Mobile Apps

5 Best Frameworks for Building Android Apps

Written by Kevin Liew on 18 Aug 2017
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The number of Android users is constantly increasing: is there any way to optimize the process of Android apps development under the growing demand?

According to statistics, the market share of smartphones utilizing Android OS is  significantly higher as compared to its competitors.

Under such circumstances, it is recommended to focus on ready-made tools, which enable creating the most user-friendly apps and save time required to create them. In addition, they reduce the development costs of such apps for the client.

Fortunately for the developers, there is a great number of effective frameworks, which have already been field-proven.

Framework represents a ready-made set of libraries, auxiliary programs and other elements that can be used as basis (skeleton) for a new software product. Frameworks are intended to facilitate the development process due to ready solutions and simultaneously to reduce time required for building an app.  

Some frameworks have been used for a long time and are supported by an extensive community. The others are relatively new, but have already won their followers.

The choice of the best framework for building each particular Android app will depend on the following:

  • complexity and nature of the product being created;
  • skills of the team;
  • time limits of the project;
  • and some other conditions.

In this article Umbrella will tell you about five Android apps frameworks we consider the most interesting.

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PhoneGap

Let’s start with a popular framework, which is backed by none other than the most prominent company, Adobe Systems, Incorporated. The framework has been in use for several years (since 2005) and has repeatedly proven its effectiveness in practice. Using PhoneGap you can create hybrid applications, when you need to build a simple application in a short time.

Pros:

  • usage of conventional standard web technologies (Javascript, HTML5, CSS) to build mobile apps;
  • opportunity to create apps in real time;
  • considerable number of existing plug-ins aimed to extend capabilities of the app.

Cons:

  • no multithreading support; Multithreading is a characteristic of a platform or an application, which indicates that system processes can be performed by several threads in parallel. That means there is no order of execution limited by time.
  • does not suit for apps with large quantities of information, complex calculations, and various features and services.

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React Native

This framework for developing native-looking Android and iOS applications was built on the basis of React, a library aimed to create a user interface forweb apps. The key difference is that React Native is designed for mobile apps, but the development process is essentially the same. This means that a web developer can easily switch to mobile apps.

Pros:

  • a common part of the code for multi platform apps is written in Javascript (the most popular programming language now). This means the developers who have experience with this language are easy to be found;
  • full-featured native components intended for React Native are used for each platform. This provides for the increased UX (user experience in interacting with the app) level;
  • there is a possibility to quickly adjust the apps in the process of development;
  • it is optimal for the mobile apps in case of startups as it allows starting apps on both platforms simultaneously under optimized time limits and within the low budget.

Cons:

  • relatively young age of the framework (Facebook specialists presented it in 2015) explains some of its gaps;
  • initially, a substantial number of ready-made connecting native components are offered, but they are not always sufficient;
  • framework is recommended for simple and medium complexity apps, while creating complex animation will require certain skills of the developer and much more time.

It should be mentioned that in other cases, React Native successfully copes with the tasks faced by the developers, and allows creating applications that look and function as native.




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Ionic Framework

This is another rather young framework for Android app building (the company Drifty Co. announced creation of its own infrastructure to develop hybrid apps in 2013). As a matter offact,this is a customary hybrid HTML5 framework. Accordingly, the developer writes one code to be used independently of the platform. And to make the application more native, some functions in Ionic are adapted directly for the platform.

Pros:

  • a preview of the app directly in a browser or on a mobile device (already at an early stage of testing it can be determined what your future app will look like);
  • in case of any changes in the process of testing, the display in the browser or on the device is immediately updated. No need to spend time for reassembly of the app.

Cons:

  • recommended for simple apps, while the complex apps will require much time and effort on the part of the developers.

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Xamarin

This framework is used for cross-platformdevelopment of mobile apps (iOS, Android, Windows Phone) using C # programming language. The main feature is that Xamarin provides access to the native mechanism of creating a UI (user interface).

A list of companies, which have chosen Xamarin, serves as an additional confirmation of the effectiveness of this framework.

In 2016 the new owner of the framework, Microsoft, announced Xamarin to be free, which was definitely good news for the community.

Pros:

  • an early detection system allows you finding and eliminating any errors in time;
  • apps are built outside of the browser and can utilize the hardware and software resources of each platform. As a result the applications are close to native and behave as created especially for each platform as the users are used to.

Cons:

  • supports the special technological components only, which are included into its library. But with the complex projects the challenge can be that the existing components may turn to be insufficient.

Titanium Appcelerator

The cross-platform framework allows you creating apps that look, behave and function as native.

The framework is suitable for building prototypes quickly, if you want to test certain functions or demonstrate the future application to the client.  It can be used to create quickly console and graphic apps for any device.

Pros:

  • free software with a fully open code supported by the advanced community;
  • it supports CSS, HTML, JavaScript, Python, PHP and Ruby, which the developers are familiar with and used to deal with;
  • the existing capabilities can be extended through coding the external modules in Objective-C and C for iOS, and in Java for Android;
  • there is a possibility to reuse 60-90% of the code in case of a multi-platform development. This reduces the time required and costs, correspondingly.

Cons:

  • does not suit for complex projects: the larger and more complex the application, the more difficulties will arise, if Titanium Appcelerator is used;
  • there are many restrictions in its use, which are not immediately apparent, but appear in the course of developing large projects.

As we promised at the beginning of the article, we have described five software platforms that significantly facilitate the work of Android app developers. As you understand, the list of frameworks for building android apps is not limited to those described here.

Along with the frameworks, there are also separate libraries actively used by the developers. And we will tell you about them in our new articles - follow the news on our website!

At the end of the article, as usually, we offer you a traditional extra bonus from Umbrella. This is another framework to develop Android apps.

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If you need to develop a game in a fairly short time, you should pay attention to the following framework.

Corona SDK

This is a cross-platform engine, which has a pronounced graphic character and is successfully used for two-dimensional games and apps with a non-standard interface.

Pros:

  • a low learning curve (simple Lua language is used);
  • quick development (a simple process to add complex functions, instantaneous display of changes introduced in the course of development);
  • there is a phone emulator to view the results on a vast number of typical smartphones;
  • supported by the advanced community.

Cons:

  • paid framework (there is a free version, but it does not offer all the features);
  • it is impossible to use the application on any device during the development process. First you need to create an application and install it - only then you can test it directly on the device.

If you have already chosen the suitable framework for you, please, contact us today and we will start working on your application tomorrow!

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