Reaching potential customers through well-furnished mobile applications is a new trend to capture a substantial market rate. With the global expansion of mobile app users’ market size at $206.85 billion in 2022, it is expected to shoot at a CAGR of 13.8% from 2023 to 2030.
A study reveals that 13.66% of people globally download gaming apps from either Google Play Store or Apple Store. Likewise, millions of people worldwide depend upon mobile or web applications for their individual needs.
[Source: Mind Inventory]
The cross-platform app development enables you to build a single software that can run seamlessly on various operating systems. With the cross-platform app, you need not worry about developing separate apps for the different app versions.
Instead, it allows you to share all the source codes between iOS and Android, reducing the developer’s stress to re-code for different OS. However, even seasoned developers sometimes get stuck while selecting the most appropriate cross-platform tool developer.
Therefore, to ease this bewilderment, we have created this comprehensive guide where you learn about the top 10 best cross-platform app development frameworks that will help ace your business and save you from maintaining separate code bases for different OS like Android and iOS.
But before we begin with the categories, let us first understand the basics of the cross-platform development process:
What is Cross-Platform App Development?
Developing a high-end cross-platform application is an intrinsic part of businesses these days. With little knowledge and a particularised app development checklist, you can create your own app without any glitches. However, creating a cross-app needs some structured detailing about the framework selection.
The cross-platform app creates a software application that can run on multiple operating systems or platforms with a single codebase. With this approach, the developers can write the codes and deploy them on different platforms such as iOS, Android, web browsers, etc. and share some source code or even all of them without re-coding for separate platforms.
Why is Cross-Platform App Beneficial?
Cross-platform apps give users the freedom to use your app across multiple devices and on any operating system. The design consistency of cross-app makes it intuitive for users across the globe and makes your business app reachable to a broader audience base.
Also, building and maintaining a separate native app for different platforms can be hard on pockets and is also time-consuming compared to the cross-apps. Another important reason that makes the cross-platform app beneficial is that it can help businesses respond more effectively to market agility.
As cross-platform applications offer significant advantages to both businesses and users, let’s explore the top 10 cross-platform app development frameworks.
Best Cross-Platform App Development Frameworks
Selecting an appropriate cross-platform app development framework depends on various factors, including performance, supported platforms, compatibility with third-party libraries, customisation options, development time, community support, etc.
These factors, in turn, depend upon your budget, timelines, performance expectations, desired user experience (UX), customisation requirements such as incorporating the tailored elements, etc.
So now it’s time to know the best frameworks offering the specific stack of tools to build a high-performing app. Let us learn about it further in this article:
While discussing the best cross-platform app development, Flutter is the first name that strikes our minds. Anyone familiar with the mobile app development process knows why Flutter is one of the highly acclaimed cross-app development frameworks, giving it a considerable share of 46% usage by software developers globally.
Flutter is an open-source development app framework released by Google in 2017, and hence, you need to use the Google programming language Dart to build your application. It is available free of cost to create functional apps for both Android and iOS operating systems. It also enables developers to build natively compiled apps for the web and desktop using a single codebase.
- Hot Reload: Flutter’s Hot Reload feature allows you to see the results of your code changes in real time, making it easier to make adjustments and debug efficiently.
- Pre-designed Widgets: Flutter provides an extensive library of pre-designed widgets for building complex UIs, including the material design and Cupertino widgets for matching iOS style.
- High-Level UI Customisation: Flutter allows you high-level UI customisation where you can create pixel-perfect designs and implement complex designs and animation.
- Plugin Integration: Flutter provides plugins and packages for integrating with native device features and APIs.
- Diverse Development Tools: Flutter is supported by various development tools, including the Flutter CLI, Visual Studio Code, and Android Studio, providing developers with a choice of Integrated Development Environment (IDE).
React Native, also known as RN, uses Hot Reload, a feature like Flutter that allows developers to make real-time code changes during development. The extensive features of React Native make it the developer’s most preferable app-building framework.
- Developer Tools: React Native comes with robust developer tools that assist in debugging, profiling and monitoring app performance.
- Code Reusability: Almost 90% of the code, including components, logic, and libraries, can be reused across the platforms.
- Active Developer Community: React Native has a vast and active developer community with many resources, libraries and third-party plugins.
- Custom Native Modules: React Native allows developers to write custom native modules to access platform-specific features and API in their apps directly.
- Microsoft’s CodePush: Microsoft’s CodePush service allows you to push updates to your
Developers love Xamarin’s strong integration with Visual Studio for producing high-end, visually appealing apps. Launched independently in 2011, Xamarin was later acquired by Microsoft in 2015, increasing the credibility and trust amongst the users. Xamarin simplifies cross-platform app creation using a single shared C# code and the .Net framework.
