Top 5 Hybrid Mobile App Frameworks

Nowadays, hybrid app development is trending as the preferred approach for building mobile apps among developers as it enables them to code once and develops apps that can run on both iOS and Android platforms.

Unlike native apps, hybrid apps are a lot easier to deploy and maintain. Whereas native apps need specific native coding for each platform. In addition, deploying native mobile apps for multiple platforms will require loads of development time and can be a lot expensive. 

Sufficient time and money for building native mobile applications will come as a big roadblock for many of the businesses. This can be easily addressed by hybrid app development

In the race between native and hybrid apps, the latter surely wins as it delivers a variety of benefits. Thankfully, there are plenty of hybrid mobile app frameworks to choose from. Here, we will dive into the top 5 Hybrid Mobile App Frameworks that you can use for your next mobile app development project. 

This post can be extremely beneficial for Product Owners, developers and for all who want to build a mobile app.

We will also explore the pros and cons of each framework.

1. Xamarin

Xamarin is a cross-platform mobile app development framework. With Xamarin you can build iOS, Android and Windows applications with C# and XAML in the Microsoft .NET environment.

This framework was launched way back in 2011 after which it was acquired by Microsoft in 2016. After its acquisition, Microsoft eventually bundled into its .NET core and Visual Studio offerings. 

Xamarin is the best hybrid app development framework for mobile app developers who already have experience in working with C# and .NET environments. But every framework has its advantages and limitations. We’ll start off with the pros of Xamarin development.

Pros of Xamarin development

  • Hardware compatibility:  Apps that are built on Xamarin deliver its users with full native performance on both Android and iOS platforms. This will dodge all issues that are related to hardware compatibility.
  •  Easy maintenance and updates: Maintenance and updates of native mobile apps can be a tedious process as you need to deploy updates to both iOS and Android apps. Whereas Xamarin makes this an easier process which will help you save your valuable time while keeping your mobile apps up to date.
  • Rapid prototyping with Xamarin.forms: Xamarin.Forms is an open-source mobile UI (User Interface) framework or simply a templating system that enables you to build intuitive mobile apps with a native user experience from a single shared codebase. You can use Xamarin.Forms for rapid prototyping with minimal platform-specific functionality. 

Cons of Xamarin development

  • Not suitable for graphic-intensive apps: Building apps that require heavy graphics such as games won’t be an easy task with this framework as you cannot share the UI code that will be mostly platform-specific. 
  • Issues while integrating third-party packages: Unlike native technologies, Xamarin doesn’t support some third-party tools and libraries. So, to integrate other third-party resources you have to use wrappers.

2. React Native

React Native is now one of the best frameworks for hybrid app development. ReactNative was initially developed by Facebook for the development of their own applications. When compared to hybrid mobile app frameworks such as Xamarin, React Native takes a more defined approach where JS sections function efficiently as widgets in a broader app ecosystem.

Let’s see below some of the pros and cons of React Native.

Pros of React Native Development 

  • Virtual Document Object Model (DOM): The use of the Virtual Document Object Model (DOM) in React Native allows your programs to dynamically change the document style, content, and structure.
  • Hot Reloading: This cool feature of React Native allows you to place data and files into a stream without affecting the active state of the application. In other words, you can make changes in your code and preview them straight away in the mobile app! This allows you to collaborate with designers whenever they want to improve the app UI looks and check effects instantly.
  • Huge developer community: The developer community of React is huge when compared to other frameworks. This includes plenty of online resources such as documentation, blogs, Q&As at StackOverflow and bug report templates at GitHub.

Cons of React Native Development 

  • Poor Documentation: Since React Native has a young developer community, the available documentation is poor.
  • Dependency on Native Programmers: Even Though React Native provides plenty of components and libraries to choose from for both frameworks, in many cases they won’t be the exact thing you want for your app. In this case, you may need the help of a native programmer especially when you are working on modules that are related to device hardware.

3. jQuery Mobile

jQuery Mobile will be the best choice if you want to build cross-platform apps with minimal scripting. The cool thing about this framework is that it allows you to build pages by writing few lines of code as it integrates HTML5, CCS3, jQuery and jQuery UI into a single framework.

You can go for this framework for your hybrid app development project if you want to build user-friendly inputs and UI widgets, rather than sticking to templates.

