It goes without saying that the market for mobile apps is growing lightning fast as the majority of businesses are attempting to harness its true value and benefits. As it was expected, mobile devices continue to increase in numbers in 2018, fueling the mobile app development industry like never before.
The market size itself is expanding exponentially, forecasted to reach as much as $188.9 billion by 2020. Naturally, this generates a substantial interest towards the field, with more and more mobile app development companies coming to light.
Now, it’s important to note that there are generally three categories of apps which are in tremendous demand – those developed for iOS, those developed for Android and those which are platform agnostic, meaning fit for both operating systems.
As an established authority in the field of mobile app development services, we at Swag Soft have taken the liberty to provide you with a thorough list of the top 30 cross-platform tools and frameworks for mobile app development to look forward to in 2018. Some of them are well-known and commonly used powerhouses while others are relatively new yet prominent players attempting to march into the market. Some of them are industry-specific, others are more generalized – we’ve attempted to provide a variety and diversity. The list may be of help to professional application developers and coding newbies as well.
So, without any further ado, let’s get right to it.
Mobile App Development Tools to Look Forward to in 2018
Xamarin is by far amongst the preferred mobile app development tools when it comes to native application development. It’s a name that we simply can’t ignore. It allows software engineers to conveniently share roughly around 90% of the code across the major platforms. The tool is based on the technology stack of Microsoft and it already boasts a community of more than 1.4 million developers.
- The tool tends to produce a lot fewer bugs and it’s known for providing faster time to market
- Its platform-specifics enable the consuming functionality which is only available on specific platforms
- It allows the application of Deep Linking and Indexing
- Its Component Store comes with cross-platform libraries, UI controls as well as third-party libraries
- It’s a convenient mono framework which enables communication with the API of different mobile devices
Appery is actually a platform for cloud-based app development and maintenance. However, it does come with a visual app building tool which is quite powerful. The platform itself comes with a range of different and attractive templates and it is supporting certain features such as responsive web apps and integrated backend services.
Users are able to generate code in a few different languages as well as frameworks depending on their requirements.
Some of the features of the tool include:
- Premium support
- Comprehensive on-site tutorials
- Drag-and-drop editor
- Multi-platform support for mobile app development
- What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get simulator
This app maker is actually designed with artists and their fans in mind. The app maker allows the usage of some nice location-based features. You can use geo-fencing which allows the sending of push notifications as someone enters a certain area. This is quite convenient if you’d want to target a group of fans which are currently populating a certain concert venue or an event of some sort.
The tool comes with some interesting features including but not limited to:
- Advanced tools for polling
- Robust mapping tools
- Social camera tools
- Advance geo-fencing
Appcelerator is allowing developers to create applications with a lot fewer lines of code. The tool supports Windows, Android, iOS, and HTML5 applications. It’s amongst the most widespread and adopted development solutions used by more than 250,000 mobile developers and boasting over 35,000 apps.
Its main advantages are:
- It allows for rapid prototyping
- It is web-oriented, allowing trend-setting
- Makes cross-platform development a lot easier
- It has a growing and particularly incentivized community
AppInstitute is amongst the largest cross-platform mobile app development builders coming from the UK. It has quite a lot of feathers beneath its cap and it is already bringing in quite a few rewards. It allows for serious flexibility, allowing developers to create applications within a wide range of different industries. Furthermore, the interface of the app is also incredibly user-friendly and it delivers a seamless mobile app development experience through the drag and drop functionality as well as the CRM (Customer Relationship Management) function.
The advantages of AppInstitute Include:
- It’s very easy to use
- Developers get complete branding control over the application
- It has a convenient and responsive customer support
The disadvantages of AppInstitute:
- Your app gets automatically unpublished from the app stores when you subscription cancels
The AppBuilder is another convenient and easy to use app creation tool which is suited for people who don’t have that much development experience. It supports HTML5, iOS, Android, Windows Mobile, and Windows 8. It’s a free solution and it’s web-based, allowing anyone to create rather simple mobile apps without having any serious programming knowledge. Unlike a lot of the alternatives, though, it supports quite a lot of different platforms and, as such, it manages to stand out.
- It makes it really easy to create rather simple applications
- It could be very cost effective for small-scale businesses
- It has free options without a lot of restrictions or ads
- You could essentially create more complex apps with HTML5
- All the applications are actually re-packaged pages of HTML5
- You can only embed YouTube videos
- It allows for seamless portability, making cross-platform development very convenient
- It could help you integrate and distribute App store payments
- Developers can use libraries like Sencha Touch, Prototype or jQuery
- The information provided as well as the directions for the UI (User-Interface) is rather scarce
- The documentation of the tool itself is not very descriptive
It goes without saying that the AppMachine is actually a very well-rounded development tool which provides quite a lot on the table and there’s hardly anything to be concerned with. The tool is particularly easy to navigate within and it is very enjoyable to use. The interface is supported in more than 10 different languages and it provides for serious design and flexibility. There are also plenty of templates to be taken advantage of.
