Nowadays, almost any business cannot be run without a mobile application. However, developing different apps for different platforms (Android, or iOS) takes a lot of resources. That’s why cross-platform applications would be a better choice. To develop them, frameworks are essential, and choosing the right one might be confusing. In this article, we’ll tell about the best hybrid app frameworks in 2021.
List of the Content
- What is hybrid mobile app development
- Most popular hybrid app frameworks
- Best hybrid frameworks for mobile app development
- Flutter – the best hybrid app framework in 2021
- In conclusion
Finding out how to choose the best hybrid app framework in 2021 is not as simple as it looks at a first glance. It is a complex technical and business decision that will impact the application’s roadmap for its entire life cycle. To be more specific, the framework choice defines the development team composition, product and project management, frequency of updates, and, ultimately, the set of features offered to the users.
In this article, we’ll evaluate those factors for various frameworks for hybrid app development to help you with making the optimal choice.
Hybrid mobile development frameworks are not a compromise between functionality and cost anymore. Both hybrid and native technologies have evolved alongside mobile platforms and our perception of what can be done with the smartphone. This required more advanced tools for the development, to deliver more applications with much more complex features in less time and with more frequent updates. Because of that, mobile development frameworks have been advancing all this time hand-in-hand with the developers’ needs and users’ expectations.
In addition, the distribution of the market among two major platforms has doubled the amount of work needed to create and maintain one application. And naturally, hybrid frameworks, such as React Native, Xamarin, Flutter, have been raised as an alternative to Swift, Kotlin, and Objective – C.
Historically, the two main approaches in creating a mobile application are hybrid and native. While deciding on the way of development, it is necessary to choose between these two options because they imply different difficulties of the development and maintenance, time spent on it, and other factors.
Hybrid And Native Apps: Difference
If you want to know more about the difference between hybrid and native applications, read the following article. There you’ll find information about each type of apps and what are their use cases.
Despite that each option has its pros and cons, today we’ll look more closely exactly on hybrid development.
The importance of frameworks as a tool for development can hardly be overestimated. Frameworks allow programmers to turn ideas into real software by giving them the convenience of working with pre-designer features, modules, workflows, functions, etc. Besides, frameworks provide better security and integration with other apps by offering the ready-made fragments of code for UI/UX, project structure, authorization, logging, and APIs, for example. That’s why it’s essential to choose the best hybrid app framework in 2021 because this choice can either block or empower the evolution of your app for the years to come.
When the main concepts are clear, let’s dive deeper into the frameworks for hybrid app development and the hybrid mobile development itself.
WHAT IS HYBRID MOBILE APP DEVELOPMENT
What defines an approach (native or hybrid) is practically a framework used. Native frameworks are built for an exact platform with such languages as Swift, or Objective-C for iOS and OS X, and Java for Android. While using them, as a result we get an application that works only on a particular OS, and cannot be downloaded and run on the others. Hybrid frameworks, while using similar languages and mark-up standards as their basis, allow programmers to utilize almost the whole same codebase (approximately 80% of it) for deploying an app on the other operating system. On the surface, hybrid apps might be perceived as native but as a matter of fact, any specific SDKs weren’t used in the process of their creation. Frameworks allow such applications to access various internal APIs on a device including a flashlight, photo gallery, or location,and the opportunity to provide Face ID, Bluetooth connection, etc. Which APIs can be accessed used to depend on the framework used but now, all of them have enhanced a lot, and provide the maximum possibilities. It can be achieved with the help of third-party plugins but it may affect app’s performance, not in a good way. The best hybrid app framework in 2021, whether it is Flutter, React Native, or Xamarin, can handle it perfectly.
As the choice is most often about the native and hybrid development, let’s see what advantages each of these options have. Building, testing, support and maintenance are much easier to provide for a hybrid app as in this case it is necessary to track basically a single app (by “a single app” a single code base is meant). Each of these stages affect the quality of the final result and how fast it will be delivered. At this point (which is quite significant) hybrid app solutions are better than the native ones. Working with a single code base results not only in the speed of result delivery but also in reduced development costs.
