It’s indisputable that programming languages and mobile application development are the future of technology. Companies and businesses the world over can no longer overlook the importance of mobile users.
If you’re running a business, perhaps you’ve thought of creating a mobile app and making it available on both Android and iOS. If this is the case, the first thing for you to do is to pick the appropriate programming language. However, this is easier said than done.
There are dozens of programming languages on the market today. As such, it may be beneficial to use hybrid app tools right from the get go. Hybrid apps combine applications built for web browsers and native apps that are intended for a specific platform.
Hybrid apps are essentially ‘cross-platform’ apps that don’t need to be developed separately for Android and iOS. This will allow you to build an app that can be deployed on both platforms, slashing development work in half while doubling your audience reach.
For your convenience, we have compiled a list of the five best languages for cross-platform mobile development. Each entry in the list will help you build a mobile app that’s best suited to your specific needs, preferences, and expectations.
Created by Facebook Inc. in 2015, React Native is an open-source UI software that’s currently one of the most popular cross-platform app development frameworks.
It allows developers to create some parts using Java, Objective-C, or Swift – languages that are specific for native platforms to create cross-platform solutions. This means React Native can convert the source code into native elements, thus imparting a native user experience.
Some popular apps designed and developed using React Native include Facebook, Airbnb, Bloomberg, Uber, Shopify, and Walmart.
React Native allows you to write sections of code and then reuse them on different platforms. Once you’ve deployed the code, you can seamlessly adapt it to other platforms.
Aside from code reuse, React Native comes with several pre-built components in an open-source library. This gives you the ability to utilize components that were developed by others, thus facilitating speed of development.
Another key advantage of React Native is its support for third-party plugins. This means if you want a certain feature for your app, you don’t need to build it from scratch. You simply need to search for a pre-built version of the feature that you like and integrate it into your app.
Lastly, React Native is free and has a huge community for support and improvements in case any nuisances crop up.
Launched in February 2011 and acquired by Microsoft five years later, Xamarin is a free, open-source cross-platform development framework that util isesthe C# programming language, .Net framework, and Visual Studio to build apps for iOS, Android, macOS, and Windows.
Xamarin’s development toolset includes these components:Xamarin Studio/Visual Studio (its own IDE), Xamarin SDKs, Xamarin Test Cloud for acceptance testing mobile apps, .NET Mobility Scanner for determining how much of the code can be shared with other platforms, Xamarin.Forms for designing/ building native mobile app interfaces from a single API, and Xamarin.Macfor building native Mac applications.
Xamarin has taken the world by storm and it has grown to approximately 1.6 million developers from 120 countries. It has emerged as the preferred technology for 15,000 companies in various fields including energy, transport, healthcare, media, among others.
Some popular apps designed and developed using Xamarin include UPS, Microsoft News, Alaska Airlines, The World Bank, and BBC Good Food.
Unlike other cross-platform app development frameworks, Xamarin is easy to use, as long as you’re familiar with C# and .NET environment.
Xamarin offers excellent compile-time checking thatreduces run-time errors. It makes it easy for developers to design a native-like app, thanks to its native-friendly interface and controls assisting.
Xamarin-based solutions work with any mobile platform and deliver the same performance and UX as native solutions.
Xamarin’s reusable code speeds up the development cycle. More than 90% of the code can be used for building apps on different platforms. In addition, Xamarin’s shared application codes allow developers to easily share codes across multiple platforms.
With Xamarin, you won’t have to worry about dealing with hardware compatibility issues. It offers a full range of APIs and plug-ins, and since developers can build native-level functionality in cross-platform applications, issues with hardware compatibility is reduced to a minimum.
Another notable thing about Cordova is the fact that it follows a plugin architecture. You can enable and disable the plugin as needed. The plugins can be added, imported, and used to build hybrid apps. Lastly, Cordova has a large and vibrant community, complete with tutorials on how to use it to its max capacity.
Some popular apps developed with Cordova are Adobe, Walmart, FanReact, Pacifica, Sworekit, and JustWatch.
