Are you looking for the best mobile app development tool for your next project? The list of the 27 attention-grabbing tools included here isn’t a limit. However, we did our best to come up with this ultimate review of the tools for mobile app development in 2021 and beyond. They are classified into ten different categories for your convenience, so you may start reviewing the ones that suit your project best right now.
Mobile App Development Tools Definition and Specifics
There is no single definition for mobile application development tools since they come in a wide variety and aim at solving different tasks at each stage of your project development. Each project uses a unique set of tools depending on the target audience, mobile app specifics, the operating system, the skills of the available development team, and a budget.
Which tools are used for mobile app development? Basically, they can be classified into 11 categories, each of which corresponds to different project needs and stages of its creation.
Cross-platform app development tools
iOS (or any other operating system) app development tools
App development frameworks
Mobile analytics tools
AR (Augmented Reality) tools
AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML (machine learning) tools
Mobile payment tools
Push notification tools
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Free Mobile Application Development Tools
If your task is to develop a top-notch mobile project on a tight budget, paying attention to free but still good mobile app dev tools makes sense. Here are the best mobile app development tools for free.
This is a free-to-use framework for mobile, web, and desktop applications and game development. Here are its main features:
A powerful set of tools for mobile app development
Embedded software development opportunities
Game development features
Plugins integrations and live-code reload
The tool is free for personal use, plus there are advanced tariff plans for enterprises and startups.
Unity 3D is a high-end tool for virtual and augmented reality, gaming, and 3D solutions development. The tool is suitable for a wide range of industries requiring 3D visualization for better showcasing, such as manufacturing, architecture, and cinematics. Here are its main features:
Creating and Destroying GameObjects
Access the Components
Events for GameObject
Dealing with Vector Variables and Timing Variables
Physics Oriented Events
Coroutine and Return Types
Unity’s basic features are free to use; however, additional opportunities need a subscription.
Native Mobile App Development Tools
Users and official app stores admire native applications since they provide a cutting-edge interaction experience if created with the best app development tools. Here are the main solutions for native mobile development in 2020 and beyond.
Buildfire is a custom SDK for low-code application building. You may create Android, iOS, and progressive web applications with its help. The set of functions is also impressive.
There are a lot of industry-specific features. For example, there is an opportunity to turn your Shopify website into a powerful native app.
A lot of plugins to choose from for your app
Flexible monetization opportunities for your future solution
Flexible push notifications settings
Safety and security features
The price starts at $159 per month, and there is a 14-days free trial.
App Code is an IDE for iOS and macOS development. Its main features include:
The solution is perfectly compatible with Xcode - one more tool for iOS development
Dozens of testing frameworks support
Thorough code analysis features
Efficient project navigation
The price of the solution is $199 per user per year.
Cross-Platform Mobile App Development Tools
Creating a cross-platform solution is a wise choice for those whose audience uses both Android and iOS-powered devices. What is more, modern cross-platform app development tools are quite progressive and innovative. With their help, creating a native-like experience is no more challenging.
React Native is a quite famous framework developed by Facebook. Even though it is created for native apps development, creating cross-platform apps with its help can bring unexpected advantages. This is a free tool that allows developers to:
Speed up the development process and cut costs
Reuse already created pieces of the code
Achieve a close-to-native experience
Xamarin is a powerful, .NET based technology that allows developers to create iOS, Android, and Windows applications and cross-platform applications in C# with Visual Studio.
The solution is open-source and free
There is an active community behind
You may use Azure cloud services to store the back-end of your application
Xamarin forms allow building amazing cross-platform interfaces and designs
This is a less famous but no less efficient framework for cross-platform development. With it, you may be sure to get all the cross-platform development benefits but much faster compared to other solutions. Here are its main features:
The developers may use any language - from C++ to Python
There is a great choice of the design and development tools inside the box, plus many add-ons
However, the QT framework can’t be called a cheap solution. Its price starts from $3950 per developer license (or you may buy a three-year subscription for $8450). There is also a free trial available.
Hybrid Mobile App Development Tools
According to the cross-platform mobile application development research, “Hybrid mobile applications are a combination of the previous two application types. These applications are developed using open source libraries but also have access to some of the native capabilities of a device such as Camera, GPS, Accelerometer, File System, etc. SDK’s and hybrid app development tools like Ionic and PhoneGap are used to develop this type of application.”
hardware accelerated transitions
Ionic can be used for free. There are also extended packages for enterprises plus a custom solution depending on the project needs.
Apache Cordova is an open-source framework for the creation of a native application for a variety of mobile platforms.
- The technology allows work with additional frameworks, such as jQuery, Sencha Touch, Kendo UI Core, and so on.
- The active community of developers supports the tool.
- There is a layer of interface for the programmer.
The plugin architecture allows the developers to extend more functionalities of an application.
