It is no secret that Android smartphone/development platforms have been gaining popularity in the market since its release by Google in 2008. As per data released by Statista, in 2021, Android held 70 percent of the smartphone operating market, and in 2022, it has around 50 percent share of the tablet market. Android phones are popular because they’re available at low costs compared to iOS and offer a range of services.
Android OS (Operating System) is important for anyone who wishes to launch their mobile application. Since many people are hooked to Android smartphones, new Android frameworks are released for developing mobile applications. This article will highlight top-notch Android frameworks and their benefits and uses.
What is an Application Framework?
Application frameworks are software libraries that provide a basic framework to facilitate the creation of applications for a particular context. An application framework serves as the skeleton for the development of an application.
The purpose of designing an application framework is to reduce the common difficulties encountered during the development process. This is accomplished by providing code that can be distributed across different modules of the application framework. Developers can use direct codes to reduce the complexity of the app development process.
Additionally, the implementation of features such as password reset, login, authorization, signups, transactions, etc. in the application becomes trivial. Application frameworks are commonly used in the development of GUI (Graphical User Interface) as well as other areas such as web-based applications.
Furthermore, developers need to make several small decisions while writing an app and Android frameworks make such decisions for the developers, so it’s easy to complete the project.
The application framework is not a recent technology. It dates back to 1985 when the first framework was developed: MacApp by Apple for Macintosh computers. Other age-old frameworks that are still used today are Struts for web-based Java applications and the SmallTalk user interface framework.
Essential Android Frameworks for Developers
1. Apache Cordova
The benefits of using Apache Cordova are:
- It offers one platform to build hybrid mobile apps, so one app will be used on multiple mobile platforms such as Windows Phone, iOS, Android, Firefox OS, Blackberry, Ubuntu etc.
- Cordova saves development time as it is much faster to build a hybrid app compared to a native one.
- Apache Cordova comes with a lot of community add-ons or plugins that consist of numerous frameworks and libraries. Some of the plugins include geolocation, camera, device, media, battery status, etc.
So, what’s missing in Apache Cordova? Here are a few things to note.
- Hybrid apps work slower than native ones, so it is not recommended to use the Apache framework for large applications that require more functionality and data.
- Some plugins may have compatibility problems with different platforms and devices.
- Cross-browser compatibility creates issues. Testing and optimizing apps for different platforms can consume a lot of time.
2. NativeScript Android Framework
Benefits of NativeScript include:
- Application developers can reuse existing code and tools.
- There’s no need to spend time learning new tools as it is a seamless development process.
- It is easy to update, troubleshoot, and modify newer versions.
- Simple authentication with different sign-in providers.
- It encompasses platform-specific APIs from JS, thus eliminating the need to learn Cordova.
Missing components in NativeScript are:
- It doesn’t support HTML or DOM, so it refrains developers from using certain libraries like jQuery.
- Debugging NativeScript is much harder than in React Native as one needs to do it on a device or an emulator.
- Few UI components are paid and not for free.
3. Xamarin Framework
Xamarin Android framework is used for cross-platform mobile app development and it allows developers to share almost 90 percent of the code across platforms. It uses one language: C# to build apps for mobile platforms. Xamarin is a platform that provides access to a variety of .NET features, such as Lambda, LINQ, asynchronous programming (asynchronous/await), and more.
Xamarin Android framework is composed of two main products, Xamarin.iOS and Xamarin.Android, with the former compiling the source code directly to native ARM assembly code. The latter, on the other hand, compiles the source code down to Intermediate Language before recompiling it to the native assembly at runtime (just-in-time). Both of these processes are automated and designed to address issues such as memory allocation and garbage collection, as well as platform interoperability.
Xamarin.Forms is an additional product designed for prototyping or mobile app development, allowing for up to 100 percent code sharing across both iOS and Android.
The benefits of using the Xamarin Android framework are:
- Uses .Net framework to build apps for any mobile platform.
- It eliminates all compatibility issues regarding plugins, APIs, and devices.
- As Xamarin is a cross-platform framework, it can be easily updated and maintained.
Cons of using the Xamarin Android framework are:
- Limited access to open-source libraries.
- It costs a lot for enterprise and professional use. Money is spent on purchasing a license for Visual Studio.
- Challenge to find an experienced Xamarin developer.
- Issues while integrating third-party resources like tools and libraries with Xamarin.
4. jQuery Mobile Framework
jQuery framework develops web applications that will operate in the same manner across mobile, tablet, and desktop devices.
Additionally, this Android framework offers a set of form inputs that are touch-friendly, as well as UI widgets. This progressive enhancement provides a unique feature to all mobile devices, as well as adding efficient page loading and wider device support.
The benefits of using jQuery are:
- It is easy to learn and develop apps if developers know CSS3 and HTML features.
- It is simple to create a custom theme using ThemeRoller without writing the code and it supports HTML5 browsers.
- There is no need to write a different code for every device resolution as jQuery is cross-platform and cross-browser compatible.
- The same code is used to scale from a mobile screen to a desktop screen.
Missing features in jQuery are:
- There are limited options for CSS themes, so sites can look similar.
- Slower on mobiles.
- Difficult to offer a complete and customized visual design.
