Top 11 Cross-Platform Frameworks for Mobile App Development
The craze of cross-platform app development is increasing across the globe. For the same, various new cross-platform app development tools and frameworks get released every year.
Cross-platform frameworks have made mobile app development cost-effective and fast. Hence, startups and SMEs choose cross-platform app development over native.
Using cross-platform frameworks, you can launch native-like applications on different platforms like Android, iOS, Windows with a single codebase.
With the range of cross-platform app development tools & frameworks, it becomes challenging to choose the best one.
With the range of cross-platform app development tools and frameworks, it becomes challenging to choose the best one.
To make your task easy, here we have listed some of the most popular cross-platform frameworks 2021.
Before we move on with the same, let’s go through the basics:
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 Cross-Platform Frameworks to Build Mobile Apps?
Here are some of the best cross-platform frameworks that you can consider for mobile app development.
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 possesses a tremendous community, offers detailed documentation, and demos for developers. Hence, you can launch your app much faster with the Ionic framework.
Advantages of Ionic
- It utilizes a single codebase for making apps for multiple platforms.
- It offers clear documentation.
- This framework is supported by a big community of developers globally.
- It is quick to learn for new developers.
- The Ionic is built particularly for mobile OS and uses the SaaS UI framework.
- It offers various UI components for building top-notch applications.
- Developers can create a prototype of an application quickly using Ionic.
Moreover, Ionic is a complete mobile toolkit for app developers to create mobile apps.
Disadvantages of Ionic
- Developers rely on various plugins for building applications.
- Debugging is quite challenging in the Ionic framework.
- There are some security-related issues in cross-platform applications built using Ionic.
- Apps built using Ionic don’t offer performance like native apps.
- Developing in-app navigation is complicated because of its hard-to-use UI router.
2. React Native
React Native is a free and open-source mobile app framework created by Facebook. It is an excellent combination of React and native development.
You can create mobile applications for multiple platforms like Android, iOS, Web, and Windows, with a single code base in React Native.
It was one of the main reasons many tech giants have chosen React Native for developing mobile apps.
Another reason is that they choose React Native because it can be integrated with existing projects as well.
The below image represents the list of companies that have used React Native for building mobile apps.
Thus, you can also create real native apps using React Native without compromising the performance.
If you want to know these reasons in detail, then refer to this blog on why use React Native for mobile app development.
React Native framework has a large number of built-in components. If a component is not available, you can search the npm registry or take the help of thousands of React Native developers in the community.
It is a Facebook-supported, community-driven, best cross-platform app framework.
Advantages of the React Native
- It allows developers to share 80% of a codebase on different platforms based on the app’s complexity.
- Fast refresh enables developers to check all the changes instantly.
- You can utilize some amazing native functionalities such as an accelerometer and camera.
- Developers can save a lot of their time by using community-driven components and APIs.
- It emphasizes more on UI for rendering a high-quality user interface.
If you are planning to build a budget-friendly app, choose React Native framework for your mobile application project.
Disadvantages of the React Native
- React Native depends on third-party components.
- It requires help from native developers.
- React Native offers less security.
- React Native is not consistent when it comes to updates.
- It is not optimized properly for speed and memory.
Flutter is yet another free and open-source UI software development kit by Google. It is regarded as one of the best cross-platform app development frameworks available in the market.
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 incredible user experience on your mobile app.
Flutter delivers the full native experience on Android and iOS apps with its widgets. Hence, many companies have chosen Flutter for building great mobile apps.
Advantages of the Flutter
- It offers a wide range of widgets libraries to speed up development.
- It consists of a built-in graphic engine. Hence, developers don’t have to create separate UI for Android and iOS.
- Brief documentation allows developers to build apps for Android and iOS platforms smoothly.
- Flutter is best for MVP app development due to its efficiency and cost-effectiveness.
- Using Dart, developers can write highly structured programming codes. Hence, they can easily maintain a hierarchical structure when building complex apps.
