Mobile App Development Resources Guide

Introduction

“How to build an app”

“What programming language do I need to learn?”

These are common questions asked everyday by beginners who are eager to learn how to code and develop iOS or Android apps. No doubt you’ve already googled something along those lines and read enough articles/answers that all say the same thing.

You have probably come across various articles such as; https://thinkmobiles.com/blog/best-app-development-software/ a very good starting point if you are looking at a DIY solution. However, if you plan to master the art of the app development, then you should read on.

In today’s fast paced world, the mobile app market is expanding by leaps and bounds. Providing seamless, yet engaging experience on mobile is now more important than ever, and it gives a true competitive advantage to businesses that get it right.

Consequently, as mobile app designers and developers we are always looking for the right tool that will make our designs, functionality and usability worthwhile for the end user. Developing a valuable mobile app requires top notch skill, creativity, and of course the right tools.

While it’s still essential to sketch your wireframes and products prototype on paper, and to be particular about the approach being followed for mobile app development, app designing software is making it easier and less tedious to share finished or unfinished jobs with clients, developers, and designers.

Here’s the situation: you’re a developer and have all the necessary tools to code an amazing app. But you’re a bit stuck as far as the design, and with so many design tools everywhere nowadays, it can be challenging to choose the best tool for your particular type of app.

Without the mastery of industry-standard design tools like Adobe Photoshop, how do you design a mobile app that reflects your inner genius? How do you make an app that is both visually stunning and easy for users to navigate?

Good news is, we’ve distilled 50 tools mobile app developers prefer to use. We’re confident that you’ll find the right tool with the functionality you need from this list.

9 Best Cross-Platform Mobile App Development Tools

There are a large number of tutorials and learning material on the net to learn iOS app development and Android App Development. For the purpose of this article we will be focussing on (WORA), the concept of write once, run anywhere app development platforms and resources.

With WORA a developer writes code once on one platform, and runs it on multiple platforms, with the explicit aim being to save time and effort on the part of the developer. As a developer one is able to reuse the code and can design apps that can work efficiently on multiple platforms, including Android, iOS, Windows, and many more.

Codename One

Codename One is a framework that supports popular IDEs like NetBeans, Eclipse, and IntelliJ IDEA. Suitable for rapid application development, it allows a developer to write code in Java, as well as test and verify the application with Codename One’s simulator devices and test automation tools.

One of the main features of its build server is that a developer can build native iOS apps as well as native Windows apps without a Mac machine or Windows PC. We recommended using this platform for developing iOS apps.

A large drawback of Codename's graphic UI is its outdated visual themes, as well as the fact that all the event handlers are stored in a single file, which makes the development more cumbersome. We do not recommend using it for large projects.

 

PhoneGap

Adobe owned PhoneGap, is an open-source platform that makes building cross-platform apps for iPhone, Android, Windows, and BlackBerry quite easy. The two of the main features of the platform is its ability to translate code from HTMT5, CSS, and JavaScript, and being a free resource, it is high in demand among developers due to its features and support that it offers.

The only limitation in this tool is it is not suitable for graphics-intensive apps.

 

Appcelerator

Deploying a JavaScript codebase, Appcelerator makes it possible for coders to create cross-platform apps with speed. Being a platform that is both extensible and open, make it a perfect tool for taking future growth into consideration. As a developer one can create apps for platforms like iOS, Android, and BlackBerry; it even supports HTML5 and hybrid apps. Appcelerator has an open-source SDK and supports more than 5,000 devices and OS APIs, Eclipse-based IDE Studio, and the MVC framework Alloy.

The only disadvantage is the slow response of its support team, especially the developer community.

Sencha Touch

Apart from the fact that the commercial licensing feature of Sencha touch is not easy to comprehend, and its limited number of native looking themes, the Sencha Touch platform is an ideal choice for building cutting-edge apps on a cross-platform mobile app framework. 

Monocross

Monocross is the perfect platform for building interactive and interesting apps for smartphones and tablets. What makes this open source, cross-platform framework so amazing, apart from the fact that it supports C#, Microsoft, .NET, and the Mono framework, is that it gives the developer full access to the native device APIs while still coding in C#.