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Open-Source Mobile Application Development Tools
What is the main reason for considering open-source mobile application development platforms for your next project? Firstly, the best open source solutions are developed by leading tech brands. So you may be sure of their effectiveness and safety. Secondly, they go for free. Here are two leading solutions to pay attention to.
Flutter is one more tool developed by Google. With this open-source technology, you may create stunning native-like applications for mobiles, as well as web and desktop solutions. The tool is completely free and may run right from the browser. Here are the main features and benefits.
You may come up with equally good UI and business logic for all platforms your audience use.
There is a reduced code creating time and faster launch to market speed.
Flutter has its own rendering engine.
Since technology is equally suitable for web and mobile apps, there are ample opportunities for your business scaling.
Mobincube is an open-source and do-it-yourself platform for mobile development with a clear focus on the money-making capabilities of the apps created with its help. The best features of the technology include:
100% intuitive process of mobile apps creation
Unlimited number of apps and unlimited storage space
Advanced features for analytics
The tool may be used for free. There are also flexible tariff plans, which start at $2.99 and reach $99.99 per month.
Rapid Mobile App Development Tools (RMAD)
Rapid mobile development is a relatively new approach to mobile solutions creation. However, it is very promising for flexible projects aimed at a speedy launch. What is more, it is expected that this approach will be adopted by more and more companies since the competition in the mobile tech market becomes more serious year by year. Here are the best rapid mobile app development tools for 2021.
This is the all-in-one platform for native mobile development, mobile analytics, and APIs.
The solution promises to achieve the highest ROI
With a Hyperloop feature, you may use Java, Objective C, or Swift code along with the code provided by the solution
There is powerful functionality for intuitive design and UI creation
60-90% of code created with the help of the Appcelerator will be completely reusable.
The solution can be used for free by solo developers. There is a Pro tariff for $199 per month, plus a fully customized package.
This is a low-coding rapid mobile development solution for cross-platform mobile apps creation. There are also Alpha Transform and Alpha Cloud services for data collection and storage.
Useful features for offline apps building
The tool is user-friendly - there are no limits on the applications amount and the number of users
Rapid mobile development standards-based solution which allows developers to get acquainted with this paradigm.
With this tool, you may build your app for free, but the deployment cost will be $99 per month.
This is one more no-coding and rapid development tool that promises a very intuitive and seamless experience when creating an app. Here are its main features:
The possibility to transfer your mobile app into a desktop one
There are industry-specific solutions inside suitable for colleges and universities, as well as organizations who want to create an app for their employees' engagement
Analytical and reporting features will be helpful for further UX improvements
There are a lot of thematic and highly customizable templates that allow you to create a branded solution.
The users are welcome to request a demo to find out the price afterward.
Mobile Application Development Tools for Android
It’s extremely difficult to pick the best mobile app dev tools for Android since almost all of them are pretty good. Here are the main ones that make the Android development process seamless, pleasant, fast, and error-free.
Android Studio is a free toolkit developed by Google. Using this platform in Android development is always a wise solution since all the features embedded in the tool perfectly match the best features of the Android apps appreciated by Google and the majority of Android users.
Here are some special things about Android Studio:
Kotlin support. This feature allows developers to use Android Studio for Android apps that, in the future, will get their twin developed for iOS. The apps features created with Kotlin are easily reusable for iOS apps.
Fast Emulator. With this feature, the developers may evaluate the real experience of interacting with the future app at any stage of the development process.
Code templates. There are also code templates that may be easily reused and customized depending on the future Android app specifics.
This automated quality assurance tool allows developers and testers to find out the app’s flaws in a few clicks. According to the statistics published on the official website, more than 1.7 million projects have already chosen this solution to automatize their quality assurance process. Here are its main features:
Apps performance analysis
Automated crash detection for a vast number of pre-developed scenarios
Flexible and visual reporting
User flows auto-discovering
The price will be customized depending on the features you need for your project; there is an opportunity to request a demo.
This is a 2D game engine. The features of Corona Labs may also be used for Windows and iOS. However, Android games created by this technology turn out to be incredibly powerful. Its unique features perfectly match the Android games development standards:
1000+ APIs for gaming experience boosting and speeding up the development process
The real-time stimulating feature allows for immediately finding out how changes in the code affect the overall experience
Live-testing. This feature works like the above one and allows you to find flaws and bugs immediately.
The solution is entirely free to use.
Mobile Application Development Tools for iOS
iOS development is challenging since Apple has stringent requirements for the applications to be published on the App Store. However, this process may become easier with these top mobile app development tools for iOS.
xCode is a free iOS app development platform which allows you to create solutions for iOS, macOS, and iWatch and comes with a powerful set of features:
Split Window View
User Interface Prototyping
This is a potent tool for error, crush, and performance monitoring. It is used by world-famous brands like Coca-Cola, Windows, and Samsung. As for its main features, here they are.
