What Programming Language is Best for Mobile App Development?

If you’re a web developer and are considering getting more into mobile application development for IOS and/or Android operating systems for mobile phones, then you are likely go ask the question, “What Programming Language is Best for Mobile App Development?”.

The answer is somewhat complicated because there are many answers. To narrow down the possible options, I am going to make a couple assumptions. I will assume that you, like myself, like to stay away from platforms and drag and drop type UI tools to program with. I will also assume that you want to develop something for both Android and iPhone, not just one or the other.

Considering the above assumptions, there are still many options, so what makes it such a complicated choice? In my opinion the main factor that makes it so difficult to pick a coding language to specialize in for mobile app development is the fact that there are two main and competing mobile platforms that have chosen to use different languages with their operating systems. Of course I am speaking about Android Vs. iOS.

Android Vs. iOS, Which is More Popular?

A quick Google search shows me that just over 85% of smartphones are Android, while most of the remaining 15% are Apple iOS phones. According to an article I read on 9to5mac.com, Android and iOS together account for 99.1% of all smartphones in use today, which makes any other devices almost pointless to develop for. It is worth mentioning that of the 0.9% of devices that are not running Android or iOS operating systems, are mostly running Windows operating systems. Windows OS accounts forĀ  0.6%, while 0.1% are Blackberry and the remaining 0.2% are various other operating systems that are not popular enough to be worth even mentioning here.

Best Languages for Android OS

JAVA

Since Android controls the majority of the market for smartphones today, let’s look at them first. If you are going with the most popular answer, than Android wins by far! Android operating systems use Java. If you are coding an app for Android phones, Java is most likely going to be your best programming language to choose as the base language for your app. In reality, many apps use a combination of several different languages. However, in my experience your language of choice will make up the majority of the app’s code.

Kotlin

Kotlin, a second app development language option, was designed and developed by JetBrains. They are a Czech company known for the popular IDE, IntelliJ IDEA. Google’s Android team recently announced that they are officially adding support for the Kotlin programming language. Kotlin was created to address some of the Java issues. Some say the Kotlin syntax is clean, simple, and leads to less code bloat.

Best Languages for iOS

While Apple’s iOS operating system only accounts for roughly 15% of the smartphone market, that is still a significant number of devices out there. Smart developers create apps for both Android and iOS, whether it be with separate apps for each or some sort of platform used to create a mashup that will allow a single app to function on both operating systems.

Apple iOS apps primarily use SWIFT or Objective-C

SWIFT

SWIFT is a quickly growing open source language popular with many starting out with app development today. Apple has heavily promoted the use of SWIFT making it clear that they intend for SWIFT to be the leading language choice for iOS application developers.

Objective-C

Objective-C was the original language of the iOS operating system, but is being phased out apparently since Apple is making it clear that SWIFT is the future, then that leaves Objective-C stuck in the past. While it is still a viable option, I would suggest using it only on an as-needed basis for iOS application development purposes.

Cross -Platform Mobile App Language Options

For some of you, particularly those of you who don’t want to make two separate apps, a cross-platform language option might seem more attractive. A cross-platform language in this context, is one that will allow a mobile application to function on both Android and iOS without the need to make two applications, one for each OS.

JavaScript

If you started out as a web developer as I did, then you are surely familiar with JavaScript. Not to be confused or associated with Java, JavaScript is it’s own language despite the similar name. JavaScript is very versatile in that you can complete many different types of tasks using the language. It is probably one of the most popular cross-platform options because it is effective and rather light-weight.

Several JavaScript frameworks exist today that target the mobile application development market. While I am not a huge fan of most frameworks in general, some of these deserve some serious consideration none-the-less. Some of the well known JavaScript frameworks popular today include PhoneGap by Cordova, Angular.js, jQuery Mobile and React. There are many more that are worth researching if you are looking for a cross-platform JavaScript framework or library to help build your next mobile application for Android and iOS. Actually, JavaScript apps will also work on the other less used Operating Systems as well such as Windows OS and Blackberry.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *