Back in the early days of mobile app development, it was a very challenging field – a coder had to write in a language corresponding to a specific operating system. As a result, developers often ended up developing in languages they were not familiar with. That is until frameworks entered the app development market.
A mobile app development framework allows a developer to create an app using the language they are comfortable with, and then the framework renders the code so that it can function across multiple platforms.
Despite the ease of iOS and Android cross-platform development, some software engineers are still held back from using frameworks for app development due to not knowing which frameworks to choose.
If you haven’t made your mind up yet, here’s the ranking of the top frameworks for mobile application development.
Flutter is a framework dedicated to iOS and Android cross-platform app development. Developed by Google, it quickly gained popularity. Big brands like Alibaba or Google itself are actively using Flutter to develop their tools. Why has the framework become such a popular choice? Let’s break down its pros and cons.
- The rendering on all platforms is the same
Unlike React Native or Xamarin, which both have a certain number of properties supported only by some platforms and not displayed on others, Flutter will render the app in exactly the same way regardless of whether you run it on Android or different iOS versions.
- Hot reloading
With Flutter, developers are no longer challenged by the long wait when their app is reloading. Like React Native and Xamarin Forms, Flutter offers a hot reloading feature. But on the contrary to these other frameworks, most UI changes are applied while the developer is still working on the code.
- Built-in theme support
Flutter makes it easier to not just view UI but to create it as well. Where designing a theme in a native Android app can be challenging, with Flutter, creating a theme is as simple as a few clicks. Built-in theme support makes designing all aspects of UI faster and easier for developers.
- Flutter uses its own programming language
If you’re hoping that your knowledge of C#, Java, Kotlin, and Swift will be enough to handle any framework possible, this isn’t the case with Flutter. Google powered its new framework with Dart, a custom programming language. It’s quite straightforward and not difficult to learn – still, a developer would have to put some time to master Dart before using Flutter comfortably for app development.
- Flutter apps are bigger than others.
Although Google developers work on addressing this issue, if it’s crucially important for you to build an instant/small-sized app, Flutter won’t be the best choice for you.
- No support for most popular CI/CD solutions
You’ll need to use Codemagic or Bitrise to take advantage of the continuous integration approach. Those are great but still will require effort to be set up and mastered.
Apps built with Flutter
The Google Ads app allows users to monitor their campaigns via Android. It showcases all the campaign details, sends real-time notifications, allows users to call a Google expert, and offers smart suggestions on how to improve a campaign.
Alibaba’s app is a mobile marketplace for wholesale trade. It incorporates Flutter to increase the speed and the performance of the app on different devices. It’s amazing how Flutter handles such a high-traffic app – millions of shoppers and sellers visit Alibaba on a daily basis.
Cryptograph is a finance app that provides users with the latest data on over 1,600 cryptocurrencies. It presents exchange rate charts, allows coin tracking, bookmarking currencies as favorites, and more. The interface of Cryptograph is lightweight and easy-to-use thanks to Flutter.
2. React Native
React Native is a technology stack for iOS and Android cross-platform development created by a team of Facebook engineers that had previously developed ReactJS. It combines native development with JS interface development.
Unlike most other frameworks, React Native doesn’t use WebView to wrap code. The framework gives developers access to native mobile controllers to ensure apps look as native as possible.
Let’s explore the pros and cons of React Native.
- The option to reuse components saves a lot of time
After the release of the framework, Facebook gave developers the option to reuse a component on any level. It’s easier to update the app developed with the help of React Native because the change in one component doesn’t influence others.
- Virtual DOM improves the user experience
Document-object model (DOM) is a document structure in XML. The DOM model represents syntax in the form of a tree. The main challenge developers face with DOM is that even when a little code tweak is made, the entire tree needs to be updated. Seeing that DOMs can be very large, with thousands of elements, such an update system is not ergonomically efficient. React Native has introduced the feature of a virtual DOM. While it updates the system about the changes made by a user, the other parts of the interface are not affected. It improves the speed of data updates and enables the development of dynamic UIs.
- One-direction data flow
Thanks to downward data binding, React Native improves the stability of the code. The structure ensures that the changes in child structures don’t affect the parents. Moreover, a developer can choose the elements that are going to be updated – none, except for those, will be affected.
- A rapidly growing community
A strong community is one of React Native’s main benefits. There are thousands of contributors who constantly update the library. As one of the open-source mobile app development frameworks, React JS is a regular trending topic on GitHub.
