Last Updated: February 21, 2024
Cross-Platform Mobile App Development Frameworks
Published On: December 12, 2023

Summary: Choosing cross-platform app development is a strategic decision, particularly beneficial when operating within budget constraints. In today’s landscape, the heightened interest in cross-platform app development is driven by the desire to reach a broader audience across multiple devices and platforms while optimizing development costs and resources. Meanwhile, selecting the right cross-platform framework involves lots of challenges.

In this blog post, we’ll dive into various frameworks to help you gain insights and make an informed decision on selecting the most suitable framework for developing your mobile app.  

Building a separate mobile application on iOS and Android is expensive and not every business can afford it. Cross-platform development is the right solution for them. It lets them have their app’s presence on both platforms even without investing too much.

Businesses can expand their horizon globally by having their presence on multiple platforms and unlocking missed growth opportunities. Meanwhile, selecting the right cross-platform mobile app development frameworks is essential when you opt for this approach to develop your mobile apps.

Once you opt for the right framework, you can streamline the entire development process and thus harness the potential advantages of cross-platform app development. In this post, we have outlined top cross-platform frameworks to help you make the best selection.

What is Cross-Platform App Development?

Cross-platform app development is a process of creating applications that can function on various operating systems including Android and iOS, even with the use of a single codebase.

It’s quite different from native application development, which involves using a separate codebase for each platform. Quite the contrary, cross-platform development involves using various frameworks like Flutter, React Native, and others to streamline the development process.

Developers who create cross-platform apps need to do coding once and can use it on several platforms, which minimizes overall app development cost and timeline. Cross-platform apps have the capability of delivering a consistent user experience while helping businesses reach a broader audience.   

Differences Between Native and Cross-Platform App Development

When it comes to native and cross-platform app development, these are two different approaches to developing mobile apps. Each app development type includes its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Native app development involves developing an app only for one platform, be it iOS or Android. 

To create native applications, developers need to leverage platform-specific programming languages. For instance, developers use Java or Kotlin to develop native apps on the Android platform. And for developing iOS apps, they use Objective-C or Swift.

While developing native applications, developers leverage the potential advantages of a particular platform in terms of native features and capabilities. So, this approach to app development helps developers to create high-performing apps that can be integrated with the hardware of devices. 

The major drawback of a native app is it requires separate codebases that are necessary for every platform, which leads to increased development cost and time.

With the cross-platform app development approach, developers can write code once and implement it across different platforms. As mentioned, developers do it easily by using cross-platform app development frameworks like Flutter, Xamarin, and React Native. 

With this approach, developers can minimize the app development cost and time. But, the drawback of the cross-platform app is it is not capable of leveraging device-specific features.  

10 Best Cross-Platform Mobile App Development Frameworks

With the increasing demand for cross-platform app development, the popularity of various cross-platform frameworks went up. Developers of late come across plenty of frameworks to use to develop cross-platform applications. Let’s have a look at some of the best cross-platform app development frameworks developers use frequently. 

1. React Native

Developed and maintained by Facebook, React Native is another open-source framework that lets developers build apps for different platforms by implementing a single codebase. Developed on JavaScript, it allows developers to write real code and create apps with native-like feels and work seamlessly on both iOS and Android.

The framework gives developers the flexibility to utilize their knowledge of JavaScript to develop applications. In this way, it prevents developers from learning a new programming language to build apps. React Native also supports a range of 3rd party libraries and plugins, which allow engineers to integrate features and functionalities into apps. 

How Does the React Native Framework Work?

React Native leverages the power of React & JavaScript to develop mobile apps that function and perform like native apps. The framework ensures communication between JavaScript code and native components through a bridge while ensuring higher performance. 

Features of React Native Framework

  • Hot Reloading
  • Reusable Components
  • Native Performance
  • Declarative UI
  • Third-Party Plugin Support
  • Easy Debugging

Apps Made with React Native Framework

  • Facebook
  • Bloomberg
  • Uber Eats
  • Walmart
  • SoundCloud Pulse
  • Skype

2. Flutter

Developed by none other than Google, Flutter is an open-source framework that facilitates developers to create applications with the use of only a single codebase. It’s a robust framework that makes the app development process rapid, which brings the possibility of developing apps for diverse platforms even without compromising performance and quality.

Its hot reload feature facilitates developers to make changes in coding and also can see the outcomes quickly. In addition, Flutter boasts a widget-based architecture that enables developers to build custom user interface components that they can reuse across multiple parts of their application. It enhances the speed and productivity of app development. 

How Does Flutter Framework Work?

Flutter distinguishes itself from other cross-platform mobile frameworks by utilizing a JavaScript bridge to initiate interactions with various native components.

