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Top 11 Mobile App Development Frameworks in 2024

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Development
9 min read
Mobile App Development
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Introduction

You can access millions of apps with a few taps on your mobile phone today. These apps differ in their functionality and use cases. But they share similarities in the development process. They all start with an idea, which undergoes a series of steps to become an actual mobile app. An important aspect of this process is selecting the right development framework. 

Mobile app development frameworks are software frameworks that support app development. You can think of them as a toolbox with all the tools developers need to build apps. 

They offer libraries, UI elements, ready-made functions and components, and other resources to simplify app development. We discuss some of these mobile app frameworks below to help you find the best framework for mobile app development in your specific use case. 

1. Flutter 

Flutter is an open-source software development kit created by Google. Mobile app developers can use it to build and test their desktop, web, and mobile apps via a single codebase. 

One of the most attractive features of Flutter is its selection of customizable widgets. You can choose from various components, such as buttons, text inputs, sliders, etc. 

Flutter’s Skia is the framework’s 2D rendering engine that develops visuals. Also, Dart, a coding language optimized for speed, serves as the framework’s primary programming language.

Flutter is also known for the following features: 

  • Hot Reload: It allows developers to see updates in real time. In simpler terms, the changes that you make to the native code will reflect on the app right away. 
  • Cross-Platform Development: Flutter is among the best cross-platform mobile app development frameworks. So, you can use it to create apps for both iOS and Android. 
  • Flutter Community: The active community of developers and contributors provides help and support to app developers. 

Some apps created on Flutter include Hamilton and Google Ads. 

2. React Native

React Native is also an open-source framework. It was created by Facebook to let developers build mobile apps using JavaScript and React. Since it is a cross-platform development framework, the same codebase works for iOS and Android apps. 

Other notable features of React Native are: 

  • Third-Party Plugins: React Native is compatible with third-party plugins. 
  • Reusable Components: Developers can build reusable components for use in different parts of the app. It helps promote modularity. 
  • Hot Deployment: Like Flutter’s Hot Reload, React Native supports hot deployment. So developers can fix bugs and make changes to the code instantly. 

Instagram is one of the many apps made on React Native. Others include Uber Eats and Soundcloud. 

3. Swift

Swift is a powerful and intuitive programming language developed by Apple Inc. It’s primarily used for building apps for iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS. Swift combines the robust performance of compiled languages with the simplicity and interactivity of popular scripting languages.

One of the key advantages of Swift is its clean and expressive syntax. This makes the code not only easier to write but also easier to read and maintain. Swift also includes modern language features that developers love, such as closures, generics, and type inference, making the development process more straightforward and flexible.

Swift is renowned for its performance improvements over Objective-C. It is designed to provide safer patterns in coding and to generate faster code across the board. Apple continuously optimizes Swift for performance and provides regular updates.

Notable features of Swift include:

  • Playgrounds: An interactive environment where developers can test new code quickly without having to create an entire app.
  • Safety and Speed: Swift eliminates entire classes of unsafe code and speeds up the development process.
  • Native Development: Swift is optimized for performance on Apple platforms, offering seamless integration with Apple’s hardware and ecosystem.
  • SwiftUI Framework: A modern UI toolkit that allows developers to design apps in a declarative Swift syntax.
  • Vibrant Community: Swift has a rapidly growing community of developers, with extensive resources and support available.

Popular apps developed with Swift include Lyft, LinkedIn, and Airbnb, showcasing its capability to create high-quality, high-performance applications.

4. Kotlin

Kotlin, developed by JetBrains, is an open-source, statically typed programming language that has become increasingly popular for modern Android app development. It’s designed to be fully interoperable with Java, offering a smoother and more efficient development experience.

Kotlin’s rise in popularity is attributed to its concise syntax, which reduces boilerplate code, making the codebase cleaner and more readable. This streamlined coding approach not only enhances development speed but also minimizes the likelihood of errors and bugs.

Key features of Kotlin include:

  • Interoperability with Java: Kotlin works seamlessly with Java, allowing developers to use both languages within the same project. This interoperability makes it an ideal choice for projects transitioning from Java.
  • Coroutines for Asynchronous Programming: Kotlin’s support for coroutines simplifies complex asynchronous programming tasks, making code more manageable and less error-prone.
  • Safety Features: Kotlin emphasizes safety, particularly in nullability, to prevent common programming errors like null pointer exceptions.
  • Modern Language Constructs: Kotlin incorporates modern language features like lambda expressions, higher-order functions, and extension functions, enhancing its functionality and ease of use.
  • Android Studio Support: As the preferred language for Android app development, Kotlin is fully supported by Android Studio, offering robust tools and features for developers.

Kotlin’s adoption by Google as a first-class language for Android development has further solidified its position in the mobile app development ecosystem. Major apps built with Kotlin include Trello, Evernote, and Coursera, demonstrating its effectiveness in creating high-quality, robust mobile applications.

5. Kotlin Multiplatform

Kotlin Multiplatform, an extension of the Kotlin programming language, represents a significant stride in cross-platform mobile development. Developed by JetBrains, it enables developers to use the same codebase to create applications for various platforms including Android, iOS, web, and desktop.

This framework stands out for its ability to allow sharing of business logic and data models across platforms while still enabling developers to create platform-specific implementations where necessary. It strikes a balance between code reusability and platform-specific customization.