The two main drawbacks of Monocross are; the lack of enough resources to learn about the framework and document and support for the framework are few in number on the internet.

 

Kony Mobile Platform

The only drawback Kony Mobile Platform  is the scarcity of documentation and resource support for developers. But apart from that it is a platform that is laced with features like automatic coding, app preview facility, an API connection, and a range of pre-built apps that make it easier for novices to develop an app easily.  

NativeScript

NativeScript is another wonderful open source platform for building cross-platform compatible mobile apps. The framework provides native APIs in JavaScript, and it provides support for Angular.js 2 and TypeScript. The great thing about it is that, as a developer you can easily reuse the available plug-in npm directly in NativeScript projects.

As with Kony and Monocross, the resources are not extensive; and it is difficult to find useful examples and documentation on each of its features.

 

RhoMobile

The RhoMobile framework offers application tools to developers for developing multi-platform, native mobile and enterprise applications.

RhoStudio comes along with a free Eclipse plug-in; it allows developers to generate, develop, debug, and test applications, even in the absence of other hardware or an emulator. Here, a developer can easily access an offline data with Rho Connects.

Cons: One of the biggest disadvantages with RhoMobile is Its RhoElements RFID plug-in is not freely available for Windows Mobile/CE.

 

Xamarin

Xamarin has made it possible for the developers to design native apps for multiple platforms using only C# code base. The tool allows developers to use the same IDE, language, and APIs everywhere. Xamarin cross-platform development has been adopted by big names like Microsoft, Foursquare, IBM, and Dow Jones. If a developer wants to use Ruby or C#, then it is one of the most suitable development platforms for them. Xamarin platform allows the developer to share code, which means an app can be created in less time and at decreased cost.

Design tools

Whether you're designing your app for iOS, Android, both or another platform entirely, as a mobile app designer are always looking for the right tool that will make their designs worthwhile for the end user. Developing a valuable mobile app requires top notch skill, creativity, and of course the right tools.

While it’s still recommended that you sketch your wireframes and products prototype on paper, app designing software and resource are making it easier less tedious and easy to share finished or unfinished jobs with clients, developers, and designers.

But with so many design tools everywhere nowadays, it can be challenging to choose the best tool for your particular type of app. Here we’ve brought together a list of brilliant tools to help you get from concept to finished app faster. It is segmented into General tools and then specific tools for Android and IOS.

General Tools

Wireframing Tools

Wireframing is an essential stage when going through the process of designing a mobile app. It involves creating a bare minimum product that essentially represents the skeleton of the design of your app, and it allows you to think about structure as separate from the final design elements.

It also makes it possible for you to effectively get your concept across to any relevant parties – collaborators, designers, or investors – without you personally needing any design experience to accurately express these ideas.

With more wireframe tools to choose from than ever, we selected the pick of the bunch for App Development.

Pen and Paper

Reliable pen and paper might be old school but still un beatable for cost, plus you don’t need any special training or tool mastery to get the most out of this wireframing method. While some designers and developers prefer going directly to Photoshop or a prototyping tool, this pen and paper I still the best method for capturing ideas quickly as they happen.

Android and/or iOS sketch paper

For those just starting out learning how to design a mobile app, sketch paper is a great way to go to learn how to use a specialty wireframing tool. For a reasonable price, you can purchase dot-grid papers that have iPhones and iPads printed on them, it is also ideal for storyboarding or showing the various states of how your app will look in use. The Android version of sketch paper has 8 phone models printed on it. However, unlike the iOS paper (which has a dot grid), this one has no lines at all.

Wireframe kit v2

Boasting over 175 templates and over 500 UI elements, this is a useful resource that will speed up your workflow when you are creating designs for tablets and other mobile devices, ensuring you finish your work on time and your designs always look great.

The Noun Project

This is a great tool kit for any upcoming mobile project that you might have, and a must have for all mobile web designers. It boasts thousands of amazing icons from a variety of different artists, some of which are free.

Now

This is a comprehensive free, cross platform UI kit for Photoshop and sketch. Boasting over 52 complete design templates, 35 custom icons as well as over 180 UI components, you will have everything you need in one kit to create amazing designs.

