12 Frameworks for Mobile Hybrid Apps


Nowadays, working in hybrid mobile app development makes life easier for developers as they are able to write once and build mobile applications that run on the main platforms with no extra effort. The application will run on Android and iOS and the code can be reused for progressive web applications and even desktop applications (by using Electron, with some tweaks, you are able to adapt the code for the desktop environment).

[Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 2017 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.]

In this post, let us dive into a list of 10 useful frameworks to help you build great and amazing mobile hybrid applications.

1. Xamarin

XamarinXamarin is a Microsoft-owned San Francisco California-based software company founded in May 2011 which has cross-platform implementations of the Common Language Infrastructure (CLI) and Common Language Specifications (often called Microsoft .NET).

With a C# shared codebase, developers can use Xamarin tools to write native Android, iOS, and Windows apps with native user interfaces and share code across multiple platforms, including Windows and MacOS. Xamarin is the top hybrid mobile app development framework. It saves your time regarding re-utilizing abilities, tools, teams and the best significant part is code. You can influence the array of Xamarin and Android APIs as well as design an amazing experience for glass with the Android SDK and GDK.


2. PhoneGap

PhonegapPhoneGap is the most popular cross-platform framework for mobile hybrid application development. From the team behind Apache Cordova, the Adobe PhoneGap framework is an open source distribution of Cordova framework. With Phonegap, you can reuse existing web development skills to quickly make hybrid applications built with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for multiple platforms with a single codebase so you can reach your audience no matter their device.

The core of Apache Cordova applications uses CSS3 and HTML5 for their rendering and JavaScript for their logic. HTML5 provides access to underlying hardware such as the accelerometer, camera, and GPS. However, browsers’ support for HTML5-based device access is not consistent across mobile browsers, particularly older versions of Android. To overcome these limitations, Apache Cordova embeds the HTML5 code inside a native WebView on the device, using a foreign function interface to access the native resources of it.

Apache Cordova can be extended with native plug-ins, allowing developers to add more functionalities that can be called from JavaScript, making it communicate directly between the native layer and the HTML5 page. These plugins allow access to the device’s accelerometer, camera, compass, file system, microphone, and more.

3. Intel XDK

Intel XDKThe Intel XDK allows you build cross-platform apps for each and every store. It includes web services and plugins for content-rich, interactive apps, responsive apps runs on any device. This framework which is a complete range of tools that support development, emulation, testing, debugging and publishing. Recently, they made some big changes by supporting all the capabilities you love from developing mobile HTML5 apps (including Apache Cordova) for Android, iOS, and Windows 10 UAP. Now they have included software development capabilities for Node.JS-based, on-board, IoT apps too.

Intel XDK provides a live preview on the connected device whilst you are developing alongside many other useful tools. You can create apps using a drag and drop approach, although it does create a lot of unnecessary code.

4. Ionic Framework

Ionic FrameworkThe Ionic Framework is a complete open-source SDK for hybrid mobile app development. Built on top of Angular.js and Apache Cordova, Ionic provides tools and services for developing hybrid mobile apps using Web technologies like CSS, HTML5, and Sass. Apps can be built with these Web technologies and then distributed through native app stores to be installed on devices by leveraging Cordova.

Ionic Framework is a 100% free and open source project, licensed under MIT. It will always remain free to use, powered by a massive worldwide community. They have over 120 native device features like Bluetooth, HealthKit, Finger Print Auth, and more with Cordova/PhoneGap plugins and TypeScript extensions. You can use their CLI to create, build, test, and deploy your Ionic apps onto any platform. The framework has Ionicons icon pack with hundreds of the most common app icons. MIT licensed, and ready out of the box. And you can develop your apps by Live Reload because to compile and redeploy your app at every step of development is for chumps. And there are more useful features like deep linking, AoT Compiling, Ionic Native.

Side Note: Protecting Your Ionic Source CodeJscrambler has a comprehensive tutorial on how to protect your Ionic mobile hybrid app. If you are interested in security, you may want to take a look at it here!

5. Framework7

Framework7Framework7 is a free and open source mobile HTML framework to develop hybrid mobile apps or web apps with iOS & Android native look and feel. It is also an indispensable prototyping apps tool to show working app prototype as soon as possible in case you need to.

The main approach of the Framework7 is to give you an opportunity to create iOS & Android apps with HTML, CSS, and JavaScript easily and clear. This framework is focused only on iOS and Google Material design to bring the best experience and simplicity.

Some useful features provided by Framework7 are native scrolling, library agnostic, pages transition animation, multiple views support, hardware accelerated animations via CSS3, route pages by using the combination of XHR, caching, browser history and preloading.

6. Appcelerator Titanium

Appcelerator TitaniumTitanium has mixed development environments provided by Xamarin and PhoneGap. All apps are written in JavaScript but you must use a custom XML and Appcelerator’s API to support some native features. This framework is cross-platform with full support for Android and iOS, but it is not included with CSS and HTML. In the end, the compiled code is a combination of native and javascript that improves a better performance for mobile hybrid development.

Titanium is a good solution for creating hybrid mobile apps. To get started with Titanium download Titanium studio. The Titanium SDK is equipped with a number of mobile platform APIs and Cloud service to use as an app backend. It comes with platform-independent APIs which makes it easier to access phone hardware.

