9 Best Cross-Platform Mobile App Development Tools

Simon Frey

There comes a time in any company’s life when it needs to develop a mobile app. With 5.1 out of 7.6 billion people in the world using mobile gadgets, it’s impossible to ignore the utter need of products to use with them.

The variety of mobile platforms is increasing quicker than you think. Focusing on just one when building your app can lead to a disaster. That’s why cross-platform apps development tools are gaining immense popularity.

App developers today are looking for such tools and facing a wide selection. We wanted to narrow the search down to a reasonable number in order to simplify the choice.

Below you can find the best cross-platform mobile app development tools that are bound to make your job easier.

1. PhoneGap

This open-source tool gets high scores from the majority of developers for its flexibility and ease-of-use in building cross-platform apps.

PhoneGap supports JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3 and native languages (Java, Objective-C, C#). The tool works with the following platforms: Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Blackberry, WebOS, Symbian, Bada, Ubuntu, and Firefox OS.

The software is easy to install and quick to work with. It’s important to learn all the PhoneGap aspects before proceeding with coding. Otherwise, you may face too many corrections along the way. It is one of the best libraries for non-native app development.

PhoneGap Enterprise is created for making higher-level apps with integrated marketing support.

The software comes with a formidable developer community and excellent customer support.

Price: free version is available. Paid version starts at $9.99

2. Xamarin

Xamarin is a great choice for building native apps for multiple platforms using C# and Xaml. It works for the following platforms: OS, Android, Windows Phone and Windows 8/RT, Tizen.

When it comes to HTML-5 based experience, Xamarin gets the highest scores from the users.

It’s an open-source tool, which is compatible with MDM software and supports MVC and MVVM design patterns. Many successful companies, such as Microsoft and Foursquare use Xamarin to develop apps for both iOS and Android devices.

With Xamarin, the final user receives 100% native performance and UI experience. What may put some developers off is a large app file size required to achieve the nativity.

Apps created with Xamarin are easy to update, change, and improve.

Price: free version is available. Professional versions can cost up to $999 per year.

3. Telerik AppBuilder

Telerik AppBuilder is great for developers that use .Net, JavaScript, HTML5, and Java. It supports such platforms as iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows, and Windows Phone.

One of the key reasons developers like this app builder is a full online IDE, which helps create, test, and publish hybrid apps on any computer or mobile gadget without downloading. Another benefit is the ability to develop iOS apps working with Windows or Linux.

Since AppBuilder belongs to Telerik Platform, you can use such useful features as analytics, pop-up notifications, user authorization, and cloud storage.

Telerik provides Visual Studio and Sublime Text plugins for AppBuilder. It has an easy option of importing Cordova plugins. The tool has a slight learning curve.

A small downside is the lack of a large community.

Pricing: Free trial is available. Paid version starts at $1,299.

4. Unity

Unity is a cross-platform mobile app dev tool for creating 2D and 3D apps and games. It’s also one of the best platforms for demonstrating 3D content. Apps created with Unity work with the following OSs: Windows, OS X, Linux, Android, Apple iOS, Windows Phone, BlackBerry as well as gaming consoles, such as Wii, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.

This tool is an excellent choice for app development for numerous industries, including automotive, architecture, engineering, construction, film, and animation. It comes with a variety of high-quality free plugins.

Unity comes with a rather steep learning curve, which may not be the best option for newbies.  Meanwhile, it’s the choice of many large companies all over the world.

Pricing: Free version is available for personal use. Paid versions start at $25 per month

5. Qt

Qt works with such languages as C++ and QML. It supports such platforms as Android, iOS, WinRT, Windows, Symbian, Linux, and QNX. This tool is one of the top choices for companies that focus on developing apps for android and iOS.

It’s an excellent tool for creating quick apps for a variety of needs. Qt offers a big selection of top-notch features to help with development, such as IDE QT Creator, Qt Designer, and code profiling. The libraries contain intuitive API interfaces for such elements as animation.

Qt creates a smooth yet powerful environment for app developing. One of the most valued features in this tool is the ability to drag widgets and switch to source codes without any hassle.

The tool has a steep learning curve, which could be a serious obstacle for newbies.

Pricing: a free trial version is available. Paid versions start at $5,500 per year.

6. Titanium Appcelerator

Titanium is an open-source tool for cross-platform app development. It works with such languages as JavaScript, Python, Ruby, and PHP. The tool is designed for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows, Tizen, and Denso.

Titanium allows you to create the most innovative native apps, using any popular operating system available today. One of the best properties of this tool is its speed. It comes with a variety of essential features to build high-quality apps. The IDE has a three-column layout with customized panels on both sides of the canvas.

The Appcelerator enables code reuse. According to the tool developers, more than 90% of code can be reused on different platforms.

The UI is drag-and-drop oriented, making it a smart choice for newbies.

Pricing: a free personal-use version is available. Paid versions start at $199 per month.

7. Codename One

Codename One can simplify the life of a developer tremendously. It allows coding in Java and then makes the app available for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows Phone. Codename changes code from Java to XCode for iOS and C# for Windows Phone. It’s worth noting that the efficiency of such “changed” code is rather high. The service allows integrating built-in functions for each platform separately if they aren’t included in the developer’s basic package.

It offers simple usability and quick application development. Codename One supports such IDEs as NetBeans, Eclipse, IntelliJ IDEA, and more.

Pricing: a free version is available. Paid versions start at $19 per month.

8. Sencha

Sencha has a key product for developers called Ext Js 5. It works in an excellent manner over the majority of popular platforms. Some developers call it the best android development platform.

The tool provides a variety of top-notch pre-built elements to save developers plenty of time when coding. Once you develop the HTML 5 code, you can easily transfer it to Android and iOS platforms.

The service offers a variety of design tools, helping developers create reusable themes without writing any codes. Sencha also comes with excellent testing tools.

Sencha has top-notch support. However, the community is not very big.

Pricing: a free trial version is available. Paid versions start at $495.

9. Corona

Corona is an excellent option for mobile game development. It supports such platforms as iOS, Android, Kindle, Windows Phone 8, Apple TV, Android TV, Mac OS X, and Windows Desktop. It’s a great time-saver for developers, who need to present games and apps across several platforms simultaneously.

Corona offers the developers an opportunity to design high-quality 2D games. It’s easy to use and can be a good choice for amateurs. Guides and in-depth tutorials are available. The downside is the lack of development tools for 3D games.

Pricing: free

If you are looking for top-notch cross-platform mobile app development tools, each one of the above programs can become your favorite. All of them come with free versions or trials so you can easily find the right one after thorough testing.

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