“Google Ads, Hamilton Musical, and Alibaba eCommerce are some of the famous names that have used Flutter as their preferred framework.”
Disadvantages of the Flutter
- Flutter has limited TV Support. For instance, it doesn’t support Android TV or Apple TV.
- Flutter apps don’t look & feel like native apps.
- There are limited libraries available for Flutter apps on different platforms.
- Flutter apps are big-in-size because they are developed using built-in widgets.
Apart from these top three frameworks, PhoneGap was one of the preferred choices of developers and businesses to create cross-platform apps. However, it got shut down due to some reasons. To know in detail, check out this blog on PhoneGap Alternatives.
Xamarin is also a free, open-source cross-platform development 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.
Advantages of Xamarin
- A huge community of developers and contributors.
- It possesses a single tech stack for quick development.
- It is widely used by startups and SMEs.
- Xamarin offers Native APIs and NuGet Packages.
- Developers can instantly integrate Objective-C, Java, and C++ libraries. By this, developers can utilize third-party codebases encrypted in Java, Objective-C, and C++ again & again.
- Xamarin provides solid compile-time checking. Due to this, developers have fewer run-time errors and build more fully functional apps.
Disadvantages of Xamarin
- Pricey for enterprises. The Xamarin cross-platform framework is available at no cost for startups and individuals. But, enterprises need to purchase a license of Microsoft’s visual studio.
- Xamarin is not suitable for high-quality graphics apps as every platform follows a distant method for layout out all the screens.
- It offers limited open-source libraries that are useful for cross-platform development. Moreover, its primary UI creation is not mobile, and that’s why building a UI requires more time & effort.
Node.js possesses an event-driven and non-blocking I/O model that developers can utilize for developing lightweight and robust data-intensive real-time apps.
Besides this, developers can take benefit of an open-source environment to build server-side and networking apps efficiently.
Various leading companies globally choose to go with Node.js Cross-platform framework for building apps. Examples include Netflix, LinkedIn, Paypal, Uber, eBay, and Mozilla.
Advantages of Node.js
- Developers can quickly learn and adapt the framework.
- Node.js single-threaded model helps to develop smooth and high-functioning apps.
- It possesses npm, a Node.js package manager that offers numerous tools and libraries for building apps.
- It has a large community of developers across the globe.
- Node.js allows developers to decrease the response time for slow requests and run all the database queries instantly.
If you want to get all these benefits, then you should go for Node.js development.
Disadvantages of Node.js
- Developers have to look after many changes due to unstable API.
- The asynchronous programming model of Node.js makes it really tough for developers to maintain code.
- Node.js doesn’t possess robust support for the library.
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.
“Corona SDK is now Solar2D”
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.
Advantages of Corona SDK
- It provides numerous APIs which developers can utilize for integrating audio & music, texture management, etc.
- Corona SDK responds to any updates immediately; hence, developers can view code changes live along with the performance.
- Cross-platform applications built with Corona SDK have minimal lag.
- The framework is quick to learn and implement for developers.
Disadvantages of the Corona SDK
- The framework is expensive to use.
- Developers don’t have an option to include native plugins.
NativeScript is one of the most well-known cross-platform app development frameworks useful for developing native like mobile applications 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.
Advantages of the NativeScript
- It is easy to learn.
- NativeScript has a massive community of enthusiastic and active developers.
- NativeScript offers extensive plugins, templates, and app samples on its marketplace.
- NativeScript allows developers to access native Android and iOS APIs; thus, they don’t need extra knowledge of native development languages.
- It enables developers to render attractive, accessible, and platform-native UI without depending on WebViews. Developers need to write once and then leave things to NativeScript. Moreover, they can customize the UI based on devices and screens.
Disadvantages of the NativeScript
- All the things are running on one thread in NativeScript, and that’s why the app might give a slower performance.
- There are very few verified plugins. Thus, there is not any guarantee of plugins utilized in the framework.
