In a rapidly evolving tech landscape, making the right choices in mobile app development services can set the stage for long-term success. As cross-platform tools gain momentum, they’re no longer just a second option but a strategic cornerstone for efficient project delivery and robust performance. This article offers a comprehensive list of cross-platform mobile development tools of 2024, aiming to equip you with the insights needed for sound decision-making.
We will cover the following:
What Is Cross-Platform Mobile Development?
Cross-platform mobile development lets you build apps that work on multiple mobile operating systems like iOS and Android from a single codebase. This approach speeds up development, cuts costs, and simplifies maintenance, setting it apart from native and hybrid methods.
The Landscape: Native, Hybrid, and Cross-platform
To appreciate the benefits of cross-platform development, it’s important to compare it with other development approaches — namely, native and hybrid.
Native apps are written separately for each mobile platform. iOS apps use Swift or Objective-C, while Android apps rely on Kotlin or Java. Although native apps perform well and can use platform-specific features, they require more time and money to develop.
Cross-platform tools let you write the app’s core logic once, then compile it into native code for multiple platforms. This balanced approach offers a good trade-off between performance, speed, and cost.
Why Choose Cross-Platform Development Tools?
The decision to use cross-platform development tools is often rooted in several key benefits that align with the priorities of both startups and established companies. Here are some compelling reasons to consider this approach.
One of the most significant advantages of using cross-platform tools is the ability to reuse code across different platforms. Rather than developing separate codebases for iOS and Android, a single set of code can be modified minimally or even used as-is on both platforms. This reduces the development time and makes maintaining the app easier.
Platform-Independent App Design
Cross-platform tools often come with a rich set of UI components that automatically adapt to the platform they’re running on. This ensures a consistent look and feel across iOS and Android, allowing developers to focus more on the app’s functionality rather than tweaking UI elements for each platform.
Building separate native apps for iOS and Android can be costly in terms of both time and resources. Cross-platform development alleviates this by enabling a faster time-to-market and reducing the need for separate teams specializing in each platform. With a unified codebase, developers can apply changes universally, further driving down maintenance costs.
Top-7 Cross-Platform Mobile Development Tools in 2024
As mobile app development evolves, the tools available to developers have also seen significant improvements. Among these, some stand out as the best cross-platform mobile development tools, offering a blend of efficiency, reusability, and versatility. Let’s dive into our curated list for 2024, starting with a platform that has gained widespread recognition.
Flutter, an open-source framework developed by Google, allows for the creation of natively compiled applications across multiple platforms using a single codebase. What sets Flutter apart is its use of Dart programming language, which is designed to optimize both the development and performance of apps. The framework boasts an extensive library of pre-designed widgets and UI elements, which makes it easier to build visually appealing apps.
Flutter also supports asynchronous programming.
- Flutter’s direct compilation to native code ensures excellent performance comparable to native apps
- A broad range of customizable widgets and UI elements makes it easy to create a unique user experience
- The single codebase approach streamlines development and reduces time to market
- Being a Google product, Flutter enjoys a large, active community and extensive documentation
- Although growing, Flutter’s ecosystem is not as extensive as native or some other cross-platform solutions
- Apps built with Flutter can be larger and consume more memory compared to native apps
- Being around for a while, React Native has a large community, extensive libraries, and third-party plugins
- Like Flutter, React Native also allows for high levels of code reusability, accelerating development timelines
- Developed and maintained by Facebook, React Native benefits from regular updates and a strong community
- While generally good, performance can suffer when dealing with complex animations or high computational tasks
- Some native functionalities may require custom modules, adding complexity and potential performance bottlenecks
- The community contributes various modules and packages, but quality can vary, requiring careful selection
Xamarin is a Microsoft-owned framework that allows developers to write apps in C# and run them on both Android and iOS platforms. Utilizing the .NET framework, Xamarin provides the ability to create performant apps with near-native speed. The framework offers a single codebase, making it easier to maintain and update applications across multiple platforms.
