Best Language For Mobile App Development—What You Need to Know - Webiotic (2023)

The mobile app market is constantly growing, with revenue from the industry continuing to skyrocket, year after year.

In fact, mobile apps are projected to generate over 935 billion in revenue by 2023.

In short, if you’re looking to tap into the mobile app market by building your own app, it’s always the right time to get started.

But what programming language should you use?

Can you use any language for Android and iOS app development, or is there a “best” language?

In this article, we’ll review which language is best to get started in creating your own mobile app and how you can make the right choice for your project.

Table of Contents

  1. Mobile App Types
  2. Native App
  3. Hybrid App
  4. Progressive Web App (PWA)
  5. Best Programming Languages for Apps
  6. Java
  7. JavaScript
  8. Swift
  9. Kotlin
  10. How to Choose the Right Programming Language
  11. Practical, Popular, and Prosperous
  12. Ask the Right Questions
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Chapter #1: Mobile App Types

Before we dive into the best programming languages to learn for mobile app development, you should first have a basic understanding of native mobile app development, hybrid mobile app development, and progressive web applications (PWA).

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Knowing which type of mobile app you’re going to be developing is key in finding the right programming language.

1.1 Native App

When you create an app that uses a technology dedicated to one specific platform, like iOS or Android—that’s called a native app.

Each operating system has its own language used for coding a native app.

If you’re building an iOS native app, for example, you might want to use Objective C or Swift as the programming language.

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For Android native app development, you would need to use Java or Kotlin.

(Video) Best Programming Language for Mobile App Development

Pros of Native App Development

  • Simpler code base and ecosystem results in faster performance
  • Functions well offline
  • Improved user experience due to platform-customized UI/UX components
  • Better security due to the various layers of protection of the operating system
  • Longer release cycles
  • Easier to prevent bugs and tech issues
  • Not dependant on third-party frameworks and libraries
  • Faster to build (since it’s for one specific platform)

Cons of Native App Development

  • Takes longer to develop for more than one operating system
  • Adding new features requires separate codebases
  • Since native programming languages are specific, you’ll need to hire a developer with that skill set
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Everything has its pros and cons, and native app development is no different.

So who is this method of development best suited for?

Native app development is a good choice if you’re creating an app for one specific platform. It’s also a good choice if you want the best user experience by removing unnecessary features.

If you plan on creating a gaming app or an app that has heavy animations, native apps are the way to go since they can handle it due to faster performance.

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1.2 Hybrid App

A hybrid app is a mix of native and web apps. It lets developers code in just one language which can be run on multiple operating systems.

You can use more well-known languages and frameworks when building a hybrid application, like JavaScript, HTML, and CSS.

When building this type of app, you would create your backend codebase which would then be covered in a native shell, allowing you to offer the app for both Android and iOS.

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Pros of Hybrid App Development

  • Easier to develop, especially for multiple platforms
  • Since you’re using the same backend for all variants, there’s faster development time
  • Cheaper to develop for, since you don’t need developers specializing in specific languages
  • Easier maintenance due to hybrid apps being based on web solutions
  • Having one codebase makes it easier to add new updates and features
  • Can easily integrate with web-based services

Number of Active Developers Globally

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Cons of Hybrid App Development

  • It’ll run slower if you have a complex, feature-heavy app
  • Relies on the security of your system browser
  • Having one codebase means the app runs equally on all platforms (instead of being coded to perform for a specific platform)

It’s a good idea to go with hybrid app development when you have a simple, content-based project that doesn’t involve heavy features and animations, or when you just want to get an MVP off the ground quickly.

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1.3 PWA

Progressive web apps run in a web browser but still give users the look and feel of a native application.

So this means you can install the app on your mobile device—it works offline and can even —and you can still use hardware features like your GPS and camera.

Each platform is optimized and there are no limitations to what programming languages you can use.

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Pros of PWA App Development

  • Accessible on various devices and platforms
  • PWA apps can be found in the browser
  • Faster loading speed
  • Ability to function offline
  • Cheaper to develop
  • Adapts well to various screen sizes (responsive)
  • Same look and feel of native apps
  • No installation process

Cons of PWA App Development

  • OS and hardware limitations
  • Hardware integration issues
  • Weaker performance on iOS
  • Not much support for iOS devices
  • Not available in app stores
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If you want a low-cost and yet robust e-commerce app, PWA can be a good choice. Since it’s accessible on multiple devices and platforms, it’ll also result in higher traffic.

