Mobile app development is essential these days. The revenue for app development is 94 billion in 2018. Whether you are a business or individual, it is crucial to choose the right mobile app development tools for your project.
There are two types of mobile app development tools — first, Cross-compile development tools. By using Cross-compile development languages, you will be able to develop one app for all mobile platform (Android & IOS). This is extremely convenient especially for maintaining the app. You will only have to support and update one app for all the platforms.
However, this comes at a cost. You may suffer a loss of performance as the app will not be optimized. Second, native development tools. Using native tools will give you better performance. Besides, you will have significant flexibility on how to implement specific functions. More importantly, since most developers are using native tools, many of the problems and bugs you face will have a solution. Also, many functionalities will have readily available libraries.
In this article, Senla developers will explore the best mobile app development tools and their advantages and disadvantages.
First, we will explore cross-compile languages:
Flutter is a mobile app development tool created by Google for Android and IOS app development. It is based on Dart language. It relatively new but have Google support.
1- Real-time development: one of the best features of flutter is being able to see changes while editing the code immediately. Using native android and IOS tools, it may take minutes to compile the app and look at the changes depending on the application size. This can be annoying during debugging.
2- Lightweight: the system requirements for using flutter is deficient. Almost any machine can handle it
1- Limited libraries: Flutter is very modern. It lacks many essential libraries. It will be very time-consuming to develop everything from the ground up.
2- Performance: flutter performance is outstanding. But it still lacks compared to native development, especially for big projects. Besides, the app size difference is noticeable.
Xamarin is another cross-platform development tool. Microsoft owns it. It uses C# for coding.
1- Support and community: Xamarin has been around way more than Flutter. So it has more people that can help with problems. Also, C# is a widely used language and can be used for other purposes.
2- Code architecture: Xamarin makes it easy to build code that is maintainable and testable using well-known architectures such as MVP and MVVM.
1- Not fully standalone: Although Xamarin is cross-platform, it is not entirely independent. You will need some basic knowledge of the native languages of the platforms you want to run the app on.
2- Cost: Xamarin is not free for enterprises.
Second, we will take a look at native development tools:
Android development uses Java and XML to develop apps. Recently, Google announces supporting Kotlin too.
1- High 3rd party libraries: one of the biggest strength of native development is libraries. Many complex problems you will face will have a library solution. This makes progress very smoothly.
2- Huge community: most developers use native development tools. And hence, it is straightforward to find a solution to problems that you face during development. Besides, Google has better support and documentation for native Android.
1- More difficult: native development is more difficult and complicated because you will have to take care of everything yourself.
2- One platform: since it is not cross-compile, you will either have to learn IOS development or miss the opportunity of making your app available to more users
Swift is a programming language made by Apple. It uses Objective-C to code.
1- Support and 3rd part libraries: Swift has been used for IOS and Mac for a very long time. It has better libraries. Furthermore, Apple has better support for Swift.
2- Better performance: Due to the support Apple give to Swift. It has better performance.
1- Backward compatibility: one problem with Swift is that every new version ruins the app. So you will have to maintain it indefinitely. This is tiresome, especially when dealing with multiple apps.
2- Worse IDEs: When you use Android Studio for development, it is almost as if you think the code while it writes it. For Swift, it doesn’t have IDEs that are super convenient.
Choosing the right mobile app development tools depends on your budget and the type of project being made. For big projects or Companies, it is better to go native to focus on performance and scalability. If the project is big enough, they can get Google and Apple to help them with specific functionalities. On the other hand, if you are an individual, it is better to use cross-platform tools to focus on one app. This way is more accessible for maintaining and bug fixing. Also, It will be less time-consuming and less risky. As the app might no succeed. So choose wisely before investing time and resources on a project.