This approach sets Flutter apart from its counterparts. Unlike traditional frameworks, Flutter takes a different route by compiling directly into machine code

Features of Flutter Framework

  • Integration with Firebase
  • Access to Native Features
  • Single Codebase
  • Expressive UI
  • Hot Reload
  • Rich Widget Library

Apps Made with Flutter Framework

  • Google Ads
  • Alibaba
  • Dream11
  • Hookle
  • InKino

3. Xamarin

Introduced in the year 2011, Xamarin is another leading cross-platform app development framework acquired by Microsoft. It’s an open-source and independent framework, which developers use to create applications on iOS and Android with the help of .Net and C#. 

It enables app developers to use most parts of coding (even 90%) to implement on different platforms while developing applications. With Xamarin, developers can create apps similar to native in terms of aesthetics. The framework offers a wide range of plugins and APIs, which ensure no hardware compatibility issue. 

How Does the Xamarin Framework work?

Xamarin uses C# and the .NET to build native mobile apps for Android and iOS. It enables code sharing between multiple platforms, which allows developers to perform a single codebase with native UI, performance, and access to device-specific APIs through approaches like Xamarin. 

Features of Xamarin Framework

  • Integration with Visual Studio
  • Xamarin Test Cloud
  • Access to Native APIs
  • Shared Codebase
  • Wider Community 

Apps Made with Xamarin Framework

  • The World Bank
  • Olo
  • BBVA Compass
  • Storyo
  • Oro
  • Novarum DX

4. PhoneGap (Apache Cordova)

With PhoneGap, developers can use technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to build apps. It’s another open-source app development framework, which is a highly famous tool for building hybrid solutions.

The framework boasts native plugins and thus facilitates developers to incorporate more features into apps, which can gain more access to device functionalities including accelerometer, camera, file system, or microphone.

PhoneGap provides a complete cloud solution that developers can use to share the application during the cross-platform mobile app development process for feedback and reviews from other app engineers.

Developers can use this framework to build impressive applications with the use of existing web technologies. Another great advantage of this framework is it supports in-built device features like camera, GPS, Storage, Phonebook, and more. 

How Does PhoneGap Framework Work?

PhoneGap leverages web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to develop cross-platform apps. The framework enables developers to create apps for platforms like iOS and Android even if they don’t have expertise in leveraging any particular platform. They can do it simply by using a single codebase.

Features of PhoneGap Framework

  • Offline Support
  • User Interface Frameworks
  • Integrated Development Environment (IDE) Support 
  • Access to Native APIs
  • Plugin Architecture

Apps Made with PhoneGap Framework

  • Health Tap
  • TripCase
  • Builder
  • RainbowDrive

5. Ionic

As an open-source framework, Ionic is popular for its various pre-designed components and rich library. It leverages the power of technologies such as HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript when it comes to cross-platform mobile application development. 

It can integrate with AngularJS, which brings the possibility of developing high-performing apps while providing a great customization ability with the help of Syntactically Awesome Style Sheets (SASS). The framework is available with several mobile-optimized UI components and gestures, which help developers create top-notch cross-platform apps. 

How Does the Ionic Framework Work?

Ionic works by utilizing web technologies to develop native-like experiences. It implements Angular when it comes to creating apps and also harnesses the potential advantages of Apache Cordova when it comes to accessing various native device features. 

It uses WebView, which renders the user interface of an application in a browser shell. Besides, it has also native-styled UI components that provide a great surety of offering platform consistency. It allows developers to follow the rule of ‘write once, deploy everywhere’. 

Features of Ionic Framework

  • Simplicity
  • Framework Compatibility
  • JavaScript Components
  • Cordova Plugin
  • Web-Standards-Based
  • Ionic CLI 

Apps Made with Ionic Framework

  • JustWatch
  • Sworkit
  • Pacifica
  • McLaren Automotive
  • Untapped
  • MarketWatch

6. Vue Native

Vue Native uses the combined power of Vue.js with the great flexibility of NativeScript. The framework enables developers to create native-like mobile applications with the use of various Vue.js components. Its simplicity and ability to be easily integrated with existing projects make it the perfect option for developers who are familiar with Vue.js.

Vue Native uses a reactive data binding system, which enables app designers to craft interactive user interfaces hassle-free. In addition, it offers complete support for features like hot reload, which facilitates developers to visualize the real-time update. Being a lightweight framework, Vue Native ensures quick application development even without compromising the quality and performance of apps. 

How Does the Vue Native Framework Work?

Vue Native works by translating Vue.js components into native UI elements. It lets developers create native mobile experiences with the use of Vue.js syntax. The framework uses a bridge for communication between native code and JavaScript, which ensures a seamless integration with the underlying platform. It ensures flexible and efficient development, which facilitates the development of high-performance mobile apps.

