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Best Mobile App Development Software Shortlist

These are the tools I’ve found that make the mobile app development process easier, along with what and who they’re best for:

  1. AppSheet - Best no-code option
  2. Visual Studio Code - Best IDE
  3. Firebase - Best back-end manager
  4. Xcode - Best for iOS and iPadOS development
  5. Android Studio - Best for Android development
  6. Salesforce Lightning - Best for CRM apps
  7. Jasmine - Best for JavaScript testing
  8. Jotform Apps - Best user input collection features
  9. Softr - Best for building client portals
  10. HeadSpin - Best performance tester
  11. Kobiton - Best for testing in CI/CD
  12. Ninox - Best database management features

Depending on what kind of operation you’re running, a mobile app might be a more effective way to connect with your customers than most other channels.

I’ve evaluated some options to compile this article on the best tools to help you get started building a mobile app, including why I chose them, their key features, the methods I used to make my picks, and answers to frequently asked questions on the topic.

What Is Mobile App Development Software?

Mobile app development software refers to tools you use to build applications for mobile devices, whether you use them for coding, testing, or workflow management. The software can be something you download and run on your device, cloud-native, or both.

Overviews of the 12 Best Mobile App Development Software

Here are the best mobile app development tools I’ve used, as well as what I believe each one excels at. I’ve also put together a section on what I was looking for when making this list at the end.

1. AppSheet - Best no-code option

AppSheet screenshot
Working with App Definitions in Google AppSheet. (Source)

AppSheet is a no-code development platform from Google that you can use to create both mobile and desktop applications.

Why I Picked AppSheet

Throughout the entire time I worked with AppSheet, I never needed to write a single line of code because it gave me everything I needed out of the box. I started with a simple app built by integrating Google Sheets and found I could do everything from in-depth user access management to recording rich data types right from the drag-and-drop interface.

AppSheet Standout Features and Integrations

Features I liked in AppSheet include the automation bots that I could set up, still no-code, to handle tasks such as communications over SMS and email, saving files, and generating end-to-end workflow logic.

There’s also an extensive library of templates, several of which give you an app that’s more or less ready to ship. The ones I tried out covered personal health and fitness, shipping and inventory management, CRM, and shift management.

Integrations are native to other services in Google Workspace like Gmail, Google Sheets, and Spaces, and they’re pre-built for Microsoft 365, Dropbox, Salesforce, Airtable, Twilio, and Okta.

Pricing: From $5/user/month

Trial: Free plan available


  • Easy to get started with and use
  • Free plan for up to 10 users makes testing easy
  • Automation capabilities


  • Gets expensive fast
  • Slow sync speeds at times

2. Visual Studio Code - Best IDE

VS Code web screenshot
Using the web version of Visual Studio Code. (Source)

Visual Studio Code is an integrated development environment (IDE) from Microsoft. It’s completely free, and that’s why it’s so widely used among both veterans and beginners.

Why I Picked Visual Studio Code: I picked VS Code for its versatility and wide support for the most popular platforms and programming languages, making it a strong tool for multi-faceted programmers to master. It’s been my IDE of choice for as long as I’ve been a developer because it’s as practical when building a UI with React as it is for a back-end with Ruby on Rails.

Visual Studio Code Standout Features and Integrations

Features that keep me coming back to VS Code for mobile development include built-in support for Node.js, which I use to build real-time applications (RTAs), implement streaming functionality, and integrate APIs. There’s also a light web version that you can connect to your GitHub account and edit code from a different system, including virtual machines.

Integrations are pre-built for GitHub, Maven, Mocha, Yarn, Express, Gulp, Yeoman, Jetty, Tomcat, and Spring Boot.

Pricing: Free

Trial: Free plan available


  • Beginner friendly
  • 100% free
  • Support for multiple platforms and programming languages


  • Resource intensive
  • Web-version lacks most features

3. Firebase - Best back-end manager

Firebase screenshot
Implementing user authentication with Firebase. (Source)

Firebase is a cloud-based suite of back-end management solutions from Google that runs on the Google Cloud Platform.

Why I Picked Firebase: I chose Firebase because it gives you most of what you need to build a full back end and host an application with little to no code. One of the things I did was implement user authentication for emails, passwords, 2-step verification, and log-in with third-party credentials like social media accounts.

Firebase Standout Features and Integrations

Features that I liked in Firebase include Remote Config, which you can use to activate and deactivate features by user segment to alter the experience and run experiments without needing to release a full new app version. Crashlytics lets you monitor how stability issues impact usage so you can prioritize fixes more effectively.

