According to Statista, there are 3.8 billion smartphone users worldwide. With such a vast and still growing number, companies needed a way to approach this audience. Because of this, they made applications that became a part of our everyday lives.
As a result, with more and more applications being made by and for companies each day, mobile app development became just as important as web development.
However, building a mobile application is a long process. You need to define the strategy, plan, and design of the app you want to create, and only after all of these are done can you start with the actual programming. But not before you chose a framework to program on.
What is a mobile app development framework you ask? A mobile development framework is designed to provide a fundamental structure and support mobile app development in a faster and less costly way.
Similar to web development frameworks, these tools use known mobile programming languages to simply introduce already build functionality and features, reducing the amount of actual development time needed, and even the number of developers needed.
And just like with web development, there are many mobile development frameworks for different types of applications that you can choose from. So, let’s look at 10 of the most popular ones!
Flutter was released by Google in May 2017. It is used as a mobile app development tool for Android, iOS, Mac, Microsoft Windows, Linux, and Google Fuchsia platforms.
This framework supports C, C++, and Dart coding languages. Dart is an object-oriented, open-source programming language with the same syntax style as the C programming language.
Flutter helps developers make their apps live up to the expectations of mobile app users, as it provides them with all they need to easily create an application with beautiful designs, smooth animation, and great performance.
Any app made with Flutter uses a single codebase, which helps keep consistency across all devices. It integrates with most of the popular development tools, so you can get started with any editor or IDE you are already familiar with.
It also helps the process by making it easy to build custom designs, as flutter gives you complete control over every pixel on your screen.
Flutter is great for mobile app development, but as to everything, there are some cons to this framework as well. Apps made with it occupy a large amount of space and it takes longer to update or download them.
The framework and its language, Dart are both quite new, and they are developing fast. As there are new updates frequently, developers might find themselves having difficulties maintaining the code.
Apps using Flutter:
- Google Ads
Ionic is a free and open-source project. It is the first choice for many who venture into mobile app development, as it utilizes Apache Cordova and Angular. They can develop some of the best hybrid mobile apps that run on Android, Windows, and iOS.
Applications built with Ionic have a single codebase across all platforms. This can reduce the cost of development, ease the application’s maintenance and make it quicker to get it to the market on multiple platforms.
If you choose Ionic, you make sure that there won’t be a shortage of developers who know how to use it as it is incredibly popular and well known, as well as it is easy to learn.
You can easily integrate tools, but some of them are only available in the Enterprise version of Ionic which is not free.
There is already a big and growing community behind this framework, more than 5 million developers are active on their forums. With a community this size, you will always be able to find help and answers to any question or problem you might come across.
For those who are building a heavy application with graphic elements, like Snapchat, Ionic might not be the best choice. This is due to the fact that it renders images through a browser, and it takes multiple steps to start showing the graphic on-screen.
Apps using Ionic:
- McDonalds Türkiye
You can start building your app simple and progressively add on tools and features you need along the assembling process.
VueJS is reactive, with any difference made in the coding, the component automatically re-renders, which is great for programmers doing mobile app development.
So now that we looked into the best of what Vue has to offer, let’s look at some of the drawbacks. VueJS, as it is still newer than most frameworks and is evolving fast, what you used today might not work tomorrow. This makes it really difficult and complicated to keep apps updated.
There is also only a small community behind it. Now, this usually is possibly annoying, but wouldn’t be a major problem. But most of the community originates from China just like Vue. With that given, the general western developer, who communicates mainly in English might not be able to find help if needed and end up getting stuck for a long time.
Apps using VueJS:
- Ride Receipts
4. Mobile Angular UI
Angular is an open-source mobile app development framework that gained a huge amount of popularity as it makes the mobile app development process easy and convenient.
With the popularity came a strong and active community, which makes sure that the framework is the best it can be and errors are eliminated as fast as possible.
It relies on libraries like overthrow.js and fastclick.js to ensure a better mobile user experience. It offers different UI components for programmers, who can easily make attractive interfaces for their applications with them.
It is easy to get started and create a hybrid app with Mobile Angular UI, as it uses AngluarJS and Twitter Bootstrap, which are already well known and used by a lot of developers.
Apps using Mobile Angular UI:
- Hotelier News
- SWORD Health
Xamarin has become a popular choice for mobile app development after Microsoft acquired the company in 2016. After this acquisition, Xamarin became available as part of Visual Studio.
It uses C# as its only programming language. It is also natively compiled which makes it a great option for those who want to build high-performance applications.
C# is an already mature language, there is no problem with possible errors or unexpected behaviors. There are also great learning resources available online from Microsoft for anyone who want to get started with mobile app development on Xamarin.
The problem with this framework is its high cost, and limited access to open source libraries. And apps made with it, in general, have a large size, and possibly have compatibility issues integrating third-party resources.
Apps using Xamarin:
- Alaska Airlines
6. jQuery Mobile
jQuery Mobile uses ThemeRoller, which makes it easier to create custom themes. Programmers using this framework can furthermore customize page layouts, panels, headers, footers, and form controls.
However, the performance of applications made with jQuery Mobile is not the same on different devices, Android is reported to be slower compared to iOS.
Despite the fact that it supports several mobile devices and platforms, it can not access the native features of the device like other cross-platform mobile app development tools.
Apps using jQuery Mobile:
It has a good amount of available plugins, like face recognition or media and music player ones. The list keeps on growing, so everyone is likely to find the plugin they are looking for, or they have the possibility to create their own as well.
The drawback of this framework is that the apps made with it are on the larger side compared to other native apps, possibly slowing down the updating and loading processes.
Apps using NativeScript:
- FinTech Consortium
8. React Native
React Native enables mobile app development with one codebase for multiple platforms. It provides a number of ready-to-apply components, that can fasten the development time needed.
One of the problems for those who used this framework was that it’s fast reload feature was unreliable and broken. This is not the case anymore, as the React Native team fixed these issues. Now programmers can speed up both the building and bug fixing process.
Out of the applications that were made in this framework only the complex ones had problems with loading time, but this can be easily fixed by transferring some code to a native module.
Apps using React Native:
Framework7 has a wide range of ready-to-use widgets and UI elements, which make app development more efficient and convenient. It has its own DOM7 built-in helper, which means that it is not dependent on third-party libraries, even in the case of DOM (Document Object Model) manipulation.
Framework7 is a great choice of mobile app development for those who want to have high performance and integrate page animation, as it is extremely fast and can handle these requirements easily.
However, it was built for the iPhone environment, which can cause themes to not look the best on Android devices. Furthermore, it does not support any other platform than Android and iOS.
Apps using Framework7:
- My Shopper
10. Appcelerator’s Titanium
There is an already strong and growing community behind it, Appcelerator has already launched a marketplace for sharing, selling, and buying templates, extensions, modules, or other design elements. This has attracted even more programmers to join their community.
However, there is increasing complexity of using Titanium. Developers need to put more effort in as they have to deal with annoying bugs and random crashes.
There are also limitations to flexibility and it is laggy as Titanium was the result of an automatic conversion from web to native code.
Apps using Titanium:
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Mobile App Development Summary
It can be a hard task for anyone wanting to find and choose a framework to start with their mobile app development. There are great frameworks for every kind of language you want to use and the type of application you want to create.
The choice of what to use can be made in multiple different ways, but as you do your research you might not discover the best for you as a lot of new frameworks might be hard to find.
As you would consult with specialists to improve website performance, you can also find professionals in application development.
You can easily find a consultant online if you want to make sure that you choose the best mobile app development framework for your project.
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