Between the iOS and Android platforms, there are a phenomenal 1.2 million apps. Objective-C on iOS continues to rise in popularity.  Keeping this in mind, it is not surprising to observe the proliferation of excellent open source frameworks on social code repositories like Google Code and Github. This proliferation in-turn has enabled better apps to be created far more quickly than before.

I have studied a plethora of frameworks available for iOS and have found these 10 libraries/frameworks to be the most useful while developing an app. Take a look.

Crashlytics (Crash Reporting Tool)

No matter how careful you are while designing your app, there is always a chance it will crash. The reasons can be beyond your control and there can be a high possibility of discounted errors. Crashlytics is a very small SDK (about 75KB) that analyzes crash reports and identifying the cause in a breeze. It’s a framework that is simple, but extremely powerful

Key Features

  • Realtime Reporting : Offers real time reports of crashes that occur around the globe. It also processes every crash in a record-breaking 18 milliseconds, offering real-time alert through e-mail and other communication mediums.
  • Deep Insight Analysis with Reports: When a crash occurs, Crashlytics normally looks through the stack trace and identifies the classes responsible for the crash. For a big app, it’s extremely crucial to identify factors responsible for the crash. Crashlytics tracks system-related information such as memory usage, CPU usage, network connectivity status, battery status and orientation. This helps developers to a great extent. Crashlytics also analyzes the crash, monitors every thread, identifies the type of crash, highlight the crucial part of stack trace and groups them together. All this makes life very simple for developer.
  • Issue Aggregation : Merges similar crashes into groups and issues higher priority to crashes which are more critical to app. Through the proprietary aggregation algorithms, Crashlytics also prioritizes the issues to assist developers intelligently tackle problems.
  • Small Size: Adds only 45KB of data to the actual size of the app and works with very small memory footprint. The framework doesn’t use additional libraries for reporting and performs a minimal amount of work at startup to ensure overall stability of the app and minimum network usage.  
  • Support For GitLab and OpsGenie: Offers integration support with GitLab and OpsGenie. This ensures that crashes are automatically delivered to the issue management dashboard and corresponding teams are alerted on time.
  • Real Time Update: Processes each data point and metric instantly, showing real-time statistics of any app. It’s a great tool to compare newer and older versions of an app.

Harpy 

For an app that frequently experiences changes affecting the core structure and heavily relies on the latest offerings, it is integral for developers to have the majority of their users using the latest version. This is usually done to avoid incompatibility. Harpy solves this problem by checking a user’s current installed version of their iOS app against the version that is currently available on the App Store. If a newer version is available, an alert is sent to the user informing them about it, and giving them the option to update the application.

Key Features

  • CocoaPods Support
  • Support for UIAlertController (iOS 8+) and UIAlertView (iOS 7)
  • Three types of alerts

harpy

  • Optional delegate methods
  • Localized for 18 languages

Lookback (A great tool for beta testers)

Lookback enables developers to remotely record test users within the app. This can also be instantly uploaded to the website, allowing the developer to monitor, understand and share them.  The user can access movements, clicks, reaction and responses within the app for teams to gain better insights over user movement, fluidity in UI and help them identify areas of confusion or which require attention. The framework also maps the digital footprint of user flow based upon interactions within the app to improve key elements.

For an actual demo of Lookback, see https://lookback.io/watch/JK354d5jcEpA7CNkE

Key Features:

  • Record everything on screen – The Awesome Mode captures the entire user experience, not just the app. From lock screen, to app switching, to notification center – anything a user witnesses can
  • Test mobile websites – As a result of recording everything on screen, you can even open Safari and record the real web. It’s that simple
  • Designed for in-house testing, Loopback permits the user test the app for quality or tutorial. It is also good for recording and showcasing the ‘real’ app and its functionality.
  • Records bugs
  • Perform UX research
  • Make demos and tutorials
  • Record inspiring apps

UI7Kit (A great framework to have ios7 effects in iOS5/6 phones)

UI7Kit is a GUI toolkit which can back port flat-style UIKit from iOS7 to iOS5/iOs6. With a one-line integration as base code, the iOS7 style can be easily ported for other iOS compatible devices. Listed below are some effective ways the UI7Kit can be in importing flat-style iOS7 theme to an older iOS version.