Integrations are pre-built for Google Ads, Android Studio, BigQuery, Jira, Slack, AdMob, Google Play, Data Studio, and PagerDuty.

Pricing: Pricing upon request

Trial: Free plan available


  • Scalable
  • Robust authentication management features
  • Decent cross-platform functionality


  • Free version is severely limited
  • Limited database querying functionality

4. Xcode - Best for iOS and iPadOS development

Xcode IDE screenshot
Previewing an iOS app in Xcode. (Source)

Xcode is an IDE from Apple that you can use to develop applications across all its platforms, including watchOS, iOS, macOS, iPadOS, and the upcoming visionOS for AR and VR.

Why I Picked Xcode: I chose Xcode because it comes with extensive, native out-of-the-box support for Swift, the official language for development on Apple devices. The version that comes with the IDE is supported directly by Apple, and you can use the application to access pre-release versions easily.

Xcode Standout Features and Integrations

Features that made my development processes a breeze in Xcode include the Simulator, which continuously recompiled my code to give me a real-time preview of what the app would look like on user screens. The visual debugger also sped things up because I could navigate elements from the UI rather than scroll through the code to explore my app.

Integrations are pre-built for GitHub, Slack, Apple Developer tools, and TestFlight.

Pricing: Free

Trial: Free plan available


  • Native to Apple devices, providing stable performance
  • Graphical debugger
  • Built-in simulator


  • Swift-centric
  • Restricted to Apple devices

5. Android Studio - Best for Android development

Android Studio screenshot
Using the Layout Inspector in Android Studio. (Source)

Android Studio is Google’s IDE for Android development. It’s based on IntelliJ IDEA, a Java-focused IDE from JetBrains.

Why I Picked Android Studio: Android Studio puts Kotlin, Google’s favored Android development language, front and center. I don’t have that much experience with the language, but Studio has a built-in tool that converts Java to Kotlin and another one that showed me the Java equivalent of the Kotlin I wrote, both of which made it easy for me to gain working knowledge on the fly.

Android Studio Standout Features and Integrations

Features that made Kotlin Android development easier for me in Android Studio include support for multiple APKs, which meant I could create different versions of my apps to account for wide discrepancies in Android devices from the same codebase. With Resource Shrinking, I could get rid of unused elements from my packages and libraries to keep my APKs clean.

Integrations are pre-built for Google Play, Jira, GitHub, Salesforce, and Firebase.

Pricing: Free

Trial: Free plan available


  • Officially backed by Google
  • Makes it easy to learn Kotlin during use
  • Comprehensive APK management features


  • Kotlin-centric
  • Android only

6. Salesforce Lightning - Best for CRM apps

Salesforce Lightning screenshot
Using dynamic actions in Salesforce Lightning. (Source)

Salesforce Lightning is a low-code platform from the CRM provider that allows you to build custom solutions on top of the main product with things like process mapping and automation.

Why I Picked Salesforce Lightning: Salesforce Lightning’s development tools allowed me to have more control over my customer relationships than I ever did with Salesforce Classic. I built an app with fully automated processes that heavily incorporated predictions and analytics, allowing me to stay on top of trends and KPIs in a way that fits better with my existing workflows.

Salesforce Lightning Standout Features and Integrations

Features that I kept going back to for CRM in Lightning include the Dynamic Dialer, which let me make calls from within the Salesforce Platform, with the ability to automate voice messages, set a custom caller ID for my additional numbers, and keep track of communications with customers and leads.

The Dynamic Pages feature allowed me to tailor the customer experience to each user by choosing what they do and don’t see depending on what’s relevant to them.

Integrations are pre-built for ZoomInfo, LinkedIn, Twilio, Mailchimp,, HubSpot, Dropbox, Calendly, Slack, and Google Workspace.

Pricing: From $25/user/month

Trial: 30-day free trial


  • Salesforce customizability
  • Robust process automation features
  • Responsive customer support team


  • Occasional performance dips
  • Steep learning curve for long-time Salesforce Classic users

7. Jasmine - Best for Javascript testing

Jasmine screenshot
Unit testing Javascript code with Jasmine. (Source)

Jasmine is a unit testing framework for behavior-driven development (BDD) using Javascript.

Why I Picked Jasmine: Jasmine doesn’t depend on other Javascript frameworks — in fact, it doesn’t have any external dependencies. This makes its performance snappy whenever I use it to test my Javascript apps in a CI/CD environment.