- Multi-lingual support in more than 10 languages
- Very easy to use
- It comes with convenient Ad support and push notifications
- It has location-based services
- It doesn’t come with a newsletter tool
- It doesn’t support iBeacon technology
If we’d had to summarize the content creation tools brought by Good Barber, we’d put them as above than average, with certainty. The same could be said about the customer engagement opportunities. At the same time, there are a few things that are rather lacking such as the methods for distributing your application once you have created it. Of course, some might argue that this shouldn’t be regarded but given the encompassing nature of most tools, it most certainly should.
- Allows for full white-labeling
- Very convenient and easy in-app navigation
- An abundance of different themes of high quality and quantity
- Very convenient instant preview function
- Not customizable for different industries
- Not compatible with the Windows Store
- Cross-browser rendering issues are conveniently solved
- It offers a serious collection of attractive visual components
- It provides an opportunity for complete development of full-fledged mobile apps
- Lots of technical knowledge is required
- Its license isn’t the most affordable one
Codename One is a convenient set of mobile app development tools which is aiming to provide seamless app building experience. One of its main standpoints is that it is open source and that it delivers a very easy transition to any OS through Java 8.
- It’s fully open-source ever since its inception
- It’s Java 8 based and it makes the transition to different OS’s rather seamless
- It allows for native-like performance
- The learning curve is decent
- Single base of code for web, Windows, iOS, and Android
- Limitations on the Java API
This is an open-source framework for cross-platform mobile app development which would enable the user to create rather beautiful apps for iOS, Android, Windows, and Web. It takes advantage of C#, Microsoft .NET, and the Mono framework to enable the development of apps supported on numerous platforms.
- It provides access to a few APIs to securely deploy your applications
- It requires only .NET and C# compatibility
- It enables native performance
- Support is quite scarce
- Resources are hard to dig up
The Kony Mobile Platform is an integrated mobile app development platform which allows the creation of universal mobile apps. It provides a certain amount of automatic coding features as well as API connections, app preview abilities, and others of the kind.
- There are quite a few pre-built apps which could kick-start your development process
- Unified services for mobile infrastructure and support included
- There are prominent frontend visualizer
- Again, support and documentation available could be more extensive
- It takes advantage of native components allowing for stronger performance
- It has declarative UI support – you can make the UI of the app once and use it on the various platforms which are supported
- The examples for each of its features, despite how extensive they actually are, lack
Based on the Rhodes framework, the RhoMobile Suite provides a pack of tools which would allow you to build data-centered, cross-platform consumer and enterprise applications. Developers could take advantage of the free Eclipse plugin RhoStudio in order to develop, test, and debug apps with absolutely no further emulator requirements.
- Automatic synch of the data in the backend and automatic encryption of the same
- Integrates offline data sync into the coded apps
- RFID plugin not freely available
Being an end-to-end mobile app development solution for particularly contemporary client-side development, the framework follows the most recent and modern web standards through the provision of highly modulated app development solutions. It works in a very seamless manner with AngularJS as well.
- You can easily build cross-platform apps and they could be customized for different devices
- Allows convenient data-binding for remote and local data with jQuery DataSource
- It could get a bit too expensive compared to alternatives
- Documentation, even though extensive, is usually available for the latest release only
Mobile Angular UI is yet another framework which relies on some particularly rich libraries such as overthrow.js as well as fastclick.js to deliver a seamless mobile experience. It has some awesome features as well. Bootstrap is tailored according to the needs of the developer, which is quite convenient. Furthermore, it enables serious responsiveness and speed.
- You can stretch and squeeze the browser in order to see both desktop and mobile versions
- It would allow you to create flawless mobile components
- It is possible to focus on a mobile user-friendly interface which is quickly becoming the trend
- Some of the functions could be rather restrictive for cross-platform mobile app development, requiring additional tools
Onsen UI brings both tools and UI framework for the creation of hybrid mobile apps based on PhoneGap using HTML5. It is very easy to get a hold on as well as powerful to use and it could enable you to create some truly prominent applications. It is by far one of the fastest and cost-efficient tools to use to create hybrid as well as mobile web applications.
- It is very efficient in terms of both price and time
- It does provide a rather native look and feel
- It has plenty of ready-to-use components as well as automatic styling
- It offers a convenient grid system that you’d be able to use to place your elements right on the screen
- The performance is fully optimized for mobile devices
- The focus is predominantly placed on UI
Firebase represents another mobile application development platform which supports OS X, iOS, Android, and Web. The platform is designated to cut down development hours as well as to avoid messing data storage and servers. The data is stored as native JSON which would allow users to actually see whatever they stored. The file storage, on the other hand, is backed by the Cloud Storage of Google.
