In the past couple of years, more and more businesses realized that apps are important to their brand experiences, as they can help establish a strong connection with customers. Over 2 million apps were available on the Google Play Store for download in the third quarter of 2018, Statista reports.
Today, many companies big and small include mobile applications into their marketing strategies, as the digital space provides a wide array of engagement opportunities.
Installed on the vast majority of existing smartphones, Android is often considered to be the best OS when it comes to building custom mobile apps. Many developers prefer Android as it is highly customizable and has a large community ready to help and provide useful information.
Android also has many integrated tools that help enhance the efficiency of an app while reducing the number of actions that need to be taken to perform a task.
Still, choosing the right Android framework for app development is not easy due to the large number of different options available. To lend you a helping hand, we have created a comprehensive list of the 14 best Android frameworks that can make the app development process fast and easy.
These frameworks help in reducing the effort that developers put in by boosting productivity and offering technology solutions to handle complex tasks.
Top Frameworks for Android App Development
Before we start, it is important to note that we categorize 14 top Android frameworks by their capabilities. Let’s have a closer look at the best frameworks for Android application development and what features they offer.
Best Android App Development Framework: Games Development
Unity is known as the best Android development framework for the development of multi-platform 2D, 3D, augmented reality, and virtual reality games as well as other simulations. Developed by Unity Technologies, this game engine comes in free and professional editions.
Being a physics engine, it can control the behavior of different game objects, lighting rendering, momentum, and graphic elements. Similar to many software development tools, Unity has a built-in editor that enables you to edit images and manage animations from the “Animator” window.
As of 2018, half of new mobile games and 60% of the augmented reality and virtual reality experiences are created with the Unity engine. All in all, It is an easy-to-use platform that allows game developers to create amazing content and a strong connection with the audience. In other words, the platform is a great choice for interactive experiences.
Best Frameworks for Android Development: High Performance
Originated in the minds of JetBrains, Kotlin is a statically-typed, modern programming language solution for Android that combines the features of functional and object-oriented programming. In 2017, Google declared Kotlin as an official IDE (Integrated Development Environment) for Android development.
It runs on Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and is 100% interoperable with the Java language. In many scenarios, it is considered as a replacement for Java as it significantly streamlines the development process. Many programmers have adopted Kotlin as their primary language for Android.
Application developed with Kotlin also run as fast as the ones created with Java as they share a similar bytecode structure. In the recent Stack Overflow developer survey, Kotlin was ranked as the fourth most loved programming language.
In 2020, many of the large enterprises are planning to move or are in the process of moving to Kotlin. Trello, Pinterest, Basecamp, Uber, Twitter, Airbnb, and Netflix are all migrating to Kotlin for Android application development. Since its launch, Kotlin has proved itself as a highly intuitive platform for Android app development.
Developed in 2009, Corona SDK is a perfect software development kit for building speedy apps and games. This general-purpose, cross-platform framework enables 10x faster development than other Android app frameworks. Corona achieves this by integrating Lua, a lightweight and multi-paradigm programming language, which is itself layered on top of C++/OpenGL and allows to achieve high speed, usability, and flexibility.
Highly popular among game developers, Corona is free and available both Mac OS X and Windows, with real-time testing support.
In addition, the framework has native UI support, over 500 APIs, and a dynamic advertising platform built for developers. Its API suite features are feature-rich, with graphics, networking, widgets, particle effects, and more. Simple to understand and integrate into Android, Corona SDK has gained notable popularity among Android app developers.
Sencha Touch comes with nearly 50 built-in UI components and native themes, enabling developers to create engrossing and eye-catching apps. The framework utilizes hardware acceleration techniques, so the apps created with its help exhibit high performance.
Big companies choose Sencha Touch due to its high-level compatibility and flexibility, responsive touch features, and fast execution. Apps built using Sencha Touch are rich in fluid animations, smooth scrolling, and are highly adaptive. Its huge collection of themes, enriched UI, integrated MVC system, and vast data package make Sencha Touch the leading Android application development framework.
Powered by HTML5, TheAppBuilder is an app-building framework that supports a codeless user interface, which means users do not need to know how to code in any language to create a solid app.
Plus, with its drag-and-drop interface, developers can build applications really quickly. The framework comes with pre-built blocks which include features like feedback, content updates, polls, push notifications, and much more.