Features of Vue Native Framework

  • Easy Learning Curve
  • Component-Based Architecture
  • Single File Components
  • Vue Directives
  • Vue Router
  • Vue.js Integration

Apps Made with Vue Native Framework

  • Grammarly
  • Trust Wallet
  • Trivago
  • Behance
  • GitLab
  • WizzAir

7. NativeScript

NativeScript lets developers reap the potential advantages of JavaScript, Angular, and TypeScript to develop native mobile applications. With this framework, developers get complete liberty to access various native APIs, which help them develop high-performing applications. 

Based on a single codebase approach, it ensures a seamless development and deployment of applications across various platforms including iOS and Android.

NativeScript has the capability of developing a native user interface, which lets users have an authentic experience on every platform. It supports Vue.js and Angular, aside from JavaScript. Besides, an extensive plugin ecosystem improves the capabilities of NativeScript and thus enables developers to incorporate a myriad of functionalities into apps. 

How Does the NativeScript Framework Work?

NativeScript uses JavaScript or TypeScript for creating cross-platform mobile applications. The framework translates application code into native APIs for both platforms iOS & Android and allows developers to craft native user interfaces. It supports a range of plugins and allows developers to incorporate native features into apps to build a visually appealing, high-performing app. 

Features of NativeScript Framework

  • Native Functionality
  • LiveSync for Fast Development
  • Code Reusability
  • Support for Vue and Angular
  • Support for TypeScript and JavaScript 

Apps Made with NativeScript Framework

  • MoneyWatch
  • Telerik NextStep
  • ABN AMRO Tikkie
  • VeganNation
  • Strudel

8. Adobe PhoneGap Build

Being a cloud-based service, Adobe PhoneGap Build mitigates the complication in the process of creating cross-platform apps by streamlining the overall process. With the platform based on web technologies including HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript, developers can build apps for iOS and Android even without the necessity for extensive platform-specific coding.

Adobe PhoneGap Build removes the complication of packaging and compiling apps while letting developers get convenient solutions to focus on coding. It offers great support when it comes to integration with top-notch frameworks such as React and AngularJS.   

How does Adobe PhoneGap Build Work?

Adobe PhoneGap Build facilitates developers in seamlessly incorporating technologies such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript into the platform. The core principle of this process involves uploading these essential files onto the platform. Once uploaded, PhoneGap Build undertakes the crucial task of compiling these files, transforming them into fully functional native mobile applications.

It removes the necessity for developers when it comes to managing several SDKs and also builds the environment, which makes the development and deployment process smooth and hassle-free.

Features of Adobe PhoneGap Build

  • Cloud-Based Build Services
  • Multiple Platform Support
  • Support for Web Technologies
  • Automated Build Process
  • Support for a Range of Platforms

Apps Developed with Adobe PhoneGap Build

  • Untappd
  • Paylution
  • Build.com
  • TripCase

 9. Appcelerator Titanium

Appcelerator Titanium is a powerful cross-platform framework. Developers use it to create native applications with the use of a single JavaScript codebase. It’s different from other frameworks in terms of its capability of compiling code into native code rather than depending on web view, which results in increasing performance and also offers an authentic user experience.

With Appcelerator Titanium, developers get a great liberty to access native APIs and also use MVC framework, when it comes to structuring the code with efficiency. Besides, its performance monitoring tools offer detailed insight into the performance of the app and help developers optimize the app most effectively.  

How Does the Appcelerator Titanium Framework Work?

Appcelerator Titanium uses web technologies like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create native applications. It’s different from those hybrid frameworks that utilize WebViews for rendering UI elements in terms of its capability of communicating directly with the devices’ native API with the use of its JavaScript interpreter module. It lets developers build high-performing apps. 

Features of Appcelerator Titanium Framework

  • Native User Interfaces
  • Access to Native APIs
  • Based on JavaScript
  • Code Reusability
  • Appcelerator Studio
  • Cloud Services Integration

Apps Made with Appcelerator Titanium Framework

  • PayPal
  • eBay
  • NBC News
  • Avis

10. Corona SDK

As an easy-to-use and lightweight framework, Corona SDK is one of the most used frameworks for building applications and games (2D). It’s known for having outstanding efficiency & simplicity and uses the Lua programming language. Though the framework is simple, it doesn’t compromise its capabilities. 

The reason is Corona SDK boasts a wide range of features be it analytics or networking. Corona SDK has a real-time simulator that enables developers to see the updates quickly, and thus speed up the development and testing process. Thanks to its amazing support for animations and graphics, which makes it a popular choice for game development? 

How Does the Corona SDK Framework Work?

Corona SDK’s work principle mainly lies in the agile development process. In this, code is written in Lua language, which developers use to create apps that run on many operating systems even without the need for additional adjustments or configuration. Being a powerful tool, it lets developers create apps fast while ensuring quality and performance across different devices. 

