Top Mobile App Development Frameworks 2020-2021 ~Complete List

Top Mobile App Development Frameworks in 2020-2021

A detailed look into the best Development frameworks based on popularity & growth, segregated into- Android, iOS, Cross-platform & hybrid development. Varying frameworks are relevant for different business needs.

Updated on :
October 16th, 2020
Twinkle Kalkandha
Twinkle Kalkandha
Product Strategist

Mobile applications have become part and parcel of everyday lives. From communication (Whatsapp, Facebook), to food deliveries (Zomato, Swiggy) to commute (Uber) & e-commerce (Amazon). The everyday life of people in rural and urban areas has been transformed by the use of these commonplace software.

Mobile app development is a multi-layered process and software companies have been trying to uncomplicate this process with easy to use ADF or application development framework.

What is an app development framework?

It is an assistive platform for creating applications. ADF’s exist to make the task of creating applications faster, easier, and uncomplicated. We are going to cover the top mobile app development frameworks to consider before developing an app.

Mobile application development frameworks deploy visual declarative ways to bypass writing time-intensive codes from scratch.

This means mobile app developers can use drag and drop for commonly used base codes to avoid creating apps from the beginning. Frameworks streamline app production and can consist of the following elements-

  • Predefined classes & functions
  • Code libraries
  • Compiler
  • Managing hardware device
  • interact with system software
  • Assistive programs to help software development

Companies usually outsource mobile app development because of their existing technology stack and use of the most appropriate development framework.

Best framework for mobile apps

best framework for mobile apps

More than 5 billion people use mobile phones across the world. This number highlights the business importance of creating applications.

Following are the best framework for mobile apps used globally-

React Native

React Native-Top App Development Framework

This is one of the best framework for app development that was conceptualized and created by Facebook’s hackathon project in 2013. It was preceded by Mark Zuckerberg’s public disappointment in choosing HTML over native.

React Native is an open-source framework and by far the most used mobile app framework. 42% of software developers are using it to create cross-platform apps as per a 2020 developer survey conducted by Statista.

Core Features & reasons for the success of react native framework-

  1. Compatible with external plugins : React Native is a cross-platform development technology tool that includes ‘React’, a very well functional JavaScript library that enables easy integration of external plugins.
  2. Cross-platform functionality : React Native truly believes in, ‘learn once, write anywhere’. Thus, its functionalities enable easy code writing for both android as well as iOS platforms.
  3. Cost-effective: React Native enables easy code reuse for both androids and iOS platforms. It also enables sharing of the same code for these platforms, with the common technology of ‘React’. As a result, app developers are able to save on code development time and technology toolkits, resulting in upto 40% of overall cost savings.
  4. A very large community of mobile app developers : Currently, featuring a developer base of more than 1.6 million app developers worldwide, the platform is only set to further expand and grow. Thus, easy technology support is available as and when required.
  5. Modular Architecture: React Native enables modular architecture for code developments as it allows developers to combine all code, files, components, constants, reducers related to a single module into a completely independent module.
  6. Produces very stable applications: Since the JavaScript (language supporting React Native) is the world’s most used programming language with a huge base of already existing and easy to use libraries and APIs that have been often tested across the blocks, the resultant applications are very stable.

Popular apps built with this app development framework-

  • Facebook
  • Walmart
  • Instagram
  • Bloomberg
  • Discord
  • Myntra
  • Airbnb
  • Flutter

According to google, about 500,000 mobile developers use Flutter each month & around 2 million of them have used it since its launch in 2018.

Created to challenge Facebook’s React Native framework, flutter allows its users to create apps for phones, televisions, smart displays, tablets, wearables etc.

Google shared the following statistics about its users.

Share of Flutter Developers

This statistic speaks about the popularity of this framework with startups & individual app makers.

Reasons why flutter is one of the best mobile app development framework

Less development time ~ The popular hot reload feature lets you see the changes instantly without compromising the existing application state. In addition to this, there are many ready-made widgets that are very customizable & reduce time.

Consistent UI & Logic across platforms ~ All cross-platform frameworks have an option to share the code but Flutter takes it one step forward, it allows the share of UI code and the UI itself.

A very Customizable experience ~ With Flutter, users have an option to change everything that you see regardless of complexity.

Popular apps made using the Flutter app development framework-

  • Alibaba
  • Google Ads app
  • Cryptograph
  • Reflectly
  • Birch Finance

PhoneGap

Adobe PhoneGap -Top App Development Framework

There has been some confusion about the namesake of PhoneGap and its relation with Cordova. To put it simply, PhoneGap is a distribution of the Apache Cordova and the two have been intertwined & have a separate existence and history. Apache Cordova essentially powers PhoneGap.

What is PhoneGap? It is a powerful mobile app development framework to create cross-development applications.

Benefits of using the PhoneGap framework-

Expert Developers are not required ~ Unlike native development where developers need specific expertise, PhoneGap uses popular technologies like Javascript, CSS3 & HTML5. Popular technologies amongst coders that have been around for decades.

