8 Most Popular Mobile App Development Frameworks in 2022

Tech Development

So you’re ready to build your mobile app. The question is: which is the best framework to use? In this article, we’re going to take a look at mobile app development frameworks outside the native languages of the iOS-Android platforms.

Summary

We’ll cover:

What is a mobile app framework?

A mobile app development framework is a software framework that allows mobile app developers to build their applications.

They are templates or fundamental structures that facilitate the work of developers as they build and optimize apps. By working within these rule-based templates or frameworks, it means developers are restricted in a way that helps them avoid making time-consuming programming errors so they can work faster and more efficiently.

Let’s look at a quick example.

Imagine you wanted to build a house. If you did it with your bare hands, it would take a long time, you’d likely make many mistakes, and the result might not be what you were looking for. Instead, you’d hire experts to stop you from making mistakes and use machinery to speed up the work.

This is similar to how a framework functions. It is the ‘machinery’ that helps speed up the process of app development. While each framework is created and constantly tested by ‘experts’, i.e. software developers and engineers, to ensure it keeps your own app development on track.

What are the benefits of a mobile app framework?

App development is a time-consuming process. Frameworks help to cut development time down, which frees up developers to focus more of their time to work advancing code more precisely and shortening time to deployment, whether it be for prototypes or an app launch.

Another benefit is that by using frameworks, you can avoid annoying and avoidable bugs and errors that can often occur when writing code. That’s because frameworks don’t create elements from scratch but typically use pre-built patterns and scripts.

Types of mobile app frameworks?

In terms of how applications work, mobile frameworks can usually be divided into three types:

  • Native Apps. These frameworks are used to build apps for specific platforms such as iOS or Android using “native” programming languages. For iOS, that’s Swift. For Android, that’s Java and Kotlin.

  • Web Apps. These frameworks are designed to support the development of web apps for web API, web servers, and web service interfaces.

  • Hybrid (aka cross-platform) Apps. This is a popular development trend today. These frameworks build apps that can run on both Android and iOS.

Most popular app development frameworks

Now we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive into the frameworks themselves.

As mentioned above, we’ll be focusing on hybrid app development frameworks outside the native languages of the iOS-Android platforms as these are the dominant frameworks used today - especially Flutter and React Native.

1. Flutter

Flutter is Google’s open-source software development framework for making native Android and iOS apps for mobile, web and desktop from a single codebase. It’s free and open source. 

It’s renowned for enabling mobile app developers to create beautiful apps quickly. It’s a complete framework that includes widgets, a rendering engine, and testing and integrating APIs to help developers build aesthetically pleasing mobile apps.

Key features:

  • Heavily optimized, mobile-first 2D rendering engine with excellent support for text
  • Modern react-style framework
  • Rich set of widgets implementing Material Design and iOS-style
  • APIs for unit and integration tests
  • Interop and plugin APIs to connect to the system and 3rd-party SDKs
  • Headless test runner for running tests on Windows, Linux, and Mac
  • Dart DevTools for testing, debugging, and profiling your app
  • Command-line tools for creating, building, testing, and compiling your apps
  • Appealing visuals and a high-end user experience and interface
  • Native-level performance

2. React Native

React Native is an open-source UI development framework created by Meta (formerly Facebook). It combines the best parts of native development with React, a best-in-class JavaScript library for building user interfaces. The libraries offer fast and consistent development experiences for both Android and iOS apps. Prominent businesses like Airbnb, Skype, and Amazon Prime are all built using the React Native framework.

The major appeal of React Native is quick development and implementation time. 

Key features:

  • Reusable elements
  • Compatible with third-party plugins
  • Single code base across all platforms
  • Component-based GUI creation for front-end apps
  • Declarative API for predictive UI
  • NPM for installation
  • Live reload

3. Xamarin

Xamarin is an alternative open-source platform for building mobile apps for iOS, Android and Windows that is Microsoft-owned. It’s developed using the C# language, which requires fewer lines of code, which helps developers build products faster.

Xamarin enables developers to share an average of 90% of their applications across platforms. It means developers can write all their business logic in a single language but achieve a native look, feel, and performance on each platform.

Key features:

  • Complete binding for the underlying SDKs
  • Objective-C, Java, C and C++ Interop
  • Modern language constructs
  • Robust Base Class Library (BCL)
  • Modern Integrated Development Environment (IDE)
  • Mobile cross-platform support
  • Rapid advancement
  • Native look and feel
  • Compatible with lots of devices

4. Apache Cordova

Apache Cordova - previously PhoneGap - is a developer-friendly mobile app development framework. It allows you to use HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript for cross-platform app development.

Apps execute within wrappers targeted to each platform, and rely on standards-compliant API bindings to access each device’s sensors, data and network status.

The Cordova plugins enable developers to use smartphone hardware features like GPS and cameras to give users a native-like experience.

Key features:

  • Quick prototype deployment
  • Combines native app components with WebView
  • Access device-level APIs
  • Single source of code
  • Command Line Interface (CLI)
  • Plugins with smartphone hardware features
  • Third-party application management tool

5. Ionic

Ionic is a complete open-source framework for building modern, high-quality cross-platform mobile apps from a single code base. Developers can create apps for iOS, Windows and Android.

Ionic allows developers to use several user interface elements such as filters, forms, views, and navigation menus in their app designs. It can also be used to create Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) and hybrid apps.

Key features:

  • World-class documentation
  • 100% open-source mobile SDK
  • A CLI for building and testing
  • Cross-platform native bridge
  • React, Angular and Vue integrations
  • Intuitive UI components

6. NativeScript

NativeScript is another open-source framework. This framework is best suited for developing with Typescript, Angular, JavaScript, CSS, and Vue.js. It helps speed up app load times and cuts down development time.

