Nowadays, working in hybrid mobile app development makes life easier for developers as they are able to write once and build mobile applications that run on the main platforms with no extra effort. The application will run on Android and iOS and the code can be reused for progressive web applications and even desktop applications (by using Electron, with some tweaks, you are able to adapt the code for the desktop environment).
[Editor's Note: This post was originally published on April 2017 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.]
In this post, let us dive into a list of 10 useful frameworks to help you build great and amazing mobile hybrid applications.
Xamarin is a Microsoft-owned San Francisco California-based software company founded in May 2011 which has cross-platform implementations of the Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) and Common Language Specifications (often called Microsoft .NET).
With a C# shared codebase, developers can use Xamarin tools to write native Android, iOS, and Windows apps with native user interfaces and share code across multiple platforms, including Windows and MacOS. Xamarin is the top hybrid mobile app development framework. It saves your time regarding re-utilizing abilities, tools, teams and the best significant part is code. You can influence the array of Xamarin and Android APIs as well as design an amazing experience for glass with the Android SDK and GDK.
3. Intel XDK
The Intel XDK allows you build cross-platform apps for each and every store. It includes web services and plugins for content-rich, interactive apps, responsive apps runs on any device. This framework which is a complete range of tools that support development, emulation, testing, debugging and publishing. Recently, they made some big changes by supporting all the capabilities you love from developing mobile HTML5 apps (including Apache Cordova) for Android, iOS, and Windows 10 UAP. Now they have included software development capabilities for Node.JS-based, on-board, IoT apps too.
Intel XDK provides a live preview on the connected device whilst you are developing alongside many other useful tools. You can create apps using a drag and drop approach, although it does create a lot of unnecessary code.
4. Ionic Framework
The Ionic Framework is a complete open-source SDK for hybrid mobile app development. Built on top of Angular.js and Apache Cordova, Ionic provides tools and services for developing hybrid mobile apps using Web technologies like CSS, HTML5, and Sass. Apps can be built with these Web technologies and then distributed through native app stores to be installed on devices by leveraging Cordova.
Ionic Framework is a 100% free and open source project, licensed under MIT. It will always remain free to use, powered by a massive worldwide community. They have over 120 native device features like Bluetooth, HealthKit, Finger Print Auth, and more with Cordova/PhoneGap plugins and TypeScript extensions. You can use their CLI to create, build, test, and deploy your Ionic apps onto any platform. The framework has Ionicons icon pack with hundreds of the most common app icons. MIT licensed, and ready out of the box. And you can develop your apps by Live Reload because to compile and redeploy your app at every step of development is for chumps. And there are more useful features like deep linking, AoT Compiling, Ionic Native.
Side Note: Protecting Your Ionic Source Code
Jscrambler has a comprehensive tutorial on how to protect your Ionic mobile hybrid app. If you are interested in security, you may want to take a look at it here!
Framework7 is a free and open source mobile HTML framework to develop hybrid mobile apps or web apps with iOS & Android native look and feel. It is also an indispensable prototyping apps tool to show working app prototype as soon as possible in case you need to.
Some useful features provided by Framework7 are native scrolling, library agnostic, pages transition animation, multiple views support, hardware accelerated animations via CSS3, route pages by using the combination of XHR, caching, browser history and preloading.
6. Appcelerator Titanium
Titanium is a good solution for creating hybrid mobile apps. To get started with Titanium download Titanium studio. The Titanium SDK is equipped with a number of mobile platform APIs and Cloud service to use as an app backend. It comes with platform-independent APIs which makes it easier to access phone hardware.
Titanium uses Alloy, an MVC framework to enable rapid development of mobile apps. Modules created using Alloy are easy to reuse across different apps, hence significantly reducing the development time and the lines of code.
7. Mobile Angular UI
Mobile Angular UI is a hybrid mobile framework for the fans of Bootstrap and Angular. With Mobile Angular UI, you'll get the best of both Bootstrap 3 and Angular framework to build HTML5 mobile applications. Angular UI is more like an extension to Bootstrap 3 but without any dependencies of Bootstrap js libs or jQuery (which both are default dependencies in Bootstrap 3), instead, all you need to use are some AngularJS directives to create awesome mobile user experiences.
For a smooth and better mobile experience, this framework comes with fastclick.js and overthrow.js. Responsive media queries are stripped out of bootstrap as separate files, you only need to include what you need. There are UI components like overlays, switches, sidebars, scrollable areas and absolute positioned navbars that don’t bounce on scroll.
Mobile Angular UI is available as open source and free to use under MIT license.
8. Onsen UI
This framework is very easy to use, flexibility and has semantic markup components and is free to use for commercial projects.
9. Sencha Touch
For individual developers and freelancers, Ionic, Onsen UI or Framework7 will be a better choice but for enterprises application, Sencha Touch leads the way.
Sencha Touch scores highly against its competitors by providing a native look and feel across all of the platforms it supports.
10. Kendo UI
Kendo UI is an HTML5 framework for creating cross-platform mobile applications powered by Telerik. It relies heavily on jQuery and comes packed with 70+ ready to use jQuery widgets. You can also integrate it with Angular or Bootstrap UI framework too.
It is not difficult to learn Kendo UI because a lot of developers are familiar with jQuery. It's a free and open-source framework, but it is slightly limited in terms of features to work, you won't get dedicated technical support and some commonly used widgets are still under a commercial license.
Additionally, software developers can re-purpose third-party libraries from Cocoapods, Android Arsenal, Maven, and npm.js in their mobile applications without the need for wrappers.
Side Note: Protecting Your NativeScript Source Code
12. React Native
If you're planning to create a mobile application, choosing the hybrid model will save you time and effort and you can reuse the code for creating a web application version too. Of course, the hybrid model is not the perfect solution for all problems, but hybrid apps are a good choice for deploying your app faster and for creating prototype applications, for example. These frameworks can surely provide you a user experience very close to a native application.
With Jscrambler, you can protect your app from information leakage, malware injection, piracy and license violations, code theft and counterfeit applications.