Top 20 Mobile App Development Tools
This article will explore 20 of the best mobile app development tools. The list includes Back4App, Ionic, Zoho Creator, Xcode, AppSheet, NativeScript, etc.
Over the years, companies have realised the worth of a reliable mobile application in capturing and retaining their customers. More than 60% of the enterprises around the world already have a smartphone application and the rest are on the way to building one, irrespective of the industry they belong in.
The growth of mobile apps is further boosted by the rising popularity of mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches, which further facilitate the transfer of information and services and its ease of access. As a result, multiple mobile app development tools have surfaced that allow businesses to get their app ready for the market.
To build a mobile app for a business that actually provides a decent ROI, companies need to know what a successful mobile app entails, before moving on to the best mobile app development tools available in the market right now.
In the following post, we take a look at the various categories of mobile development tools available in the mobile app market and then discuss the top 20 app development platforms that are used by enterprises around the world.
Keep reading to learn what is the best tool for mobile app development.
- 1 What is a Mobile App?
- 2 Mobile App Market Size
- 3 Categories of Mobile Development Tools
- 4 Top 20 Mobile App Development Tools
- 5 Conclusion
- 6 FAQ
- 7 What is a mobile app?
- 8 What are the advantages of mobile development?
- 9 What are the best mobile app development tools?
What is a Mobile App?
Mobile apps are small, individual software units designed to run on mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and smart wearables with limited functionality. Apps are typically a move away from integrated software systems that are usually found on a desktop computer, offering specific, isolated functions that allow users to decide how to utilise their devices.
Some of the early smartphone apps took an individual feature from their PC counterparts and brought it to mobile devices. This specificity has become a huge part of modern apps and developers now use mobile app development tools to build applications that utilise the advantages and shortcomings of the small form factor.
For instance, maps using location-based functionality are built with portable devices in mind, allowing users to use the navigation feature on the go, which is remarkably different from the web-based versions available on desktops.
Mobile App Market Size
With mobile devices getting more and more powerful with each passing year, and with the increased internet penetration over the last couple of decades, smartphone apps are now available in multiple genres. As a result, we have also witnessed an increase in the number of mobile app users owing to the growth of the e-commerce industry and the various benefits it brings to consumers.
According to a report published on the Grand View Research website, the global mobile app market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.5% between 2020 to 2027, with the revenue forecast of 2027 estimated at $366.34 billion.
The trend reflects in the real world too, with an increasing number of small business owners interacting with their customers using dedicated mobile applications, thereby taking their digital marketing game to the next level.
Subsequently, there has also been a rise in the number of app development tools to facilitate the development speed allowing developers to incorporate advanced features into the applications.
Keep reading to learn what is the best developer tool for mobile app development.
Categories of Mobile Development Tools
Mobile app development tools can be broadly categorised into native app development and cross-platform app development tools. In the following section, we take a brief look at what each of these categories entails followed by some of the top examples in each group.
As the name suggests, native apps are software programs that are built to run on specific operating systems and devices. Developers can build targeted applications for smartphones, tablets, desktops, wearables, smart TVs, etc.
Unlike web apps, native apps do not run in the browser and hence, developers do not need to worry about browser compatibility or performance hampering the app experience.
To run native applications, users will need to download the same from app stores, i.e., Google Play Store and Apple App Store. The underlying technology of native apps is significantly different than that of the other ones available on the market and are usually written in platform-specific languages like Swift and Java.
These applications can also use the built-in features and hardware by default, allowing developers to present functionalities that make the most out of the operating system.
One of the most significant advantages of native app development is the consistency between the look and feel of the app with that of the operating system. These apps are developed with native SDKs and directly interact with native APIs without depending on the middleware, which also facilitates better performance.
While native apps optimise the app codebase to match the operating system, cross-platform apps use various methods to accommodate different operating systems or app environments for a single app or product.
Essentially, the idea of cross-platform app development is that an app or product should run as intended on more than one operating system instead of depending on one digital habitat only.
Cross-platform app development is primarily achieved by several accommodations. Some development houses compile several versions of the same app for different operating systems, some use sub-tree files and app programming interfaces (APIs) to modify a piece of software to fit multiple OS, while some build an abstract layer at multiple levels to bypass the software environment dependency.
Typically, cross-platform apps are less efficient than their native counterparts as they require support systems and redundant background processes to implement the app features.
However, most of the time, the downsides of cross-platform app development are worth dealing with, as it allows software developers to push their apps to the market quicker and a wider audience at a relatively lower development cost.
Keep reading to discover tools and technologies for mobile app development.
