous names that have used Flutter as their preferred framework.”
Here are some disadvantages of the Flutter mobile app framework
- Flutter has limited TV Support
- Doesn’t offer a look & feel like native apps
- Limited Libraries
Xamarin is also a free, open-source cross-platform app framework.
Developers can build native Android, iOS, tvOS, WatchOS, macOS, and Windows apps using .NET and C#.
Xamarin is made up of world-class tools, libraries, and programming languages.
.NET is a reliable framework that has been used by worldwide enterprise businesses.
Xamarin allows you to share 75% code across different platforms to make your development faster. But it further depends on functionality, features, developer’s experience, complexity, etc. To know more, check out this quick guide on app development timeline.
Xamarin.Forms, which is a mobile UI framework, helps you to deliver a consistent look across all platforms and platform-specific looks in no time.
You can also use Microsoft Azure along with Xamarin tools for hosting mobile app backend, database, or using intelligent services.
Here are some advantages of the Xamarin mobile app framework
- A huge community of developers
- Single Tech Stack for Quick Development
- Widely used by startups and SMEs
- Offers Native APIs and NuGet Packages
Here are some disadvantages of the Xamarin mobile app framework
- Pricey for enterprises
- Not suitable for high-quality graphics apps
- Limited open-source libraries
5. Adobe PhoneGap / Apache Cordova
PhoneGap is an open-source, cross-platform framework, created by Adobe Cordova’s team.
An app created in PhoneGap supports all mobile app platforms like Android, iPhone, and Windows. You can create all the apps from a single codebase.
PhoneGap has a large and robust developer community and a complete PhoneGap toolset, which extends the capability of your app and makes your mobile app development faster.
Debugging is very easy with popular web inspectors tools in each browser.
There is no need to maintain native SDKs, and this makes compilation easier.
If you do not have expertise in commands, then you can use the PhoneGap Desktop App, which will make your work easier.
Besides this, you can also reach out to a PhoneGap App Development Company, they can deliver you a cross-platform app as per your business requirements.
It is the best cross-platform mobile app tool for mobile app developers to create hybrid applications.
Here are some advantages of the Adobe PhoneGap mobile app framework
- Developers can share the app with the team to obtain feedback
- Provides a cloud solution allowing mobile app developers to build apps directly
- Well-suited with various third-party tools and APIs
Here are some disadvantages of the Adobe PhoneGap mobile app framework
- Not suggested for making complex and high-performing graphics apps
- Relies on iOS SDKs
6. Corona SDK
Corona is a powerful tool to create 2D games & apps for Android, iOS, Kindle, Apple TV, Android TV, macOS, and Windows.
It is a free and single codebase SDK developed by Corona Labs in mid-2009.
This mobile app framework is using Lua, which is a very lightweight and fast programming language.
Programmers often use Lua in game development. Popular games like Angry Bird, Warcraft, Civilization, and many more are using this leading scripting language.
Corona also has a library for plugins to extend the features of your hybrid app. You can also call a native library or API in Corona if the plugin suitable to your needs is not available in the Corona library.
“Corona is optimized for performance and stability.”
Corona has a fantastic community of more than 50,000 developers and a marketplace full of project templates, music/sound effects, and graphics for your game or hybrid mobile app projects.
They have their slack channel and email for providing priority support.
Here are some advantages of the Corona SDK mobile app framework
- Require a developer to write code only once
- Minimum lag
- Quick to learn and implement
Here are some disadvantages of the Corona SDK mobile app framework
- Expensive to use
- No option to include native plugins
NativeScript is one of the most well-known cross-platform frameworks useful for developing truly native mobile apps for Android and iOS platforms.
As it is an open-source framework, developers can adjust the user interface for multiple screens & devices and also utilize dependencies such as Cocoapods, Maven, npm.js, etc.
Here are some advantages of the NativeScript mobile app framework
- Easy to learn.
- Code reusability.
- It has a huge community of enthusiastic and active developers.
- NativeScript offers extensive plugins, templates, and app samples on its marketplace.
- Supports hot reloading.
Here are some disadvantages of the NativeScript mobile app framework
- All the things are running on one thread.
- Performance issues.
- Live sync is not available.
8. Appcelerator Titanium
Titanium SDK is an open-source, cross-platform framework created by Appcelerator.
It is not entirely free. It has three pricing plans: Indie for a single developer, Pro for growing the mobile business, and Enterprise for customizable setup & enterprise-scale companies.
It allows you to create native apps on different platforms like Android, iOS, Windows from a single codebase like other cross-platform frameworks.
It provides all the facilities from building to maintaining the application. You can check app analytics like usage, crashes, etc. in this tool.
This tool also provides Hyperloop to connect any native API and API builder to build APIs with cloud service.
Many big brands have chosen this technology to build rich and engaging mobile applications.
They have comprehensive assets to learn app development with Appcelerator.
Here are some advantages of the Appcelerator Titanium mobile app framework
- Quick prototyping
- Increasing Community of Developers
- Consists of various pre-built components
Here are some disadvantages of the Appcelerator Titanium mobile app framework
- Highly complex to build apps
- Poor documentation
Qt is a free and open-source toolkit pronounced as “cute.”
It allows you to create graphics UI and cross-platform applications which are compatible with all platforms like Android, iOS, and operating systems like Linux, macOS, Windows.
Applications developed using Qt are native applications with native features and speed.
You can launch an application on different platforms with little or no change in the codebase.
Qt provides tools for the entire cycle of application development, design tools to create prototype and design, development tools to develop and test apps and deploy tools to launch the app on different platforms.
Many big brands like Mercedes-Benz, LG, PEUGEOT, etc. are using Qt for their software.
It is available under both open-source and commercial licenses.
Here are some advantages of the Qt mobile app framework
- Awesome documentation
- Great community; hence, you can get answers to questions quickly
- Stable on a vast number of platforms
- Mature Framework
Here are some disadvantages of the Qt mobile app framework
- Performance issues
- Limited libraries
- Purchase commercial version to get more features
Unity Technologies created this incredible cross-platform game engine.
You can use Unity 3D to create 2D & 3D games, VR & AR games, and other experiences. It supports more than 25 platforms like Android, iOS, Xbox, PlayStation, Linux, Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, etc.
This engine has been adopted by significant industries like film, automotive, engineering, architecture, construction, and video gaming.
Unity has complete resources for learning to advance skills, assets to make development faster, documentation to create and use scripts, and support to access the right resources at the right time.
Here are some advantages of the Unity 3D mobile app framework
- Excellent Community of Developers.
- Simpler to develop games as compared to other game engines.
- Even though it’s not open-source, it is affordable.
- One of the best visual platforms available in the market.
Here are some disadvantages of the Unity 3D mobile app framework
- Documentation of several features is outdated.
- Unity 3D Pro doesn’t offer full features on mobile. Hence, you have to make enough investment to obtain Mobile Pro Licenses.
- Until Unity 5.0 engine works on 32-bit. Hence, there are strong chances that the editor gets crashed when the system runs out of memory. Also, Unity 3D is not feasible to build AAA games.
Conclusion: We have learned what are the best crossplatform development frameworks.