Developing mobile apps can be challenging if you haven’t found the right programming language. You must figure out your platform, assemble your team, and find your language!
If this all sounds overwhelming, you don’t have to worry! Fortunately, we’re here to lighten some of your load.
We’ve picked some of the best programming languages for mobile application development here, plus a few frameworks. Read on!
10 Best Mobile App Development Languages to Use for IOS & Android
Join us as we cover some of the best programming languages for mobile devices!
Despite getting on in years, Objective C is a foundational programming language and has become a mainstay in iOS app development.
This is one of the oldest languages for mobile app development we’ll cover here, and you may wonder why we’ve included it. Surely it’s not worth learning if it’s so old, right?
Well, that’s not exactly true. While Objective C is fairly old, it’s still worth learning how to build mobile apps using it, if only to make the most of it before Swift overtakes it!
This object-oriented programming language was first developed in the 1980s and remained a cornerstone of iOS app development despite its age.
It may not enjoy the same level of support it once did, but Objective C has several decades worth of documentation and help for anyone stuck using it.
That alone makes it still worth learning over other languages. The age of Objective C also means any mobile applications you make will be compatible with older iOS devices.
Developers who want to create iOS apps for newer iOS versions should look into using Swift. This programming language is ideal for native app development for iOS.
It’s ideal because it’s easy to learn and produces speedier apps. It’s also based on Python, so it’s a high-level language approachable even for beginners!
Swift also makes it easier to spot bugs and potential errors during iOS development. Pairing this popular programming language with an IDE will help speed up the development process.
Swift has staying power thanks to its recency, which makes it one of the most popular programming languages to learn nowadays. You can think of Swift as the “Sequel” to Objective C.
While this recency means Swift will remain relevant for a long time to come, this also has an inherent disadvantage: It has fewer resources and experts, so you’ll need to hire a specialist.
You’ll also have a harder time finding a solution if you make any mistakes down the line. Despite these issues, Swift was developed by Apple itself, so it’s poised to become the main language for iOS development.
If you want to develop an Android app that can stand the test of time, then you’ll want to use Kotlin.
This newer language is almost the successor to Java, but it continues to be compatible with its older counterpart. Google has also begun fully backing Kotlin for creating Android applications.
For a long time, anyone who wanted to begin developing modern android applications was stuck with Java. But now Kotlin is on the block!
This statistically typed programming language is cleaner and more precise than Java and can successfully compensate for any older cons that may frustrate Java users.
Despite being one of the younger programming languages, Kotlin has seen lots of support, particularly from Google. Google has made Kotlin the “main” language for Android applications.
Similar to Swift, Kotlin is very new, so don’t expect to find lots of developers who’re experts at using it. Still, its prevalence means this will change in a short time.
Any app developers on your team who work exclusively with Android will recognize their native programming language. This original Android language remains popular today.
Java is one of the most popular programming languages for mobile apps and can be used across platforms. Despite being mainly used for Android development, it can also be used for iOS development.
Since Java has transcended platforms and operating systems, it’s a fine choice whether you want to develop Android apps or iOS applications.
Note that the Java language shouldn’t be your first choice if you plan on catering to Apple devices, but if you’ve already used it to create an Android application, it’s best to continue for iOS.
This language’s multi-platform flexibility means it doesn’t suffer from any issues in its native language. Its age doesn’t slow it down because it’s become synonymous with apps.
Java may seem outdated and unfit for modern mobile app development, but its large community and concise documentation give it staying power.
Dart is an addition to the many Google-backed programming languages we’ve covered here. The Dart programming language is ideal for cross-platform app development.
Unlike any other programming language on this list, Dart is more interested in providing its clients with a better user experience. If you need to make a client-friendly user interface, choose Dart.
A developer can further optimize and expand on Dart’s usability by pairing it with Google’s “Flutter” SDK (software development kit), but it’s easy to use even for relative beginners.
Dart is good for native app development on Android and is fairly similar to C, so you don’t need to learn an entirely new language to use it.
