11 Best Cross Platform Mobile Development Tools

Picking the right app development tools is a critical part of building a good app.

But there are certain factors that come into play when you’re trying to decide which tool is best for cross platform app development.

Often times, the platform that you want to build for dictates which types of tools you’ll be using. You’re going to use different tools depending on if you’re building for Apple or Android.

For example, if your app is being built strictly for the Google Play Store then you’ll use Android Studio for native app development. Whereas Xcode is used for iOS apps on Apple’s operating system.

However, cross platform development framework technology means that you can develop for both platforms simultaneously.

Cross platform app development makes things much easier for developers, that way you won’t have to go through the same process twice on two separate platforms.

How do you pick the right tool for cross platform mobile apps?

There are so many different options to choose for cross platform mobile app development. It can be difficult to narrow down which ones are the best for cross platform apps.

There are four main factors that should influence your decision.

  • Speed Considerations
  • Feature Support
  • Framework Risk
  • Development Cost

You’ve got to take these elements into consideration when you’re analyzing cross platform development tools.

To help get you started, I’ve already conducted research. I used these components to help narrow down the top options available. Here are the 10 best cross platform mobile app development tools:

1. Titanium

Appcelerator Titanium is one of the top choices available.

titanium 1

The Titanium SDK operates using JavaScript. Their system makes it really easy for you to create native apps for both iOS and Android.

It allows you to reuse between 60% and 90% of the same code for all of your apps.

This feature is a huge time saver. For all of you developers out there who have gone through the coding process before, you know how much time and effort it takes to code from scratch.

The ability to get a head start and have more than half of the code already done is why Appcelerator Titanium is such a popular choice and you can use for hybrid mobile app development.

Titanium is also an open-source development tool. So thousands of developers across the globe are always making contributions.

As a result, the performance and functionality of this resource are constantly improving. Who knows, you might even find a way to make this tool better as well.

You can repair and bugs or glitches in this system if you find one while you’re working. It will help other developers who use this tool in the future.

The design features for Titanium are great as well. They make it really easy for you to just drag and drop templates.

You can move from the design aspects back to the code components with seamless effort.

In addition to Java, Titanium also allows you to use code from Swift and Objective C simultaneously with its own code.

2. Cocos2d

If you’re building an app that’s for a two-dimensional game, you might want to consider using Cocos2d as your cross platform development tool.

cocos2d 1

Just like Titanium, Cocos2d is also an open-source platform. So there are always updates and improvements being made to it by other developers.

If you’re using this tool, you’ve got the option to choose between five different platforms or forks to develop with.

  • Cocos2d-x
  • Cocos2d-JS
  • Cocos2dXNA
  • Cocos2d-Swift
  • Cocos2d (Python)

The differences between these forks are based on your preferred programming language as a developer.

So if you’re familiar with Xcode and Objective-C, you’ll want to use Cocos2d-Swift.

For those of you that prefer the C# language, you should use Cocos2dXNA. For JavaScript, Cocos2d-JS is the best option.

If you like the C++ language, then Cocos2d-x is your best bet.

Just like the name says, Cocos2d(Python) is made for the Python programming language.

The programming language versatility on Cocos2d is what makes it such a popular option for developers. Working with a language that you’re familiar with helps make sure that you’re getting things done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Some known gaming apps that were built using this cross platform development tool include:

  • Badland
  • Kingdom Rush
  • Castle Clash
  • Tiny Village
  • Big Fish Casino
  • Matching with friends

This can give you an idea of the quality that comes from this tool.

3. Unity3d

Let’s stick with the gaming theme here. Unity3d is another option that you should consider if you’re developing a game.

unity3d 1

The reason why this cross platform development tool is so popular is because the graphics are absolutely incredible. It’s so great that it can be used for more than just a mobile app.

After you develop the code using Boo, C#, or UnityScript, you’ve got the ability to export the game to 17 platforms. Some of the top ones include:

  • Android
  • iOS
  • Windows
  • PlayStation
  • Linux
  • Xbox
  • Wii
  • Web

After your game is up and running on all of the different platforms that you’ve selected, you can use the Unity3d platform to help you distribute it to all of the stores.

You can also use Unity3d to track user analytics and get social shares for your app.

Unity3d has a network of developers and experts called Unity Connect. If you join this network you find help and get questions answered if you’re having trouble with something.

On the flip side, if you’re an expert with this development tool, you can join the community and get paid to offer advice to those in need of some extra guidance.

4. PhoneGap

PhoneGap is owned by Adobe. So if you’re familiar with other Adobe products, you know how reliable and easy to use they are.

phone gap 1

One of the best features of this cross platform development tool is that it’s free to use. It’s easy to translate code from CSS, JavaScript, and HTML5.

This is one of the top options to use if you’re building an app for the first time as a developer.

All of the software development kits are maintained by PhoneGap, so you don’t have to worry about handling that. After you finish developing the app, they make it super simple for you to share it with the other members of your team.

This feature helps you collaborate with others so you can continuously make improvements for your app.

You’ll also be able to get your app ready for the app stores while using PhoneGap.

In addition to Android and iOS development, you can also build apps for Windows and BlackBerry using PhoneGap.

The software allows you to significantly lower your development time. That’s because you get to reuse existing frameworks, tools, and web development skills.

PhoneGap has something called a Hydration feature. It allows for faster build cycles and debugging. This will get updates pushed to the users who have tested your app to make sure that everyone works on the most recent version.

