8 Best Cross Platform App Development Frameworks In 2021

Most app projects prefer cross platform approach because of cost advantage and faster development compared to the native app development. On the other hand, we have now multiple frameworks for building great native looking and native behaving apps that can run across multiple OS platforms.

Yes, unlike the scenario hybrid app projects used to face years ago, today’s cross platform mobile apps come closer to the native apps in terms of performance, development speed, user experience and ease of coding.

This has become possible mainly due to the revolutionary potential of leading cross platform development frameworks such as the ones mentioned below.

Flutter

Developed and maintained by Google, Flutter is the most well equipped cross platform framework to this date that made many other frameworks simply obsolete. Apart from the key cross platform development approaches such as code reusability, Flutter offers every kind of tool and widget out of the box to deal with development tasks.

Pros

  • Fast paced development with great modularity to offer the vast majority of app features out of the box.
  • Flutter offers a hot reload feature to allow making changes in the code and getting the real time results for evaluation. After checking the results through the app preview, developers can do necessary changes and fix bugs.
  • Optimum customisation and superfast rendering with a highly layered architecture.
  • Flutter cross platform apps can run on multiple OS devices and OS platforms.
  • By segregating the UI from native device controls, Flutter can reduce most of the issues from the device manufacturers.

Cons

  • Flutter with an age of nearly three years is not much matured as the framework.
  • The underlying language of Flutter is Dart which is equally immature and is devoid of many modern attributes common to more mature frameworks.
  • Flutter apps have a bigger footprint and the built size is heavier.
  • The Flutter development community is still very small.

React Native

React Native is the leading open-source, cross-platform mobile app development framework. Created and maintained by Facebook, the framework for the first time offered a library that focuses on reusability of code while maintaining native user experience across platforms. You can hire React Native App Developers for building scalable and reliable app development.

Pros

  • With maximum reusability of code it ensures optimum saving of development time and cost.
  • It ensures a truly native look and feel for the apps.
  • Rich library of ready to use components for multiple platforms.
  • Robust community support.
  • Great documentation.

Cons

  • Just because React Native uses Javascript code, it needs a middleware or bridge to connect with the native modules and this at times slows down the app performance.
  • React Native is still dependent on a lot of third-party APIs and tools instead of offering everything out of the box.

PhoneGap

PhoneGap or Apache Cordova is another leading cross platform development framework that simplifies creating an app with several built in tools. The framework comes loaded with a compiler, debugger, and a few testing tools. Anyone having experience with tried and tested web technologies such as HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript, can find this framework easy.

Pros

  • Very low learning curve since for using this framework one needs only exposure to web technologies such as HTML, JavaScript and CSS.
  • Faster development of apps for multiple platforms.
  • It allows access to native platform modules through plugins making it easier to customise as per target platform.
  • It is an open source and free tool without any licensing cost.

Cons

  • The plugin only helps building a cross platform app devoid of truly native user experience.
  • For working with this framework you need to have a certain level of native development skills.
  • In terms of performance, the framework is a lot sluggish than the latest cross platform frameworks like React or Flutter.

Appcelerator

Appcelerator is a robust cross-platform app development framework that is widely used to build, deploy, and test the app features and functionalities. Fast paced development and testing are the key value propositions of this framework.

Pros

  • Lightning fast app development.
  • Perfectly suits simple and small app projects with minimum features.
  • Easy learning curve.
  • Appcelerator offers both App Analytics and Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS).
  • Appcelerator is a completely free and open source framework.

Cons

  • It is not suitable for large and dynamic apps with demanding user experience and features.
  • It needs local implementation of platform SDKs, exposing the app to various issues.
  • For building complex features with proprietary technologies, this framework is least suitable.

Ionic

Ionic is a great cross platform mobile app development framework that uses tried and tested HTML5 web technology. You can hire Ionic app developers if you can rely on

a web technology to build cross platform native looking mobile apps.

Pros

  • Fast paced development and quicker time to market in contrast to native apps.
  • It allows building apps in the web browser itself.
  • Apart from platform specific styling and plugins, it builds both iOS and Android apps at one go.
  • It uses familiar web technologies and requires common skills such as Angular, HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.
  • You get access to a lot of ready to use UI components and plugins.

Cons

  • Native plugins used by the framework may not be stable and can cause performance issues.
  • Debugging Ionic apps cannot be a smooth experience.
  • Random crashes are often experienced by Ionic apps.

Xamarin

Xamarin is the cross platform development framework from Microsoft ecosystem that has been used by the vast majority of developers building apps that run on Windows and Android platforms. The framework allows building native UI and offers an array of HTML tools.

Pros

  • Xamarin offers inbuilt support for hardware features such as camera, GPS, etc.
  • It is compatible with MVC and MVVM architecture.
  • It offers a fully fledged ecosystem comprising C#, .NET and Visual Studio.
  • It is completely free and open source.
  • It offers a robust component store.

Cons

  • Xamarin apps have a bigger footprint.
  • Developers may require some familiarity with platform-specific code.
  • Not very robust community support.
  • Not a good option for apps with multifaceted and complex UI
  • Time consuming development.

Vue Native

Vue Native is the JavaScript based cross platform framework that transpiles files to React Native. Working as a wrapper over React Native APIs, it frees many well known advantages of the high performance VueJS framework.

Pros

  • Vue Native comes with a clean and low footprint code allowing ease of understanding, reading and writing.
  • Developers get access to the robust Vue.js library of tools.
  • Developers only need familiarity with JavaScript, CSS, and HTML.

Cons

  • In-depth documentation is missing and developers often need to consult React Native documentation.
  • It doesn’t offer all custom, platform-specific UI modules.
  • It only suits small app projects with less complex features.

Native Script

Native Script utilises the cross-platform development capabilities of Angular, Javascript or Typescript. It offers robust features such as Runtimes, Core Modules, CLI, and different Plugins.

Pros

  • It ensures lightning fast development.
  • It can compile code to native code and can run the built project as a native app.
  • The framework can also split custom content and even the CSS styles that can be accessed separately by developers in each target platform.

Cons

  • It comes with a messy documentation.
  • The plugin development lacks any support.
  • Support for the platform is mostly left up to stackoverflow.com repository of queries and answers.

Conclusion

All the frameworks discussed here are far from equals. This is why it is important to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each framework before choosing one for your cross platform projects.1. List item