- Xamarin utilizes C#, a statically typed language, ensuring type safety and performance optimizations
- Strong support from Microsoft provides a well-documented and regularly updated ecosystem
- Code sharing is made easier with the Xamarin.Forms library, allowing for faster time-to-market
- Integration with Visual Studio provides a robust development environment with various debugging and profiling tools
- While it allows for code sharing, complex UI may still require platform-specific code
- Licensing costs may be prohibitive for small teams or individual developers
- The framework’s file sizes can be large, leading to increased download times and memory usage
- Uses Kotlin, which is already popular among Android developers, making it easier for teams to adapt
- Allows you to share common logic across platforms, reducing both development time and potential for errors
- Enables the use of native libraries and APIs, ensuring optimal performance
- JetBrains’ strong backing and regular updates provide a robust ecosystem
- Still in an experimental phase, which may deter some enterprises from adopting it
- Limited community support and third-party libraries as compared to more established solutions
- The need to write some platform-specific code can offset the advantages of a single codebase
- A rich set of UI components accelerates the development of visually appealing apps
- Built on popular frameworks like Angular and React, allowing for an easier learning curve
- Strong community support and extensive documentation simplify the development process
- Performance can lag behind native apps, especially in graphics-heavy applications
- Reliance on plugins for native functionalities may add complexity
- Limited in terms of accessing native device features compared to fully native solutions
Unity is predominantly a game development engine, but its capabilities extend to creating cross-platform mobile applications as well. With its rich graphical interface and drag-and-drop functionality, Unity offers a user-friendly experience. The engine is written in C#, making it accessible for developers familiar with statically-typed languages.
- Highly versatile, capable of creating both 2D and 3D applications, beyond just games
- Supports an extensive range of platforms, from mobile and desktop to AR/VR devices
- Strong community and a plethora of online resources make it easier to troubleshoot issues
- Integration with various ad and analytics services provides comprehensive app monetization and tracking solutions
- Might be an overkill for simple, text-based applications or apps with limited UI complexity
- Could be expensive, with licensing fees that may not be affordable for smaller projects
- Some mobile-specific features might require additional plugins or custom scripting
- Compatible with popular front-end frameworks like Angular and Vue.js, making it easier for developers to get started.
- NativeScript directly utilizes native APIs and components, offering performance that is very close to native apps.
- The framework has a rich set of plugins, allowing you to extend your app’s functionalities easily.
- Being around for several years, NativeScript has developed a robust community that actively contributes to its ecosystem.
- For those not already familiar with Angular or Vue.js, there might be a steeper learning curve compared to other solutions.
- Debugging can be complex, as you’re essentially handling both Android and iOS platforms.
- Applications may result in larger package sizes compared to native solutions.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Cross-Platform Tool
Choosing the right cross-platform development tool can be a pivotal decision. The tool you select will directly influence the efficiency, performance, and ultimately, the success of your mobile app. Below are some vital criteria to consider.
Mobile App SDKs
An SDK, or Software Development Kit, is a collection of software tools and libraries that developers use to create applications for specific platforms. When assessing cross-platform tools, scrutinize the SDKs they offer. A robust SDK will provide a range of features out-of-the-box, including user interface elements, data handling, and connectivity options, thus accelerating your development cycle.
Popular Mobile App Frameworks
The framework you choose can either be an accelerator or a bottleneck. Popular frameworks often have the advantage of extensive community support, frequent updates, and a plethora of third-party libraries. For instance, React Native is renowned for its large ecosystem and flexibility, making it a suitable option for both iOS Application Development and Android Application Development. Choose a framework that aligns with your project requirements and skill set.
Mobile App Development Environment
The development environment encompasses the software, hardware, and network conditions in which your app will be developed and run. It’s essential to choose a cross-platform tool that integrates seamlessly with your existing infrastructure. Whether you’re using cloud-based solutions or local servers, the right tool should be compatible with your development environment to ensure a streamlined process.
Beyond these fundamental aspects, there are additional important criteria that can help you make a well-informed decision. Here’s what to keep an eye on:
Android, iOS, Web
Google Ads, Alibaba
Android, iOS, Web
Android, iOS, UWP
UPS, Alaska Airlines
iOS, Android, JVM, Native
JetBrains Space, Cash App
Android, iOS, Web
Sworkit, Untappd, JustWatch, MarketWatch
Pokémon GO, Monument Valley
Moderate to Hard
Conclusion: The Future Is Cross-Platform
The growing popularity and technological advancements of cross-platform tools signal a clear shift in the mobile app development landscape. With tech giants like Facebook investing heavily in cross-platform frameworks, it’s evident that this approach isn’t just a trend — it’s the future.
At REDWERK, we’ve been in the game for over 18 years, providing top-notch mobile app development services, from native to cross-platform and web app solutions. While we excel in native technologies, our experience indicates that the future lies in cross-platform development.
If you’re considering partnering with a development company, make sure to choose one that understands the future of the mobile landscape. You can find a list of top mobile app development companies in our blog to guide you in making an informed choice.
Whether you’re considering iOS Application Development or Android Application Development, our vast experience and expertise can help guide your project to success. Let us bring your mobile app idea to life in the most efficient, cutting-edge way possible.