Whether we’re talking about enterprise mobile apps or consumer apps, choosing the right mobile development technology, isn’t a quick or easy process. With such a broad offering of development platforms, it’s easy to get lost. It all depends on your business goals, on your budget, and even on your resources. That’s why, to make it easier for you, we did some in-depth research on the best mobile app development platforms (MADP) on the market based on three categories.
Choosing the Top Mobile App Development Platforms (MADP)
Here are the platforms we took for a test drive.
|Free Cross-Platform Mobile App Development Tools||Small Budget Cross-Platform Mobile App Development Tools||Enterprise Cross-Platform Mobile App Development Tools|
|Adobe PhoneGap (Cordova)||Cocoon||Microsoft Xamarin|
|React Native||RubyMotion||Salesforce App Cloud|
Now, if you’re comparing the technical requirements of the best mobile app development platforms on the market, these articles are an excellent starting point to find your dream platform.
To see one in action, check out the video below.
Why an MADP? Why Should You Develop for Mobile With A Platform?
When you’re launching a digital or mobile strategy, one of the first questions you need to ask yourself after defining your business goals is which is the best app development platform for you.
When you decide to adopt a mobile strategy at enterprise level and transform your business, a few things are about to happen: the demand for new apps will increase, as well as the need for speed and agility. Why? Because in a world that’s moving at hyper speed, being the fastest to respond to digital innovation opportunities determines who’s the leader and who’s a laggard. And no one wants to be a laggard.
Having the right technology by your side is a crucial step to make sure your IT team is able to deliver with the right time-to-market and with a great user experience without sinking into an ocean of backlog.
And, as we talk about digital strategies, there’s one more factor to consider. Mobility is moving beyond just pretty web and mobile apps in iOS and Android. In a multiexperience, adding engagement in new touchpoints like chat, voice, augmented reality, and wearable experiences have to be part of the plan.
“By 2023, more than 25% of the mobile apps, progressive web apps and conversational apps at large enterprises will be built and/or run through a multiexperience development platform (MXDP)."
The Era of Multiexperiences
Using Gartner’s definition, multiexperience platforms “enable development of progressive web apps (PWAs), conversational apps (voice assistants and chatbots), immersive apps, and wearable apps.” With new touch points entering our daily lives, companies need to step up their game and rethink their digital strategy to meet customers expectations.
Now, I know what you’re thinking: as if it wasn’t challenging enough to find skilled resources to develop iOS and Android applications at enterprise level, now you need to find more developers to cover every single digital experience. Well, not exactly.
To solve this challenge, the leading MADPs have extended their use cases and development offering to help enterprises develop seamless omnichannel, multiexperiences applications. This includes capabilities to develop:
- Mobile and web apps, including iOS and Android native mobile apps, progressive web apps, and responsive web apps
- Smartphone and tablet apps
- Weareable, AR/VR, IoT, AI apps.
Moreover, Gartner went even a step further and replaced its annual MADP Magic Quadrant with the Multiexperience Development Platforms (MXDP).
So, with all these challenges in mind, how do you choose the best mobile / multiexperience platform and vendor for your business needs? There is no lack of options. In the previous Magic Quadrant that I mentioned, Gartner evaluated 80+ vendors but only scored 18 vendors, including Microsoft, OutSystems, Salesforce, Kony, SAP, IBM, and PegaSystems. But which one best fits your business and your IT technology landscape?
Evaluating the Critical Features of a MADP / MXDP
By now you get the idea of the main purpose for these platforms. But you still want to know what their most valuable built-in features are to help your teams be productive. You want to know their key attributes for enterprise mobile and multiexperience app development and how they compare. To help you figure that out, here are the most critical features to evaluate:
- Low-code development: How does the platform support development using drag-and-drop, declarative, model-driven, metadata-driven or other noncoding approaches to create a variety of app types?
- Code-centric developer tooling: How does the platform provide developers with a code-centric approach to designing and building apps either using an IDE supplied by the MXDP or via a plug-in to an open-source IDE (such as Eclipse or Visual Studio Code)?
- Microapps patterns: How does the platform support reusable app components or app building blocks from a design and architecture perspective to enable portability across app types?
- Mesh app and service architecture (MASA): How does the platform architecture support microservices, API mediation, serverless and event-driven requirements?
- Monitoring and analytics: How does the platform capture, correlate and report on the performance and usage of apps built and run on it?
- Core back-end services: How does the platform provide reusable app services (such as location services, push notifications, offline synchronization, user management, and data and file storage), as well as integration and API design and orchestration?
- AI services: How does the platform provide built-in or tightly integrated cloud AI services (such as NLP, image recognition and sentiment analysis) for use within apps?