- All features cannot be accessed by JS in a browser.
5. React Native Android Framework
Additionally, the framework automatically updates at the same time as the system’s general updates, allowing for the maintenance of many apps for free without any additional effort from app developers.
The benefits of using the React Native Android framework are:
- React Native utilizes native UI components to provide applications with a high-quality UI with a native aesthetic.
- Its extensive library of UI components expedites the development process.
- It provides developers with native functionalities, such as cameras and other features, to optimize individual applications.
- This framework allows developers to apply immediate changes to applications without the need to recompile them.
- It is supported by Facebook, making it a dependable open-source framework for application developers.
Missing components of React Native include:
- React Native’s native navigation is not as smooth as that of the Android native framework.
- The platform is not designed to support intricate animation or intricate transitions.
Framework7 is a free and open-source framework that provides a convenient and user-friendly experience with its easy-to-use jQuery syntax. Additionally, the framework includes a FastClick library to manage click delay for touch user interfaces, a grid system layout to arrange elements consistently, and the ability to dynamically load pages from templates via a flexible router API.
The benefits of using Framework7 are:
- Framework7 is not dependent on any third-party library, not even for DOM manipulation. It has its custom DOM7.
- Developers can start creating apps on Framework7 if they’re aware of JS, HTML, and CSS.
- It can be used with React and Angular frameworks.
- With Framework7, it is easy to develop apps for Android and iOS.
- It supports faster development with Bower.
Some missing components of Framework7 are:
- It only supports platforms like Android and iOS.
- The online support community for Framework7 is less than iOS or Android.
7. Corona Software Development Kit
In 2009, Corona SDK was developed as a software development kit for creating applications and games that quickly load. This comprehensive and cross-platform framework accelerates development by ten times more than existing Android frameworks. It does this by integrating Lua, lightweight and multivariate programming languages built atop C++ / OpenGL, resulting in improved performance, usability, and versatility.
Corona is a free tool for game development that is compatible with Mac OS X, and Windows and can be tested in real-time, making it a popular choice among game creators. Additionally, this Android framework offers native Application support, more than 500 APIs, and a customizable advertising platform that is tailored to developers’ needs and requirements.
The API suite is also equipped with graphics, networking, widgets, and particle effects, among other features.
The benefits of using Corona SDK are:
- This library is designed to be user-friendly and straightforward to use.
- It contains over 1000 APIs and plugins, allowing for cross-platform development.
- It is capable of utilizing APIs or calling any native library, such as C and C++, as well as Obj-C and Java.
- Developers can save a significant amount of time when testing devices in real time.
- It supports native user interfaces and real-time tests. Due to the lack of an integrated development environment, additional plugins are available to enable users to access specific platforms.
Missing components of Corona SDK are:
- Corona SDK is quite costly.
- It is difficult to test Corona build apps on devices.
- There’s no solution to integrate native plugins, so cannot use Corona for all applications.
8. Flutter Android Framework
Flutter is a cross-platform application framework developed by Google. The first version of this framework, known as Sky, was specifically designed to run on Android. It was released in 2017 and is one of the more recent application development frameworks.
According to a 2021 survey, Flutter has become the most widely used Android framework. It quickly rose to the top of the list after being ranked second in 2019 and 2020 after React Native. It is now the preferred Android framework of 42 percent of Android developers (versus 38 percent in 2020).
Flutter is an open-source, cross-platform application development toolkit that provides a wide range of app development tools, including pre-made widgets, API, CLI tools, and many more.
The benefits of using Flutter are:
- Flutter lets you build new widgets or modify existing ones.
- It is backed by the tech giant Google and is highly dependable.
- It has a fast code implementation that allows for fast bug fixes.
- Just like Xamarin and React Native, Flutter is also free to use.
Missing components in the Flutter Android framework are:
- Just like Xamarin, Flutter apps are large, pushing developers to compromise on animation, images, and the number of libraries used.
- This Android framework doesn’t allow the use of many native APIs, hence developers have to rely on third-party packages or write their codes.
9. Ionic Android Framework
The ionic android framework is an MIT-certified, open-source, and free application development framework. It uses a combination of JS, CSS3, and HTML for cross-platform application development. It helps to develop PWAs (Progressive Web Applications) and hybrid apps.
The benefits of using the Ionic Android framework are:
- Initially, developers only needed HTML, Angular, JS, and CSS languages.
- Skilled developers can easily comprehend the ionic app, thus ensuring a faster development process.
- It integrates easily with other libraries such as Angular JS.
- Ionic uses Cordova plugins to access native components.
Missing aspects in the Ionic framework are:
- Can be prone to sudden crashes.
- Debugging is a major issue as it is hard to identify the source of errors.
- Native plugins aren’t fully stable, hence can create a conflict with one another.
In conclusion, Android frameworks like Ionic empower developers to create versatile, cross-platform applications efficiently. With their rich ecosystem of tools, libraries, and plugins, they streamline Android app development while ensuring a consistent user experience across devices. These frameworks continue to play a pivotal role in shaping the mobile app landscape.
If you’re looking to develop an Android application for your organization, especially a healthcare application, then connect with Arkenea, one of the leading healthcare software development companies in the USA.