MockFlow

If you are looking for an online wireframing solution, with the flexibility to handle any type of design project – whether it’s for a mobile or web app, then you should consider something like MockFlow.

Wireframeapp.io

Wireframeapp.io is another web-app based wireframing option similar to MockFlow. Unlike MockFlow all plans are paid for.

Balsamiq

If you are looking for a tool to effortlessly design just wireframes with, then Balsamiq does a great job at it. The great thing about it is, that apart from being fast and offering a lot of UI elements you can make wireframe sketches or clean wireframe designs to match your thought-out design.

Prototyping Tools

Prototyping is the next step in designing a mobile app once you’ve finished wireframing. The main reason for using a prototyping tool is to create a workable version of the design, similar to what you want the final project to look like.

Marvel

Marvel is a collaborative web application prototyping tool that makes it easy to turn your sketches into workable prototypes for iOS and Android. 

It offers the ability to add basic design elements, and also link these designs together to create a workable flow. Marvel allows you to create realistic interactions such as hover, click, swipe, pinch and more. With tons of third party integrations such as Sketch, Photoshop, Illustrator, and even those on cloud storage like Dropbox or Google Drive, Marvel plays nice with many of the other tools you already use, and the collaborators on your team.  Unlike other tools, Marvel is supper specific—design, prototype and collaborate. If this sounds like what you’re looking for, then Marvel could be the design tool for you.

InVision

InVision is a free web and mobile prototyping tool used by innovative companies like Adobe, Zappos, AT&T, Dell, and Sony, as well as fast-growth start-ups like Prezi, Soundcloud, and Evernote. 

Thanks to its functionality that allows for simple commenting and collaboration on projects, it is the perfect prototyping tool for teams, Version control is another great feature, that sets it apart from many similar types of tools. 
Using InVision won’t guarantee you their success, but you can’t deny the benefits of association!

Axure RP

Axure it a complete app design tool for professional designers, offering a free to use during a 30-day trial. It tries to give you all the functionalities you need to design your app from start to finish. 

Axure allows for easy app prototyping thanks to highly functional designs and provides functionality for easy team collaboration. Apart from the prototyping, it allows you to also design wireframes, mock-ups, flowcharts, personas, idea boards, user journeys, diagramming and graphical documentations and even more. 
The interesting thing is, if you are a code freak and will like to do some coding, it allows you to code, and also allows you to add ready to use components and libraries to help you create even better design seamlessly.

Proto.io

Proto.io has a lot of features, and it’s easy to use, as no coding is required. 

For mobile app developers looking to create a realistic and functional prototype that “feels real” this may be music to your ears. 
They supply users with multiple UI libraries, 3rd party integrations (with partners like Dropbox or Google Drive, allowing you to synchronize files easily to help you simplify your workflow), and even user testing to ensure the user experience is seamless upon launch. More importantly, you can seamlessly import your UI components from Sketch or Photoshop. 
A basic 15-day free trial allows you access to limited features. Starting at $24/month you can upgrade to a fully-functional account with multiple projects and features.

JustInMind

Designed for wireframes and for prototyping this standalone tool can be downloaded and installed onto your own server. Through its powerful widget library and tons of plugins extensions, it allows you to add HTML, videos, online widgets, docs, interactive maps and online/offline to your application. 

It furthermore allows for integration with JIRA, Microsoft TFS and Doors, and the ability to manage your team members from the same platform.

Visual Design

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” Is a famous saying by Steve Jobs. Sometimes, we all need a little bit of inspiration.

If you are looking for guidance, and a little inspiration to help remove the creative block, these free tools can help you wrap your head around the perfect design for either mobile operating system.

Laudable Apps

This bare-bones website/app gallery focuses specifically on just showcasing beautiful iOS 7 designs. With no text or other distractions, and no commentary.

Android Patterns

There is no better way to familiarize yourself with the in’s and outs of design for an Android. It may surprise you to know that it is significantly less rigid, and remarkably different to that of iOS app design standards.

Using Android Patterns is a great crash course in Android Design ( in addition to reading through the Google Play store’s submission materials, like this launch checklist), as it contains a library of Android interaction patterns arranged by app type and include actions such as navigation, notifications, and screen interactions.

While these patterns can be helpful they should be taken as a guide, but not absolute rules.