Top 20 Mobile App Development Tools
Here are 20 of the best mobile app development tools.
Back4App is one of the most intuitive low-code, open-source, fully managed backend as a service provider that allows developers to build scalable and extensible mobile and web apps without managing the infrastructure. It is a parse-based platform dedicated to improving the productivity of the development teams by providing automatic scaling and provisioning.
The BaaS platform supports spreadsheet-like database solutions, allowing developers to import or export their JSON and CSV files to the dashboard and convert any coded or codeless logic into APIs using dedicated SDKs and the REST API. It also offers scalable hosting solutions that ultimately improve the app experience for the end-user.
Ionic is a cross-platform mobile app development platform and toolkit that facilitates the building of high-quality app experiences with the help of a single code base.
The platform allows developers to ship their apps to the app stores of different operating systems and as a progressive web app with the help of a single codebase without losing the UI consistency. Ionic CLI includes several features like Live Reload, integrations, and deployments that are aimed at improving the time to market.
Zoho Creator is a fast-growing low-code app development platform that allows developers to design, develop, and run any business software with minimal coding.
The drag and drop development feature makes the app development process effortless by reducing the IT complexity, allowing developers to create apps and distribute updates without worrying about the typical overheads like server monitoring and maintenance.
With Zoho Creator, businesses can collect data, automate workflows, analyze reports, integrate with external applications, and collaborate with other users from a single account. It offers comprehensive security features like audit logs and automated threat assessment in compliance with international industry regulations.
BuildFire is a popular hybrid app building platform with high-end custom development capabilities that are customised to fulfil unique enterprise goals without extensive coding. Essentially, the platform provides a dashboard and a myriad of app templates along with an easy-to-use drag and drop app editor that can be used to build a variety of mobile applications.
These include fully custom mobile apps, business workflow apps, software for distributing content and audience engagement, e-commerce, education, and fitness apps. BuildFire is powerful and flexible and will scale to meet the business objectives as the company grows.
Xamarin is a native mobile app development platform owned and maintained by Microsoft that allows developers to build native iOS, Android, and Windows applications using a single shared .NET codebase. It is essentially an integrated development environment that uses Visual Studio Tools to compile native applications for various operating systems.
The platform offers a wide range of tools and features for various functionalities including code editing, refactoring, testing, debugging, and cloud publishing. New developers looking to explore the full functionality of Xamarin can also explore the on-demand tutorials, videos courses, and documentation.
Using React Native, developers can build cross-platform mobile applications that look and function like native apps but is managed by a single team of engineers.
React Native is used to develop apps for various devices and operating systems, including Android, Android TV, iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, Windows, and UWP. The platform wraps the native code with native APIs using a declarative UI paradigm, which substantially improves productivity and time to market.
With Flutter, developers can deploy their applications to multiple devices like smartphones, PCs, laptops, and embedded devices from a single codebase. It also offers a wide range of tools like developer tooling, automated testing, etc., that allow users to take control of the database and build production-quality apps quickly and easily.
Microsoft Visual Studio is one of the most widely used integrated development environments (IDE) for developing everything from mobile apps to web apps, websites, and services.
It is fully packed with a wide array of features and tools that facilitate the development process at every stage. The included code editor supports both code completion and refactoring, and the debugging tools function as a source- and a machine-level debugger.
Apple’s XCode is the IDE for developing apps for the Apple ecosystem, i.e., iOS, iPadOS, macOS, tvOS, and watchOS, featuring every tool and feature required by developers to build the same. It is tightly integrated with Cocoa and Cocoa Touch frameworks and compiles with Clang, providing an intuitive app building experience with the Swift programming language.
XCode supports source code for programming languages and can build universally binary files containing code for multiple architectures. The IDE also includes Command Line Tools that enable UNIX style development using Terminal and integrate built-in support for source code management using the Git version control.
Initially launched in 1988, GeneXus is one of the oldest low code, cross-platform, knowledge representation-based development tools that are primarily aimed at enterprise-class apps for web and smartphones. It mostly uses declarative languages like Ruby, Java, Visual Basic, COBOL, and Objective-C, to generate native-like code for multiple digital habitats.
GeneXus uses the Agile app development method that allows enterprises to develop, adapt, and publish software effortlessly. The process is streamlined by automatically generating the code, databases, server-side, and client-side services. It can be used to generate apps for multiple experiences, including native apps for smartphones, TVs, wearables, progressive web apps, etc.
Appy Pie is a comprehensive development platform that offers a suite of products for developing mobile apps, websites, chatbots, and designs like NFTs and graphics. Since its launch in 2015, more than 2 million apps have been built with the cloud-based mobile app development platform.
