How to Convert JavaScript to Mobile Apps for Android and iOS

JavaScript is a core part of web development today. It allows us to build complex and interactive web apps. But the world is changing, and web's dominance is giving way to mobile. With that in mind, you may be wondering if it's possible to use JavaScript for mobile apps.

The short answer is no. JavaScript is a web framework, and it's not possible to write native mobile apps in JavaScript. However, there are several options that allow you to use web technologies like the JavaScript framework you're familiar with and build Android and iOS apps.

This includes hybrid mobile frameworks, and no-code conversion platforms like MobiLoud.

Read on and we'll explain all you need to know to produce mobile apps with JavaScript, or watch this video for a summary on the key points to come.

How to Build Mobile Apps with JavaScript

You need an extra tool or programming language to create a JavaScript mobile app. You're missing the native code needed for an app to run on mobile operating systems (i.e. Android and iOS).

That means you need an additional tool or framework to bridge the gap. There are several options available to you:

  • Write a JavaScript web app, and use webviews/app wrappers to display your web content in a native app container.
  • Build a hybrid app using JavaScript frameworks like Ionic, Apache Cordova or React Native.
  • Convert a JavaScript web app into a mobile app using MobiLoud.

If you already have a web app written in JavaScript and want to convert it into a mobile app, MobiLoud is perfect. It requires minimal rebuilding, no new programming languages to learn, and allows you to easily carry over everything from the web app to mobile.

JavaScript mobile frameworks can be a good option if you're building an app from scratch. But even then, you may be better off just writing a web app in JavaScript and converting it to mobile apps once you're done.

Let's take a deeper look at each option to use JavaScript for mobile apps.

Create JavaScript Mobile Apps Using Webviews

Implementation-wise, the simplest way of making a JavaScript app work on mobile is by wrapping it in a webview. Webviews are browser-like containers which render your HTML and JavaScript website as it is. The mobile app will essentially be a container, running your JavaScript web app inside.

Although it's one of the easier options, creating a webview app is not a completely straightforward process.

Converting JavaScript to Android App with Webviews

To use webviews to build a JavaScript Android app, you must build a native app in Android Studio. This requires Android development skills along with an in-depth knowledge of how webview apps work.

You’ll also need extensive experience in webkit CSS to modify the formatting of the app for mobile. While you don’t need to implement the complete suite of features in Java (or Kotlin), you do need to set up the webview and enable JavaScript.

In addition, many JavaScript functions do not translate well to the native platform and must be interfaced with Android code to work properly.

After all that, you only get the Android version of your JavaScript app.

Creating a JavaScript iOS App with Webviews

You'll follow a similar process to create a JavaScript iOS app. You’ll need a Cocoa developer to create a webview app in objective-C and configure a few components to make your JavaScript app play nice with it.

Certain features of JavaScript are known to not work too well in iOS, so be prepared for a potentially long and debugging process.

And even after all this, it won’t exactly be an app.

A web view displays a webpage, without any navigational improvements or visual improvements, making for a poor user experience. A basic wrapper like this also lacks native app features such as push notifications or analytics.

While you can – and should – implement all these functionalities with dedicated mobile app development, it's likely to be along and costly process, which kind of defeats the purpose of using webviews in the first place.

A less costly, more efficient way to use webviews and display JavaScript code in a mobile app is to create a hybrid app with MobiLoud. It's based on the same webview "wrapper" principle, except everything is optimized to provide a superior UX - including native mobile features, and all the development work being taken care of (pre and post-launch). We'll have more on that later.

Read more on the benefits of using webviews vs native apps.

Write Hybrid JavaScript Mobile Apps with JavaScript Frameworks for Mobile

Another option, if you want a more integrated mobile user experience than a basic webview, is to create a hybrid app, using one of several leading JavaScript frameworks for mobile app development.

Hybrid apps are apps that can run on multiple operating systems, utilizing a mixture of web code and mobile code. That allows you to use the JavaScript code you're familiar with, inside of a mobile app.

There are a number of mobile JavaScript frameworks out there. Each developer likely has their own preference as to which they're most comfortable with. Here are a few choices:

Ionic & Cordova: Convert Your JavaScript App to Cross-Platform Mobile Apps

Instead of creating separate webviews for the Android app and iPhone app, another option is to create a hybrid solution that can work across multiple platforms.

This can be achieved using Cordova plugins along with a front-end framework like Ionic.

Cordova is a solution for linking your web code (JavaScript, CSS, or HTML) to the native API. This approach saves you from creating separate interfaces for Android and iOS in their respective development environments, as Cordova plugins work across devices.

