Mobile apps are everywhere. Businesses of all scales and sizes are developing mobile apps because they’ve become the norm. As such, the role of mobile app development frameworks has become indispensable. These frameworks are a treasure trove of tools, libraries, and components that empower developers to craft mobile apps with finesse and ease.
As we step into 2024, the demand for mobile apps shows no signs of slowing down. With this surge in demand, the quest for efficient mobile app development frameworks has gained even more significance. In this article, we’ll cover some of the biggest unsung heroes of the mobile app development world and shed some much-deserved light on these hidden gems. So, sit back, relax and enjoy!
Native mobile app development frameworks are software development tools that allow developers to create mobile applications for specific platforms, such as iOS (Apple) or Android (Google), using the platform’s native programming languages and tools.
Native apps are those designed to run on a specific operating system, providing the best possible performance and user experience because they leverage the full capabilities and features of the target platform.
Selecting the perfect framework for your mobile app project hinges on a variety of factors. Your business needs, the target audience, budget considerations, and the expertise of your development team all play pivotal roles in this decision-making process.
Each mobile app framework boasts its own unique features and capabilities, making it a specialised solution for specific use cases. Therefore, a meticulous evaluation of the available options is paramount to ensure the chosen framework aligns seamlessly with your project’s unique requirements.
According to a recent survey conducted by Statista, React Native and Flutter are the frontrunners in the realm of mobile app development frameworks, securing 42.4% and 39.4% of the votes, respectively. Close on their heels, we find Xamarin, Ionic, and Apache Cordova, claiming 19.7%, 11.5%, and 9.5% of the votes, respectively.
Several native mobile app frameworks don’t receive as much attention as those popular options. Therefore, these frameworks may be considered underrated because they can still be excellent choices for specific use cases. Here are five such underrated native mobile app frameworks:
Fuse is an open-source framework that enables the development of native mobile apps for both iOS and Android. It’s known for its powerful UX capabilities, including a visual design tool and a reactive programming model. Fuse allows you to create high-performance, smooth user interfaces with less effort.
The beauty of Fuse lies in its ability to deliver better apps with less code. UX Markup offers a declarative and expressive way to create interfaces bolstered by a powerful layout engine and GPU-accelerated visuals. This language is both intuitive to learn and highly resistant to errors.
Fuse streamlines development through rapid iteration with live reload functionality. The framework allows real-time modifications, ensuring that any changes to UX, scripts, or assets result in near-instant updates in the running application. Additionally, Fuse plays nicely with your preferred tools, enabling seamless collaboration between developers and clients, regardless of geographical boundaries.
Fuse elevates user interfaces to a dynamic level, making motion and animations a primary focus. UX Markup ensures that nearly every property is animatable, simplifying the creation of responsive and intricate animations through straightforward expressions.
When it’s time to transition from prototype to production, Fuse simplifies the process. UX Markup compiles into high-performance C++ or .NET bytecode, facilitating the creation of high-quality, efficient production code.
For debugging and extending, Fuse projects compile into Android Studio and Xcode projects for Android and iOS, seamlessly integrating with native debugging and profiling features.
Fuse promotes a holistic approach to design and development, allowing assets like fonts, images, videos, and sound to be created and updated from popular design tools. These assets can be live-reloaded, just like source code files, ensuring a seamless design and development process.
Quasar is a Vue.js framework that allows you to build responsive web and mobile apps with a single codebase. It’s a great choice if you’re already familiar with Vue.js and want to extend your skills to mobile app development. Quasar supports building mobile apps for iOS, Android, and even desktop applications.
Quasar Framework is an open-source framework rooted in Vue.js with a compelling mission: “Write code once and simultaneously deploy it as a website, a mobile app, and/or an Electron app.” It’s a versatile platform that equips web developers to create applications for desktop and mobile, encompassing progressive web apps (PWAs) through technologies like Cordova, Electron, and Vue.js.
Vue-Based Open Source Framework: Quasar is built on Vue.js and embraces the open-source philosophy.
Unified Codebase: One source code can serve multiple platforms, including single-page apps (SPAs), PWAs, browser extensions (BEXs), server-side rendered apps (SSRs), hybrid mobile apps, and multi-platform desktop apps.
Feature-Rich Support: Quasar offers a broad spectrum of features, including app extensions, right-to-left (RTL) support, customizable responsive material design components, multilingual capabilities, and a user-friendly Quasar CLI.
Extensive Component Library: Quasar provides a comprehensive set of UI components catering to a wide range of web development needs. This eliminates the need for additional libraries like Hammer.js, Moment.js, or Bootstrap, keeping the framework lightweight.
Quasar is renowned for its user-friendliness and potent UI kit, featuring a plethora of UI components, layout elements, and helpful utilities. This all-in-one toolkit simplifies the process of building responsive front-end applications, liberating developers from the need to juggle multiple UI libraries. By handling much of the heavy lifting, Quasar enables developers to focus on crafting distinctive features rather than grappling with boilerplate code.