Jasmine Standout Features and Integrations

Features that I liked in Jasmine include its support for both browser and node testing, which meant I could use it for unit testing on both traditional and web apps. Its syntax is also easy to understand, making it easy for anyone to get started with it.

Integrations are pre-built for Bamboo, TravisCI, CircleCI, Jenkins, Karma, and Istanbul.

Pricing: Free

Trial: Free plan available


  • Highly readable syntax
  • Fast performance
  • Node and browser support


  • Complex setup process
  • Harder to work with outside of Angular

8. Jotform Apps - Best user input collection features

Jotform Apps screenshot
Changing the home screen icon with Jotform Apps. (Source)

Jotform, the company behind the popular online form builder, also provides a no-code app builder that you can use to develop both desktop and mobile applications.

Why I Picked Jotform Apps: I’ve used Jotform before, so my first test project when I got access to Apps was building a mobile application to collect user input, and I’m glad to say that it delivered. I built a simple but fully functional scheduling app with a survey section connected to an advanced spreadsheet that acted as a database from which I could access and process all the data I gathered.

Jotform Apps Standout Features and Integrations

Features that made user input collection easy for me with Jotform Apps include the ability to share the app via email or QR code. For small business owners that communicate directly with their customers, especially those in the service industry where I see potential for this platform, these avenues might be more optimal than deploying to an app store.

I also liked that there were over 600 templates to get you started with some of the most common types of applications that use forms, including inventory, inspection, booking, and registration apps.

Integrations are pre-built for Zoom, Slack, HubSpot,, Trello, Slack, Dropbox, Google Sheets, Mailchimp, and Asana.

Pricing: From $34/month

Trial: Free plan available


  • Free to use
  • Easy to use
  • 600+ templates


  • Best only for simple applications
  • Limited customization options

9. Softr - Best for building client portals

Softr screenshot
An overview of the user’s workspace within the Softr dashboard. (Source)

Softr is a no-code platform that you can use to create business apps from sources like Google Sheets and Airtable.

Why I Picked Softr: Softr’s website talks a lot about portals, so I decided to give the client portal template a spin, and I was pleasantly surprised. I could section off substantial chunks of content based on factors tied to user status, including whether or not they were signed in, their predefined role, and subscription level.

Softr Standout Features and Integrations

Features I liked include the out-of-the-box Stripe integration that made it easy for users to make payments that determine how they move through the portals. There was also the option to download and pay invoices, making financial record-keeping a breeze.

Softr also allowed me to turn my portal into a progressive web app (PWA) that worked more like a traditional mobile app that users could download and use offline for a more unrestricted experience.

Integrations are native to Google Sheets, Airtable, Stripe, Mailchimp, and Mailerlite.

Pricing: From $49/month

Trial: Free plan available


  • Robust portal management features
  • Easy to use
  • Responsive customer support


  • Low number of pre-built integrations
  • Few templates

10. HeadSpin - Best performance tester

Headspin screenshot
Automated performance testing with HeadSpin. (Source)

HeadSpin is an omnichannel app testing and monitoring solution that collects and tracks over 100 performance metrics.

Why I Picked HeadSpin: HeadSpin’s Impact Score assesses how performance issues affect the duration of sessions by benchmarking them against figures from an ideal scenario. In my opinion, this is a more reliable way of getting non-technical and executive teams to understand the impact of app performance on their bottom line.

HeadSpin Standout Features and Integrations

Features include performance regression monitoring and synthetic testing, both of which site reliability engineers (SREs) can use to stay on top of both ongoing and potential performance issues. I was also able to triage and reproduce issues on real devices to determine exactly how they impacted the user experience and work on more effective solutions.

Integrations are pre-built for Xcode, Android Studio, GitHub, Selenium, Cucumber, Jenkins, Slack, Jira, CircleCI, and Appium.

Pricing: Pricing upon request

Trial: Free demo available


  • Impact Score is effective for performance monitoring
  • Robust test automation features
  • Integrates with CI/CD workflows


  • No free version
  • Not cost-effective for small businesses

11. Kobiton - Best for testing in CI/CD

Kobiton screenshot
Scriptless app testing with Kobiton. (Source)

Kobiton is a mobile testing platform for enterprise applications with support for a wide variety of testing parameters.

Why I Picked Kobiton: When I started using Kobiton, I took note of all the different kinds of tests I could run, including functional, visual, performance, real-device, and scriptless automation. In a CI/CD environment, these would be useful for streamlining processes by making the testing phase of every cycle that much easier to manage.