After all the backend code is rewritten with Cordova plugins, all that is needed is to build a front-end native app to work with this codebase. Ionic is the best option for this, as it is cross-platform and is often used in conjunction with Cordova.

While this method works well and is faster than the previous option, it might be a bit expensive. You will need to hire developers (or use your in-house team) to create a hybrid app in Ionic and then prepare your web code with Cordova to fit into it.

Let's look at another possibility that allows you to develop for both iOS and Android simultaneously.

Build Mobile Apps with JavaScript Using React Native

If the Cordova and Ionic process seems too clunky to you, React Native can be a good alternative for mobile app development.

Based on the React UI library, React Native allows you to build native mobile applications for both Android and iOS platforms – with JavaScript.

The good thing here is that you can build true native apps, with no need to build a container or search around for the right Cordova plugins for every JavaScript functionality. React Native runs JavaScript directly, so a single codebase can run across both iOS and Android.

The downside here is that you are essentially rebuilding from scratch. Your existing code is obsolete.

Unless you built your app in React (and to some extent, even then), your app needs to be rewritten, and recreated, to take advantage of React Native’s cross-platform functions and classes. Parts of your backend code can survive. But the UI needs to be rebuilt from scratch.

With this, you can build cross-platform native apps that work and look great on both platforms. But you'll need to go through a lengthy development process. You are practically creating a new app instead of converting your existing one, and the cost will reflect that.

The good thing is that if your existing developers are JavaScript pros, they may learn how to build hybrid apps with React Native faster. It will still take months of work though, and cost somewhere in the mid five figures to get to the launch stage on iOS and Android.

Convert a JavaScript App to Android & iOS Apps with MobiLoud

All the above methods are possible ways to get your JavaScript app onto Android and iOS platforms. They come with some severe limitations though.

You’d need to invest from low to high five figures, and manage a fiddly project that drags on for six to twelve months. You also would struggle to recreate the exact functionality of your web app through mobile apps - there will most likely be compromises and trade offs. 

Webviews are a faster and cheaper alternative to convert a JavaScript web app to mobile, but simple webviews on their own make for a poor user experience.

A better way, which recreates exactly how your JavaScript web app works, along with providing a great mobile user experience, is to use MobiLoud.

We developed MobiLoud over seven years, with over 1200 apps built so far. The platform lets you convert any website or web app into native-feeling iOS apps and Android apps.

All you need to do is sign up, configure a few settings to customize the apps, then our team takes care of everything else. 

You’ll test the apps when they’re ready, and our team will also dedicate several hours to testing and making sure the app’s performance is optimal. After everyone is satisfied, we’ll prepare and submit your apps to Apple and Google for publishing.

You’ll be ready to launch in under two weeks, and you’ll invest less than a mobile developer's day rate to get there.

How MobiLoud Converts JavaScript Apps to Mobile Apps

MobiLoud uses webviews to create hybrid, cross-platform mobile apps.

The difference is that MobiLoud apps are not just a webview. We add native navigation and a native tab menu, native animations, loading indicators and splash screens, and more to create a full, like-native app experience.

The first step is ensuring that your existing JavaScript web app is built and optimized for mobile. As long as your web-app is mobile friendly, converting it into mobile apps is simple.

Our team handles all the development work involved in creating your apps, syncing your mobile apps with the web app, and tweaking the native mobile UI to look perfect.

The end product displays your JavaScript web app in webviews, merged seamlessly with a native mobile UI.

quora native web
Example of a hybrid "wrapper" app, which functions just like MobiLoud apps.

There’s no need to touch any code, and no need to rebuild or recreate anything. As long as the core functionality of your app works on the web, the app will work the same way.

The final result is your JavaScript web app, in a form that:

  • Can be published on the App Stores and installed on users’ phones
  • Allows you to send out push notifications on iOS and Android 
  • Has all the features added to create an engaging app experience

This gives you all the key benefits of native mobile apps with a fraction of the expense and hassle. The mobile apps sync 100% with your web app, so you only need to manage one code for three different platforms.

Anything you need to change on the apps specifically you can do through our simple dashboard, including sending push notifications to users.

Benefits of Building JavaScript Mobile Apps with MobiLoud

While JavaScript mobile frameworks allow you to be more exact with your mobile UX, a conversion platform like MobiLoud is better in most cases.

It's more efficient, cheaper, faster, and yet provides 95% of what you'd get from a fully custom native app.

Here are the top benefits of using MobiLoud for your JavaScript mobile app:

Save Time, Effort and Resources

While hybrid JavaScript mobile frameworks like Ionic and React Native cut down time and cost compared to building dedicated native apps for iOS and Android, they still require a lot of work.

