design · 02 Nov 2020 ·Clock9 min

Top 25 Tools For Mobile App Designers

Vladislav Luchkovski

Vladislav Luchkovski

Designer

application design software
Illustration by Amir Kerr

It’s hardly possible to overestimate the significance of mobile app design. After all, a good application should boast an intuitive and visually attractive layout. Since aesthetic appeal and usability are among the top priorities in mobile app development, designers work hard to deliver a one-of-a-kind user experience.

In order to succeed, they need a like-minded, loyal sidekick an application design tool. Like in any relationship, the companions have to click; otherwise, long-term, efficient collaboration is not likely. 

One can’t choose the right mobile app design software if they have no clue about what the market has to offer. Since there are many app prototyping tools out there, we decided to make the designers’ job easier and review the 25 best app design tools. Let’s take a closer look at them.

Adobe After Effects

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Adobe After Effects is all about motion design and animations. Here, you can animate your app design and work with video as well. What is really nice about the product is that you can use presets. Moreover, there are tons of effects to try to make your graphic design memorable. Lately, Adobe has been focusing on developing easy-to-use tools for 3D.

What we love about the tool at Orangesoft is its LottieFiles plugin. Not only does the plugin allow you to create one-of-a-kind vector animations, but you can also easily test them ‘without writing a single line of code,’ as the LottieFiles itself states.

Platforms: macOS, Windows.

Integrations: Adobe products.

Pricing: Plans start at $20.99 a month.

Free trial: 7 days.

Adobe Illustrator

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In 2020 Adobe has been working hard on its design tools and has made several releases. Now, the design process in the desktop version is speedier due to an auto-extracting color palette feature that is easy to apply to designs, enhanced cloud support, and smart glyph snapping. Moreover, Adobe Illustrator is now available on iPad, as well.

Platforms: macOS, Windows, iOS, Android.

Integrations: Adobe products.

Pricing: Plans start at $20.99 a month.

Free trial: 7 days.

Adobe XD

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With Adobe XD, you can not only design but also prototype a mobile app. Besides, you can work on the project with a team in real-time and get feedback from team members. 

In addition to that, now Adobe XD boasts 3D transforms (which allow creating realistic looks in 3D in a matter of seconds), automatically adjusts the height of the text and gives a chance to change components within other elements.

Platforms: macOS, Windows, iOS, Android.

Integrations: Zeplin, Slack, Avocode, Jira, and more.

Pricing: Free. Paid plans start at $9.99 a month.

Affinity Designer

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Affinity Designer, being a vector graphic editor, boasts a wide variety of useful functionalities that help to create mind-blowing graphics. It has all the basic features and supports sharing and backup. Basically, it’s the best alternative to Adobe Illustrator for those who don’t use Adobe Cloud for three reasons:

  1. It’s faster;
  2. It requires less space on your device;
  3. No additional packages needed.

As for the updates, the developers are now offering a Unified Application Toolbar and are providing an opportunity to set up custom keyboard shortcuts, which is a successful personalization move. With such an approach, it’s not surprising that Affinity Designer won Apple Design Award back in 2015.

Platforms: macOS, iOS (iPad), Windows.

Integrations: Adobe Photoshop.

Pricing: One-off price: $19.99 for iPad, $49.99 for PC.

Avocode

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If you are looking for an Android or iOS app design tool, Avocode may be the right choice. The tool offers enhanced collaboration on projects due to documentation management, real-time editing, version control, etc.

Platforms: Windows, macOS, Linux, Web.

Integrations: Sketch.

Pricing: Plans start at $15 a month.

Free trial: 14 days.

Axure RP

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You can create prototypes and design in Axure PR, as well as share your work with your team. This powerful tool is widely used by leading companies like BBC, SalesForce, Amazon, and others. 

Axure PR’s users enjoy a variety of tools. For example, the software allows testing prototypes to gain valuable insights and make the appropriate updates. 

Platforms: Windows, macOS.

Integrations: Adobe XD, Figma, Sketch, Microsoft Teams, Slack, and more.

Pricing: Plans start at $25 per user/month.

Free trial: 30 days.

Figma

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This mobile app UI design tool is defined by collaborative work. Thanks to the ability to make changes together with your team in real-time, you have a chance to transform visuals into code quicker. We, at Orangesoft, are fond of this feature. This is why Figma is our primary app design tool. 

Related: 7 Reasons Why We Switched from Sketch to Figma

One can’t mention Figma and not talk about Figma Community. It is basically the Github for designers, where specialists can share their works, explore market trends, or merely seek inspiration. Therefore, since August 2020, when Community was finally out of beta stage, Figma has become more than just a useful tool to design graphics it has become a community of professionals.