5. Sencha

You’ll use HTML5 to develop your apps with Sencha.

sencha 1

They have lots of products, but the main one for developers is Ext Js 5. The reason why developers like it is because it works well with different devices and platforms.

So if you use Sencha, it’s easier to work with multiple members of your team no matter where you are.

Ultimately, this will boost productivity. They also offer lots of pre-built elements that will save you lots of time when it comes to coding.

You won’t necessarily get the code translated for you, but you’ll still save plenty of time.

After you develop the HTML5 code, it’s easy to incorporate it with both Android and iOS platforms. Simply use a translation tool, such as PhoneGap, which we just discussed.

In addition to coding, you’ll also have access to design tools. You can create reusable themes without having to write any code.

Sencha also has great testing tools. The testing features are specifically meant for apps built using Ext JS, so you’ll get the most accurate results from these tests.

Proper testing ensures quality and reduces the time and costs associated with testing from other resources.

Even some of the top Fortune 100 companies use this development tool to build mobile applications.

6. Qt

Qt is a subscription service for mobile development.

Qt 1

Before you buy it, they give you the option to try it out for free. So it’s definitely worth taking advantage of their free trial at the very least.

If you use Qt to code your app then you’ll be using C++ to do so. After the coding is complete, there is a seamless export process to various platforms.

After you export the code, you can access you the apps through the Qt interface on the respective devices and platforms. That way you monitor how well your app is performing.

If the app is not performing to your liking, you can easily make changes through Qt that will automatically get applied.

You can also test your app on various devices, even if you don’t own those specific devices. Their software allows you to see how the app will perform on various smartphones and tablets.

Another positive of this cross platform development tool is the speed. The API tools help you get your app to market much faster.

Overall, it’s really easy to use. They don’t have a complicated interface like some of the other development tools I’ve seen.

7. Corona

Corona advertises that you can start the coding process of your new app in less than five minutes with their software development kit.

corona 1

So it’s safe to say that there isn’t too much of a learning curve with this cross platform development tool. It’s easy to use and even great for beginners.

It’s free to use, so there is no harm in giving it a try. You won’t have to invest anything into it except for your time.

Corona’s primary use is for 2D games. It’s great for high quality graphics and can help you create games much faster than coding the entire app from scratch.

You’ll be working in Lua, which is Corona’s programming language that’s written in C.

The reason why they use Lua is because they discovered that it works well with mobile apps since it doesn’t have a large digital footprint.

8. 5app

5app is pretty unique compared to the other tools that we’ve talked about so far today.

5app 1

The reason why it’s different is because it’s designed for businesses that are developing apps for their employees. It’s also great for people who are hired by those businesses to make apps employees to use.

5app puts emphasis on data security. It uses JavaScript and HTML5 to code and export apps.

Your finished product is compatible with both iOS and Android devices, depending on what your company employees use.

9. Alpha Anywhere

If you’re a developer that likes to have lots of different options for your programming language, you should consider using Alpha Anywhere to develop on multiple platforms.

alpha anywhere 1

You can use programming languages like:

  • Xbasic
  • C#
  • VB.NET
  • JavaScript

You can also use any language that’s supported by .NET such as C++ and Cobra.

Alpha Anywhere uses data integration to securely connect to SQL and no-SQL databases. That way you can leverage REST services.

You can even access your business application while you’re offline. Another top feature of this tool is that it has a huge storage capacity.

When it comes to GPS and GIS for your mobile app, Alpha Anywhere has what you need to integrate these features into your app.

They also have a calendar feature that makes it really easy for you to schedule your tasks between all of your devices.

10. React Native

React Native is an open source software that was created by Facebook. You can use it to create native apps for iOS and Android.

React Native has quickly become one of the top solutions for anyone who develops apps.

The cool part about React Native is that it also works for more than just mobile apps. You can use it to create native applications for web apps, Windows, UWP, tvOS, macOS, Android TV, and more. So it’s truly a cross platform and cross device solution.

11. Xamarin

Last, but certainly not least, is Xamarin.

xamarin 1

They’ve got a free package offered for starters. This tool also has app store delivery capabilities once you finish developing your app.

I like Xamarin because of the features for monitoring your app’s performance and the ability to run tests. You can do testing on over 1,000 devices to help sort out any potential bugs.

Xamarin uses C# or Ruby for coding. This tool has been used by well-recognized companies such as IBM, Foursquare, and Microsoft.

Final Thoughts on Cross Platform Mobile Development

Picking the right platform to develop cross platform apps for is one of the most critical parts of building a native app. You just need to narrow down the best cross platform frameworks. This is the easiest way to handle multiple platform app development.

But now you’ve got the ability to build a cross platform mobile app. This allows you to quickly and easily capitalize on the enormous audiences of both iOS and Android users.

So you won’t have to worry about alienating certain groups and you’re not forced to develop for just one platform.

This will allow you to maximize your revenue. You’ll also need to consider web apps, as this falls into the cross platform category as well. Native mobile apps, Android and iOS apps, Windows mobile app engineering, and hybrid apps are all different. The best mobile app developers keep all of this in mind.

But in order to do this properly and efficiently, you’ll need to find the mobile app development tools.

This isn’t easy with so many options available on the market. So refer to the list above to guide you in the right direction.

What cross platform development tools are you using to build your mobile app?

Ian Blair

Ian is the CEO and Co-Founder of BuildFire. He's a visionary leader and tech-driven strategist running a team and platform that powers 10,000+ mobile apps. Ian has been building mobile apps for 10+ years. He's also an expert digital marketer responsible for millions of organic site visits and hundreds of thousands of leads.