You need skilled developers, and it will take time for these developers to complete the project. You're looking at a low-five figure cost, at least.

You'll also need to fork out a decent amount per year for new versions, new features, updates and routine maintenance. This could potentially add up to tens of thousands per year.

In comparison, MobiLoud gives you apps that work just as well, at less than 10% of the cost and ready in just a few weeks. That's because there's much less to rebuild - just the basic native app wrapper that will allow your app to function on mobile devices.

We also handle updates and maintenance, which takes away the huge ongoing cost of keeping your apps functional and bug-free.

Any changes you make to the web app reflect in your mobile apps in real time.

Take the savings in time, money and energy and reinvest them into your core product for the web - the apps will take care of themselves!

Easier to Recreate an Existing JavaScript App as a Mobile App

If you've already built a JavaScript app for the web, converting it to a mobile app using a JavaScript framework becomes all the more difficult.

MobiLoud is far better in this case, as it literally converts what already works from your web app.

All your web app’s features, functionality and content will work exactly the same in the apps. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Just take your winning formula from the web - it will work great on mobile, and you'll be able to get your app in the app stores with a minimum of fuss.

Push Notifications for iOS and Android

With a 4x higher open rate compared to email and unrestricted reach unlike through social media, push notifications are the most effective engagement channel. Over time, your app audience will start to reflect your most loyal and engaged fans. Push gives you a direct line to these most valuable users.

MobiLoud apps integrate with OneSignal, so you can send unlimited notifications - automatically or manually - whenever you see fit. 

The app provides a whole control panel for your users to manage their preferences for push notifications, so they can easily choose what they’ll be notified for. All you need to do is attach a tag to match what’s available in their options.

Get a direct line to your audience with push notifications
Push notification preferences in-app

The native “Alerts” screen also allows users to review all the notifications they’ve received. You can configure this to load a built-in list of notifications or to load an internal notifications screen in your web app.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to engage and re-engage users with timely notifications and drive traffic.

Packed with All The Features You Need

MobiLoud apps utilize webviews, but they aren’t just your Javascript web app in an empty shell. We have built all the features necessary to give your users a great experience as close to a six figure native app as possible. 

Native animations, splash screen, loading spinners, native tab menus, internal or external screens, everything can be controlled from MobiLoud’s simple configuration dashboard.

If you are looking for something specific we can almost definitely help. We’ve built thousands of apps and have seen almost every edge case possible. Chances are we have a solution for the issue or request you have in mind. 

We Are with You Every Step of the Way

When you convert your JavaScript app to mobile apps, the whole MobiLoud team are here to support you through the whole process.

The partnership starts with a consultation call in which we go over your vision for the apps and answer all your questions. After you’ve used MobiLoud to create the apps we test them thoroughly and take it from there. 

Getting accepted on the App Stores, especially by Apple, can be tricky. If you used any of the previously discussed methods you could find yourself struggling to get approval and needing to go back to development for painful rewrites. 

We know the app store approval process inside and out. We can 100% guarantee approval after taking care of testing, compiling and submitting your mobile apps.

When the apps are launched it is cause for celebration, but our support doesn’t end there. 

Our team will also handle all ongoing technical maintenance and new version updates for your apps. We are your mobile partners, handle anything that crops up fast and effectively, and are never more than a phone call or email away.

You won’t have to worry about security issues, new iOS versions or phones coming on the market, we’ll take care of all of that for you and update your mobile apps as needed.

Remember that these are your own apps, you’ll be listed as the developer on the stores and every account used will be your own - you just invite us as your developer. So don’t worry about being able to replace the apps or being stuck with a provider - you’re in control and can switch away any time.

Convert Your JavaScript App to Mobile Apps Today!

We hope that you now have a good idea of what it takes to utilize familiar JavaScript code in a true, like-native mobile app.

There are JavaScript mobile frameworks out there and available. These frameworks are certainly effective, and used by some massive companies. But you should be aware that writing apps in hybrid/cross-platform frameworks can be complex, time-consuming and costly.

If you're a small business, or a single developer who's most comfortable with JavaScript, MobiLoud is the best way to go.

It's more straightforward and efficient. Just build for the web in JavaScript, and convert it to hybrid mobile apps.

If you want your mobile apps to do the same thing on the web and mobile, this is the way to do it.

You can check out some stories from our customers to see how others before you managed to grow their business with MobiLoud.

When you're ready to take your brand to the App Stores, just book a quick call with one of our app experts. They’ll take you through the entire process and tell you everything you need to know to get high quality apps up and running in record time!

Book a consultation and let's convert your JavaScript app to mobile apps.

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