Top Tools For Mobile App Development

We’re spoilt for choice and drowning in tools. Merely sorting through all of it feels like a job in itself. It’s overwhelming. We get it. We all understand how each platform comes with its unique capabilities, features, and behavior. However, everybody is dabbling in multi-platform apps today, so you need to figure out what works best for you when it comes to building cross-formatted apps. And this without having to drain all your resources on developing for a few platforms at a time. Fortunately, there are a bunch of amazing multi-platform developer tools in the market. Below is a list of devices we fall back on.

PhoneGap

PhoneGap lets developers build apps for Android, iPhone, Symbian, Palm, BlackBerry, iTouch and iPad devices and to work with device hardware features like GPS/location, accelerometer, camera, sound and a lot more. A product of Adobe, you can use it to translate code from CSS, HTML5, and JavaScript. This platform makes use of standard web development languages such as JavaScript and HTML. PhoneGap also offers an Adobe AIR app and online training courses to help us access native APIs and build mobile apps on their platform. This open-source platform makes building cross-platform apps a lot easier. This tool will work the best for you if your mobile application doesn’t rely on the device’s native features when it comes to performance. The only limitation here is that it isn’t right for graphics-intensive apps.

RhoMobile

RhoMobile comes with an open-source framework based on Ruby, known as Rhodes. This allows the developer to build data-centric, cross-platform native apps, spanning over a vast range of operating systems and smartphones. Its anatomy is quite similar to PhoneGap. The operating systems include Symbian, iPhone, Android, Windows Mobile and RIM, which just about covers it all. Ruby joins its present web technologies like HTML5, CSS3, JavaScript. Moreover, this framework, provided by RhoMobile is such that you only need to code a single time. Then you can use this code to build applications for most of the major smartphones. To get your job done with speed, ease, and accuracy, native apps are great for working with available hardware. RhoMobile also comes with a hosted development environment, RhoHub, and RhoSync, to keep all the app data current on the users’ handhelds, which could be employed as a standalone server.

When it comes to securing your data, if you’re worried about having to BYOD (Bring Your Own Device), the automatic data encryption will go a long way in easing that worry, and its Object Relational Mapper allows for automatic synchronization of backend data. It supports synchronization into apps and offline data accessibility. However, it moderates Radio-frequency identification (RFID) plugins to Windows Mobile/CE. It would’ve gained a lot more popularity if it were more open source.

Appcelerator

This Titanium Development Platform backed by a formidable fan following in Twitter helps you develop native mobile, tablet and desktop apps with the help of web programming languages like JavaScript, HTML, PHP, Ruby, and Python. Today, it powers over a thousand native apps each month. One of the great things about Titanium is that it gives you easy access to over 300 location information and APIs along with customizable metrics for events and actions. You can store all app data either on the device or in the cloud, and these apps can be totally hardware-based. It also comes with impressive app usage insights, making it easy to monitor your app's performance. Appcelerator is perfect for organizations that leverage web-based skill sets while working on multi-OS application development. The one demerit we’ve come across is its support team, who are slow in response, especially the developer community.

MoSync

MoSync, based on standard web programming, is yet another multi-platform mobile application development SDK (software development kit) tool. This houses integrated libraries, compilers, device profiles, runtimes and other useful tools. While it already comes with support for PHP, JavaScript, Python, Ruby and such other languages, MoSync now includes Eclipse-based Integrated Development Environment for C/C++ programming. MoSync offers support for a bunch of OS’, including Android, Windows Mobile, Moblin, Symbian and a mobile Linux distro, even. With the release of MoSync 2.4, the support for BlackBerry and iPhone OS will be coming soon.

Xamarin

Xamarin, a C# codebase, unlike other frameworks, allows us to work with native IDEs, APIs, and languages. And it can be universally applied to multiple platforms, while Git integration is inbuilt in the Xamarin Studio. Xamarin supports quality monitoring and functionality testing across a huge range of devices. It does come with its Android emulator. Additionally, to help you get started fast, Xamarin comes up with a few sample apps. You can share about three-fourths of the code over the popular mobile platforms. Therefore, using Xamarin, you are curtailing not only the development cost but also the time-to-market. However, there are prevailing compatibility issues with open-source libraries for iOS and Android. This is something Xamarin has to be addressed to encourage development of a substantial project.

Monocross

Monocross is a cross-platform, open-source mobile framework which makes use of C#, Microsoft.NET and the Mono framework to develop multi-platform supported applications for Android smartphones and tablets, iPads and iPhones, Windows Phone and devices that are Webkit-enabled. One can retain the coding of application, model, and controller across various platforms while striving to deliver a native experience overall major platforms by tweaking the platform container and the view, meaning, the user-interface. Moreover, it makes app porting a lot easier, helping businesses cope with rapid changes in platforms. However, documentation, resources, and support for Monocross on the Internet is scarce making the work of developing apps using this framework harder than necessary. Additionally, if you’re a beginner, you might struggle with its usability and features as little documentation and support resources are available online.

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