Open Source, well almost ~ By taking the license for open source, this framework can be used for free.

Plugin friendly ~ It supports various useful plugin integration accessible through Adobe repository, public git repository & Node Javascript platform, or NPM.

Apps developed using PhoneGap mobile application framework 

  • The DHS Program
  • Paylution
  • Wikipedia
  • HealthTap
  • TripCase

Ionic

Ionic-Top App Development Framework

A multi-purpose framework that helps in developing hybrid apps, progressive web applications, and cross-platform apps.

Its many creative and user-friendly features make it a very desirable mobile app development framework amongst top app development companies.

Core Features & reasons for the success of Ionic-

  1. User Interface ~ The components and themes present in Ionic are very customizable giving more freedom for app interface creation.
  2. The AngularJS Benefit ~ Ionic makes use of the powerful AngularJS framework which helps to provide a robust structure that makes the code manageable & helps in creating hybrid apps.
  3. Cordova Plugins ~ The availability of Cordova plugs gives access to features like Flashlight, camera, GPS, and more.

Apps made using Ionic framework

  • McDonald’s Turkey app
  • Sworkit
  • JustWatch
  • Mclaren Automotive
  • Diesel

Xamarin

Xamarin-Top App Development Framework

When looking for an ideal framework for mobile apps, the cost is also an important factor and Xamarin helps save money by creating 3 apps for 1 code- iOS, Android & Windows.

It is a powerful multi-platform development framework that uses C+ program to create apps.

Core Features & reasons for the success of Xamarin-

  1. Multi library support- With this framework many libraries can be used. Unlike React Native, Xamarin also allows coders to use CSS libraries.
  2. Good for offline apps ~ There are many instances where the application needs to perform without the use of the internet. This framework is great at creating apps that work offline smoothly.
  3. Seamless UI Development ~ With the help of Microsoft Visual Studio and Xamarin Studio, designers can create beautiful interfaces and improved user experience.

Apps made with Xamarin –

  • HCL
  • The World Bank
  • Alaska Airlines
  • BBC Good Food

Unity

Unity-Top App Development Framework

Unity is a real-time development platform that is widely used for creating games. It is basically a cross-platform game engine that supports more than 25 platforms. It can be used to create 2D, 3D, Virtual reality, and augmented reality games and simulations.

Released in 2005, it primarily aims to democratize game development by giving easy access. It is free to use for small developers and has extensive tutorials for ease in understanding.

It supports various programming languages such as C+, JavaScript, Boo, Python, Lua and more. There are more than 1.3 million developers using Unity to create games.

Core Features & reasons for the success of Unity-

  1. Enables both 2-d and 3-d visuals: The platform enables creation of interactive 2-d and 3-d images of good quality.
  2. Supports Cross-platform Developments: Sharing and reuse of codes across android, iOS and web platforms is all the rage these days. Unity enables easy game development on these platforms as well.
  3. Excellent Tech Support: Since, game development is a huge industry, so are its experts and technology tools in numbers. Unity enjoys a wide base of technically skilled developers, supporting technologists and a varied toolkit available for help as and when guidance is required.
  4. Cost-effective: Though Unity is not an open sourced platform, it is quite pocket friendly in comparison to other platforms offering similar services and functionalities.

Games made using Unity

  • Subnautica
  • Hollow Knight
  • Cuphead
  • Beat Saber
  • Risk of Rain 2

Native Script

Native Script-Top App Development Framework

This is an open-source application development framework used for creating native applications for both Android & iOS. It uses JS, Angular, SML, Vue.js, CSS, etc to use native API’s instead of just using web views to render the User interface. It is widely popular due to the reduced load time and its cross-platform access.

Core Features & reasons for the success of Nativescript-

  1. Access to native API’S ( both Android & iOS): Native Script is an open source platform that allows developers to freely use its functionalities across both android and iOS platforms.
  2. Robust backend support: With various backend support options available, Nativescript enables creation of robust backends using simple plugins.
  3. Use of native UI components of the respective OS: Nativescript allows usage of already existing tools, features and codes. It also enables easy usage of existing Javascript libraries/
  4. Cross-platform app development: Developers can use NativeScript to write cross-platform mobile apps and desktop software that looks and performs the same way.
  5. Free Licensing: As an open source platform, Nativescript offers free licensing to developers via Apache2.
  6. Easy to Learn: If app developers are familiar with Javascript, which is the most used programming language in the world; it does not take them much time to understand Native script.

Applications built using Nativescript-

  • Strudel
  • BitPoints Wallet
  • Daily Nanny
  • Regelneef
  • Dwitch

Types of app development frameworks

The best mobile app development framework is one that fits your requirements. Out of the existing mobile development frameworks, you will find that there are one or two that seem just right, falling into place like a newly found puzzle piece.

This depends on what platform, budget, and vision you hold for your app. The following are the types of frameworks segregated on the basis of platform and usage.

