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November 09, 2021
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Cross-platform mobile app development: Tools & frameworks for 2022

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What are the best cross-platform app development tools?

Software development teams have an ever-growing set of tools at their disposal. Innovation drives efficiency and efficacy. Savvy businesses know that app development sits at the center of the best strategies. We don’t view apps as “nice to have.” Fully fleshed-out business ideas need a killer app. To make the best apps software development teams deploy cross-platform tools. In 1995 Sun Microsystems coined the acronym WORA: Write Once, Run Anytime. The acronym described the way that Java-based applications run on nearly every device. Today we use the term a bit more loosely, but the gist remains the same.

What is cross-platform mobile app development?

The cross-platform development project aims to create apps compatible with several operating systems. Cross-platform apps work on iOS, Android, and Windows. Cross-platform apps look and feel like apps developed specifically for the operating system. Developers write code once and deploy it several times to each operating system. Developers use several different programming languages to create cross-platform applications. Their toolkit includes HTML, CSS, Java and JavaScript. 

Native vs. Cross-platform, what’s the difference?

Cross-platform app development has obvious advantages. Many developers, though, prefer native apps. Both cross-platform and native apps continuously evolve. Properties of each change over time. What was correct about cross-platform in 2020 may not be correct in 2022. We need to re-evaluate both types to make sure we understand the latest updates and changes, the disadvantages and advantages.

Native apps prove less complex in the development stage. The developer just has to make sure the app functions well on one platform, not three. Cross-platform coders must make their apps accessible to as many users as possible. For this reason, native apps take less time to develop.

Developers create native apps using programming languages specific to the target operating system. They will use Objective-C and Swift for iOS, Java and C++ for Android, and C# or Visual Basic for Windows. Native app development requires adherence to the operating system’s requirements. 

Cross-platform development seeks to use a single set of code to function across devices and platforms. Ideally, cross-platform apps work exactly the same on each specific platform. Cross-platform development uses universal programming languages like HTML and JavaScript.

Related post: Web development vs app development: Choose the best for your business

Pros and Cons of Cross-Platform Development

Pros

  • Cross-platform development usually costs less. You need a team skilled in a single programming language to complete the app. 

  • Cross-platform apps look like native apps, providing a consistent user experience.

  • Cross-platform apps take less time to develop.

  • Easier to maintain and test

Cons

  • Cross-platform apps cannot harness the power of native-only features like 3-D effects.

  • Cross-platform apps don’t render advanced designs as well as native apps

Six cross-platform apps development tools and frameworks

Here are our picks for the best cross-platform tools available in 2022.

1. Xamarin
Xamarin works across platforms with C# and .NET languages. Xamarin began as an open-source project. Xamarin aimed to solve the problem of disjointed and confusing native app development processes.

Pros of Xamarin

  • Uses C#, so it integrates well with Visual Studio

  • Strong user base of 60,000 contributors 

  • Allows code sharing across platforms at a rate of 75%

  • Single tech stack that both developers and enterprises love

Cons of Xamarin

  • Not great for graphics-heavy app development

  • Limited libraries

  • Expensive for enterprise users, but free for individuals and startups

You might be also interested in: 15 useful web app development tools for 2022

2. React Native
Facebook launched React Native in 2015. React Native allows developers to create hybrid native/cross-platform apps. Developers love React Native for its speed and lightness. React creates apps that work on Android, IOS, and UWP.

Pros of React Native

  • Instant previews allow for fast development times

  • Hot Reloading shows changes much faster than in native app development 

  • Allows code sharing across platforms at a rate of 80%

  • Focus on UI makes interfaces created in React responsive

  • Allows apps to use native features like the camera

Cons of React Native

  • Not fully cross-platform, rather React Native is a hybrid solution

  • No consistent release schedule

  • Takes longer to debug, especially for Android devices

3. Flutter
Google created Flutter as a cross-platform framework. Flutter has many great features. Some of these include: seamless animation, SDK (Software Development Kit) and a flexible UI. Flutter supports native device features like camera, location services and hard drive access. Flutter uses the Dart programming language.

Pros of Flutter

  • 2-D app support

  • Robust creative designs 

  • Supports stock platform app development 

Cons of Flutter

  • Apps tend to be heavy

  • Dart not a very popular programming language

  • New tool without a large user base

4. Adobe PhoneGap
Adobe Phone Gap creates hybrid apps using HTML 5, CSS, C#, C++ and JavaScript. Adobe Phone Gap has a robust back-end. Adobe Phone Gap gives developers security and flexibility. 

Pros of Adobe PhoneGap

  • Open-source

  • Secure 

  • Flexible

  • Cross-platform

  • Native function support

Cons of Adobe PhoneGap

  • Not great for hardware-intensive apps

  • Coding for iOS must be done on a Macintosh

  • Outdated plugins

5. Ionic
Developers like Ionic for hybrid app development. Ionic is open-source, scalable and easy to read. Ionic contains a great set of tools. Ionic’s tool set includes support for material design, native-like UI components. Ionic releases updates often. Ionic apps have many native-style functions.

Pros of Ionic

  • Developer-focused

  • Tools have native app capabilities

  • Large community of developers use Ionic

Cons of Ionic

  • Unstable plugins can conflict with each other

  • Debugging a challenge because of unclear error messages

6. Sencha
Enterprise users love Sencha for creating apps. Sencha creates apps for iOS, Android and even Blackberry operating systems. Sencha uses an HTML 5-based framework to create mobile applications. 

Pros of Sencha

  • Customizable UI

  • Large component library

  • Users robust data management and security processes

  • Uses hardware acceleration to speed up performance 

Cons of Sencha

  • Cannot access the camera

  • No push notifications possible

  • Doesn’t process heavy graphical elements well

Curious how much would it cost to develop a basic mobile app? Check out our guide on App development cost.


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