Icons

Icons8 provides a library of over 53,800 icons that are completely free to use. Perfect for helping you visualise what your final product will look like.  

Adobe Colour

Adobe has a vast array of resources for those looking to design a mobile app, from beginner to advanced levels of design. One of the simplest and most useful is their colour scheme tool.

From monochromatic to complementary, to triad, and more the options are endless. You can even create a colour scheme from an image or browse the colour scheme submissions of others for inspiration.

Mobile Design Inspiration

Organized specifically by iPhone, Android, Apple Watch, and iPad, Mobile Design Inspiration is the largest inspiration gallery for mobile app design that we know of. New designs are added weekly, and their “Creative Fields” section can provide additional inspiration if you’re also working on designing an app logo.

Adobe Experience Design (XD)

XD is the direct competitor of Sketch, it is ridiculously fast and easy to use. If you’re a PC fan and have been looking to use Sketch but have been unable to due to its exclusively supports Mac, then, this is good news for you.

XD provides you with basically all the features you get from Sketch—wireframe, prototyping, and more.

Origami

Origami Studio is a complex standalone interface design tool with great functionalities Originally developed by Facebooks it is now available for free.

Highlights include the ability to preview your app prototype, and see live changes as you work on it, by connecting to the Origami app on your iOS or Android device, coping and pasting layers from Sketch, and more.

Another cool functionality is the ability to record your prototype and quickly send it to anyone from the Origami app, even clients.

OmniGraffle

OmniGraffle is another design tool that allows you to quickly visualize the flow of your app. It helps you in planning your app development without much hassle, by providing the features and freedom to prototype strategy maps, wireframes, screen flows, and a range of diagrams.

HotGloo

Need to design a prototype mobile application that needs a specific user interface? Looking for a powerful interface designing tool that allows you to do this? Then web-based HotGloo is for you.

Apart from its extraordinary interactive features, it caters for many designers to work on a single wireframe project from anywhere, all they need is an internet connection.

UI stencil kit

Old fashioned as It may be.  A UI stencil kit is a tool every designer must have.

Flinto

Does it look like all odds are against you on the best tools in the market because you’re not on Mac?

Maybe you want to collaborate with your team and everyone is using Mac and now you’re thinking of getting a Mac because you want to be able to use Sketch?

Well, Flinto has a web and Mac version, you can easily import your Sketch and Photoshop designs and join your team. You’ll never feel like you’re left out.

It’s super-fast, mirrors iPhone and Android transition animations, it supports prototype previewing, and sharing the installation link is simple — just send a link to whoever you want to from the app. 

FramerJS

With FramerJS you can create powerful wireframes and prototypes. It is however not a tool that you can start using straight after visiting the website, you will need to spend some time training in the use of it. Training is provided for free.

Framer, is one of the few mobile app design tools where you’re limited only by your imagination. It is flexible and interactive and allows you to code or use their visual editor if you’re just a visual designer. The benefit of FramerJS visual editor is it auto-generates the corresponding code at the backend, allowing you to re-use it if you like to play around with the code, if you are a coder.

It boasts an easy workflow, previewing of your prototypes, and can easily import designs from Sketch, Figma, and Photoshop and collaborate with your team members.

inVision

inVision is the tool to use if you want to add animations, gestures, and transitions to your static prototype, turning your designs into interactive and clickable prototypes.

It offers effective collaboration for simple management of your workflows.

Zeplin

Zeplin is the ultimate collaboration tool created for app designers and developers. It goes far beyond design and workflow management, by cutting meeting times in half and ensuring that designs are implemented perfectly, however complex. Designed to keep everyone on the same page, everyone in the team can access up to date design resources and get notified of changes.

Zeplin allows you to upload your wireframes and visual designs from Photoshop and Sketch and add them to your project folder, before automatically generating accurate specs, assets and code snippets from designs—tailored for the platform you’re developing for. No more getting lost in design files.

Developers also don’t have to wait until designers finish the design before getting the specs, as developers can be introduced early enough to the process. Building a product specification document and reiterating it every other time can really be tedious—with Zeplin you don’t ever have to do that, as iterations can be done at the same time—thereby reducing the number of iterations for a project. 

