Mobile app development is an ever-growing industry with new applications and uses cases coming every day. But it is not only the use cases that are increasing but also, the tools available for developers to design these applications. There was a time when we had no choice but to code an application from scratch for every platform. Now we can use cross-platform mobile app development tools that can provide native-like functionality to our apps. Hence, we write once but run everywhere using simple extensions and frameworks. In this article we will discuss some of the popular tools that offer this functionality along with the pros and cons of each.
1. PhoneGap (Apache Cordova):
It possesses a plugin-able architecture allows developers to trigger smartphone features like GPS, accelerometer, camera, sound and much more. Hence it works as a flexible tool to create highly functional apps. It also supports in-app purchases for the iOS app store and Google Play Store. Overall it is a great tool for developers with expertise in front-end technologies. You might need to implement 3rd party caching and graphics acceleration as the apps developed on this platform are usually a little slow.
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It offers a schema-less database, ArrowDB that allows you to deploy data models with zero setup efforts. It also offers pre-built integrations with MS Azure, MongoDB, MS SQL, Salesforce, Box, etc. The tool has a reputation for being a little buggy and laggy along with support from its developer community. These backlogs are addressed better in the newer versions.
3. React Native:
4. Sencha Ext JS:
Sencha’s ExtJS is somewhat similar to React Native in terms of functionality, pros, and cons. Its differentiating factor is the use of Ext JS framework for development. It comes in both free and paid versions (starting at $4340 for 5 developers). It offers a visual app builder for HTML5, along with the reusability of custom components. Its native app packager handles the distribution to stores like Apple Store and Google Play.
Since it uses HTML5 for development you can test and run your apps on browsers as well as mobile apps. It also complements well with other cross-platform tools like Adobe PhoneGap for development of highly functional applications.
5. RhoMobile Suite:
RhoMobile provides Rhodes, a Ruby-based open-source framework that can support Android, Windows Mobile, Symbian, iPhone and RIM – basically all you’ll need. RhoMobile comes with RhoHub, a hosted development environment for developers to code the application and RhoSync, a standalone server that helps you store all the app data and keep it up to date on the users’ devices.
You can create native-like apps, spanning across distinct platforms using a single code. Native apps work exceptionally well in dealing with available hardware hence, the job gets done with relatively more ease, speed, and accuracy.
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