AppMobi, Appcelerator, or PhoneGap for Hybrid Mobile App Development?

We are no longer talking about similar types of tools. While there is continuous and ongoing debate about Titanium over Phonegap, adding AppMobi as another promising cross platform technology actually opens a difference between the 3 which can now clearly be distinguished. If your budget is strong enough to support dedicated mobile app for Android, iOS and Windows then no discussion is further needed about opting for native mobile app development. If you currently consider cross-platform approach for your mobile app, this is the right reading for you..

Phonegap app development

PhoneGap was started in Aug 2008, it’s been downloaded over 400,000 times and has thousands of apps in the various app stores around. PhoneGap supports iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Palm WebOS, Symbian and Windows Phone 7 to a certain extent.

Apps powered by Phonegap are in fact web apps written with HTML/CSS with native code wrapper which is uploaded on iTunes and Google Play. The applications execute within wrappers targeted to each platform, and rely on standards-compliant API bindings to access each device’s sensors, data, and network status. However there is something else that makes projects developed with Phonegap unique. Read more on this blog post.

Appcelerator app development

Titanium uses a variation of HTML and JavaScript that is then compiled into Objective C. You still need a Mac and all the Apple XCode tools to actually create an app. Initially it comes with a free version (their PRO account is $200/month) and claims over 90,000 developers and 1000 apps being posted per month.

Titanium continues to take a lead towards number 1 platform of choice for enterprise mobility with it’s cloud based development and push notification feature and it has been featured on Gartner’s 2013 Magic Quadrant as leader in vision and execution of mobile app development platforms.

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU: Is Titanium good for developing native iOS apps? 

Appcelerator is the choice to build native applications without skills in programming language of the mobile phone. For example Titanium takes your Javascript code, analyzes and reprocesses it and then re-compiles it into a set of symbols that are resolved based on your application’s uses of Titanium APIs.

AppMobi app development

appMobi offers a complete cloud-based development system that includes a the XDK development tool (includes debugging on PC and device, emulation, and final binary builds for Android and Apple platforms

AppMob has a free account, but it’s PRO account is cheap -$99 per developer per year. They are partnered with Amazon AWS and offer a lot of extra services such as remote updates of apps (without resubmitting through the Apple App Store), analytics, push notifications, an ad system, and in-app payments, all of which are “pay as you go.

And the race continues

Phonegap apps are web apps and is the preferred choice to make sharing of your app with your users simple through mobile app marketplaces. Titanium is more powerful in making native mobile app that integrate and support native features and APIs. If your cross platform mobile apps needs monetization and frequent content update, AppMobi’s offering takes the leading edge over the other two.

Since all 3 are cross platform technologies, it will be important to highlight when and why a developer would go cross platform or native:

  • If you’re already a native coder or you’re good at programming and you’re willing to take the hit to learn native coding and want a very polished app I’d suggest that you go native.
  • If your already a web developer and like getting dirty with your own CSS and stuff then any of AppMobi, AppCelerator or Phonegap are good choices. Once you’ve made the choice to go Phonegap (with or without AppMobi) then you will probably want to choose a JS library like jQuery or Zepto and a presentation layer like JQuery Mobile, JQTouch or Sencha Touch.
  • If you are more designer then coder or you are willing to swap a bit of flexibility for a lot of speed you could use one of the design first approaches. These tools let you create apps by first designing the screens usually with a drag and drop interface and then adding interaction with JavaScript., AppFurnace  is such platform which gives designers a balance between full creative and design control while also making it easier and faster than developing it all yourself.

Of course there are several other cross platform solutions we still haven’t experimented with yet. What kind of problems or challenges have you encountered while building your mobile app project with any of the three?

Which one would you recommend to a developer looking forward to distribute his mobile app across multiple platform?

Give us your opinions in comments below.