6 Top Cross-Platform Mobile App Development Tools

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One of the toughest questions for mobile app developers to answer is to choose between iOS and Android application development. There is no easy answer to this as both platforms are widely used around the world and they both are excellent for many similar and different reasons.

Over the past few years, a substantial section of the world’s population has shifted to actively use Android or iPhone and this has been the driving force for most of the businesses across the globe to provide their offerings through customized mobile apps.

That’s where Write Once Run Anywhere (WORA) comes in, it refers to a piece of code that can be used to run on multiple mobile platforms. With the increase in the number of mobile platforms, it has become a struggle for mobile app developers to give their app a consumable form as the targeted users maybe using very different platforms.

Check out this list of top 6 cross-platform mobile app development tools that can help make your app reach its target audience across different platforms.

React Native

React Native is a JavaScript framework used for writing real and natively rendering iOS and Android application development. React Native is based on Facebook’s JavaScript library for building user interfaces, however, instead of targeting the browser, it targets mobile platforms.

Most of the React Native APIs are cross-platform, which means that you only have to write on React Native component and it will work smoothly on both iOS and Android platform. React Native is known to gracefully handle multiple platforms.

Thus, we can say that React Native is simply React, but for mobile. There will be some difference that mobile app developers will have to address, like using <view> instead of <div> and <image> instead of <img> tag.

There as thousands of apps using React Native, they may be from established Fortune 500 companies or hot, upcoming startups.

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Xamarin

Xamarin mobile app development tool

Another cross-platform mobile app development tool in our list is Xamarin, it enables mobile app developers to build iOS, Android and Windows apps while using a single shared C# codebase. Unlike what may be commonly believed, with Xamarin, you can do anything in C# that you would be able to do in Objective-C, Swift or Java. It allows you to use the same IDE, APIs, and language everywhere.

Apps built using Xamarin can be tested on hundreds of devices through the platform’s cloud services. Xamarin provides its own interface development tool, as well as online classes via Xamarin University program.

Sencha Touch

Sencha Touch is one of the leading cross-platform mobile web app framework used for building efficient applications by making use of the hardware acceleration techniques. You can build high-quality apps using Sencha, with well-tested and perfectly integrated UI components and libraries. Sencha Touch is more than capable of building large enterprise applications and maintaining them with ease.

Some of the benefits of using Sencha Touch is that it offers built-in themes, which may appear native, for every major platform, such as Android, iOS, Windows, BlackBerry and more. It also integrates well with PhoneGap for native API access and packaging, and packs in an agnostic backend data package for when working with data sources. However, even though Sencha offers native-looking themes, the availability of themes is limited.  

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PhoneGap

PhoneGap

PhoneGap is Adobe’s cross-platform development tool, it is an open source solution and is based in the cloud. PhoneGap is based on Apache Cordova. It is a great tool for building cross-platform mobile apps by leveraging on existing web technologies.

It is most suitable for mobile apps that don’t substantially use one of the native features of the smartphone. Other than being a free mobile app development tool, another benefit of using PhoneGap is that it maintains software development kits for each platform created by mobile app developers. One of the biggest advantages offered by PhoneGap is that it comes with a variety of plugins that allow the programmers to better utilize their web skills.

PhoneGap supports iOS and Android application development, enabling the respective platforms in the cloud without the need for local Software Development Kits. It means that by using Apache PhoneGap even a non-Mac user can develop an iOS-based app.  

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Codename One

Codename One is a cross-platform mobile app development tool with goals of quick application development, simple usability and seamless integration with native platform and native speed. You are required to code in Java, however, you can also have your app tested and verified with Codename One’s simulator devices and test automation tools.

Codename One supports most of the standard IDEs, such as Eclipse, NetBeans, IntelliJ IDEA, etc. The lightweight architecture of Codename One allows the UI to work seamlessly throughout all the platforms. It also enables mobile app developers to build native iOS apps without a Mac device and native Windows apps with a Windows PC. Moreover, it uses officially supported iOS toolchain and ParparVM, which confirms compatibility with future iOS versions.

However, as Codename One’s default themes are a bit primitive and the graphical UI builder may not be the perfect fit for large projects. It can become quite cumbersome to maintain a single file with the entire event handlers, as project complexity grows.

Native script

The last mobile app development tool in the list is Native script, an open-source platform for building native cross-platform apps. It provides you every native APIs in JavaScript, you can also easily use the existing plugins from npm directly in Native Script projects and make it easier to extend the features of your app.  

It allows you to use almost any JavaScript library that doesn’t need access to the internet. Native script has deeply embedded support for Angular.js 2 and Typescript and it has the cross-platform declarative UI support that allows you to create the UI once and then easily uses it on other supported platforms.

However, multi-threading is a possible concern with Native script but it’s likely to be improved in the recent releases.

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