In today’s world, where billions of people worldwide own smartphones, every business increasingly feels the need to have its own mobile app. Mobile apps are an efficient way to provide information about your products and build brand loyalty. To maximize the benefits of mobile apps, it’s essential that they run on multiple platforms, such as iOS and Android. In the past, businesses used to develop totally different mobile apps for different platforms, which was time-consuming and expensive. However, with the advancements in the tech world, a better way of mobile app development has emerged called cross-platform mobile development. Cross-platform development provides a quick and cost-effective way to build mobile apps for different platforms.
While cost-platform mobile development has several benefits, it can be a challenging process. For this reason, developers across the globe use cross-platform mobile development frameworks. The best frameworks provide a single codebase for Android, iOS, and Windows. Let’s take a look at the 7 best frameworks and what we really mean by the phrase cross-platform development.
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What is cross-platform mobile development?
Cross-platform mobile development refers to developing an app that is compatible with multiple platforms and different types of devices. This means apps which can run on any smartphone (iOS or Android,) tablet, and PC. Cross-platform apps are built with native code as well as platform-agnostic code that is designed to adapt to different platforms. As a result, these apps have a native feel and look. On the other hand, a purely native application is generally designed for a specific operating system, such as Android, using a programming language and framework native, and often exclusive, to that OS.
Building cross-platform apps aims to have developers only have to write the code once, and then compile it for different platforms. Thus, cross-platform mobile development helps release apps faster. Additionally, they can save time and be more cost-effective than having different vertical platform code bases and apps. Since cross-platform apps can function on any modern device, they can help increase brand visibility and help reach a wider user base.
What are some of the best cross-platform mobile development frameworks?
Here are the seven best cross-platform app builder software:
On the list of best cross-platform mobile development frameworks is React Native. React Native by Facebook (now Meta) is based on React, and it is a popular cross-platform app builders. The pace of the React Native project is fast-developing and this has led to some disquiet about the number of breaking changes which can be a hinderance to development.
Here are the key features of React Native:
- Has large community
- Reusable code components
- Hot reload feature to see changes made to the app while it’s running without recompiling the app
Ionic is another great platform for building efficient cross-platform apps for mobile, web, and desktop. Based on Apache Cordova and Angular it can produce native apps which suffer some performance issues compared to truly native solutions such as RAD Studio with Delphi. That said, it’s a credible solution.
Here are the key features of Ionic:
- Single shared code base for multiple platforms
- Open-source – allows you to modify the code structure
- Free to use
- Several pre-designed UI components for even faster development
- Supports React, Angular and Vue
- Live reload feature
Flutter cross-platform mobile development framework
Flutter is a cross-platform mobile development tool built by Google and written in the Dart programming language. Some of the key features of Flutter include:
- Allows you to build high-performance apps for multiple platforms and devices using one codebase
- Natively compiled cross-platform apps
- Comes with a reactive framework that eliminates the need to update the UI content manually
- Pre-built graphic engine
- Automated testing
Xamarin by Microsoft is a free cross-platform app builder that offers several impressive features:
- Allows you to build apps with .NET and C++
- Open-source and free to use
- Apps built with Xamarin provide the same performance as native apps
- Allows you to include Java, Objective-C, and C++ libraries
- A wide range of class libraries
If you’re looking to develop web-based cross-platform apps, Sencha is a great option. Here are the key features of Sencha:
- Offers more than 140 high-performance UI components to build web apps for any modern device
- Allows you to design, develop and test cross-platform web apps
- Suitable for data-intensive enterprise-level apps
- Supports drag-and-drop
- Stencils – allows developers to style, mock-up, prototype, and evaluate interface designs quickly and easily
- Supports client-side collections of data
RAD Studio – The ultimate IDE for cross-platform mobile development
Our personal pick of the bunch is RAD Studio.
Embarcadero’s RAD Studio is the leading IDE for creating highly functional cross-platform apps for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS.
With RAD studio, you can create all the different types of apps, such as those configurable with cloud services and IoT connectivity. It supports both modern C++ and Delphi programming languages and comes with a comprehensive set of tools and features for app development.
Here are the main features of RAD Studio for mobile app development:
RAD Studio provides a single code base for creating apps for multiple operating systems. This means developers only have to write code once, and they can then compile it on any major OS. This enables faster and smarter coding.
The FireMonkey framework in RAD studio is essentially the platform that enables multi-device, true native app development, and runtime. It helps create a modern user interface design that is capable of understanding cross-platform differences. It provides common code for multiple platforms as well as hooks for native tweaks as needed.
RAD Studio also supports smart code navigation, auto code completion, auto restart of LSP server, and more.
RAD Studio cross-platform app builder comes with FireMonkey App Low Code Wizard that enables low-code app development. The low-code wizard allows you to build high-performance Delphi mobile apps with multiple screens. You can easily modify the apps your build with the low-code wizard.
These include a code editor, an efficient debugger, a powerful compiler, a C++ code formatter, a VCL framework, and more.
Full Language Support
With RAD Studio, you can use modern, valuable language features across all platforms. For example, Delphi has anonymous methods, generics, super powerful runtime type information, a parallel programming library, and more. You can utilize these features on a Windows server or on a small mobile device.
Delphi is also available on its own, for those who do not need or want the C++ personality features. It’s another great platform for cross-platform mobile development. Like RAD Studio, the FireMonkey framework in Delphi is what enables cross-platform and native app development with the same code.
Some of the key features of Delphi include:
- Single code base: Delphi provides a single codebase for Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, and macOS, which allows you to build apps five times faster.
- Support for recent Android 30 API: Delphi supports the recent Android 30 API and migration to the AndroidX libraries
- Faster coding: In addition to a single codebase, Delphi also offers many other features for faster coding. These include smart code navigation, auto code completion, class helper support, auto restart of LSP server, and more.
- Low-code wizard: The low-code wizard enables cross-platform low-code app development.
- Full language support: Delphi comes with several useful features, such as generics, powerful runtime type information, anonymous methods, a parallel programming library, and more. The best part is that you can use these features across all platforms.
- ARC for mobile: You can compile Delphi code with ARC implementations, which enables the apps to run faster.
- High-Performance Compilers, Live Templates (reusable skeleton code statements), and more