The hybrid or the cross-platform mobile frameworks provide a great option for businesses wanting to reach a larger audience.
Cross-platform mobile app or a native mobile app? The answer lies in the features and functionality needed in the mobile app.
Native mobile apps are dedicated apps developed for that particular platform. With a native app, developers will have to write two separate codes- one for iOS and another for Android.
Hybrid or cross-platform mobile apps are those where the same code can be used on both platforms.
The cross-platform mobile apps are developed with the support of frameworks. A software framework or a cross-platform framework is a software library that provides a fundamental structure to support the application development. It simplifies the complexities of interfacing with the device operating system.
The cross-platform mobile apps need exceptional frameworks for their success. Let us see the best cross-platform app frameworks that will help businesses create the best app.
5 Best cross-platform app frameworks for 2021:
- The UI layer can be developed separately for both Android and iOS mobile platforms giving a native feel and look to the app.
- The use of C# enables it to assemble native code that works best for individual platforms.
- It follows the WORA (Write Once Run Anytime) principle. More than 95% of the code can be reused on different platforms.
- Setting up Xamarin framework for use is easy.
- It offers easy API integration and connects well with the hardware components without affecting the device’s performance.
- You will need developers who will have to write separate UI layer codes for Android and iOS. They have to be well-versed with Java/Kotlin for Android and Swift/Objective-C for iOS.
- More expensive to develop when compared to other frameworks.
- More suited to the app development in the Microsoft ecosystem.
- Issues with third-party library integration
- The overhead codes do not allow smooth integration.
- The lag in API support gives issues for game development.
- React Native
- The installation is easy with the Node Packet Manager (NPM)
- It has a live reload with one screen for code modification and the other screen for change preview thus helping developers see code changes instantly, identify bugs and correct them on the mobile device.
- It uses ready components to build apps. This saves time as elements need not be built from scratch.
- Code compilation makes the app creation faster when compared to native apps.
- It supports Node JS.
- This mobile cross-platform framework is actively evolving and this means constantly upgrading and patchwork in codes.
- The third-party integration comes with a lot of glitches and bugs.
- Not best suited for apps that may have heavy special effects and UI transitions like game apps.
Google’s Flutter is a cross-platform open-source SDK created using Dart. While other frameworks use web views for compilation, Flutter compiles to native code thus eliminating layers between the CPU and the framework. With Flutter, developers can create flexible and interactive designs for UIs thus developing prototypes (MVP) at a faster pace.
- It uses Material functional widget set for Android and Cupertino for iOS to render UI components on their respective platforms.
- It uses its own 2D rendering graphic engine Skia.
- Since Flutter compiles to form a native code, the changes can be viewed instantly making the debugging process fast and manageable.
- Since the compilation using the hot reload feature is fast, it is the ideal choice for MVPs.
- Not suitable for mobile apps that require device-specific functions.
- Enterprises must hire developers well-versed in Dart language.
- The profile data for iOS remains incomplete and some features have minimal support.
- The codes written using Flutter SDK are bigger when compared to native apps.
Ionic is an open-source mobile UI toolkit that allows teams to build faster and better mobile applications. Built using Apache Cordova and Angular JS, it runs swiftly both on iOS and Android platforms using web technologies. The Ionic framework layout is done using web views while it gives access to the mobile device’s specific APIs. Its rich library consisting of user interface components along with UI design aspects like image design and placement, innovative themes all make for a great PWA creation. The Ionic framework has Ionic Command Line Interface (CLI) to develop apps with TypeScript and Node JS.
- Ionic provides a rich library of components (front-end building blocks, UI components, app icons) and plugins (access to phone features like Bluetooth, GPS and photo camera) that look and act like native elements of iOS or Android.
- The Ionic uses a lot of Angular concepts
- It provides full documentation with a strong developer community for support.
- For apps that need high graphics processing like video games or 3D graphics, the Ionic framework is not suitable.
- More security issues when compared to native apps.
- This cross-platform framework has no hot reloading feature.
- The Build cloud compiler compiles apps without the need for SDK installation.
- Taps into the device hardware like camera, navigation compass through APIs without disturbing the UI features.
- Easy computability with plugin architecture.
- Fewer pre-built usable UI widgets
- Apps can be slower than native apps
Which is the best cross-platform mobile app framework in 2021?
The best cross-platform app framework cannot be judged by the pros and cons. It has to be rather dealt with by considering the project requirements. The app features, its functionality, budget, resources available and timeline all come into the picture when deciding the best cross-platform mobile app framework for building an app.
There is a lot of buzz around Flutter and React Native and it would be interesting to see which cross-platform mobile app framework scores the best in 2021!