As for the native solutions, it is a common opinion that this kind of apps have higher performance but today such a statement gradually losing its sense as the hybrid apps’ quality is enhancing each day, and the differences in their performance are hardly noticeable. Probably, the main advantage of native apps is their security. As they are built intensively for a certain platform, security is much higher, thus, it is reasonable to use solely native solutions for some cases when the highest security possible is required. However, hybrid development is extremely versatile and is able to meet various expectations of the customers, which makes it a proper choice for various projects.
MOST POPULAR HYBRID APP FRAMEWORKS
StackOverflow provides the opportunity to look at the detailed statistics of the different spheres of programming. As for the frameworks most used by IT developers, such statistics is also presented. In this survey, you can see which hybrid, front-end, and other frameworks are popular in the IT community. However, while speaking of the best hybrid app framework in 2021, we’re going to focus on such ones: Flutter, React Native, and Xamarin. So, among 33913 professional developers, 4000 use React Native, 2240 use Flutter, and 2040 for Xamarin.
There’s no better confirmation of the importance of using the best hybrid framework for mobile development than the examples of successful applications. As almost all of the hybrid apps are written with frameworks, let’s look at the list of solutions people use every day and probably have no clue they are hybrid, and what frameworks they use:
Some of these apps use Flutter, React Native, or Xamarin as the best hybrid app frameworks. The presented list is far not complete but it is enough to illustrate the power of frameworks for hybrid app development.
BEST HYBRID FRAMEWORKS FOR MOBILE APP DEVELOPMENT
For your project success it is important to make the right choice among our contestants for the right to be named as the best hybrid app development framework in 2021. Considering all the possible options is essential.
For this, in the previous paragraph, there was provided the statistics about the usage of various frameworks but now we’re going to focus on the three successful frameworks for hybrid app development.
Flutter – Fastest Evolving Framework for Hybrid App Development
Flutter was originally made for Android development but a bit later, it was transformed into a popular hybrid framework with the support of the two main mobile platforms: Android and iOS.
The fact that it provides great user experience on both operating systems makes it one of the best frameworks for hybrid mobile app development. Initially, Flutter was created mostly for mobile development but later, it started to expand towards web development, and then, desktop apps could be created with it. However, despite the undoubted versatility of this new big thing from Google, it is most commonly used as a hybrid framework exactly for mobile app building.
Flutter is often considered the most advanced and the best hybrid app framework in 2021 for various reasons. Here are the main advantages of it:
- Good documentation allows arising specialists successfully learn it from scratch
- Updates are thoroughly tracked by Google to provide a gradual learning curve
- It is free and open-source
- Time-effective due to the fact that it doesn’t use the native UI and UX APIs, and instead it allows you to draw your own interface right on the screen. The only downside of this approach is that each time when the updates for the native UIs are released, Flutter has to come up with them as well
- Cross-platform. It allows programmers to use a single codebase for different platforms
- Easy testing and maintenance due to the previous point
- Spectacular design. Apps created with Flutter are not only highly functional but also don’t have the restrictions of the UI/UX visuals which is often the case with older frameworks like React Native
The versatility of this most popular hybrid app framework confirms that Flutter is a reasonable choice for different kinds of projects.
Immaturity of this framework is one more advantage. From the employer’s perspective, the main benefit is that the young minds are into this technology, thus, hiring them will be highly progressive. For those who want to master some new skills, Flutter is also a good choice because of a smaller number of competitors on the labor market.
React Native is one of the oldest hybrid frameworks for mobile app development, that has gained its place as the most popular one among the IT specialists. It is built over the JSX, which is the extension to JS. This hybrid framework was created by Facebook in 2013 and at once shared on GitHub. Since then, React Native’s trend never decreased, which is not surprising considering that it is backed up by Samsung and Microsoft.
