The mobile app industry has never been riding a higher wave than now. In entertainment, education, or business, smartphone applications are widely used and attract dedicated users.

The high number of available features allows business managers to connect with an audience on a deeper level. Compared to websites and WPAs, mobile apps have a higher number of daily active users and more room for innovation.

The performance of a mobile app and the amount of storage space it occupies depends on a toolkit the company chose for development. The market is overflowing with the newest app development tools that help build Android and iOS applications. No need to be overwhelmed, though – in this post, we’ll review the top picks for efficient development. You’ll decide whether or not you need to hire Xamarin developers.

The State of App Development

2018 has been the biggest year for mobile app development. As 2019 comes to a close, we will likely see even more impressive mobile application usage statistics. As for now, let’s examine the current state of the market.

Smartphone and tablet usage

The growth of mobile app releases and downloads highly relies on the overall number of gadgets in use. Spoiler alert: it’s astonishing:

Operating systems

Predictably enough, Android and iOS take the biggest slices of the mobile market pie. KaiOS is slow to catch up – other platforms are barely in the picture.

Market share statistics per platform according to Statcounter:

  • Android – 76.03%;
  • iOS – 22.04%;
  • KaiOS – 0.79%;
  • Windows – 0.21%;
  • Samsung – 0.21%.

Notably, while iOS still dominates in the US (52.95% over 46.82% for Android), North America as a region has more Android users.

Programming languages

There have been no notable changes in the programming languages rating for mobile development.

According to StackOverflow’s annual survey, Java still dominates the market by usage and the app developer salary, with Swift and Kotlin falling way behind. Interestingly, the popularity of Objective-C continues to drop – so much so that the language placed the second in the ‘Most Dreaded’ rating.

Mobile development programming languages statistics (the % of all surveyed developers):

  • Java – 41.1%;
  • Swift – 6.6%;
  • Kotlin – 6.4%;
  • Objective-C – 4.8%.

Mobile App Development Trends

As the mobile application environment changes, new 2019 app tools, and programming languages emerge, the development trends change. Technological advancements bring forth new opportunities in terms of speed and connection quality.

Let’s examine the most promising mobile and web app development trends:

  • 5G is expected to spread across the world. In 2018, the technology was mostly in development. The next 2-3 years are crucial for the adoption of 5G. For mobile developers, the new network protocol means improved load speed. Also, business owners will be able to integrate artificial intelligence into applications seamlessly – with 4G connectivity, it hasn’t been as rewarding.
  • IoT is here to stay. The Internet of Things has proven its value in healthcare, finance, manufacturing, retail, and city infrastructure. Mobile software app development company managers will soon be able to use IoT for small-scale applications – improving the quality of education in local communities or helping small businesses automate daily tasks.
  • AR and VR aren’t optional anymore. Social media apps have been frontrunners in the field of augmented and virtual reality implementation. Snapchat’s and Instagram’s filters have been the poster case of how a mobile app can benefit from immersive experiences. AR and VR have also been implemented by retail, beauty, and healthcare apps.
  • Bluetooth beacons. These are the small-size transmitters that send signals to Bluetooth-empowered smartphones. Beacons fuel and facilitate location-based search. They are a powerful personalization tool that helps brands reach out to their target audiences with a higher success rate.

Top 7 App Development Tools

Considering the popularity of mobile apps, tech companies try to bring development closer to masses and make it more accessible. That’s why frameworks and assistance tools are released at an impressive pace.

Regardless of whether you want to develop a cross-platform or a native app, there are at least a couple of solutions to fill the bill. Here’s an in-depth look at the free tools for app development that are frequently used among mobile software engineers.

1. Xamarin

Xamarin is a Microsoft-owned framework for native and cross-platform app development. The tool’s open-source license, as well as its C#-based source code, contributed to its recognition in the tech community.

There are other benefits of Xamarin app development. There’s Xamarin Forms, a template-based development environment that helps design cheap yet functional cross-platform applications. The framework uses a .NET-based infrastructure – thus, choosing app development with Xamarin, coders can benefit from most libraries and implementations.

Main features:

  • Cross-platform and native environments for Android and iOS;
  • Wearable support;
  • Google emulator manager;
  • The Visual Studio plugin;
  • High code reusability.

Pricing: Xamarin is free to use.

2. PhoneGap

PhoneGap is yet another app development software for cross-platform mobile app development. It supports all popular operating systems – Android, iOS, and Windows. PhoneGap is based on JavaScript, HTML5, and CSS3.

