If you’re wondering whether going cross-platform for your app instead of native, keep in mind this statistic: the cross-platform app market is expected to hit $7.5 million by 2018, and the amount of support that Windows among others is giving to Java and other languages is increasing too.
There are advantages, of course, to native applications, but a well-made cross-platform app will make the differences seem extremely small, while carrying its own advantages; the main one being that users on more than one platform have access to your product or service.
There’s more to apps than the front end (indeed, the back-end is perhaps even more important in the case of cross-platform mobile applications), but in this big list we’ve decided to concentrate on resources to learn and to build. From Xamarin to IntelliJ, from Ruby to Java, the freedom of cross-platform development can make the environment hard to navigate, whcih is why we’ve rounded up the best resources to make mobile apps that work on both iOS and Android.
We’ve divided the list into three categories, so without further delay, here it is:
Java – The mobile cross-platform language ‘par excellence’, you really can’t go wrong by using this for apps compatible almost anywhere.
C++ – A lower language than Java, and an extremely useful one at that – it is basically ubiquitous. Not the first recommendation because it often puts extra strain on a mobile’s resources.
C# – The Microsoft world equivalent of Objective-C for Mac, but it is quickly becoming a favourite for cross-platform web apps.
Ruby – One of the newer languages here, it was designed specifically for mobile and to be as simple (and resource-light) as possible.
The Java Tutorials – The official tutorials by Oracle on the Java language.
Javanotes – If you prefer reading to sitting in front of a computer, a book on learning Java could be your thing.
Freeware Java – Very useful and in-depth Java tutorial recommended by the /r/learnjava subreddit.
Tutorialspoint – Highly rated, modular tutorial.
Engineer for Free – An entire youtube course (47 videos) for learning C++, organised into a single website.
Penguin Programmer – One of the few text-based tutorials on C++ available online.
Derek Banas – We’ve featured Derek on this website before, as his tutorials are outstanding, and this one is really worthwhile looking over: at over an hour long, it covers all you need to get started!
C# Fundamentals for Absolute Beginners – If you haven’t coded for a minute throughout your life, this is still a great place to start. Absolute basics to advanced concepts of object-oriented programming.
Kudvenkat – Another great place for beginners, this Youtube series currently numbers 100 videos.
Part 1 – C# Tutorial – Introduction
Mozilla Developer Network – Coupled with HTML and CSS courses by the same developer network, a total resource for developing cross-platform apps.
Ruby Koans – A very well structured, hands-on Ruby tutorial which presents problems for you to solve on your path to learning the language. Almost zen in its conception..
The Well-Grounded Rubyist – Another excellent book which can be read throughout or tackled one example at a time.
Pragmatic Studio – Starts free before moving to a paid model, but these are well explained and thought-out tutorials made by professionals in the business.
The New Boston – We’ve recommended them before – among the best youtube tutorial series out there. Extremely useful, and not just for HTML.
HTML5 Tutorial – 1 – Introduction
Html-5-Tutorial – Does what it says on the tin really. Breaks down the essentials of HTML very well.
Editors and IDEs
Xamarin – One of the biggest software development tools out there, it is owned by Microsoft and with its C# apps codebase it has a wide range of applications, and can test on multiple devices
Phonegap – Among the easiest development frameworks to learn. Free and opensource, it has a wide community of users and thus of plug-ins and custom settings, though its performance is sometimes criticised.
Eclipse – The most widely used Java IDE, having been around for years (since 2001) means it has hundreds of community-generated plug-ins, libraries and resources.
IntelliJ – Open source and usable for commercial development, this IDE made by JetBrains is the de-facto standard for Java development in Android, but can also be used for cross-platform.
App Designer Overview
IBM Worklight – Full-spectrum and all-platform developer. Probably not the best place to begin, but good for experienced programmers.
Visual Studio – Being a Microsoft product, you know this is going to be a well-published IDE, but once again, the interface and level of detail make this more suitable for those with some experience under their belt.
Sencha – HTML5 mobile app development platform, its apps can also be packaged with PhoneGap. The product is supported by a large suite of linked products, like a data visualiser and a “code-less” app builder.
Qt – Boasts that 8 of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies use its interface-led tool for creating cross-platform applications.
Mono – The first thing to be said is this IDE runs on Linux, which sets it apart from many other cross-platform tools. Creates apps in C, C++ and C#.
BiznessApps – Affordable HTML5, iOS and Android platform made with small and medium business apps in mind.
MobinCube – A simple interface for building consumer apps, boasts 100,000+ mobile applications created with its platform and over 126 million downloads.
AppsMoment – One of the “coding-less” platforms to create apps without having to learn the language underneath. 300+ templates, 120 features and also covers Kindle apps.
RubyMotion – Allows you to code, run and test iOS, OSX and Android apps on any device. A huge set of tools and resources, allows to implement 3rd party libraries and has been used by salesforce and BaseCamp, among others.
Alpha Anywhere – Comes with a free trial, has offline capability and was built with speed-of-development in mind.
FeedHenry – Also known as RedHat, the key feature of this platform is its focus on a collaborative development environment. 20 minute free demo available.
Ionic – Used to build over two million apps, this open source tool is free at signup and through development, its pricing plan of $39/month only starting when your first app is published. There are higher tiers for more features.
iFactr – Prides itself in being the platform for “rugged apps” for enterprise and business applications, supporting both legacy and modern Windows.
Kony – App building tool for mobile, desktop and tablet, with support for both consumer and enterprise level apps.
DropSource – One of the newer options in this list, a browser-based app builder that lets you create native apps for iOS and Android with its automated programming.
Yapp – Specific, simple and quick, an app-builder for events, conferences and meetings.
Corona – While focused on games and 2D development, this popular builder can also create “normal apps” and has a very wide user- and knowledge-base.
Build Games for Mobile, TV, and Desktop using Corona SDK
Kinvey – Back-end service specific for mobile apps and can be applied cross platform.
Mag+ – This SDK is compatible with most languages, allowing you to code on top of pre-existing projects. Also has an iPad-specific app.
Xojo – As well as covering the usual platforms (desktop, mobile, iOS, Android), one of the few tools that lets you code for Raspberry Pi. The company also offers cloud hosting.
Final Thoughts: Can’t decide between iOS and Android? Why not both? There are plenty of resources here to make an app for all devices, even beyond mobile, and in a number of languages, using various different frameworks. There should be something here to help everyone get their app launched!