Cross platform app development frameworks

In a highly competitive application environment, companies don’t want to miss out on any customer demographic especially when they can easily reach both iOS & Android audiences.

Cross-app frameworks allow app developers to create apps that are compatible with both OS- Android & iOS. The code is written only once and the application is set up for both operating systems.

This is a faster & more economic way to create 2 applications with half the effort.

Benefits of creating cross-platform apps-

a) Reusable code

The original code of the application is applicable for both operating systems. This code-reusability also helps in application updation.

b) Low Cost

The cost of creating a cross-platform app is relatively lower than creating a native app.

c) No technical limitation

It is a developer-friendly way to create an app as there is no need to learn a specific native language

d) Faster to make

Cross-platform coding helps in making 2 applications in half the time. This is the faster method of creating apps for both iOS & Android.

The following are some popular frameworks for cross-platform

Xamarin

Created in 2011 and acquired by Microsoft in 2016, this framework was launched to plug the problem of separated native technology stacks.

A strong community of over 1.6 million developers across 120 countries, Xamarin is a framework that shares more than 75% of code across platforms.

It is a free framework for startups & individuals but the enterprise version is paid.

React Native

Facebook created it through an internal hackathon in 2013 and officially launched it for the public in 2015. It is one of the most popular & successful hybrid frameworks in the market today.

More than 90% of the codebase can be shared across different platforms with react native. With Instagram, about 85% to 99% code was shared between iOS & Android. This is a mark of an extremely efficient cross-platform framework.

It gives the option to preview results in real-time and has many ready to use elements that make it more convenient and time-efficient.

A very UI centric framework that focuses on customer experience and performance.

Another added advantage of this cross-platform framework is the use of certain native functions like camera and accelerometer.

iOS development framework

iOS apps are increasing in popularity every year. Many premium products and services start off with an iOS-only app.

When luxury brands conduct preliminary market research, they often find that the majority of their customer base have apple products.

Swiftic is a very popular iOS mobile development framework. It has an easily navigable interface and a 30-day money-back guarantee for developers.

Some interesting features for Swiftic include-

  1. Provides advanced analytics
  2. Seamless third-party integration
  3. Social media feeds
  4. Effective push notifications
  5. Great with customer engagement
  6. App publication assistance

Some popular Applications made with Swiftic-

  • The Gentlemen’s barber
  • The Fleurty Ginger Boutique
  • Spa Cafe
  • Muve Magazine

Android app development frameworks

Top mobile app development frameworks attempt to extend their development capabilities to include android development. There are more than 2.5 billion active Android devices in the world right now. This makes android the biggest operating system on the planet right now.

Many businesses find it appropriate to create their app only for the android market. This decision is often backed by market research which emphasizes the sheer volume of users operating android run devices.

Suggested Android development framework-

Flutter

This mobile app framework has been created by Google to create apps with a new approach compared to other android frameworks.

Written with the dart language and works really well with existing code to help developers make responsive and beautiful applications.

Flutter is a free open-source mobile UI framework that has an exciting reload functionality for continuous app testing that doesn’t require a constant application restart.

Some benefits of this framework for android development-

  1. Faster development
  2. A screen reader
  3. Quick and easy rendering
  4. Multiple themes for Android

Hybrid mobile app framework

A hybrid app is a mixture of both native & web apps. As the world shifts from web apps to mobile applications, hybrid app frameworks gain popularity amongst businesses.

Some popular hybrid development frameworks-

Corona SDK

Corona SDK-Top App Development Framework

A widely used framework for gaming apps, corona SDK is great for adding graphics and interactive visuals.

It essentially scales images for different screens so the app follows a consistent and defined look. Some benefits of corona SDK-

  1. Stable and prompt
  2. All changes to the system are immediately visible.
  3. Effective API’s
  4. Rights to the source code belong to you
  5. Detailed & easy to understand guidelines to use the framework.

Game apps created using Corona SDK

  • The Lost City
  • I Love Hue
  • Gunman Taco Truck
  • Zip Zap
  • Mandora
  • Egg Baby

Onsen UI

Onsen UI-Top App Development Framework

This is an open-source UI framework based on PhoneGap and Cordova. Onsen UI is freely accessible and very easy to use. Detailed guided steps help in understanding and utilizing the framework to its full potential.

Benefits of Onsen UI

  1. Cost-Effective
  2. High Usability
  3. Easy to learn
  4. Rich UI templates

React Native & Ionic are some more highly efficient frameworks for creating hybrid applications.

Best Application Frameworks Should Feel Natural to You

Top mobile app development frameworks provide a wide range of programming languages, features and platforms. It is up to you to decide which framework suits your idea, your budget, technological requirements, focused scalability & better chances of short term and long term success.

If you are looking to align your motives with a framework then first understand what app development questions to ask before a new project. Chart out the platform to be used, the complexity in your idea, expected design, and the overlapping technology to meet your expectations. This will help you decide which framework feels natural to you and answers all your questions.

Next up

Check here the top and effective ways to market your your app to stand out in an mobile app industry.