PhoneGap helps add a native flair to cross-platform apps by tapping into the device’s native functionality. A developer can use geolocation, camera, an accelerometer, and other smartphone features.

Main features:

  • Native API support;
  • The use of common languages – HTML, CSS, and JS;
  • A strong developer community;
  • PhoneGap GLI.

3. Appcelerator

Appcelerator made its name by spreading the ‘Write once, run everywhere’ concept. It’s a web-based platform where developers can design native apps as well as proprietary APIs. Using the mobile app development software is relatively easy – the basic knowledge of JavaScript is all a developer needs.

Main features:

  • A user-friendly app development studio;
  • High code reusability;
  • Java, Objective-C, and Swift support;
  • Direct API access;
  • The ‘live app preview’ feature.

Pricing: there’s a free version with a limited set of features and two paid plans:

  • Pro: $199/seat/mo;
  • Enterprise: the cost depends on the rage of features.

4. Ionic

Ionic is a solid hybrid mobile app development framework. It allows web developers to create applications using the languages they are proficient in – HTML, JavaScript, and CSS. Ionic has built-in integrations with PhoneGap and Cordova to help developers get the most out of cross-platform app development.

Ionic will be familiar if you are well-versed in Angular as it’s the framework’s base language. Similarly to PhoneGap, Ionic supports plugins – usually, developers reuse the Cordova or PhoneGap ones to expand the feature list of their apps.

Main features:

  • An environment for hybrid app development;
  • A single code base for multiple platforms – iOS, Android, Windows – and environments – web, mobile, desktop.
  • Easy-to-master thanks to the reliance on Angular and web technologies;
  • 243 active GitHub contributors.

Pricing: Ionic has the ‘community edition’ version of the framework – it’s free and open-sources. If a company is limited by the current version of the tool, the development team offers an opportunity to develop a custom solution.

5. Qt Creator

Qt Creator is a functional integrated development environment that helps software engineers create native apps. It has built-in utilities for development, UI design, and deployment. Qt Creator offers app designers the best of accessibility. For instance, you can write an application for Windows and move it to Android or iOS later.

With the Hyperloop features, developers can access a wide range of browser APIs. You will be able to use third-party integrations and libraries as well to create a powerhouse of an app.

Main features:

  • Drag-and-drop UI designer;
  • Tools for visual debugging;
  • An integrated GUI layout builder;
  • Code auto-completion and syntax highlighting.

Pricing: the platform has a free trial. After having tested QtCreator’s features, you can upgrade the tool. The subscription plan cost starts at $459/mo.

6. Unity Ads

Unity Ads is a must-have in a gaming developer’s stack. The tool allows publishers to post ads in the titles. Compared to similar tools in the market, Unity Ads has the highest Average Revenue Per User.

As the Unity integrated development environment is used for creating 2D and 3D titles, Unity Ads is also among the chief pillars of AR app development.

Main features:

  • Trusted ad sources;
  • A wide range of supported ad formats – from banners to AR content;
  • Easy-to-use interface;
  • Waterfall and auction methods.

Pricing: Unity Ads is free.

7. Sencha

Sencha is a tool that helps developers optimize mobile responsivity and user experience. The platform has a broad library of UI materials – widgets, banners, toolbars, menu lists, and so on. Thanks to its Model-View-Controller based JavaScript framework, a developer will build projects that are compatible with the latest versions of mobile operating systems.

Sencha’s sample applications include admin and executive dashboards, employee directories, portals, ticket apps, and many other solutions.

Main features:

  • The libraries of pre-integrated UI components;
  • Rich data analytics tools;
  • Responsive configurations;
  • A built-in layout manager;
  • Section 508 Compliance Accessibility Package.

Pricing: there are two Sencha product packages developers can go for:

  • Pro: $6 280;
  • Enterprise: $9 190.

Conclusion

Mobile application development is faster, easier, and cheaper if a developer best tools for apps to assist himself.

While the high number of features allows businesses to keep the users’ interest at its peak, developing a feature-rich will be more time-consuming and expensive.

To choose the right development solution, make sure to know your budget and time constraints as well as the feature benchmarks you want the project to hit. To choose an absolute best development framework for your business, be sure to test a few alternatives. Then match them against a list of criteria as well as the estimated app development costs and make an informed decision.

About the author

Mark Coleman

Mark Coleman is the editor at MarkupTrend. He is also a technical writer and digital marketing expert. He handles all marketing, advertisement related activities at MarkupTrend along with his team.

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