Android app development framework also got traction from users because it allows them to submit their apps directly to Google Play and boasts social network integration. Plus, it generates analytics reports, so users could identify the issues that slow down their apps. In most cases, businesses use TheAppBuilder to cut costs.
With more than 50,000 items in the toolset, maintainable application code, and well thought out business logic behind it, SproutCore has become a top framework for Android app development. These features, when combined, provide a rock-solid foundation for building feature-packed, high-performance applications.
Best Android Frameworks: Native Apps Development
Backed by Facebook, React Native is a powerful open-source framework that offers ample support to other development tools and their IDEs. It is based on React, a JS library for web solutions. Companies like Instagram, Walmart, Airbnb, Tesla, as well as many other Fortune 500 companies, use the framework to develop native mobile apps.
As most of the React Native APIs are cross-platform, developers can write code once and then run it anywhere, which improves development speed and helps cut costs.
React Native uses building blocks similar to the ones employed in most Android development frameworks. With the hot-reload option in React Native, developers can link updated files while retaining the current state of the app. The developer community of React Native has been growing much faster than Facebook’s expectations.
Google Trends indicates that the framework has been gaining more and more traction in the past few years. As of today, around 1600 developers have used this framework.
Owned by Microsoft, and one of the top Android development frameworks, Xamarin offers an advanced toolset that enables developers to build native apps for multiple mobile platforms on a shared C# codebase. With Microsoft’s cloud testing service, the apps built using Xamarin can be tested on numerous devices. Moreover, its code-sharing feature makes it developers’ favorite as it reduces coding time and the number of bugs in the software development process.
Compared to other Android frameworks, Xamarin is one of the oldest cross-platform frameworks and is already used by 1.4 million developers across 120 countries.
Xamarin became a part of Visual Studio IDE, which made large companies in industries like healthcare, and energy shift to using this framework. Xamarin has been around for a while, but the number of developers using it has increased a lot over the years as compared to other frameworks for Android.
Titanium can be used to develop solid games, while mobile apps built with Appcelerator Titanium can utilize hardware-specific features like Android menu buttons, OS-centric controls, and platform-appropriate notifications. Currently, over 345,577,760 apps run through this Android application framework. Also, it provides many other useful features like automated testing on mobile devices, application monitoring, and performance regulation.
Best Android Frameworks: Hybrid Apps Development
It hosts a simple CLI (Command-line Interface ) that facilitates features like emulators, live reload, and logging. As it is Cordova and Angular based, Ionic has a large community. Around 4 million Ionic-based apps were built, with more than 5 million developers in around 200 countries worldwide using the framework. Moreover, it integrates with many services, including Google Play, Instagram, and many more.
Designed and maintained by Google, Flutter is a multi-platform mobile app SDK that can be used to build applications, but in a way that is different from other Android app frameworks. It simplifies the cross-platform development process and is written in the Dart language. When it comes to selecting a framework, Flutter is the best choice for hybrid app development.
Google’s Flutter framework uses a 2D rendering engine called Skia for visuals that are similar to material design and the Cupertino style. Flutter also serves as a solid testing framework, enabling developers to perform UI, unit, and functionality tests. Moreover, Flutter has best-in-class hot-reload functionality, which allows for seamless testing without the need to restart the application.
Also, it can access native device APIs, making it hard to identify whether the app has been developed using a native language or not. Primarily designed to develop online apps, Cordova also provides support for offline scenarios, making it a perfect platform for developing desktop apps as well.
In addition to Android, the platform helps developing apps for several other operating systems. The latest version of this cross-platform framework comes with a built-in Cordova WebView for integrating PhoneGap code into larger native apps. Its extended plugin library, third-party software tools, and growing community make it stand out among other Android app development frameworks
Listed as a top framework for hybrid app development, NativeScript is a free open-source framework that enables developers to create applications using Vue, TypeScript, and Angular. This Android framework is backed by a Bulgarian software company Telerik. From Gradle to CocoaPods, developers can easily reuse a wide array of plugins from directly in the projects with NativeScript.
Selecting the right Android framework for app development is a complicated process. If you are looking for a one-shot solution for app development, you should know that, since every business and project has different requirements, what works best for one company might not work for another.
First, you should consider the capabilities of each of these frameworks, then focus on your project objectives, and after, pick out the platform from the ones mentioned above — based on your business needs. That is the way you can guarantee your choice will have a positive impact.
If you have some questions left, don’t hesitate to contact our experts to get additional information about mobile app development.