- It doesn’t consist of a hot-reload feature; hence, developers need to invest more time testing the app.
8. Sencha Ext Js
One of the effective features of this cross-platform framework is that developers can integrate it with Cordova with native API.
Advantages of Sencha Ext JS
- It offers a vast number of state-of-the-art tools which developers can utilize for building customized themes, applications, and more.
- Sencha ExtJs offers 140+ UI components, such as lists, grids, menus, etc., to quickly design & develop applications.
- It has comprehensive documentation along with tutorials.
- The framework offers built-in security.
Disadvantages of Sencha Ext JS
- It doesn’t have a big community of developers.
- Developers have to invest a lot of time and effort in understanding Sencha Ext JS compared to other cross-platform frameworks.
- The framework is expensive when you consider the license fee.
- Debugging is quite challenging for developers.
9. Appcelerator Titanium
Titanium SDK is an open-source, cross-platform app development 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 app development frameworks.
It provides all the facilities from building to maintaining the application. You can check app analytics like usage, crashes, etc. in this tool.
Many big brands have chosen this technology to build rich and engaging mobile applications.
They have comprehensive assets to learn app development with Appcelerator.
Advantages of the Appcelerator Titanium
- The cross-platform application development framework allows faster app development. Hence, developers can create a prototype quickly to analyze user interaction with UI.
- It consists of various pre-built connectors for MS AZURE, MS SQL, Salesforce, Box, etc.
- It has an increasing community of developers worldwide.
- It allows developers to add popular continuous delivery systems like SCM solutions, etc.
- The framework provides a schema-less data store ArrowDB using which developers can deploy data models without investing time in setup.
Disadvantages of the Appcelerator Titanium
- It has poor documentation. Hence, it is highly complex to build apps.
- Cross-platform applications built using Titanium frameworks are slow when it comes to animations and responsiveness.
- Developers can’t detect the errors until runtime.
- It offers limited code reusability across different platforms.
Qt is a free and open-source toolkit pronounced as “cute.” Qt 6.1.1 is out now.
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 app development, design tools to create prototypes and designs, 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.
Advantages of the Qt
- Qt framework offers excellent documentation.
- Great community; hence, you can get answers to questions quickly.
- It is highly stable and mature on a vast number of platforms. Also, various companies have praised this framework.
- This cross-platform app framework’s IDE known as Qt Creator works smoothly on various platforms.
Disadvantages of Qt
- The time to market an app is long without utilizing Qt quick compiler, and the developer has to purchase a commercial version.
- This framework does not provide support for any mainstream Ad Networks. Developers need to utilize some unofficial libraries.
- The mobile user experience is not as good as you think. Even after using the default QT GUI components, the app does offer a look & feel like an Android or iOS application.
- QT asks for licensing fees for distribution. If you don’t pay the monthly licensing fee, you can’t distribute the apps you have created.
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.
Advantages of Unity 3D
- It has an 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.
Disadvantages of Unity 3D
- 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.
What are the Benefits of Cross-Platform App Development Frameworks?
Here are several advantages of the cross-platform app development frameworks:
- The frameworks offer code reusability. They work on the principle of Write Once, Run Anywhere. Hence, developers can utilize it for multiple platforms.
- By building a mobile app using the cross-platform framework, one can target an audience available on Android and iOS.
- Developers can save a lot of time & money as it is easier to maintain and deploy an app built using these frameworks.
- One can develop a mobile app that offers unified UI/UX design across multiple platforms.
- Cross-platform frameworks help to speed up the development process.
We have gone through the top cross-platform app development frameworks.
The ultimate purpose of using a cross-platform framework is to build mobile apps that offer the best experience to users on multiple platforms. Hence, selecting the right cross-platform framework for your next project is very important.
If you are still confused about which framework to choose for your project, don’t hesitate to reach out to our expert.
We are a top-notch cross-platform app development company and delivered many cross-platform apps to various clients. We first understand your project requirements and suggest the best cross-platform framework for your mobile application development project.