UXPin

Zeplin is the ultimate collaboration tool created for app designers and developers. It goes far beyond design and workflow management, by cutting meeting times in half and ensuring that designs are implemented perfectly, however complex. Designed to keep everyone on the same page, everyone in the team can access up to date design resources and get notified of changes.Zeplin allows you to upload your wireframes and visual designs from Photoshop and Sketch and add them to your project folder, before automatically generating accurate specs, assets and code snippets from designs—tailored for the platform you’re developing for. No more getting lost in design files.Developers also don’t have to wait until designers finish the design before getting the specs, as developers can be introduced early enough to the process. Building a product specification document and reiterating it every other time can really be tedious—with Zeplin you don’t ever have to do that, as iterations can be done at the same time—thereby reducing the number of iterations for a project.

Iconjar

Searching for and organizing your icons all the time can be really stressful and time consuming. With Iconjar you can eliminate this hassle.

Iconjar allows you to upload and store all your icons in one place from where you can drag and drop to them into your project on Sketch, Photoshop or illustrator.

The only downside is you may not be able to upload .ai and .sketch files.

InVision App

InVision App is a design protocol tool that transforms static designs into clickable prototypes that support gestures, transitions and animations.

You load in your static mock-ups, then define which areas you want to be interactive, and what they should do. For example, make a menu item clickable, so that it transitions to another page.

Clients can click on any part of your design in order to communicate to you what they like and dislike. This feedback can then be transformed into a to-do list.

InVision App is free to use for one project. Three projects costs $15 per month and unlimited projects costs $25 per month.

Cool Mockups

Cool Mockups offers a huge collection of premium mock-up designs for iPhones, iPads, and MacBook’s and a couple of free designs.

Designs are available individually with prices starting at only $5 for a single PSD file, or as collections which offer much better value. For example, you can purchase a collection of 29 MacBook and iPad mock-ups for only $11.

All designs are Photoshop files that can be saved as a flat screenshot or an image to a smart object layer, which is then automatically inserted into the 3D scene.

PSD Covers

Unlike the name suggests PSD Covers are not .psd files, but Photoshop actions. It offers a good collection of PSD files that can be used to create mock-up designs for books, boxes, DVD Cases, mobile designs, and more.

Its large tutorial section offers good explains on how to load Photoshop actions into Photoshop, how to play the actions to create the base file, adding images, to then create the 3D mock-up designs.

Pixeden

Pixeden has a large collection of free and premium user interfaces and mobile app graphic kits predominantly geared towards iPhones and iPads.

Membership plans start at only $10 per month, $96 per year, or $72 per year for premium subscriptions.

MockUPhone

MockUPhone is a free and simple to use screenshots device mock-ups generator. Simply pick a devise, upload your file, and get your mock-up.

Interestingly the also offer mock-ups for devices such as large TVs, Microsoft Surface, as well as a d a good variety of Android devices.

Mokk.me

Still in Beta Mokk.me is a free tool that allows you to easily create mobile web application mock-ups for iPhone, Android, and WebOS you can share, test on multiple platforms, and reuse the HTML, UI CSS and JS, and add behaviour with jQuery to build your production solution.

The interface is intuitive and easy to use, with a simple drag and drop of fields and elements into the mobile interface. Everything can be moved around, configured, or deleted; whether it be text, images, forms, buttons, or maps.

NinjaMock

NinjaMock is a collaborative online service that lets you create wireframe designs for iOS, Android, Windows, and browsers in a few minutes. Mock-ups can be saved in PNG, HTML or PDF format and the document emailed or just printed out for a meeting.

A visual editor gives you all the controls you need for creating your mock-up, while the vector editor lets you create things by freehand. NinjaMock enables you to easily collect feedback on your wireframe design from anyone, and you can keep track of your communication directly within the project.

The service is free for those of you who want to create three projects for non-commercial use. Unlimited projects costs $10 per month.

Fluid UI

Used by the very best product designers in the world Fluid UI assist you in visualizing the flow of your mobile app interface. As with other tools mock-ups can be tested on iOS and Android and shared with clients, however what sets it apart from other tools is the huge collection of 3,500 mobile, tablet, desktop, and wearable widgets that it offers.