The live app editor is intuitively easy to use and offers a drag and drop feature. Additionally, several functions can be implemented with just a click and the platform allows you to preview the app from the webpage without signing in.
The platform supports both native and cross-platform app development, making it a powerful tool for beginners and organizations with no coding knowledge. Appy Pie helps companies save precious time on app development, allowing them to focus more on their core activities.
Unity is arguably the world’s biggest real-time development platform that allows building 3D projects for various industries, primarily gaming, animation, architecture, automobiles, etc. It is one of the most robust ecosystems available to developers, providing everything required to build, manage, and grow the apps and games to the next level.
While primarily targeted towards game development, Unity can also be used to build other tools, utilities, business apps, etc. As a developer, if you are not particularly fond of Java or Kotlin, Unity allows you to develop high-quality apps in C# rapidly. The Unity user interface is also highly intuitive and supports drag and drop functionality.
Launched in 2011, AppCode is an integrated development environment for Swift, C, C++, and Objective C, used primarily for building iOS and macOS applications. It is built on JetBrains’ IntelliJ IDEA platform, which is written in Java and Kotlin. With AppCode, developers can write their own plugins or install the plugins for the IntelliJ platform to extend the platform’s abilities.
AppCode brings several assistive features that make the development process easier for developers. These include code refactoring, completion. and generation, live templates, formatting, automatic imports, optimization, etc. It also features code analysis and provides syntax and error highlighting with an integrated debugger with express evaluation.
The resulting fully native apps can use the same APIs as if they were built using Android Studio and XCode, and developers can also repurpose third-party libraries without using wrappers. Moreover, the source code runs directly on the device, thereby eliminating the need to cross-compile apps for different operating systems.
Offered as a platform as a service (PaaS) implementation, QuickBase is a low-code application development platform that allows developers and non-developers to build and deploy an ecosystem of enterprise-grade applications. The platform offers various features like interactive dashboards, team collaboration, task management, workflow automation, etc., to make the app development process easy for everyone alike.
QuickBase is used by several top names across various industries in the Fortune 100 to build apps for process and project management, asset and order tracking, time and expense, contract management, etc. It includes robust APIs, point-and-click integration with other data sources, and easy web forms for quick data collection.
Alpha Anywhere is a mobile and web app development solution with separate “no-code” and “low code” modules, allowing app developers to build enterprise-level apps for various industries like petrochemical, healthcare, manufacturing, construction, etc.
Alpha Anywhere is the low code component that can be used to develop mobile business apps from scratch and integrate data from existing systems.
The Alpha TransForm is the no-code adaptation that can be used to create apps for field teams from pre-built templates. Alpha platforms also provide advanced offline features and powerful APIs for quick integration with data sources, web services, and workflows.
AppSheet provides a no-code app development platform that can be used to create mobile and web apps from personal data sources like Google Drive, Office 365, DropBox, etc. Being a true “no-code” platform, AppSheet allows anyone to build responsive and highly functional applications without writing a single line of code.
The platform provides both basic and advanced editors for app development. After the app is created, developers can then customise the branding and features using a fully interactive emulator to preview the app and edit the components as required.
Despite being a powerful tool, Onsen UI is rather easy to learn and there is a ton of official documentation and learning materials available for new developers. The platform is also supported by a wide community that can help you out in case you are stuck with a query.
Backendless is one of the best mobile Backend-as-a-Service implementations available in the market, offering a complete set of tools and features that make backend development efficient and effortless. The pro version of Backendless also lets developers run the services on their own servers and brings advanced features like debugging, deployment management, data modelling, debugging, etc.
An intuitive solution of Backendless is the fact that any API required for an application will be natively generated, allowing developers to manage and integrate them as required. The secure persistence solutions of Backendless allow users to define permissions graphically.
A mobile app for a business substantially improves brand visibility and creates a direct marketing channel that can be used to convey important information like updates and features in an easily accessible and digestible manner.
Each of the mobile app development tools mentioned in the list above can be used to develop native or cross-platform applications effortlessly and monitor their performance after the app is launched to the public.
For further information on each of these platforms, do not hesitate to contact a leading app hosting company and discuss with the experts there which one will be the best fit for your application.
What is a mobile app?
Small, individual software units designed to run on mobile devices like smartphones, tablets, and smart wearables with limited functionality
What are the advantages of mobile development?
– Increased accessibility
– Increase customer engagement
– Faster communication
What are the best mobile app development tools?
– Zoho Creator
– React Native
– Visual Studio
– Appy Pie
– Native Script
– Alpha Anywhere
– Onsen UI