Kobiton Standout Features and Integrations

Features I liked in Kobiton include the detailed test logs that record steps to help you recreate scenarios more reliably. You also get access to historical logs, and they’re all shareable for better collaboration. I also liked that Kobiton was platform agnostic, so I could integrate it with any CI/CD processes I already had.

Integrations are pre-built for Jira, Jenkins, TestRail, Figma, Bitrise, and Buildkite.

Pricing: From $75/month

Trial: 14-day free trial


  • Real device testing
  • Robust test automation features
  • Comprehensive logs


  • Limited free trial
  • Frequent performance slowdowns

12. Ninox - Best database management features

Ninox screenshot
A meeting managing app built with Ninox. (Source)

Ninox is a low-code app development platform built for use in small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) environments.

Why I Picked Ninox: I chose Ninox because of how much it lets me do with my databases out of the box. Within a short time of getting started, I was able to leverage the querying and caching functions and refine my customer database enough to get a fully functioning CRM from it.

Ninox Standout Features and Integrations

Features I liked in Ninox include the database automation features that let me streamline data processing at scale. For the CRM I built, I also created a complementary ERP, with Ninox keeping tabs on order entries, lead capture, invoices, and inquiries from all stakeholders.

By the time I discovered additional features like time tracking and user rights control, I was also on my way to a fully mapped custom project management solution that operated entirely from a central database.

Integrations are available via Make for Google Sheets, Gmail, Shopify, Airtable, Slack, Telegram Bot, Trello, Google Forms, Stripe, and Mailchimp.

Pricing: From $12/license/month

Trial: 30-day free trial


  • Robust database management features
  • Fairly gentle learning curve
  • Responsive customer support


  • Limited integrations
  • Slightly outdated design

Other Options

Here are some other tools I evaluated that didn’t make the main list but still liked enough to want to mention anyway:

  1. Karma - Best for Angular testing
  2. Appery - Best for Ionic development
  3. Bubble - Best for UI/UX development
  4. Glide - Best for spreadsheet-to-app development
  5. Thunkable -Best for low-level prototyping
  6. Zoho Creator - Best for custom CRM development
  7. Buildfire - Best for custom plugins
  8. Outsystems - Best for simple web apps

Selection Criteria for Mobile App Development Software

Here’s a short summary of the main selection and evaluation criteria I used to develop my list of the best mobile app development software for this article:

Core Functionality

A few of the things I needed the tools to be able to do include the following:

  • Version control where you can roll back changes easily.
  • Support for collaboration to allow for team-based development if needed.
  • Cross-platform support, at least for different types of mobile devices, e.g., a solution restricted to Apple devices would need to work just as well for iPadOS as it does for iOS.

Key Features

For the more code-heavy tools especially, some of the key features needed to meet the core functions I was looking for include:

  • An integrated development environment with everything standard to one, including syntax highlighting and plugin support.
  • Support for a repository to store the codebase and allow for collaboration.
  • Support for the most popular mobile app development languages.


I looked for options that wouldn’t give the teams working on them too much of a hard time, whether that’s by having user-friendly design, solid documentation, or thriving online communities for support.

Value for Money

One thing I’ve learned over the years is that in between things like labor and deployment expenses, software development costs can get out of hand if you let them, even if your entire stack is full of freeware.

This is why I chose tools that'd give you the most value for where I recommended them. For example, for a small business with a modest user base, I’m more likely to suggest low-code options that'd cost somewhere in the low to mid thousands of dollars for development, development, and hosting — anything higher, and it’d just make more sense to hire a full-stack development team.

People Also Ask

If you feel like you still don’t know everything you need to get started, I’ve also prepared this section with some of the most frequently asked questions about mobile app development tools:


Mobile app usage is on the rise and is expected to grow across all segments through 2027. The tools I’ve discussed help you create and deliver better mobile experiences to your users, whether that’s by taking advantage of the options they give you to build feature-rich products or just rapid development to ship faster.

For this reason, you should go through each one with your target audience in mind and find one that best meets their requirements. Subscribe to The CTO Club newsletter for more useful tips on building and delivering memorable experiences.

By Paulo Gardini Miguel

Paulo is the Director of Technology at the rapidly growing media tech company BWZ. Prior to that, he worked as a Software Engineering Manager and then Head Of Technology at Navegg, Latin America’s largest data marketplace, and as Full Stack Engineer at MapLink, which provides geolocation APIs as a service. Paulo draws insight from years of experience serving as an infrastructure architect, team leader, and product developer in rapidly scaling web environments. He’s driven to share his expertise with other technology leaders to help them build great teams, improve performance, optimize resources, and create foundations for scalability.