UI7Kit_Screenshot1

SDWebImage (Great caching tool for Images)

This is a great image caching framework that works on a background thread to ensure consistency with performance. This library provides a category for UIImageView with support for remote images from the web.

Key Features:

  • UIImageView category adding web image and cache management to the Cocoa Touch framework
  • Asynchronous image downloader
  • Asynchronous memory and disk image caching with automatic cache expiration handling
  • Animated GIF support
  • WebP format support
  • Background image decompression
  • Guarantee that the same URL won’t be downloaded multiple times
  • Guarantee that wrong URLs won’t be retried multiple times
  • Guarantee that main thread will never be blocked
  • Performances
  • Use GCD and ARC
  • Arm64 support

GPU Image Framework

For massive parallel operations like processing images or live video frames, GPUs have some significant performance advantages over CPUs. On an iPhone 4, a simple image filter can work 100 times faster on the GPU compared to an equivalent CPU-based filter. GPU Image Framework enables you with image related operations with the phone GPU instead of using CPU, yielding a huge performance boost in processing. One doesn’t necessarily need to care about the OpenGL ES 2.0 underpinnings.

DeployMate

Deploymate alerts developer of symbols that don’t exists in the deployment target while compiling with iOS 6 SDK. It helps in identifying unavailable, deprecated and obsolete API usage in Xcode projects. It even provides hooks for better integration from the terminal.

Key Features:

  • API usage warnings (warns in advance when using API for newer builds)
  • Per target analysis (warns as per target set)
  • Extremely easy to use (few lines of code integration and you are good to go)
  • Built-in source code viewer (easily see where the problem lies)
  • Fix in Xcode (quickly open problematic source files in Xcode)
  • Integrated API docs (relevant API documentation abstract for inspecting a problem)
  • Command line interface (can be implemented from Command line too)
  • Git blame support (find out when problem was introduced and by whom)
  • Results filtering (nice sets of filters)

AF Networking

It’s one of the best libraries when it comes to using a HTTP library in the app. Interacting with web-pages, making a post, or getting request is a breeze using AF Networking. It’s built on top of the Foundation URL Loading System, using NSOperation for scheduling and concurrency, and blocks for convenience and flexibility extending the powerful high-level networking abstractions built into Cocoa. It has a modular architecture with well-designed, feature-rich APIs that is easy to use.

Helios

Helios is an open-source framework which provides essential backend services for iOS apps. From data synchronization and push notifications, in-app purchases and passbook integration, this library allows developers to run client-server apps up in no time while seamlessly incorporating functionality as required. Helios is a constellation of mobile backend components—mix and match to meet the specific needs of your app. Built on the Rackwebserver interface, Helios can be easily added into any existing Rails or Sinatra application, or used by itself as well.

Key Features

  • Data Synchronization Helios facilitate reading and writing between client and server using conventional REST web service
  • Push Notification Provides easy to use admin interface that allows the user send push notification to selected devices manually.
  • In App Purchases Allows the user track and verify all purchases made from iOS app
  • News-Stand Allows the User track issues, assets with plist-based web service and Atom feeds
  • Logging & Analytics Allows the user capture and view trends for app installation.

Box2D

Box2D is an open source physics engine written primarily for games. As the name suggests, Box2D is a purely 2D engine. Box2D performs constrained rigid body simulation. It can simulate bodies composed of convex polygons, circles, and edge shapes. Bodies are joined together with joints and acted upon by forces. The engine also applies gravity, friction, and restitution. Box2D’s collision detection and resolution system consists of three pieces: an incremental sweep and prune broadphase, a continuous collision detection unit, and a stable linear-time contact solver. These algorithms allow efficient simulations of fast bodies and large stacks without missing collisions or causing instabilities.

For a simulation to see what could be achieved with Box2D, watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0awh5MFJwQo

That’s a wrap on the ten best iOS frameworks that we think awesome. If you have any suggestions/ recommendations feel free to comment below.