Crash reporting. With this function, you may quickly find out when, why, and where your apps crash.
Real user monitoring. This feature enriches you with data-driven insights provided by your users. You may find out how they really experience your app and improve your front-end being guided by this data.
APM. This feature allows you to dig deeper into the code and find out invisible bottlenecks on the server-side.
The price starts from $79 per month and may be customized depending on the set of features you want to use.
No-Code Mobile App Development Platforms
According to The Coding Process and Its Challenges Research, “There are two types of coding in a classic grounded theory study: substantive coding, which includes both open and selective coding procedures, and theoretical coding.”
However, modern technologies are developing much faster than theoretical science. The No-coding approach is one of the development novelties that allows business owners to create necessary applications using intuitive tools. Here are the best mobile app development tools in 2021 that enable you to create an app in a few clicks.
This is an intuitive solution that requires no coding skills and works as an online apps builder. However, according to the creators of the platform, your imagination is the only limit. The robust set of features also proves that creating your app with this tool will be easy and intuitive.
Dozens of templates for different projects
Data transfer and integration from Google services, social media, and messengers
Great collaboration features
The solution is free to use for the teams of all sizes; however, there are advanced capabilities for enterprises. There are also packages for $10 and $20 per user per month billed annually.
Appy Pie is a leading solution and probably the best pick for no-code mobile app development. It allows you to create native and cross-platform applications, web solutions, hybrid mobile applications, and even PWAs. What is more, there are also features for task automation, chatbot, and graphic solutions development.
A lot of thematic templates for apps for different industries
Built-in security and legal compliance features
eCommerce stores creation opportunities and payment integrations
The price is $18-60 per month, plus a free trial available.
AppSheet takes the application creation process seriously, even despite the fact that this is a no-coding platform. There are a lot of specific templates for different industries from which you may choose. What is more, the features offered by the platform are beneficial and innovative:
Machine learning and artificial intelligence-powered apps creation
Data collecting, gathering, and analysis features
Process automation functions
Maps and location services
The price starts at $5 per user per month, and there are extended enterprise packages plus a free trial.
Windows Mobile App Development Tools
Although Android and iOS take the largest share of the market, there is still a place for Windows mobile solutions appreciated by the adherents of this operating system. So, let’s check the main Windows mobile app development platforms.
Microsoft Visual Studio
Visual Studio is an all-in-one solution for mobile and web application development. Created by Microsoft, it also allows developers to come up with native solutions for other operating systems and Windows. The basic features of the technology include:
Quickly write, debug, and diagnose your code
Powerful collaboration features
Open source features plus the ability to use the tool for free
Azure DevOps is a powerful tool for streamlining the work of programmers and testers responsible for Windows app development. Here is the set of its features:
Azure Boards for agile planning, visualization, and reporting
Azure Repos for cloud-hosted private git repos
Azure Test Plans for flexible testing and quality assurance
Frequently Asked Questions
It’s very easy to get lost in the world of mobile development, so here are the most common questions with competent answers.
1. Should I create a mobile app for iPhone, Android, or both?
To find out the right answer, start from your target audience research. If most of your potential users use either iOS or Android, make a bet on creating a native app for this particular system. You may also come up with two native apps if the user experience is your paramount priority; however, the final cost for two apps will be high.
2. How to make the right choice between native, cross-platform, and hybrid mobile apps development?
Choose native app development if you strive for a cutting-edge solution, and your users use a certain OS exclusively. Cross-platform development is perfect for reaching a wide target audience without connecting to a certain OS. In contrast, hybrid development combines the best features of two of the above approaches and is less costly.
3. How are mobile apps monetized?
There are a lot of ways to make money from your app. You may offer your users to subscribe, make a one-time payment, there can be in-app purchases, or you may earn money by running in-app ads.
4. What is the essence of PCI regulation for mobile apps?
This regulation is relevant for apps that ask users to enter their credit card or other financial data that should be strictly protected. However, if you monetize your app with the help of ads, your app isn’t eligible for this regulation.
5. What is HIPAA? How is it related to my mobile app?
HIPAA stands for Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This document states that your medical mobile application or website should have embedded technologies for sensitive data protection.
6. Can a freelancer develop my mobile application?
Yes, a freelancer can create your project. However, you will have to control every stage of the process, plus there is always a risk that a more profitable project will attract a free contractor.
7. How do I make sure that my development team is capable of creating my mobile app?
The most reliable indicator is the presence of similar projects in the portfolio, as well as competent recommendations on which path you should take.
The choice of the best technology for your next mobile project may be challenging. However, you won’t make a mistake if you pick up some of the tools we’ve listed above. Start from your project-specific analysis, find out your core needs, and then, the choice of the right solution will become clear. And don’t forget to apply for professional advice.
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