- DevOps support: How does the platform offer embedded or integrated tooling to support agile development, CI/CD, test automation, version control and release management, to facilitate DevOps automation?
- Process and workflow orchestration: How does the platform support the designing and orchestrating of app workflows and processes from existing systems, or support new ones within and across apps?
- AR/VR support: How does the platform support immersive interfaces using SDKs (such as ARKit, ARCore, WebAR and Wikitude) or specific device platforms (such as HoloLens and Magic Leap One)?
However, as I said before, the technical requirements are just a part of what makes a mobile development platform great. Put it this way: you may have the best Ferrari in the world but if you don’t know how to drive, it doesn’t really matter how good your car is. This can happen with software too.
MXDP Vendors: Which Ones Are Best Rated by Customers?
When you’re evaluating software, you need to assess the whole service that the provider has to offer. Because a development platform impacts many teams for the speed of business, there are a lot more attributes to evaluate a vendor than just platform features. These include the vendor contracting experience, customer onboarding, user training, and the responsiveness of their support (including SLAs). In other words, the entire relationship lifecycle.
In the old days, most enterprise tech buyers consulted leading analysts to pick the best software vendors, including reading analyst reports, such as the Gartner’s Magic Quadrant or the Forrester Wave, which offer great insights to evaluate vendors and products in a market like the mobile development one.
But in the past months, a new evaluation trend gained so much momentum that it already surpassed analysts reports in reading volume: enterprise IT review sites, such as Gartner Peer Insights, G2 Crowd, and Capterra, provide software users’ opinions about a product or service from a vendor, in volumes we never had before.
Why this shift? Because customer reviews give you hundreds of trusted opinions about the provider and the software capabilities from the perspective of those who actually use the platform (in raw and aggregate scores). For example, Gartner Peer Insights does a thorough check of each reviewer to make sure those leaving the reviews work where they say they do and are who they say they are. Therefore, the reviews are more in depth than analyst reports; it’s the real voice of users leaving their opinions as customers of the tech vendor and their experience with the product.
How Are Customer Choice Distinctions Awarded?
With so many aspects for customers to rate vendors on, it is not easy for any vendor in a market to be number one. But for those that make it, there is now a new recognition in Peer Insights: the Customers’ Choice Distinction—which is only awarded to one or a few leaders in a market that have the top scores (above 4.2 out of a max of 5) and the most customers proving it (making them the most reliable scores).
That is why we feel honoured to achieve these unique recognitions by our customers:
- We’re the only software vendor awarded “Customers’ Choice 2019” in two app dev markets.
- We have the most reliable top satisfaction score (4.5 out of 5) by far (491 reviews as of Oct. 23).
So, getting back to the beginning, finding the best mobile app development platform is all about finding that balance between a great product and great service. And that’s why part of our evaluation journey must include the review sites now that they provide you this valuable service.
Mobile Application Development Platform Reviews
It makes us proud to know that we’re helping customers succeed:
- Like the Worcestershire County Council which made 100 percent of their public services digital and available online, all while saving £2.8 million.
- Or thinkmoney that replaced its mobile banking app, while redeveloping their internet banking service and switching-off their previous off-the-shelf digital banking platform.
- Or FWD Insurance, a relative newcomer in the Asian insurance market that built an intuitive mobile app for its customers, giving them access to innovative insurance services like mobile premium payments, automated self-service, and investment tracking.
For more powerful examples of what customers are saying about OutSystems, check out some of their own words:
OutSystems Support Evolution
“Developing applications with OutSystems it's been a great journey. We are still gaining more and more development speed and leaving behind our competitors.”
OutSystems Is An Evolutionary Step To Be Recognized In The History Of Development
“Overall, the experience of moving to OutSystems is one I cannot forget. What I mean by that is, if I ever try to move back to a lower order stack again, I will spend my time reminiscing about the time I saved using OutSystems and just how pleasant the development process was. It is hard to believe the promise of 10x programming until you start using it and realize that this is not another product: it is the first viable step forward in the evolution of software development as we know it. It is the next level of abstraction.”
Implementation, UI, SAP Integration And API Integration Is Very Easy
“Started our journey with OutSystems a year and a half ago. Initially it was bit hard to adopt because we were from core development side. After the CSP program, we were very comfortable in using it. First, an online portal (eSpms) with an end-to-end integration with SAP was completed in record time with one person in a month. But the journey did not stop there. We were able to deliver portals within no time and with good UI. Marketplace API integration with Microsoft were developed without any error. This was an award winning project.”
Quickly Deliver Native Mobile Apps At Scale
“OutSystems has been instrumental in delivering offline native applications for our colleagues out in the field. Especially the speed of delivery and the continuous delivery capabilities made it a successful tool. We needed to supply our our sales reps and specialists with the tools that they needed while on the road (worldwide)."