Titanium uses Alloy, an MVC framework to enable rapid development of mobile apps. Modules created using Alloy are easy to reuse across different apps, hence significantly reducing the development time and the lines of code.

7. Mobile Angular UI

Mobile Angular UIMobile Angular UI is a hybrid mobile framework for the fans of Bootstrap and Angular. With Mobile Angular UI, you’ll get the best of both Bootstrap 3 and Angular framework to build HTML5 mobile applications. Angular UI is more like an extension to Bootstrap 3 but without any dependencies of Bootstrap js libs or jQuery (which both are default dependencies in Bootstrap 3), instead, all you need to use are some AngularJS directives to create awesome mobile user experiences.

For a smooth and better mobile experience, this framework comes with fastclick.js and overthrow.js. Responsive media queries are stripped out of bootstrap as separate files, you only need to include what you need. There are UI components like overlays, switches, sidebars, scrollable areas and absolute positioned navbars that don’t bounce on scroll.

Mobile Angular UI is available as open source and free to use under MIT license.

8. Onsen UI

Onsen UIOnsen UI is relatively new but giving a tough competition to Ionic. It is an open source framework under Apache license. Onsen UI is framework-agnostic UI components, you can choose and switch among the frameworks: Angular, Angular 2, React, Vue.js and Meteor or go pure JavaScript to build your hybrid apps.

Onsen UI features a large collection of ready to use components, responsive out of the box that allows you to build mobile, it allows you to write apps in HTML5 and JavaScript and push through PhoneGap and Cordova for building the app.

This framework is very easy to use, flexibility and has semantic markup components and is free to use for commercial projects.

9. Sencha Touch

Sencha TouchSencha Touch is an enterprise-grade product for building cross-platform end to end mobile web apps with HTML5 and JavaScript. You can call it as the big daddy of mobile application development platforms in the commercial space, mostly enterprises. Sencha has a wide range of products that work hand to hand with Sencha Touch, most of these products carry heavy price tag.

For individual developers and freelancers, Ionic, Onsen UI or Framework7 will be a better choice but for enterprises application, Sencha Touch leads the way.

Sencha Touch scores highly against its competitors by providing a native look and feel across all of the platforms it supports.

ExtJS, one of the most popular JavaScript frameworks is at the core of Sencha Touch platform which helps create high-performance apps with near native experience. Sencha Touch packs ready to use widgets with native look and feel for all leading platforms including iOS, android, Windows Phone, and Blackberry. Sencha also features a drag and drop HTML5 visual application builder with tons of ready to use templates. Custom components can also be built and added to the library for reuse across apps.

10. Kendo UI

Kendo UIKendo UI is an HTML5 framework for creating cross-platform mobile applications powered by Telerik. It relies heavily on jQuery and comes packed with 70+ ready to use jQuery widgets. You can also integrate it with Angular or Bootstrap UI framework too.

It is not difficult to learn Kendo UI because a lot of developers are familiar with jQuery. It’s a free and open-source framework, but it is slightly limited in terms of features to work, you won’t get dedicated technical support and some commonly used widgets are still under a commercial license.

Extra Mentions

After many suggestions from the community, we decided to feature NativeScript and React Native in this blog post. NativeScript is indeed an awesome open-source framework focused on developing apps on the Apple iOS and Android platforms and React Native needs no introduction for most developers, it is a framework for building native mobile apps using JavaScript and React.

11. NativeScript

NativeScriptOriginally created by Progress, NativeScript apps are built using JavaScript, or by using any language that transpiles to JavaScript, such as TypeScript, for instance. NativeScript directly supports both Angular and Vue frameworks via a community-developed plugin. Mobile applications built with NativeScript result in fully native apps, which use the same APIs as if they were developed in Xcode or Android Studio.

Additionally, software developers can re-purpose third-party libraries from Cocoapods, Android Arsenal, Maven, and npm.js in their mobile applications without the need for wrappers.

Side Note: Protecting Your NativeScript Source Codeprotecting-nativescript-apps-with-jscramblerWe previously covered that Progress Telerik has recommended Jscrambler as the solution of choice to protect NativeScript Applications! Know more here.

12. React Native

React NativeWith React Native, you can build mobile apps using only JavaScript. It uses the same design as React, letting you compose a rich mobile UI from declarative components.

Using this framework, you don’t build a “mobile web app”, an “HTML5 app”, or a “hybrid app”. You build a real mobile app that’s indistinguishable from an app built using Objective-C or Java. React Native uses the same fundamental UI building blocks as regular iOS and Android apps. You just put those building blocks together using JavaScript and React.


If you’re planning to create a mobile application, choosing the hybrid model will save you time and effort and you can reuse the code for creating a web application version too. Of course, the hybrid model is not the perfect solution for all problems, but hybrid apps are a good choice for deploying your app faster and for creating prototype applications, for example. These frameworks can surely provide you a user experience very close to a native application.

A hybridized application is similar to a mobile-optimized website mainly written in JavaScript so if you’re worried about the security of your hybrid mobile app, you can use Jscrambler. It avoids runtime code modifications, gives your application self-defensive capabilities and the ability to fight against any reverse-engineering or tampering attempts that can hurt the business logic of your application. It also reduces visibility and makes the code extremely hard to understand.

With Jscrambler, you can protect your app from information leakage, malware injection, piracy and license violations, code theft and counterfeit applications.


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