Key aspects of Kotlin Multiplatform include:

  • Code Reusability: Developers can write the application logic once in Kotlin and share it across multiple platforms, reducing both development time and costs.
  • Native Performance: Despite being a cross-platform solution, Kotlin Multiplatform allows applications to achieve native performance by leveraging platform-specific APIs and features.
  • Flexibility in UI Development: While sharing the business logic, Kotlin Multiplatform allows developers to design unique UIs for each platform, ensuring a native user experience.
  • Seamless Integration with Existing Projects: It can be easily integrated into existing Android and iOS projects, making it an attractive choice for expanding current applications to other platforms.
  • Growing Ecosystem: As Kotlin’s popularity grows, so does the ecosystem around Kotlin Multiplatform, providing more libraries and tools for developers.

Kotlin Multiplatform is particularly beneficial for businesses looking to expand their presence across multiple platforms without the need to manage separate codebases for each. It’s ideal for projects where leveraging Kotlin’s robustness and efficiency across platforms can significantly streamline the development process.

6. Xamarin

Xamarin is a cross-platform app development framework that uses C# and .NET for app development on various platforms, like iOS and Android. 

Some features of Xamarin are: 

  • Modern Language Constructs: Since Xamarin uses C# and .NET, developers can access modern language features like task-based asynchronous programming, LINQ, lambdas, generics, etc. 
  • Base Class Library (BCL): The BCL offers a rich collection of classes, interfaces, and value types. Some features of these classes include networking support, String, serialization, and IO. 
  • Visual Studio: Xamarin’s integrated development environment (IDE) is called Visual Studio. It offers code auto-completion and a project template library, among other features. 

Alaska Airlines, UPS, Oro, and The World Bank are some apps that used Xamarin for their development. 

7. Ionic

Ionic is a framework for building hybrid, cross-platform apps. It is different from solutions like React Native as it is focused on creating Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). It uses Apache Cordova and Angular for app development. Its features are: 

  • Cordova Plugin: The framework offers native plugins that allow developers to access device features like camera, geolocation, etc. 
  • Web Standard-Based: Ionic is built on web technologies like JavaScript, CSS, and HTML. These standards give Ionic a stable API and predictable behavior. 
  • Ionic Command Line Interface: The Ionic CLI offers helpful commands, such as those for emulating, building, running, and packaging apps. 

The Marketwatch app is built with Ionic. Other well-known apps include Nationwide, InstantPot, and Diesel. 

8. PhoneGap/Cordova

Cordova is an open-source framework for custom mobile app development. One of its subtypes is PhoneGap, which Adobe maintains. Although both native frameworks are similar at the core, PhoneGap has additional tools for the Adobe ecosystem. Cordova’s features include: 

  • Cordova CLI: The framework offers a command-line interface that developers can use to create, build, debug, and manage apps. 
  • Plugins: Cordova has APIs for building plugins.
  • Multi-Platform Development: Developers can use the framework to build apps for iOS, Ubuntu, Tizen, Windows Phone, Android, Blackberry, etc. 

Plenty of other frameworks and tools are also built on Cordova. Examples include Ionic, TACO, Evothings Studio, Framework7, etc. 

9. NativeScript

NativeScript is the a mobile app development framework for native mobile application development using CSS, TypeScript, and JavaScript. You can use it to write cross-platform mobile applications from a single code base. Other features include: 

  • Integrations: The framework integrates deeply with JavaScript frameworks, including Vue and Angular. Developers with prior knowledge of these frameworks can use their existing skills to shorten the learning curve. 
  • NativeScript Sidekick: The Sidekick tool helps you configure, build, and test your NativeScript applications on different platforms. 
  • NativeScript Marketplace: Here, you can find pre-built templates, sample apps, and plugins for sale. 

Examples of apps built on NativeScript include ActiveLook and Voice & Speech – Coach App. 

10. Sencha Touch

Sencha Touch recently merged with Ext J, creating a comprehensive framework for developers to build data-intensive mobile applications. Its features are: 

  • MVC Architecture: The MVC pattern separates the control code, view, and application data, making large applications more flexible and manageable. 
  • Customizable Themes: Sencha Touch offers customizable themes to give your application a unique look. 
  • Charting: The charting components include bar graphs, line series, pie charts, and bar graphs with accompanying legends. 

Many apps on Windows, Blackberry, iOS, and Android are built using Sencha Touch. 

11. jQuery Mobile

jQuery Mobile is a touch-optimized web framework that helps developers create responsive applications for mobile devices. However, the framework is no longer supported, as it was deprecated in 2021. But its developers are transitioning to a modernized project called jQuery UI

Notable features of jQuery Mobile include: 

  • Modular Architecture: The framework is designed in a modular fashion, allowing developers to use only the components they need for their projects. 
  • Ajax-Powered: The Ajax-backed navigation system enables fast and smooth page transitions. 
  • Theming Framework: The framework comes with predefined themes and a ThemeRoller tool to create custom themes. 

Some apps made on jQuery Mobile are TripCase and Untappd. 

Conclusion

When choosing the best mobile app developers for your app, your options include putting together an in-house team or working with a highly skilled external company like Flatirons. For more help choosing a framework, Flatirons provides custom mobile app development services.

 

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