- The data is conveniently backed up and reflected multiple secure locations and there aren’t any chances of losses
- It has a nice integration capacity with other frameworks such as Angular JS, for instance
- It allows for the creation of apps in little to no time
- Protects data heavily
- Enterprise apps created on Firebase are yet to be widely battle-tested
- Lacks aggregation
This is a rather widespread and well-known HTML5 mobile app development framework which is commonly used for the development of hybrid apps. It is also a rather useful tool when it comes to building apps with the use of technologies such as HTML5, SASS, and CSS. It is 100% free and open-source and it is going to allow the user to build progressive web as well as native-like performing apps.
- It allows web developers to conveniently create apps for all the major stores
- It emulates native all SDKs and UI guidelines
- In-app performance might be lacking compared to native-developed apps
- AngularJS requires specific skills
Mobincube brings a very convenient App interface which users could use to develop basically any kind of mobile apps. Developers can create applications for different purposes such as educational, health, business, entertainment and whatnot. It allows you to integrate 3rd party solutions and the creation of mobile stores to help you boost your sales.
- It allows for quick and convenient updates of the online content
- You could essentially customize every little detail in the app
- It allows you to communicate with the users
- Push notifications are somewhat limited
- The analytics are also a bit limited
QT’s cross-platform SDK allows for cost-effective and affordable development, design, and the consequential deployment. It would enable developers to bring high-end UI throughout a range of different devices and operating systems, which is undoubtedly something important. There are brand new enabler classes for rendering and windowing and we can also see a parser and a compiler optimization that have been implemented.
- It supports IPv6 as well as dual mode networks
- It also supports opaque Private Keys
- It is well-rounded and brings workarounds for SSL Servers which are buggy
- The build process is a lot more complex in comparison to the alternatives
This is one of the most comprehensive mobile app development as well as deployment tools out there. It is used in order to build cross-platform mobile and web-based business apps. It is very effective and it provides enterprise-grade security for the mobile data. It is also capable of solving the offline sync challenge. It has sophisticated data transformation and integration capabilities and it provides encryption through SSL and HMAC support.
- Comprehensive access to the back-end data
- Pre-built sample applications which could be modified by developers
- Direct publish from the development environment of Alpha Anywhere
- Resource management delegation made easier
- It allows for serious customization but the templates could have been more
As the name suggests, the tool has more to do with debugging and tweaking rather than development but it is absolutely necessary and it deserves a worthy mention. It enables the user to read logs from different remote devices which allows for the ultimate troubleshooting.
- It is very easy to integrate
- It supports multi-platform frameworks as the one mentioned above as well as iOS and Android
- It provides seamless crash reporting and issue tracking
- The log searches could use a little tweaking
- It is limited to wearables and mobiles
This DIY mobile app creation tool is cloud-based and it allows users to build applications for iOS, Android, Windows without having any in-depth development skills. They would also be able to post them on the Google Play Store or the App Store. The entire procedure is rather seamless and it allows for quick and convenient procedures without any complexities.
- It provides a hassle-free and easy way to create an app without coding knowledge
- It is easy to use and allows for hybrid development
- You can easily integrate blogs, websites, media feeds, and others of the kind
- Performance is rather lacking and not native-like, but that is to be expected given the simplicity of the process
The tool allows you to create and to publish games for a range of different platforms such as OS X, HTML5, Android, and iOS. As others of the kind, it has a seamlessly developed interface that’s using drag and drop functionality to provide users with a quick way to get started without having to know any serious coding. The creator contains actor and scene editors and this is likely where you’d spend most of the development hours.
- It is very easy to use and it provides seamless UI
- It allows the creation of attributes, images, sounds, as well as different action paths
- It has a rather active community which provides a lot of helpful insights
- Incapable of providing full-fledged mobile games
The tool is intended to provide users with a platform to assist in the creation of enterprise mobile apps with a very narrowed-down process. Users can take advantage of numerous integrating features such as food ordering, dynamic content, shopping car, loyalty programs, third-party integrations, and whatnot.
- Content management is really easy to handle
- The tool provides for serious customization
- Progress checking capabilities are built-in
- It’s a compromise on quality, trading off for a low price
This is another DIY app creation tool which would enable anyone to craft Android, iOS, and HTML5 apps without having to possess any serious coding knowledge. It is actually one of the most established solutions as it has been on the market since 2009. It’s easily amongst the biggest DIY app publishing tools on the market right now.
- High-res photo galleries
- Live updates, video, and music streaming
- Easy integration of chat rooms
- Shared events calendars and quick Google Maps Integration
- Not suitable for high-quality and high-performance app development
The last choice that we’ve selected is an app builder which has powerful tools for user engagement and content management. It also enables prominent monetization options which are conveniently coupled with a rather seamless publishing process. In the age of Social Media, this is definitely something that a lot of users are looking forward to.
- The customization options are plentiful
- Third-party integration is allowed and it’s seamless
- Regular auto-updates
- Has scalability issues
Wrapping it up
Needless to say, the market for mobile app development tools and frameworks is particularly wide. Choosing the most appropriate one would depend on the occasion as well as the expertise that the developer has.
We hope that our quick summaries would help you go through the abundance in a seamless way and find the one that’s most suited to your needs.
Stay tuned for our upcoming publications on the best tools for native app development!