Features of Corona SDK Framework

  • Built-in Emulator
  • Easy API Integration
  • Support for Plugins and Extensions
  • Corona Marketplace
  • Real-Time Simulator
  • High-Quality Graphics

Apps Made with Corona SDK Framework

  • Hungry MonstR
  • Gymoji
  • Bubble Ball
  • Punch Quest
  • The Lost City
  • Fun Run 2

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Pros and Cons of Cross-Platform App Development

As mentioned, cross-platform offers numerous advantages for app development in terms of time, cost, and maintenance. Meanwhile, it also has several performance issues like limited native features, and leveraging in platform-specific user experience. So, if you are planning for cross-platform app development, you should be aware of its pros and cons.

Pros

Cons

1. Cost Efficient: One of the major advantages of cross-platform app development is it makes development less complicated by allowing developers to use a single codebase on multiple platforms. It reduces the overall cost of app development.  1. Performance Issue: Cross-platform apps often fail to perform as native apps, especially for graphics, resource-intensive tasks, and animations.
2. Fast Development: Cross-platform app development prevents developers from writing separate code for iOS and Android. It lets them leverage the reusable code component, which makes the app development process fast. 2. Dependency on 3rd Party Tools: Another drawback of cross-platform is that it depends on third-party tools. Any limitation in third-party tools or frameworks tends to make the development process slow. 
3. Easy to Update: Another advantage of cross-platform is it can be easily updated simultaneously across different platforms while ensuring timely access for all users 3. Limitation to Access Native Features: Cross-platform frameworks are not capable of supporting platform-specific features, which also tends to limit the functionality of applications.
4. Consistent User Experience: Cross-platform ensures a uniform feel and look of the app, which delivers a consistent user experience.  4. Customization with cross-platform app development can be challenging since these frameworks focus on uniformity rather than platform-specific aesthetics.
5. Global Reach: Cross-platform development lets developers target multiple platforms to create apps that get a huge user base and ensure a wider market reach. 5. Updates sometimes can be delayed since developers have to often wait for frameworks to incorporate updates from specific platforms.

Challenges in Cross-Platform App Development

Apart from offering a myriad of advantages, cross-platform app development also faces a few challenges due to several reasons, be it devices, operating systems, or frameworks. Since every platform has its own performance characteristics and design guidelines, it creates a huge difficulty when it comes to getting a seamless user experience across platforms.

Compatibility issues are common for cross-platform apps, which are not able to adapt to devices with different screen resolutions and sizes. Since this approach of app development targets iOS and Android platforms, developers need to be familiar with frequent updates of both platforms, which is quite challenging for them. They need to have careful planning to balance feature consistency when it comes to platform-specific functionalities.  

How to Select the Best Cross-Platform App Development Framework?

While selecting the best cross-platform app framework, you need to consider some crucial factors including performance, efficiency, community support, documentation, learning curve, scalability, and many others. 

The most crucial thing that you need to keep in mind is your core project requirements. It gives you a better idea in choosing the right cross-platform framework. You should also focus on community forums, which are helpful for updates and troubleshooting.

Apart from this, you can prioritize your team’s expertise, desired user experience, project scope, etc. when selecting a cross-platform framework. You can get assistance even from a cross-platform app development company to find the right framework for your project. 

Conclusion 

So, you have already gone through the advantages and setbacks of each cross-platform framework. It may have given you a clear idea in terms of the right framework for your project. 

If you are still confused, you should consider the core functional requirements of your applications. A professional cross-platform app development company will help you select the right framework after gathering your project requirements, purpose, and goals. 

FAQs

Yes, cross-platform mobile development is worth it as it minimizes complications in app development by letting developers implement only a single codebase across iOS and Android platforms. It minimizes development time and thus cost. It lets businesses make their reach globally and grab several opportunities to grow.

The cross-platform mobile apps are written in different programming languages. Some of the popular languages that developers most frequently leverage to build these apps are React Native, Flutter, Xamarin, Ionic, PhoneGap, NativeScript, and more.

According to Statista, Flutter is one of the most used cross-platform frameworks, which is leveraged by 46% of developers. Apart from this, some other frameworks including React Native, Xamarin, and Ionic are also famous among developers.

The cost of cross-platform mobile app development depends on its type and size. The average cost of building a cross-platform mobile app ranges from $30,000 to $70,000. Besides, the cost also depends on several factors such as app complexity, team strength, development hours, and more.
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Jayanti Katariya

Jayanti Katariya is the CEO of Moon Technolabs, a fast-growing IT solutions provider, with 18+ years of experience in the industry. Passionate about developing creative apps from a young age, he pursued an engineering degree to further this interest. Under his leadership, Moon Technolabs has helped numerous brands establish their online presence and he has also launched an invoicing software that assists businesses to streamline their financial operations.

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