Businesses like to use NativeScripts because it offers comprehensive backend and business support as well as cross-platform development. NativeScript framework’s APIs are similar to Xcode and Android Studio. It also allows you to develop Android and iOS apps from a single source code.

Key features:

  • Native user interface without WebViews
  • Full access to Android and iOS APIs
  • Reusable elements
  • Backend support
  • Cross-platform application

7. Framework 7

Framework7 is another open-source framework that’s one of easier to learn and use. You can build mobile, desktop, and web apps with a native look and feel. It’s also an indispensable prototyping tool to show working app prototypes as soon as possible.

One of the key advantages of Framework7 is its stunning set of out-of-the-box UI components and widgets like dialogs, popups, action sheets, list views, tabs, side panels, layout grids, and lots more.

Key features:

  • Easy and familiar jQuery syntax
  • Built-in FastClick library
  • Framework agnostic - can be used with React, Angular and others
  • Rich ecosystem of templates, icons and plugins
  • Out-of-the-box UI elements
  • Provides support for Vue.js, React, and Svelte

8. JQuery Mobile

JQuery Mobile is an HTML-5-based UI framework designed to make cross-platform and responsive websites and apps. It’s built on the jQuery and jQuery UI foundation and offers Ajax navigation with page transitions, touch events, and various widgets. Its lightweight code is built with progressive enhancement and has a flexible, easily themeable design.

JQuery Mobile was one of the most popular mobile app development frameworks with customizable templates. Most jQuery-based plugins and scripts work on pages without requiring any changes to the HTML code.

Be careful: Since the end of 2021, JQuery Mobile is no more supported. Read here for more information.

Key features:

  • Easy and familiar jQuery syntax
  • Built-in FastClick library
  • Framework agnostic - can be used with React, Angular and others
  • Rich ecosystem of templates, icons and plugins
  • Out-of-the-box UI elements
  • Provides support for Vue.js, React, and Svelte

15 famous mobile apps built with hybrid development frameworks

Please see below our Top 15 picks of famous brands that are using mobile app development frameworks to build and operate their mobile apps 

5 Examples of apps built in Flutter:

  • Gmail
  • BMW app
  • Reflectly (Health & Fitness)
  • Bytedance
  • Paring (Dating)

5 Examples of apps built in React-Native:

  • Instagram
  • Bloomberg
  • Walmart
  • Pinterest
  • Tesla

5 Examples of apps built with other hybrid development frameworks:

  • Twitter
  • Discord
  • Evernote
  • Uber 
  • Amazon App Store

What about no-code app builders?

Great question! A no-code app builder is exactly what it sounds like: a development software that allows users to build fully functional apps without knowing code. These platforms typically use visual editors with drag-and-drop elements that have been pre-coded. With no-code app builders, it means you don’t need to rely on just software developers to build your apps.

Some of the key benefits of using a no-code app builder include:

  • Lowers costs. Custom app development is a costly process with many iterations before an app is ready to launch. No-code app builders reduce these costs.

  • Faster production time. Time is one of the biggest costs when it comes to developing apps. Because no code app builders use pre-coded blocks, it can significantly reduce production time.

  • Empowers teams. No-code app builders can bring technical and non-technical departments together instead of working in silos, enabling stronger collaboration, feedback and innovation.

What are some popular no-code app builders?

These days there are lots of no-code app builders to choose from. Here’s our pick of some of the best:

Glideapps

GlideApps is a no-code app builder that transforms data from spreadsheets like Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel into mobile apps for iOS and Android. They have hundreds of ready-to-go templates to choose from, you can share apps with a link or via a QR code, and the only thing you need is your spreadsheet!

Bravo Studio

Bravo Studio is another no-code builder that puts design first and allows you to build apps for iOS and Android. You can also use Bravo to develop more complex apps by connecting your designs to external tools via APIs.

Adalo

Adalo lets you build web and mobile apps for iOS and Android. They enable people who want to build apps but can’t code with a platform that “makes creating apps as easy as putting together a slide deck.” It integrates with Zapier and 1500 other apps and has lots of ready-made components like lists, forms, payments, navigation, buttons, and more.

Bubble

Bubble is a no-code tool that lets you build SaaS, marketplace and CRM web apps. With Bubble, you can connect to any API, customize the UX logic, and use dynamic content. It also enables apps to scale easily without having to make many technical changes.

Key Takeaways

  • Mobile app frameworks are fundamental structures that allow developers to build and optimize their web and mobile applications.
  • App development frameworks help to cut development time down, reduces time to deployment, and helps developers avoid making avoidable and time-consuming mistakes by operating using pre-built patterns and scripts.
  • Excluding native programming languages such as Swift (iOS) and Kotlin (Android), he two most popular frameworks are Flutter, Google’s open-source platform that lets developers create apps for Android, iOS, web and desktop from a single codebase; and React Native, created by Meta, which offers a fast and consistent development experience for both Android and iOS apps.
  • There are many other hybrid frameworks, such as Xamarin, Ionic, and NativeScript. However, Flutter and React Native are the most used by developers today.
  • For people who don’t have coding experience, there are also many no-code app builders that allow people to build apps using a visual editor and pre-coded “drag-and-drop” elements.

Purchasely is compliant with all mobile app development frameworks

The In-App Subscription Growth Platform provided by Purchasely is compliant with the most used app development frameworks.

We provide native SDKs for iOS and Android to deploy In-App Purchases and In-App Subscription. Read our technical documentation:

The Purchasely is also compliant with:

Book a 30-minute product tour with one of our experts to discover how to implement In-App Purchases and connect your app to multiple stores.

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