All in all, Quasar offers extensive support for various build modes, spanning single-page applications, progressive web applications, server-side rendering, mobile apps for both iOS and Android (utilising Cordova or Capacitor), multi-platform desktop apps via Electron, and browser extensions. With Quasar, developers can embark on multi-platform application development with ease, unleashing their creative potential without being confined to a single platform.
Apps developed with NativeScript are true natives, utilising the same APIs as applications built with Xcode (for iOS) or Android Studio (for Android). One standout feature is the ability for software developers to directly repurpose third-party libraries from platforms like CocoaPods, Maven, and npm.js, eliminating the need for additional wrappers.
Another constraint lies in plugin availability. Many NativeScript developers come from web development backgrounds, which may limit their familiarity with native platform APIs for creating plugins that access device hardware or platform-specific features like contacts and messaging.
Framework7 is versatile and empowers you to develop mobile, desktop, or web applications while delivering a native look and feel. It’s not just a development tool; it’s also an invaluable prototyping resource that allows you to showcase a working app prototype whenever the need arises swiftly.
With its extensive set of UI components, Framework7 equips you to craft web apps, progressive web apps (PWAs), and iOS and Android applications that exhibit a truly native appearance and functionality. Moreover, when combined with supplementary tools like Electron and NW.js, Framework7 opens the door to building native desktop applications as well.
Framework7 boasts an extensive and unmatched assortment of readily available UI elements and widgets. These include dialogue boxes, popups, action sheets, popovers, list views, tabs, side panels, layout grids, preloaders, form elements, cards, and an abundance of other components. This rich set of UI elements simplifies the development process and elevates the visual and functional aspects of your applications to deliver an exceptional user experience.
NativeScript operates without HTML and DOM, requiring developers to grasp the usage of different UI components for building the app’s user interface. The availability of verified plugins is currently limited, with only 16 verified plugins at the time of writing, raising uncertainty about the quality of non-verified plugins listed on npm.
Developers working with NativeScript need to be familiar with native Android and iOS APIs to access device hardware and other platform-specific features. Additionally, the native nature of NativeScript means that testing is limited to actual devices or emulators, potentially leading to a slower initial setup. On the bright side, once the app is running on the device, hot-reloading speeds up development by instantly reflecting source code changes.
Onsen UI is a framework that works with both Angular and React, enabling you to create native mobile apps using web technologies. It provides a library of components and themes for building mobile apps with a native look and feel. Onsen UI simplifies the development process and is a good choice for those familiar with Angular or React.
Let’s face it: when it comes to building feature-rich mobile apps, having the right tools in your developer toolkit is make or break. Onsen UI, being a framework-agnostic full-stack tool, empowers developers to create mobile apps that truly make a difference. Furthermore, the release of Onsen UI 2.0 is a true game-changer! With a strong focus on mobile user experience, it’s a great choice for developers looking to reach a wide and diverse audience.
Native App Development: Onsen is great for achieving a native look and feel effortlessly with the help of its array of ready-to-use components and automatic styling. Onsen UI offers a wide variety of UI components tailor-made for mobile apps, including tabs, side menus, stack navigation, and more, such as lists and forms.
What sets it apart is its innate support for iOS and Android Material design, automatically adapting the app’s appearance to the platform. With Onsen UI, you can embrace both Android and iOS with a single source code, simplifying the development process.
Performance Optimisation: Many developers are concerned about the performance of your PhoneGap/Cordova apps. But worry not, as Onsen UI has fine-tuned and optimised all animations to deliver a smooth experience across a wide range of devices. Even on lower-end devices, apps built with Onsen, the app UI will feel incredibly responsive and smooth like butter.
Easier Learning Curve: Learning Onsen UI is a breeze, making it an ideal choice for both newcomers and experienced developers. You can jump into this platform fairly easily, thanks to the wealth of learning resources available, including official documentation, interactive tutorials, and a thriving community forum where you can seek answers to your questions.
Combination with Monaca: For an even more seamless development experience, pair Onsen UI seamlessly with Monaca – a collection of software tools and services for building and deploying HTML5 mobile hybrid apps.
Monaca offers a powerful command-line tool and desktop app, simplifying complex tasks. Test your apps on real devices using the Monaca Debugger, complete with live reload for rapid development. When it’s time to release your app, Monaca can build your Onsen UI app in the cloud, preparing it for submission to app stores.
The frameworks mentioned in this blog post are often overlooked in favour of more popular options, but they have their own strengths. They can be excellent choices for specific projects or when you want to leverage your existing skills in a particular technology stack.
The choice of a framework will ultimately depend on your project requirements, your team’s expertise, and the specific features and performance characteristics you need for your mobile app.
Are you prepared to elevate your customer experience and drive growth by developing an intuitive mobile application for your business? Your desire to expand aligns perfectly with our commitment to technological innovation. Let’s work together to craft transformative customer experiences for your brand. Tell us about our project!
November 11, 2023