So, you made your decision to go with the hybrid application for your product or organization!!
Well, there are significant advantages when using the hybrid mobile app development approach over the native apps. Developers can breathe some air since they can use the existing code to port or develop their application for a new or current platform with minimal effort.
Not only hybrid mobile applications enable you to reuse the code to develop either for iOS or Android, sometimes, with some slight modification or tweaks (for example, using Electron), you can make the system ready to use even with progressive web application or even desktop applications.
The big question now probably is which framework to use for the app development process since there a lot of options out there in the wild, each one offering some unique pros and cons. That being said, let us take a look at the most popular tools available in the market:
1. Ionic Framework
The Ionic Framework is one of the most widely used hybrid application framework available on the web.
With Angular.js and Apache Cordova at its core, Ionic provides numerous tools and services which are known to help developers design and build hybrid apps while making use of the most popular and up-to-date web technologies such as CSS, HTML5, and Sass.
The toolset included with the platform has inbuilt support for material design along with some native looking mobile UI elements and a large number of layouts. It also offers support for actions which are only available on native mobile applications such as Bluetooth, Fingerprint Auth, Healthkit, gestures, etc.
Readily available Cordova/PhoneGap plugins and Typescript extensions bring in even more native-like feel. Due to the extensive features and the overwhelming result it gives when used in combination with Angular.js, developers prefer it for cross-platform app development.
The framework is backed by an active and amiable community, always willing to help developers whenever they feel like they have hit a dead end.
Although, like every software, Ionic comes with some caveats of its own. The framework lacks particularly regarding the number of animations available, meaning there is a limited number of them.
If you are planning on coding games using Ionic, it isn’t of much use if you are planning to design games since it merely lacks the high performance required.
2. React Native
React Native is one of the best development frameworks you can lay your hands on if you are planning to build cross-platform applications which offer an experience similar to natively designed apps.
There are ready-made components which you can use instead of coding from scratch, saving you valuable time. The result? Apps are much more stable than those built using competitive frameworks.
Many tech-giants to the likes of Facebook, Instagram, Soundcloud, and Skype use this framework, which honestly says a lot about the robustness of the platform.
Like Ionic, React Native has a large community ready to help those new users since the learning curve associated with the platform is quite steep.
An open-sourced distribution of the Cordova framework, PhoneGap is a popular option and is backed by Adobe. It is used widely because of the ease of use.
HTML5 is responsible for providing access to the underlying hardware such as the microphone, camera, and Bluetooth. The functionalities offered can be easily extended using plugins.
It helps the app UI look the same irrespective of the platform they are running on. Anyone with basic HTML5 and CSS knowledge can quickly help build apps using this platform.
However, if a large number of graphical entities are used, the performance is drastically hit.
One more issue which crops up when using PhoneGap is that the way in which various devices render an application might not be the same across, giving a somewhat different user-experience than originally intended.
The documentation is not quite detailed and descriptive, which can prove to be a huge deterrent to new and existing users alike.
Developed by Microsoft, Xamarin is a cross-platform mobile app framework which has implementations of Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) and Microsoft .NET.
It makes of the C# codebase and can write apps with a native user interface on a plethora of platforms like Windows, Android, and MacOS.
The development toolset comes with the following components: Xamarin Studio, Xamarin SDKs, Xamarin Test Cloud, and HockeyApp and Xamarin.Insights.
The user experience is nearly flawless in the sense you cannot distinguish between a native app and one made using Xamarin.
However, the small community means you will mostly be on your own. A more significant challenge which lies ahead is that the developers need some knowledge of native languages.
It is furthermore plagued by large application sizes and a relatively limited access to the open-sourced libraries.
Popularly known as F7, this framework helps build hybrid apps with native look and feel. The user experience, therefore, is quite seamless.
All you need is a simple HTML layout along with the CSS and JS files and you are good to go.
Back by rich and detailed documentation, F7 is easily customizable and offers an inbuilt option for quick monetization.
In other words, it is a heavily optimized HTML library, which one can make use of with the Ionic framework to get amazing results. The heavy dependency on HTML5 means that most of the components in the framework do not require any prior knowledge of JS. A cherry on the cake, it already supports Vue as well as React and has an active community forum.
Some features which come handy while creating apps are native scrolling, transition animations, hardware acceleration, preloading web pages and caching, multiple view support etc.
F7 comes with its own set of limitations and cons. One major downside is that the in-built F7 MVC framework has to be used every time, making it much less flexible than the competition.
That being said, there is not a whole lot to be said about F7 since it is pretty straightforward.
6. Onsen UI
You might not have heard of this one, but Onsen UI is one of the latest and hottest entrants in the race. Already giving a tough time to Ionic, it is platform agnostic. You can easily switch between the different frameworks available, be it Angular, Angular 2, Vue.js, React, JS or Meteor, Onsen UI has in its store all the weapons.
Featuring large amounts of ready-to-use components and responsive without any additional work, apps can be written in HTML5 and JS and pushed onto PhoneGap and Cordova for further development.
If you care about speed, this is currently the fastest framework available on the market. Moreover, it is free to use even for commercial purposes and offers the same performance compared to native apps.
There is not much to say since it is almost similar to the Ionic framework in terms of speed and reliability. One disadvantage is that it lacks the user base compared to Ionic, but that is overcome by the agnostic approach of the platform.
The major hiccup you will encounter when viewing the app on a large screen, some pages might look out of the place, which is also the case with jQuery Mobile.
7. Titanium Appcelerator
It is a mixture of PhoneGap and Xamarin. It makes use of JS, but one needs to make use of a custom XML and TItanium’s API to make the most out of it. As a result, the resultant code is a combination of native and JS, which give superior performance.
Appcelerator’s SDK comprises various mobile platform APIs and Cloud Service, making it a perfect choice for those looking to use apps as backends. The inclusion of platform-independent APIs eases the process of using the underlying device hardware.
An MVC framework known as Alloy is used in the process, which helps developers design apps at a rapid pace while providing reusability of existing code.
Cross-platforms solutions often require complex GUIs, which directly translate to different codes for every operating system be it Android or iOS. Titanium’s documentation is unclear and can be quite frustrating and confusing at times.
Titanium is an excellent tool but requires extensive knowledge of native Android and iOS development if one wants to make the most out of it. This also means that it is less flexible than the other frameworks available on the market.
Although there are a lot of new and existing frameworks available, most of them are either outdated or do not match the performance or usability these frameworks have to offer.
Like everything else, there is no one framework fits all. One must consider various factors when taking into consideration such as the size of the company and the skills of developers.
If you are working with a large organization, Xamarin is one way to go because of the robustness and compatibility of the platform. However, small companies who need simple uncomplicated apps can make use of Ionic or Onsen UI, which are almost identical in terms of performance and usability.
Not that the other frameworks are not worthy as it solely depends on what type of app you’re looking to develop and what features you want to provide. Some HTML based solutions might not offer the complexity or features you might expect from your application, while some people might prefer speed over anything else.
To know what framework suits the best for your desired application, Contact us now!