Top 10 Must-Have Mobile Apps Development Tools [2020]

Mobile Apps

Most people nowadays see mobile phones as necessities for communication, business, leisure, and entertainment. These devices have come a long way from their first iterations in the 80s and 90s.

Way back 1983, Motorola DynaTAC 800x was the first cell phone launched. IBM created the first smartphone in 1994 named the Simon Personal Communicator (SPC), the Nokia smartphone first connected to the internet in 2000. Fast track to today and most of the phones are now connected to the internet 24/7 with several applications installed, too!

The mobile phone has tremendously evolved in portability, looks, and features throughout the years. Hence, the evolution of mobile phones opens a new gateway to mobile application development. 


Mobile Development by Definition

Recent mobile phones, tablets, and iPads have several applications installed depending on the user’s needs and wants. The introduction of smartphone applications gave birth to mobile app development. Mobile app development is a process of creating application software that runs on mobile devices with remote computing resources. It usually involves creating installable software implementing backend services. Andriod and iOS are the two main players of OS on mobile. These applications correspond to different programming technologies, techniques, and tools.  


The Mobile Development Life Cycle

Search for an application on your Play Store or App Store and it provides similar apps to the app you just searched for. Most people check reviews before installing them. Good and bad criticism are all welcome to be in the review section of the app page. Most companies rely on user feedback to assess whether they change the app or not. Before any changes take effect, developing a mobile app goes through a series of processes and cycles. For a better understanding, here’s how the mobile application life cycle goes.


Mobile Development Life Cycle Diagram

Diagram of Mobile Development Life cycle

In the research stage, thorough research and analyzing the market is done to out which possible mobile apps would be feasible in the market. The target industry, demographic, possible features, the business model, and other important factors are determined through research. You take your findings and set realistic and concrete goals for the app during the planning state. This also a way of setting up target deadlines and identifying the budget, tools, and expenses. A clear, precise, and well-documented plan can clarify and speed up the development progress. The app is then built up through the design phase, where the intended features will be laid out to the clients and developers.

The actual start of creating a mobile application begins in the design stage as the developers start actual work on the app. Testing is very important in the process to find bugs and secure its quality before releasing it to the public. Testing mobile applications is tricky because it must be running properly on all platforms and devices. After testing, the most awaited part of the process is launching the application for the public to download and use. Feedback and evaluation from the users may help improve the mobile app moving forward.


Operating System

The two most famous mobile operating systems in mobile development are iOS and Andriod. It has been a tight battle between the two big operating systems used in mobile. 

iOS was developed by Apple where it only runs on Apple devices. iOS has noticeable features due to the excellent way of bringing other flavors of mobile development. iOS is based on Darwin(BSD) and OS X environments. The user interface of iOS is based on Apple’s Cocoa UI. The good thing about iOS is that you don’t need to use Apple’s development tools to create your application but rather a MAC running on OS X.

Another player in mobile development is using an Android OS. It was first introduced in the market last September 2008. While iOS was introduced by Apple, Android, on the other hand, is supported by Google.  What is great about Android OS is its availability on any mobile device. It can run on different devices except for devices with a proprietary and specific OS that needs to run into like iPhones. While iOS is based on Unix, Android OS is based on Linux kernel. Google provides various tools for native and cross-platform mobile app development. 


Tools in Mobile Development

Tools in mobile development can change depending on the programming languages used, platforms it will be released on, and specifications by the client or developers. I did a little research and interview with some mobile developers as to what are the best tools they used, and here are the top 10 tools they think mobile developers should use.


1. Xamarin

Android and iOS with Xamarin
© Photo from xamarin

Xamarin is built on C# programming language but runs on the .NET programming language. This tool is best used for native applications both Android and iOS. Xamarin enables communication and integration of API of mobile devices. One of the advantages of using Xamarin is that it can create a scalable application that results in fewer bugs and can validate a single test on both iOS and Android. Both UI and backend integration in Xamarin tends to be flexible during development. In terms of cross-platform application development, Xamarin is one of the best tools to use.