With Xamarin, developers can seamlessly build native iOS, Android and Windows apps using the C programming language. Having a single technological stack, maintaining and updating the cross-apps built on Xamarin is more straightforward as the changes apply to all platforms simultaneously.
- Near-Native Performance: Xamarin apps are known for their near-native performance because they compile native code, resulting in smooth animations and responsive user interfaces.
- Access to Platform-Specific APIs: Xamarin allows developers to access platform-specific APIs and features by providing bindings to native libraries.
- Integration with .NET Ecosystem: Xamarin benefits from the extensive .NET ecosystems, including libraries, tools and developer resources.
- Xamarin.Forms: Xamarin’s ‘Xamarin.Forms’ is a UI framework that simplifies the creation of cross-platform user interfaces using a single XAML markup language.
- Live Reload: Xamarin allows Live Reload features that enable developers to see the real-time changes resulting in quickening the testing and debugging process.
Ionic has the preloaded exquisite design components for an amazing UI/UX. It provides the customisation facility through the web components APIs. It is an easy-to-learn, high-performing, and fast cross-platform development tool that uses native plugins for progressive app building and maintenance.
- Rich Library of UI Components: Ionic offers a rich library of pre-designed SAAS UI components and elements, including buttons, forms, navigation, modals and more.
- Two Flavors of Ionic: There are two primary flavours of Ionic- Ionic Angular for Angular developers and Ionic React for React developers. It allows developers to leverage their skills in these frameworks.
- Cordova Plugins: Ionic can leverage Cordova Plugins to provide developers with access to device features. These plugins bridge the gap between web technologies and native device functionality, enhancing the capabilities of Ionic apps.
- Progressive Web Apps (PWAs): Ionic makes it easy to create Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), web applications that offer a native app-like experience in a web browser.
- Live Reload: With Live Reload, developers can mark the immediate result of the changes made by them. This saves a lot of time in testing and debugging.
Cordova (created by Nitobi) was purchased by Adobe in 2011. Since then, it has been rebranded as PhoneGap, which later came out with the open-source version named Apache Cordova. Developers can use the advanced Cordova Plugins to ensure a native-like experience for users through device functionalities like GPS, accelerometer, and camera.
- Integration with Third-Party App Management Tools: Cordova allows easy integration with third-party app management tools for smoother maintenance and app distribution processes.
- Choice of Front-End Frameworks: Cordova allows developers to choose from various front-end frameworks like Angular, React, or Vue.js to create the app’s user interface.
- Real-Time Testing and Debugging: Cordova provides tools for real-time testing and debugging on emulators and physical devices.
- Strong Cordova Community: With the strong Cordova community, you can expect a wealth of community-contributed plugins, extensions and resources.
- Security Features: Cordova offers robust security features like the Content Security Policy (CSP) to protect against common web security vulnerabilities.
- Access to Device Capabilities: NativeScript allows you to utilise device capabilities such as camera, GPS, sensors, etc., by providing a bridge to access native device features and APIs.
- LiveSync Feature: NativeScript LiveSync feature enables real-time code changes to be immediately reflected on the connected device or emulator, speeding up the development and testing process.
The Hyperloop feature of the Appcelerator allows developers to use third-party libraries. The developers can use these libraries without making any significant changes. Developers also prefer Appcelerator because they can create animations without any lags. This framework is one of the top choices of businesses because it is a cost-effective framework offering a broader choice of functionalities.
- Access to Native UI Components: Appcelerator Titanium provides access to native UI components and widgets for both iOS and Android platforms.
- Titanium Live View Feature: The Titanium Live View feature allows developers to see their app’s real-time changes and updates on connected devices or emulators as they make the changes in codes.
- Wide Range of Plugins and Modules: Titanium has a wide range of plugins and modules that extend its functionalities and make integrating device-specific features and third-party services into your app easy.
- Alloy MVC Framework: Titanium includes the Alloy MVC (Model-View-Controller) framework, which simplifies the structure of your code, making it easier to develop and maintain large apps.
- Active Developer Community: Appcelerator Titanium has an active community of developers who provide resources, tutorials and solutions to common issues.
ExReact also offers a rich set of highly customisable UI components and widgets, including grids, charts, forms, buttons, navigation bars, and more. Applications built with the Sencha ExtReact are designed with an effort to be responsive, adapting to different screen sizes and orientations. ExtReact can also be used to create hybrid mobile apps using the Apache Cordova or similar technologies.
- Robust Data Management: ExtReact includes robust data management features, making it suitable for data-intensive applications.
- Theming and Styling Customisation: ExtReact allows extensive theming and styling customisation, enabling you to create user interfaces that match your specific branding and design requirements.