The service is free to use for one project and ten pages. The Lite plan costs $12 per month and allows one project, an unlimited number of pages, and ten uploads.

Upgrading to the standard plan at $29 per month allows ten projects and unlimited projects and pages. It also offers additional tools such as project cloning, exports and printing. Their top plan costs $49 per month and has no restrictions on projects or pages.

POP App

Marvels POP (Prototyping on paper) App is a service that helps you transform your pen and paper ideas into an interactive iPhone or Android prototype by assisting you to present, explain, and share your app ideas.

Mock-ups can be viewed in any device and it integrates perfectly with services such as Dropbox.

The free plan allows for two projects and one member, while the basic plan costs $10 per month if paid yearly and offers ten projects and three members. Upgrading to their pro plan at $25 per month allows unlimited projects and team members.

The Best Android Lollipop UI Design Kit

UXPin released a fantastic free Android UI kit, that allows you to grab the best Android Lollipop
UI Design Kit for Free

The kit contains 45 stylish Android Lollipop inspired elements that can be modified in Sketch, Photoshop, and UXPin. A Nexus 5 body, Nexus 6 body, and over 100 icons, are also included with the download file.

Libraries

Repurposing your source code in the process of developing and applications is a blunder. To avoid it, you need to use libraries in which you will find various suitable tools and apps in creating a new technology.

pttrns

TETHR is an absolutely free design kit for iOS by InVision. It offers eight Photoshop document files and 138 templates with over 250 components that you can adapt and incorporate in your designs.

Unsplash

Unsplash makes finding good quality stock images and photos that you can download and use for any project for free easy. It is a great resource to find high-resolution photos free of copyrights that you can use the way you like in your app.

App Icon Template

This is a free Photoshop resource that helps you create app icons for iOS, OS X and Android apps on the go. App Icon Template is a free Photoshop resource that will assist you in creating app icons for OS X, iOS and Android apps on the go. Built in textures and colours, and with the ability to automatically render out all the various sizes of icons required on Android and iOS, makes it such winner.

Lookback

This is a free Photoshop resource that helps you create app icons for iOS, OS X and Android apps on the go. App Icon Template is a free Photoshop resource that will assist you in creating app icons for OS X, iOS and Android apps on the go. Built in textures and colours, and with the ability to automatically render out all the various sizes of icons required on Android and iOS, makes it such winner.

144 Social Icons

144 social icons come in 4 shape types, different colours and monochrome. Every social icon is designed in Photoshop as a vector image, making it easy to edit and the solution to create unique icons for use on your different projects.

New Old Stock

Images are an important part of web design, and mobile designs are not exceptional. What you need are great quality photos, and this is a great resource for this. It has an amazing collection of vintage photos from the public archives that you can easily use on your projects.

Android

Android App Patterns.

Specific to the Android operating system, Android App Patterns offers amazing design inspiration to app designers offering over 1,600 screenshots of beautifully designed and functional apps across 31 categories.

IOS

TETHR 

TETHR is an absolutely free design kit for iOS by InVision. It offers eight Photoshop document files and 138 templates with over 250 components that you can adapt and incorporate in your designs.

iOS Fonts

Every iOS font, for every iOS version installed since iOS SDK 3. iOS Fonts features a listing of default iOS fonts in one place with a total of 260 faces for iPhone and iPad. Web and app designers can try out the different fonts by typing a text in the preview box just to see how the results will look like on their Apple device.

Sketch 

Sketch is a lightweight MacBook based UI/UX design tool built for modern app designers.

It is very similar to Adobe Photoshop, but it’s built mainly for app prototyping offering powerful features, an intuitive interface and an expansive plugin ecosystem, Sketch lets you create your best work — from your earliest ideas, through to final designs.

The download size is about 20 megabytes, it doesn’t use too much system resources, and it exports assets very fast. If you want to edit photos, you’ll have to combine this app with other tools like Photoshop or Adobe illustrator and can’t animate with it. However, it’s a great choice for most app designers.

Conclusion

These are but a few resources that could help you give life to and develop prototypes and wireframes unique and best suited to your needs.  You definitely won’t have to use all of these tools, just the one that you think your design team needs to move to the next level.

With these resources you can make your app development experience a breeze.