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2. React Native

React nature
© Photo by React

React Native is one of the most popular open-source frameworks from Facebook. It uses JavaScript in the main code and applies the principle of “learn once, write everywhere.” It is easy to learn and implement in mobile and web apps.

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3. PhoneGap

© Photo by PhoneGap

Nowadays, applications are more marketable if they can run on different platforms. PhoneGap is an open-source, cross-platform tool for mobile app development. You can use it for developing a single application that can run on all mobile devices. PhoneGap is integrated with different libraries to save a lot of time in development and help improve apps’ functionality. PhoneGap’s advantage over other tools is that it has a powerful backend system which makes the development faster. It also taps to the phone’s hardware like camera, geolocation, accelerometer, and more for feature-added functionality on your apps. It has a good reputation among developers worldwide.

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4. Appcelerator

© Photo by Appcelerator

As its name suggests, Appcelerator helps mobile developers create applications faster. It uses JavaScript and XML for native, hybrid mobile applications and mobile web apps. This app can develop a mobile application with complete features with fewer lines of code compared to other mobile development tools. It also supports iOS, Android and Windows OS. The best thing about Appcelerator is that it helps develop the app’s ability to interact with other web services. Appcelerator is also based on the concept of “write once, run everywhere.”

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5. Sencha

Sencha mobile
© Photo by Sencha

Sencha Touch is a model-view-controller (MVC)-based JavaScript framework that creates mobile apps. It gives a high level of responsiveness for your mobile apps to improve customer satisfaction. You can code by using an HTML5 format, also you can convert it later into Android and iOS. Sencha is good for creating a native mobile app without paying extra time during the development. Sencha gained a good reputation in creating native apps with user-friendly and high-performance tools for mobile development.

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6. Mobile Angular UI

Mobile Angular UI
© Photo by Angular

Mobile Angular is similar to Sencha and jQuery Mobile: it is an open-source hybrid mobile application development tool that permits you to build HTML5 mobile apps with Angular JS and Bootstrap. It also provides an easy transition of mobile apps to desktop and vice versa. Mobile Angular UI has lots of features that can make your development speed up, but the only drawback is that it doesn’t have good documentation for reference.

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7. Ionic

Ionic mobile
© Photo by Iconic

Ionic is one of the more popular tools in mobile development. It is based on HTML5 mobile development framework, with CSS and SAS used for developing hybrid mobile applications. Ionic is good for creating interactive mobile apps. Built on top of AngularJS framework to make the process easier.

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8. jQuery Mobile

jQuery Mobile
© Photo by jQuery

jQuery Mobile is one of the oldest application development tools but has a lot more functions to offer developers. You can use jQuery to “write once, run everywhere.” Most mobile apps run using jQuery mobile.

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9. BuildFire

BuildFire on mobile
© Photo by BuildFire

Unlike other tools, BuildFire is not open-source, costing around $20 per application to launch per month. It is a high-performance DIY mobile app builder that both supports iOS and Android. Its features include more than 45 plugins, easy and direct integrations to Smooch, Segments and several other APIs, and existing templates that help in creating mobile applications. You can create a mobile application in 20-30 minutes using Build fire templates.

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10. Unity

Unity Ads Blocktext Image
© Photo by Unity

Unity boast on its comprehensive mobile games solution. Meaning as a user, you can expect to deliver customized engaging intuitive games using its cross-platform tools. Unity is one of the few that allow developers to create games with few alterations needed. A good thing for you to take note is that you don’t have to overspend to market your mobile game app with Unity. For the subscription you paid, the development tool comes with a powerful live-ops and monetization solutions to ensure high visibility and revenue growth for your apps. If you’re ever hesitating about its functionalities and reliability, well, Blizzard has proven to like this product. And to be honest, the results are quite amazing. So, try it or not? You decide.

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