5 Must-Try Open Source Mobile App Development Frameworks

Published in
5 min readApr 30, 2019


The era of smartphones has given rise to the development of mobile applications. Be it for personal use or for the business, mobile applications have been thriving today. As more and more mobile applications are developed every day, the market has become highly competitive. This growing competition has given rise to choosing the right framework for building apps faster and better.

Let us look at five must-try open source mobile app development frameworks and their features, which you can consider the next time you decide to build a stunning mobile app:


Type: Open source

Distinctive feature: From the team that built Apache Cordova

Type of Applications: Cross-platform mobile applications

Language: HTML, CSS, and JavaScript

PhoneGap is one of the most exceptional cross-platform tools for mobile hybrid application development. With PhoneGap, the developer need not know mobile programming languages; instead, they can get started with web development languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for app creation.

This robust tool gives the developers the freedom to work without any hardware restrictions and enables them to develop a single app which can work across multiple mobile operating systems. It can integrate with various libraries for developing the app, and any changes in the app can be managed and viewed easily with PhoneGap.

Since PhoneGap is the brainchild of the team behind Cordova, it enjoys the benefits of plug-in architecture defined by Cordova. This extends its functionalities and allows the developer access not only to a device’s camera and compass but also its file system, microphone, and accelerometer.


Type: Open source

Distinctive feature: Owned by Microsoft

Type of Applications: Cross-platform mobile applications

Language: C#

Founded in 2011, Microsoft’s brainchild, Xamarin is a developer platform that is used for developing native applications for iOS (Xamarin.iOS), Android (Xamarin.Android), and macOS (Xamarin.Mac). It is technically a binding layer on top of these platforms. Binding to platform APIs enables .NET developers to use C# (and F#) to develop native applications with the full capacity of each platform.

One of the hottest tools for hybrid mobile app development, Xamarin uses a single, shared code base to build apps for all operating systems. Xamarin boasts fewer bugs, building of apps swiftly, and time-saving by re-utilizing functions and tools and code sharing with Windows and Mac OS platforms.

React Native

Type: Open source

Distinctive feature: Developed by Facebook

Type of Applications: Cross-platform mobile applications

Language: JavaScript

Launched by Facebook, React Native is one of the favorite choices for app development and also considered as the future of hybrid apps. It allows the developers in building cross-platform apps using native components, which create a native-like experience to the app users.

React Native enjoys a vast community of developers and helps develop an app with minimum effort and maximum support. For a website built using React, React Native would seem to be the optimum choice in mobile development.

While React native is a comprehensive framework to work with, it limits the developer to work only with JavaScript. Also, this framework is not beginner friendly forcing him to rely on the support of the community for getting through.


Type: Open source

Distinctive feature: Licensed under MIT

Type of Applications: Cross-platform mobile applications

Language: HTML5

The Ionic framework is a popular choice for hybrid mobile app development using CSS, HTML5, and JavaScript. Ready out of the box, the Ionic framework is built on top of a native wrapper like PhoneGap and Apache Cordova for native-based apps.

Ionic can be considered as the front-end UI framework, which looks after the look and feel and interactions with the user interface, making your app stand out from the rest. The framework uses a single code base to build apps for almost all operating systems and works best when combined with Angular.js for building browser-based applications. Used as a client-side framework, Ionic also boasts over 120 native device features, predefined elements and a large community of developers.


Type: Open source

Distinctive feature: Backed by Google

Type of Applications: Cross-platform mobile applications

Language: Dart

Flutter is one of the newer members in the mobile application development space best suited for hybrid apps. Flutter is different from the herd! Instead of using WebView for rendering the applications or native UI components, Flutter uses Skia, a 2D rendering engine for creating visuals. These visual components resemble native Material Design and Cupertino style widgets but they are not.

Flutter makes the development stress-free, swift, and optimized. It offers the Hot Reload functionality, which helps in testing your project without needing to restart the application. Flutter is compiled of AOT (Ahead Of Time) instead of JIT (Just In Time) like the JavaScript solutions. It also eliminates the concept of the bridge and does not rely on the OEM platform.

These functionalities in Flutter, along with the support of a large community, are what make Flutter an ideal contender in the popular mobile application frameworks. Flutter also makes it possible to create plugins using channels that can be used by every new developer. So, to put it simply: code once, and use it everywhere!

To Sum Up

The list of frameworks is extensive but not exhaustive. These frameworks come with their own distinct features. The choice of a framework depends largely on what the app is based on and its requirements. Only after checking these requirements, the developer can choose the best app that works for them.

If you found this article interesting, you can explore Google Flutter Mobile Development Quick Start Guide, a fast-paced guide to get you started with cross-platform mobile application development with Google Flutter. Google Flutter Mobile Development Quick Start Guide will help you to understand the fundamentals of Flutter and get started with cross-platform mobile app development.

The author of Google Flutter Mobile Development Quick Start Guide is Prajyot Mainkar who has been a consultant for mobile labs startups and an Android developer with over 5 years of experience in Android and more than 8 years in IT. He works with a team of developers from Goa, India named as Androcid Media. Androcid Media Pvt. Ltd is a company that works primarily in the development of Android applications and Content Management Systems (CMS). Androcid also runs an Android-centric portal, called Androcid. The portal publishes everything that is related to Android across the globe and also allows developers to showcase their apps on this platform.