This language can also be used to make web apps, but Google hasn’t given much support in this direction. Dart isn’t as robust in the backend as it is for the front end.
Since Google supports this language, Dart has a quickly-growing community of developers and has easily-accessible documentation online.
C# is a popular programming language that sees lots of use across multiple platforms, including mobile devices and computers. It’s also the primary language for the Unity game engine.
This language is ideal for web development because it was originally intended to be an alternative to Java. C# is over 20 years old but shows no signs of losing its support soon!
Don’t expect C# to lose its place as a popular language because it’s being developed and constantly updated by Microsoft, which remains ever-present in the programming world.
It’s possible to create apps for all platforms with this programming language since its compatibility has been extended from Windows to macOS and Linux.
Despite being a system programming language, C# is perfectly suited for mobile app development because it compiles quickly and can be used to create native programs for all platforms.
Be wary if you have newer developers on your team since this language may be difficult for them to learn. It’s case-sensitive, which can lead to more errors.
However, if you want to create a powerful and fluid mobile game or other apps in a hurry, C# is one of the best languages for mobile app development.
Python is a high-level, object-oriented language mostly used for making websites but can be rigged for mobile apps.
This cross-platform programming language is often touted as easy for beginners to pick up, plus it’s known for producing clean yet powerful code thanks to its indentations for code blocks.
Experienced Python developers can create a mobile app relatively quickly compared to the other programming languages here, but take care if you plan to release apps for older devices.
A poorly-optimized Python app can be a memory hog, slowing it down on lower-specced devices. Note that you’ll need a library to fully-utilize Python for mobile programs.
While this is among the easier languages to learn for beginners, it can be more challenging than Java, so stick to Java if you don’t want to move to Python.
Ruby is an interpreted programming language that defines objects by what they can do instead of requiring specific semantics.
Its first iteration was released in 1990, but it has quickly developed to become a high-level language capable of producing hybrid apps for different platforms.
This language is open source, so any developers who believe they’ve made a breakthrough in efficiency can freely access and modify the source code to suit their needs.
For example, Ruby isn’t as straightforward as Python because it doesn’t require a single solution to every problem. Instead, it attempts to find multiple solutions when possible.
While this can benefit you if you dislike seeing bugs, finding and squashing bugs is more difficult because it requires significantly more trial-and-error. Keep this in mind!
With decades of experience and a vast body of users behind it, this language retains its popularity and remains a good choice for developing applications across platforms.
Anyone with the right knowledge and malicious intent can alter your code and use it for their gain.
PHP is a programming language whose original iteration was released in 1994. PHP is another open-source language and can be used alongside HTML5 for web development.
PHP’s ideal for hybrid applications because it began as a web dev tool independent of mobile device platforms. It’s also easy to grasp for beginners.
But when paired with more programming languages, it can make a good app. However, note that larger PHP projects become difficult to manage and find bugs in.
What Are the Different Types of Mobile Apps?
Android and iOS apps aren’t the only kinds of mobile apps; there are also 3 main kinds of apps developers can create.
Let’s break them down here before you begin to create mobile applications, starting with native apps:
A native app is one that’s made for a specific operating system (like iOS or Android) and is written in the native language of that OS.
Native development is ideal if you intend to stick to a single OS, but also potentially limits the number of users and audience your app can reach.
That being said, developing a native app will allow your team to focus efforts and not expend too much time and resources trying to cater to a larger audience.
Native Android apps are developed in either Java (or, more recently, Kotlin), while native iOS development will require either Objective-C or Swift.
Another pro of native apps is their quick adaptability to your chosen platform’s UX. Since any mobile app you make will be inherently tailored to the platform, you don’t have to worry about adjusting visuals.
Starting in native app development will create a potential roadblock if you want to cross over to another platform. Adapting your app to another platform will take more time and effort.
They can also be used to create mobile web apps that require an internet connection. That’s because they run in a browser instead of being launched from your device.
The earliest iterations of these apps were functionally regular web browsers overlaid with apps, but they’ve evolved and become more complex over time.