Let’s explore some of the pros and cons of jQuery Mobile:

Pros of  jQuery Mobile Development 

  • Highly Compatible:  jQuery is perhaps one of the highly compatible frameworks among hybrid mobile app frameworks, it provides comprehensive browser and platform compatibility over the 1.4 and 1.3 iterations of the JQuery codebase.
  • Easy learning curve: jQuery is almost easy to pick up and build mobile apps. Especially for someone who has the knowledge of HTML5, JavaScript and CSS3  features.
  • Easy to build customized themes:  You can easily build highly customized themes with the help of ThemeRoller. ThemeRoller makes it easy for you to easily download and apply custom themes without the need to write long lines of code.

Cons of  jQuery Mobile Development 

  • Not suitable for complex projects:  jQuery Mobile may work fine for simple projects. But may deliver slower performance for complex ones. Complex mobile apps that are built on this framework will show less functionality speed than native mobile apps.
  • May show CSS related issues: The main drawback of this framework is the issues with the CSS styles. You can probably encounter one if you are writing your HTML page structure designs right from scratch.

4. Ionic

Rather than calling it a framework, ionic is basically a software development kit (SDK) for hybrid app development. It was initially released in 2013 as an open-source software development kit for building hybrid mobile apps.

You can use this SDK to access tools and services for building hybrid mobile apps and PWAs. Ionic is now a trending framework in the realm of mobile app development. And currently has more than 6 million mobile apps developed using it.  especially due to its cool features.

Let’s go to the pros & cons of  ionic 

Pros of Ionic Development

  • Easy testability: When other hybrid app frameworks such as React Native needs real mobile devices or specific emulators for testing, ionic allows you to test your code on any browser.
  • Through documentation: Ionic comes with comparatively less complex and easy to understand documentation than those provided by other frameworks. It has thorough and precise documentation that covers multiple topics.
  • Native functionalities: In order to deliver more native user experience, Ionic uses Apache Cordova plugins to access native functionalities such as sensors, camera, microphone, gyroscope, etc.
  • Extensive integration capabilities: Ionic delivers extensive integration with various tools and plugins. These include payment gateways, app analytics and even plugins that allow integration with the device’s hardware.
  • Quick Prototyping: Using Ionic SDK can give you an added advantage of building prototypes for their future mobile apps in a shorter time frame. Ionic accomplishes this by using ready-made UI elements. Ionic provides these elements in the form of a tool known as the Ionic creator. It offers a drag & drop interface to build interactive and fully functional prototypes.

Cons of Ionic Development

  • Dependency on plugins: Mobile apps that are built on ionic delivers more native features when compared to other frameworks due to its use of plugins. In order to build an app with native functionalities in this framework, you need to use a large number of plugins to access pieces of hardware.
  • App Size: Since ionic uses loads of tools, plugins, and dependencies. Apps built in them can be comparatively bulkier than the native ones. However, you can somehow reduce this issue by using Ionic CLI. Ionic CLI reduces the size of code which will, in turn, minimize the size of your app.
  • Lack of hot reloading: Hot reloading is a cool feature that allows you to apply changes without the need to reload the app. This feature is standard among most of the frameworks. However, Ionic provides only live reloading instead of this feature.  

5. Flutter

Flutter is a free and open-source hybrid mobile app development framework that is based on the Dart programming language. It was initially released by Google in 2013 as an open-source SDK for hybrid app development. The engineers at Google had developed its architecture based on the reactive programming paradigm.

Let’s explore some of the pros and cons of Flutter.

Pros of Flutter Development

  • Faster apps: Apps that are built on Flutter work more smoothly without any lags especially while scrolling. Apart from being faster, developing apps on this framework is faster when compared to other frameworks. The faster your mobile app development process is, the less will be the cost of app development.
  • Hot Reloading:  Hot Reloading in Flutter means accelerated mobile app development. it allows you to spend less time to add new features and fix bugs faster.    
  • Customizable Widgets: Flutter It is easy as a pie to design your own widgets from scratch or customize an existing widget. The widgets that are available in Flutter incorporate all essential differences in platforms such as navigation, scrolling, fonts and icons to provide a native performance on both platforms.

Cons of Flutter Development

  • Limited talent Pool for Dart: Since Dart is fairly a new language, the Xamarin community is limited compared to native iOS/Android. Thus, finding an experienced Dart developer could be a challenge.
  • Lack of third-party libraries: Unlike other technologies, Flutter doesn’t have much third-party libraries. However, it provides its own official resource of free packages.

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