Ionic isa relatively new hybrid app framework but it has emerged as one of the best because it combines properties that are in demand: it’s open-source, easy to read, easily maintained, and scalable.
Created by Drifty Co. in 2013, it boasts a rich set of features including native-style mobile UI elements and readily accessible support for material design. It also provides resources and regular updates from its growing development community.
Ionic will help you build cross-platform mobile apps with a single code base as it provides an extensive library of HTML, CSS and JS components that are optimized for mobile development. Apps built using Ionic have native functionalities, customisable tools, and specific gestures that help enhance user-friendliness.
Ionic also allows web developers to build web pages that are operated inside a device’s browser instance known as WebView. This may come as a plugin, and it is basically a system component that renders web pages and displays them as a native app.
Among the big brands that have used Inonic are Amtrak, NASA, McDonald’s, Dow Jones Market Watch, Sworkit, and Untappd.
Use of a single code base across different platforms. This guarantees faster time-to-market, reduced development costs (no need to hire native devs), ease of maintenance with the built-in debugging tools, and ability to transform your Ionic app to a desktop application or PWA.
Ease of learning. Ionic is widely regarded as an easy-to-learn framework: frontend developers can easily understand the basics or cherry pick among the different web frameworks supported by Ionic.
Wide range of plugins and integration capabilities. You can get the most out of your Ionic app by integrating it with various tools. Visit Ionic’s website and you’ll find the list of technologies to integrate, along with a number of useful plugins that will allow you to connect to native phone APIs such as Bluetooth, camera, and GPS without the need to build custom integrations.
Backed by a strong and vibrant community. With over 5 million developers and nearly 24/7 activity on the forum, you are sure to find advice, tips, and answers to any question.
Flutter was launched by Google as an open-source UI software development kit for coding and building cross platform applications for Android, iOS, Linux, Mac, and Windows from a single codebase. Flutter is relatively new, having been officially introduced in December 2018 with the claimed ability to render consistently at 120 fps.
The key components of Flutter include the following: Dart platform, Flutter engine, Flutter Development Tools, Foundation library, and Design-specific widgets.
Flutter has become popular among code rssince it can combine ease of development with performance that’s comparable to that of native. According to Statista, Flutter is currently the second most popular cross-platform mobile framework worldwide. Moreover, it is estimated that 39% of coders use Flutter, representing a 9% increase from last year.
Google uses Flutter for the Google Home Hub UI and forvarious Google Assistant modules. In addition, there are around 50,000 Flutter apps available for download in the Google Play Store.
Alibaba Group, Betterment, eBay, Groupon,Superlist, Toyota,and other popular brands use Flutter to give their web and mobile apps uniform and eye-catching looks. Other popular Flutter apps include The New York Times app, Realtor.com, Tencent, Square, and Google Assistant.
Quick code development which is made possible by the hot reload feature, ready-made widgets, and the use of Dart which is directly compiled into the ARM code of mobile devices.
The same business logic and user interface across all platforms. Virtually all cross-platform frameworks provide a way to share the codebase, but it’s only Flutter that allows the sharing of both the UI code the and UI itself.
Less testing is needed. Testing usually requires checking compatibility on different platforms. Flutter apps use a single codebase without any changes needed to operate across different platforms. This means you only need to test a Flutter app once.
Potential to go far beyond mobile. There is already Flutter for Web and Flutter Desktop Embedding. The former makes it possible to run pure Flutter apps in a browser without any modifications to the source-code. Become proficient with Flutter and you’ll be able to make a pure Flutter app run on any platform including iOS, Android,Windows, macOS, Linux, web browser, and even embedded devices.
Cross-platform app development is the clear choice if you’re after quick deployment,code reusability, wide compatibility, easy maintenance, and budget savings.
The five outstanding frameworks that we’ve discussed will help you stay ahead of the curve in the highly competitive app development industry.Bear in mind that the ‘best’ cross-platform app development framework will depend on your technical skills, project requirements, and the specific platform(s) that you wish to target.