- Testing and Debugging Support: ExtReact supports testing and debugging features to ensure the quality and reliability of your applications.
- Active User Community: Sencha has an active user community, and support and services are available for organisations looking to use ExtReact effectively.
Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile (KMM) is a technology JetBrains developed that allows you to share code across multiple platforms, such as Web, desktop, Android and iOS, using the modern and expressive Kotlin programming language. KMM lets you write common business logic and application layers once and then target different platforms with platform-specific user interfaces (UI).
Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile doesn’t aim to provide a single UI framework for all platforms. Instead, it allows you to build platform-specific user interfaces using the native tools and frameworks for each platform. For example, you can use Android’s XML-based UI framework for Android and SwiftUI for iOS.
- Kotlin Foundation: KMM is built upon Kotlin, a modern, statically typed programming language that is expressive, safe, and fully interoperable with Java and other languages.
- Cross-Platform Libraries: KMM supports cross-platform libraries and dependencies, making integrating third-party code into your shared codebase easier.
- Code Sharing: KMM enables code sharing between mobile platforms, allowing you to write shared code for business logic, networking, data models, and more.
- Performance: KMM aims to provide good performance by generating efficient bytecode for different platforms optimising the execution of shared code.
- Testing Support: KMM provides tools and support for testing shared and platform-specific code, making it easier to ensure the quality and reliability of your applications.
If you want to make a cross-platform game-app, there’s nothing better than Unity. It is a popular game engine that can be used for cross-platform game development. It supports various platforms, including mobile devices, desktops, consoles, and VR/AR. With Unity, you can quickly build a high-end gaming app supporting 25 platforms, including Android and iOS.
With Unity, the developers can create highly interactive apps with the same codebase for different platforms, ensuring a native-like feel. Unity uses the .NET and C# programming language for developing 2D and 3D applications that include simulations and games. Unity’s versatility, extensive features, and strong community support have made it a leading choice for game developers across various platforms.
- 2D and 3D Game Development: Unity offers tools and workflows for both 2D and 3D game development. Developers can choose the dimensions as per their project requirements.
- Built-in Physics Engines: Unity includes built-in physics engines that allow developers to create realistic simulations of an object’s behaviour, including gravity, collision detection and interactions.
- Animation System: Unity includes a powerful animation system for creating and controlling animations of characters, objects and cameras.
- Visual Scripting with Bolt: Unity offers a visual scripting system called Bolt, which allows developers to create game logic and interactions without writing code.
- Optimisation Tools: Unity includes tools for optimising games for mobile platforms, such as performance profiling, texture compression, and support for various screen resolutions and aspect ratios.
How to Select the Best Suitable Cross-Platform App Development Framework?
Choosing between the mentioned 10 best cross-platform app development frameworks can be overwhelming because each framework comprises some unique characteristics. However, to select the best suitable app framework, you can consider the below-mentioned points:
- Define your Project Requirement – Start by clearly defining your project requirements, including determining the platforms you are targeting, for example, iOS, Android, Web, etc. Also, access the complexity of your app, i.e. simple, moderate or complex.
- Evaluate Cross-Platform Features – Closely examine each cross-platform application’s features, pros and cons, and community support. You can consider factors such as the programming language used, the development environment, and the quality of third-party plugins and libraries.
- Consider UI/UX Requirements – Make your framework selection based on your project’s design and user experience needs. For example, you can select Xamarin if you are looking for a highly customised and platform-specific UI. You can choose Flutter or React Native in case of a consistent and visually appealing UI platform.
- Check Performance – If your app demands high performance, especially for graphics-intensive applications or real-time processing, access the performance characteristics of each framework. Benchmarking or profiling tools can help you evaluate the performance.
- Feedback and References – Seek input from developers with experience in the frameworks you’re considering. Case studies and references from companies successfully using the framework can provide valuable insights.
- Costing and Budget – Another critical part of selecting the right-suitable cross-platform app development framework depends upon the cost of each framework and your budget limitations. Although most of the frameworks stated above are open-source, you might have to purchase third-party plugins as per your project requirements.
Selection of the right cross-platform app framework is a critical decision that can significantly impact your project’s success. The choice of framework depends upon various factors, including your project requirements, your team’s expertise, and your app’s specific features and performance needs.
The landscape of cross-platform development is continuously evolving, so staying updated with the latest developments in the field is essential. Also, taking the time to thoroughly evaluate your options while considering your project’s unique needs and guidance from the above-stated top 10 cross-platform app development framework list will help you make an informed decision.
Furthermore, if you need an expert mobile app developer by your side, Enterprise Monkey has a team of development geeks to help you build a killer mobile application taking care of all your business requirements.