A web app is classified as a progressive web app (PWA) if it can be installed and used offline, which will create a more responsive and functional program for your users.
While some web applications can be installed, like native apps, some of them only require an internet connection to be used. This helps your users save on mobile space since they’ll simply need a browser.
The offline usability, multi-platform functionality, and speedy loading of these apps make them ideal if your team cannot create cross-platform apps.
Hybrid apps are like the combination of native and web apps with features and functionality. You can often install these hybrid programs from your chosen platform’s unique app marketplace.
These apps often have some functions of native applications, like improved data security and a more seamless user experience. They also incorporate the online features of web applications.
If you want to develop cross-platform apps, they’ll likely need to be either hybrid or web apps to give yourself an easier time. These apps are also more cost-effective across platforms.
Hybrid app development can be easier on your team since they’ll only need to be written once for multiple platforms, in contrast to native applications that need to be redone per platform.
Different Types of Frameworks
The choices mobile app developers need don’t stop at their language; it also extends to the framework/s you plan to use.
Note that you may need another framework if you’re stuck with one of the native programming languages and want to expand to different operating systems.
While this may be fine if your dev team has enough experience in other languages, it may be confusing if your team works strictly on separate languages.
You can quickly skip this hassle by using cross-platform languages!
1) React Native
React Native is a cross-platform framework developed by Meta (a.k.a Facebook) to cover practically all platforms.
This framework can be used for websites, Android applications, and iOS apps. It reduces your team’s workload by allowing them to focus on writing and maintaining only 1 code base.
Instead of being forced to write the same application twice, React Native lets you write once for all platforms.
2) .NET Framework
.NET is a Microsoft-developed framework that fulfills the same functions as React Native above. Applications can be written in .NET using practically any language you want.
While originally designed to write websites and computer programs, this framework’s functions have since expanded and moved to mobile apps.
Regardless of the language, .NET will compile your app’s code and make it readable and executable on any platform.
Like Kotlin, Flutter is Google’s preferred framework for creating Android applications. This open-source framework is also meant for multi-platform mobile apps.
Flutter is more inclusive than a framework, more like a complete SDK with the framework component usable with Dart.
You don’t need to learn Dart to use Flutter, but its addition will give your team access to more features.
How to Choose the Best Programming Language for You
So, you think you’ve found the best language and are ready to throw away all other programming languages? Hang on!
Before settling on a single language, you should clarify your goals.
Pick an OS
Do you want to make cross-platform apps, or do you intend to cater to a single operating system like iOS or Android?
While single OS applications can make the most of their platform’s features, they’ll also be difficult to alter if you want to move to another platform.
Ensure Your Language Is Still Supported
Just like how no one writes in Classical Latin and Ancient Greek anymore, no one writes in an unsupported programming language.
Before choosing a language, ensure that it will continue to be supported for years. This will give your mobile app longevity if you need to revisit it.
Why Learn the Basics of iOS and Android App Development?
Ask any veteran mobile app development company why it’s worth your time to learn mobile app development, and their reasoning will be nice and simple: Accessibility.
An app is a surefire way to get more downloads and spread the word about your business quickly and organically; plus, it lets you appeal to a wider audience!
Mobile development is an excellent way to reach a wider audience since almost everyone has a mobile device, regardless of their preferred platform.
iOS App Development
Before you sit down and begin to develop iOS apps, ensure that your team has a clear vision for the future of their app.
To give your app staying power, write it in Swift instead of Objective-C to reach future iOS users. It’s also good to know that Apple has a closed ecosystem, so they have tools for native app development.
Choose a framework above to bypass this requirement and create for different platforms.
Android App Development
Developing Android applications leaves you with more choices for the languages since both Java and Kotlin are acceptable for Android applications.
Note that you can tailor your app according to the available hardware on the user’s device. This will create an uneven user experience, but it will let you reach more users with 1 code base.
A new developer can use several mobile programming languages and a wealth of online tutorials and resources.
However, the best programming language is the one that suits your needs, so ensure that you have at least a somewhat clear goal before going all-in with your preferred language.
19 September 2022
19 September 2022