React Native is considered one of the best frameworks for hybrid app development due to such features:
- High performance
- A huge supportive community of developers. This hybrid framework is free and open-source, which automatically makes it more popular
- React Native supports live and hot reloading. These concepts differ a little bit but it is not very important right now. In simple words, both of them allow coder to view changes without recompiling the code each time
- Cost-effective solution
- The modular architecture is used in React Native. It means that the code is divided into exact group what easies the updating and debugging process for the other coders working on the project
- It provides a responsive UI, which results in a great user experience
While looking for the best hybrid framework for mobile development, it is necessary to name Xamarin, even despite the fact that it is a bit on the downsite now. It was once an independent company but was later bought by Microsoft, and since then, has been maintained by it. It is extremely powerful due to having been built on C #. Being a hybrid framework a priori means cost-effectiveness as there is no need to write additional code for another platform. However, let’s look at the other advantages of Xamarin:
- Powerful design tools are provided by Xamarin thus, impressive UIs are created
- It is built over a flexible object-oriented trusted C #, thus, is easy to master for .NET developers
- Great integration with various libraries unlike, for example, React Native
- A perfect fit for writing offline applications
- Ability to use a Xamarin.Forms integrated framework. It is a tool that makes it needless for a developer to learn all the native UIs. It allows to see how the app will look at the exact platform
- Cloud app testing is available
FLUTTER – THE BEST HYBRID APP FRAMEWORK IN 2021
If you want to keep up to date, choosing Flutter as the best hybrid app framework 2021 would be a great decision. It is now a growing trend, developed and maintained by Google, which already makes it highly trusted and reliable. Let’s look at some more specific advantages of Flutter.
Firstly, every element in Flutter is a widget, which makes everything in the future app totally customizable. It means that you have full control over every element in an application.
Secondly, it uses a Skia graphic 2D library, which is open-source. It provides a lot of APIs for various platforms. Skia is a graphic engine for such software as Chrome OS, Google Chrome, Android, and others. This engine results in extremely high performance. It is also very fast, and enables to create very smooth animations over 60 fps.
Thirdly, Flutter is highly productive. It saves a lot of time for recompiling codes to see the changes due to such a feature as Hot Reload. It allows changing a fragment of code and instantly seeing how it results in an application. In addition, it uses Dart that is quite similar to many widely known object-oriented languages, which makes it easier to learn.
Fourthly, the fact that Flutter is open-source, you can anytime access the original source code to see how anything in your code was written originally by the team of programmers to make it look and function the way it does. It leads to your ability to customize even those elements which are not expected to be customizable. But with Flutter, you can just copy a part of the source code and change it the way you want.
Big brands want their apps to be available on different platforms. It means that keeping their quality high is not that easy as the maintenance, testing, running, etc. has to be performed for multiple apps on multiple platforms. The best hybrid app framework in 2021 – Flutter, solves these problems due to its high performance, security, theming opportunities, huge supportive community, and others. What’s more interesting about it, is that it’s not going to stop at mobile development. It is already developing in the direction of web and desktop development, which means only bigger prospects for employers as well as for developers.
Needless to say that Flutter is way more flexible than other frameworks including both React Native and Xamarin. They sometimes slow the development because of the need to engage native developers or learn some native languages on your own. The reason is that they don’t provide all the needed functionality to avoid this, unlike Flutter, which allows building apps of any difficulty with the pure Dart.
It is clear from the article that choosing the best hybrid app framework in 2021 is an extremely important stage in the overall development process. A lot of further processes including implementation, maintenance, debugging, updating, etc. depend on the chosen framework. We’ve looked closely at the three most popular frameworks for hybrid app development: Flutter, React Native, and Xamarin. Each of them has different characteristics and features and is a perfect fit for an exact project, so to choose the best hybrid framework for mobile development, it is necessary to look at its advantages as well as at its downsides. Such an approach in the long run will save your time and budget.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is a hybrid mobile app framework?
For app development, programmers use frameworks, and which one they choose defines whether the app will be native or hybrid. Hybrid frameworks allow using almost the same come to run the application on different platforms. There might be some refinements needed but about 80% of the code is the same.
What is the best hybrid mobile framework?
There are many different frameworks to choose from but the ones that meet the maximum developers’ expectations are Flutter, React Native, and Xamarin.
However, Flutter can be named the best hybrid app framework due to its broad customization opportunities, hot reload feature, powerful graphic engine, access to the original code, high performance, security, and other advantages.
Which is better: hybrid or native app?
Each of these options, hybrid and native, has its pros and cons. For example, native apps are clearly faster. But what can be stated for sure is that hybrid development saves many resources compared to the native. This is mostly the result of a single codebase because choosing a hybrid, you basically have to work with a single application all along rather than two separate apps, as in the case with Android and iOS.