Platforms: macOS, Windows, Linux, Chrome.

Integrations: Slack, Trello, Jira, Zeplin, and more.

Pricing: Free. Paid plans start at $12 per editor/month.

Flinto

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This application was created primarily as an app layout design tool. Besides adjusting the layout, you can design a screen with layers, add links and gestures, work with transitions, and much more. 

Flinto is a user-friendly software. However, to help you get a deeper understanding and unleash the full potential of the tools, it offers numerous tutorials.

Platforms: macOS, iOS.

Integrations: Sketch, Figma, Dribbble.

Pricing: One-year license for $99.00.

Free trial: 1 month.

Framer

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Framer is among the most outstanding app prototyping tools that are free to use. With a multi-player editing feature, you can work together with your team and create the best prototypes. Additionally, the tool offers developer handoff and mobile preview. 

Motion design can be pretty easy with Framer: you merely need to link elements on the canvas with the connector. Moreover, new data component provides an opportunity to adapt to the changing users’ demands easily.

Platforms: Web, macOS, iOS, Android.

Integrations: Figma, Sketch, UserZoom, UserTesting, and more.

Pricing: Free. Paid plans start at $20 per editor/month.

FluidUI

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With this prototyping tool, you can create web and mobile prototypes quickly and easily. FluidUI boasts an intuitive linking system. Designers reap the benefits of the pre-built UI Kits and the collaborative feature. Moreover, interactive previews make the process even faster.

Platforms: macOS, Windows, Linux, Web, Android, iOS.

Pricing: Free. Paid plans start at $8.25 a month.

HotGloo

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This prototyping and wireframing app offers everything a designer needs. With more than 2,000 elements, UI widgets and icons, you can easily show the prototypes to clients and stakeholders. It’s hardly surprising that Product Hunt featured HotGloo.

Platforms: Web;

Integrations: Slack.

Pricing: Plans start at $13 a month.

Free trial: 7 days.

IconJar

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IconJar is primarily designed to help you keep your icons organized. It allows you to make your icons perfect and export them in any size and file type. What is really useful, however, are the presets that are available not only for Apple products but also for Android-powered devices.  

Platforms: macOS.

Integrations: Sketch.

Pricing: Annual license for €29.99, lifetime license for €59.99.

Free trial: 14 days.

Icons8

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The name speaks volumes: Icons8 focuses on icons and allows you to recolor them within seconds, add overlays, work out fonts, and much more. The tool stands out as it also works offline.

In addition to the mentioned features, you can design graphics and make vector illustrations as well. The tool would be convenient for those who like to work in Sketch as it supports all Sketch files.

Platforms: Windows, macOS.

Integrations: Figma, Sketch, Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator.

Pricing: Free. Paid plans start at $13 a month.

InVision

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This is a cloud-based design software that allows you to share designs and collaborate with your colleagues. InVision offers many functional features for enhanced animation and is one of the best app prototyping tools.

What amazes us about the tool is its flexibility. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and unavoidable telecommuting, the startup has seen an increase in using the collaborative whiteboarding tool – Freehand – and rapidly enriched its functionality. In fact, according to their statistics, weekly activity increased by 130% in March 2020 alone.

Platforms: macOS, Windows, iOS, Android.

Integrations: Trello, Slack, Jira, and more.

Pricing: Free. Paid plans start at $7.95 per user/month.

Justinmind

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If you want to use an app prototyping tool for free, Justinmind can be your best option. The tool allows creating fully-interactive prototypes from scratch. Generally, the functionality is rather rich, allowing you to create outstanding mobile gestures and web interactions. 

The developers constantly work on updates to make the tool speedier and easier-to-use. For this very reason, an intuitive design toolbar, updated canvas, and a better workspace have been introduced.

Platforms: macOS, Windows.

Integrations: Adobe, Jira, Sketch, and more.

Pricing: Free. Pro plans start at $19 per user/month.

Marvel

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Marvel’s ultimate advantages are best noticed at the initial stages when your team has just started testing the waters. However, the tool also provides functionality that allows sharing the outcome with all the stakeholders so that they can easily assess the design.

Moreover, with the User Testing feature, you can observe the way users interact with the prototypes. If necessary, one can pre-record the testing and analyze it later to make the appropriate changes.

Platforms: macOS, Android, iOS, Windows.

Integrations: Dropbox, Jira, Sketch, Slack, and more.

Pricing: Free. Paid plans start at $12 a month.