- High development pace
React Native is rapidly developing. As much as it might seem like a good thing, there are certain challenges that come into play. For instance, our web and mobile application development company engineers are often forced to learn new ways to handle the code. Such a pace is not comfortable for a ton of developers as they feel left behind.
- Outdated libraries
Seeing that React Native has a crazy development pace, it’s no surprise some libraries get often abandoned or outdated. So every time you need to make research and evaluate if the library of your choice will last long enough. For instance, we don’t consider libraries that haven’t been updated at least once during the last 6 months.
- Compatibility issues
There’s a broad number of system failures a developer can encounter while working with React Native, like emulator failures, the need to re-install packages at a regular pace, react-navigation issues, to name a few. Overall, due to all of these issues, React Native can hardly provide engineers with a smooth development workflow.
Apps developed using React Native
While the car companion app might not seem to be technically challenging, the Tesla team says they selected React Native because they always use what’s best out there. And since the mobile app is an essential part of the whole Tesla experience allowing you to control things like the charging process, climate, and locks, we’re talking about extremely high level of trust here.
The company initially created the hybrid mobile app development framework in order to help establish iOS support for the Facebook app. After seeing the improvement of the performance (mainly the speed), the development team used the framework to develop the Ad Manager app as well.
Another famous company that built an app using React Native is Walmart. The framework allowed the retailer to improve performance, create an interface that’s close to that of a native app, and ensure smooth animations.
Thanks to its high code reusability and the option to create shared interfaces, Xamarin is often considered one of the best frameworks for hybrid app development services. One of its main advantages is that Xamarin offers high code reusability – up to 90%. However, it’s not the framework’s only benefit.
- Highly customizable
One of Xamarin’s perks is that it allows you to tweak the UI of your app and make it look as if it was built using native development. Using C# as its base language, Xamarin allows developers to use the language’s rich features during coding.
- Easy-to-share class libraries
As mentioned above, Xamarin is famous for high code reusability. The same works for class libraries – a developer can view them via iOS, Android. In fact, some developers even build all the app logic in the .NET tandard to ensure its easy sharing across platforms.
- Xamarin Forms
This feature was developed to make the interface design of a future app easier and faster. With Xamarin Forms, a developer can create an interface that works with any platform. There are dozens of layouts and controls to choose from to make users enjoy the app to the fullest.
Despite having quite a large development team, the mobile application framework is sometimes delayed in its updates and can be incompatible with the latest versions of iOS and Android. However, these update delays normally don’t take long – the engineers on Xamarin’s team try to be as quick as possible about issuing new updates.
Apps developed with Xamarin
Being one of the most customizable and flexible frameworks for development, it’s no surprise that Xamarin is used by so many top corporations for app development.
The organization most known for its annual Oscars ceremony streamlined its IT operations by moving to the cloud with the Azure Clour Platform and then leveraged Xamarin to deliver a streaming app for its members to multiple platforms at once. Native C# code was used to build the tvOS app and Xamarin.Forms – for Android and iOS apps.
A Xamarin-backed app for Fox Sports created by Microsoft allows fans to keep up to date on stats from the latest game. With the use of Xamarin Visual Tools, developers managed to create a personalized experience and analyze thousands of data sources in a matter of seconds. Thanks to Xamarin Test Tools, the app was tested on thousands of types of devices, which led to its high-level mobile performance.
UPS used Xamarin to write a new version of its mobile app. Thanks to a shared codebase framework, the team was able to communicate faster and feel the differences in the efficiency of development. Moreover, it wasn’t too challenging to hire developers for the job seeing that C++ is a common programming language actively taught at most colleges.
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The introduction of frameworks has certainly made mobile app development faster and more comfortable. However, there are many choices of frameworks on the market, and settling with just one might seem challenging.
In the experience of our app development team, Xamarin proves to be the most agile and customizable framework for hybrid apps. The framework is just rich enough to write an entire app from scratch, it’s easy to share between team members, and your company can reuse entire chunks of code.
If you would love someone to handle mobile app development for you, look no further than EGO. We’re an experienced app development team with dozens of creative solutions for startups and SMEs. At EGO Creative Innovations, we’ll choose the best technology stack for mobile app development and make sure the result meets all the goals for your business.
To see some of the iOS and Android apps we have done, take a look at the Works page. If you want us to talk about your project and give your future app the attention it deserves, get in touch with us via the Contact Us page.