Mockplus

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Mockplus offers two products: Mockplus Cloud for online collaboration and Mockplus Classic as a desktop version of the tool. The overall number of users exceeds 1,000,000 worldwide, which is pretty impressive.

It’s not surprising, however, because the company constantly upgrades its products. For example, recently, it has added a useful feature that allows you to upload your artworks from PS, Adobe XD, and Sketch. What is more, the works will appear in the same order as in Sketch/Adobe XD/PS.

Platforms: macOS, Android, Windows.

Integrations: Sketch, Adobe XD, Photoshop.

Pricing: Free. Paid plans start at $99 per user/year.

OmniGraffle

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In OmniGraffle, you can create diagrams, quickly prototype, and create vector graphics. The designs are likely to be of high quality because of such features as snapping and intelligent grouping.

Some people use OmniGraffle not only to create outstanding pieces of art but also to boost productivity. For example, the award-winning photographer Aaron Hockley claims that the tool helps him to keep his professional and personal life on track.

Platforms: macOS, iOS.

Integrations: Slack.

Pricing: Plans start at $12.49 a month.

Free trial: 14 days.

Origami Studio

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This free mobile app design tool created by Facebook is widely used to design products that the famous social network launches. With Origami Studio, you can do everything in one place: design, prototype, and animate. 

Lately, Origami Studio 3 has been released. It offers a new canvas interface and a dynamic layout. Moreover, new patches are now here for you to try. 

Platforms: macOS.

Integrations: Sketch, Figma, Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator.

Pricing: Free.

Principle

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With Principle, you can easily create interactive UI, which has been rapidly gaining popularity in recent years. What is more, you can create a 100% unique interaction, even for a multiple screen app. If you prefer to use another app but want to add animation in Principle, you can easily import the files and start working.

Platforms: macOS.

Integrations: Figma, Sketch.

Pricing: License for $129 a year.

Free trial: 14 days.

Proto.io

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Proto.io is one of the best app prototyping tools the world has ever seen. First of all, no coding is required to create a prototype. Moreover, it’s not limited to app prototypes only. You can design graphics for literally any gadget with a screen.

In Proto.io 6.0, the developers have rethought the UI of the Platforms. Now, the core tools you work with are easy-to-access. Also, an animation preview is available when carrying out motion design. 

Integrations: Sketch, Lookback, Dropbox, Photoshop.

Pricing: Plans start at $29 a month.

Free trial: 15 days.

SF Symbols

SF Symbols is a useful tool crafted by Apple that provides IT-specialists with symbols to implement in various apps. Currently, there are more than 2,400 highly configurable symbols. About 750 were introduced during WWDC 2020. In addition to this, developers can now enjoy 150 symbols that adapt as the system’s UI changes. 

Platforms: macOS.

Pricing: Free.

Sketch

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More than a million designers choose Sketch as their loyal companion in mobile app design. The company aims at engaging a new generation of designers and offers discounts to academic institutions and students. 

You can add animation and data to designs: all this is pretty easy as one of the tool’s key features is simplicity. It also supports shared libraries, which allow for collaborative work.

Platforms: macOS.

Integrations: WeTransfer, Jira Cloud, Avocode, Zeplin, and more.

Pricing: Plans start at $9 per user/month.

Free trial: 30 days.

UXPin

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This mobile app prototyping tool saves a lot of time on repetitive moves by allowing you to update all the components at once. Nonetheless, each one can also be edited separately. With this tool, fully-interactive prototypes and wireframes are no longer hard-to-create. 

Pretty soon, UXPin plans to launch Code Components in order to prototype with the elements from production code, and HTML Import, which will allow to quickly import a web page directly into the software and start working on it.

Platforms: macOS, Windows, iOS, Android.

Integrations: Slack, Jira, Sketch, and more.

Pricing: Plans start at $19 per editor/month.

Free trial: 14 days.

Zeplin

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The ultimate distinctive feature of Zeplin is that it facilitates collaboration between engineers and designers. This key idea lies at the core of all the features. To begin with, designers can easily upload their work from other tools.

Zeplin also makes engineers’ lives easier by creating guidelines and specs based on the UI, which allows easy generation of code snippets. Apparently, the application design software is rather handy as Zeplin boasts expanding the pool of its users to 3 million.

Platforms: macOS, Windows, Web.

Integrations: Sketch, Figma, Adobe XD, Photoshop, and more.

Pricing: Free. Paid plans start at $17 a month.

Conclusion

There is no need to limit your choice to a single application design tool. You can reap the benefits of the best features. After all, success is a cumulative notion that highly depends on synergy. In UI/UX design, it is about the synergy of talent and powerful design tools.

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