PRO TIP: Before jumping on what you think is the most popular mobile app programming language, take time to first think about which of these types of apps you plan on building.

(Video) Best Mobile App Development Platform Breakdown

Chapter #2: Best Programming Languages for Apps

When it comes to mobile app development, there isn’t really one single “best” programming language, and as mentioned in the previous section, it really depends on what kind of app you’re making.

Let’s take a look at some of the most popular languages for app development so you can make the best choice.

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2.1 Java

Java is one of the most popular programming languages in the world, and it’s no wonder why it’s a top choice when developing mobile applications.

It’s a powerful and robust server-side language and has the most completed open source projects by developers.

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While it’s possible to develop iOS apps using Java, this language is most often used for Android app development since it’s a widely used and well-established language among developers.

It’s also flexible and Android already has a number of development tools for it.

2.2 JavaScript

JavaScript has been a long-time programming language favorite among developers, and many will argue that it’s the best programming language, period.

It’s become even more popular with the rise of frameworks like Vue and React.js that help build front-end UI components.

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JavaScript is also a server-side language and it’s often a developer’s top choice language for a variety of reasons.

Not only is it a great programming language for developers of all skill levels, but it can be run everywhere—on every device and on both the client-side and server-side.

Not only is it a great programming language for developers of all skill levels, but it can be run everywhere—on every device and on both the client-side and server-side.

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Since it’s been around for 25 years, JavaScript has a huge community behind it. You’ll find that it has a vast number of plugins and frameworks, making development much easier and streamlined.

React Native is a widely used JavaScript framework that allows for cross-platform mobile app development for iOS and Android.

(Video) Best Frameworks For Mobile App Development

PRO TIP: Just because a language has been around for a long time doesn’t necessarily mean you should use it. JavaScript is still popular and beloved after all these years, with new standards being released all the time.

Make sure the language you choose isn’t outdated and on its way to expire.

2.3 Swift

Swift by Apple is a popular programming language and has surpassed Objective C as the preferred language for iOS app development.

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It’s a developer’s favorite for creating iPhone and iPad apps for a wide variety of reasons.

It’s a very readable, type-safe language that’s also not difficult to code in, unlike other languages, like Objective C.

Swift is also highly interactive, meaning it can work in an interactive environment and you can see the output while you’re coding. This also makes it easy to catch coding errors at the coding stage.

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Another perk is that Swift is completely free and open source.

2.4 Kotlin

Kotlin is a newer programming language and is a great alternative to Java. It’s also the official language for Android app development created by Google, so it’s certainly worth learning if you want to create Android apps.

It has native support and it’s supported by IDEs like Android Studio and IntelliJ IDEA.

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While some will argue that Kotlin is the next Java, keep in mind that it’s a newer language that isn’t quite there yet, but it’s still worth learning since it’s being promoted heavily by Google for Android app development.

Chapter #3: How to Choose the Right Programming Language

With so many new languages and frameworks out there, it can be hard to make the right decision when it comes to developing an app.

Remember to keep the three Ps in mind before deciding.

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3.1 Practical, Popular, and Prosperous

The programming language should be practical. It should give you ample control over your project without needing too many external resources.

(Video) How to Understand Mobile App Terminology

It should be popular. Choosing a language that’s popular is important because popularity means you’ll have a large community behind it, a wealth of tools, frameworks, and resources to use.

Picking a programming language that’s popular is also a good idea because it means you’ll be able to find developers skilled in that language much more easily and for a more affordable price.

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Selecting a programming language that’s more niche and not as widely used will likely result in you paying more for a developer that knows that language.

Objective C, for example is an old and outdated language for iOS. It’s also fairly hard to learn and use, and it’s only a matter of time before it goes completely extinct.

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And finally, the language you choose should be prosperous. It shouldn’t just be the language of the hour, but rather one that’s foreseen to be used many years down the road.

3.2 Ask the Right Questions

Since you’re reading up on the best languages for app development, you’re either a new developer looking to learn their first language, or you’re already a developer trying to learn something new.

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No matter where you stand, here are some questions that will help you decide if you should move forward with a specific programming language for mobile app development.

  • Are you looking for a language to further your career?
  • What companies are working with this language?
  • What kind of ecosystem does this programming language have?
  • Do you enjoy working with this language?
  • Does having a large community of support behind a language matter to you?
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Answering these questions will help get you on the right path in your mobile app development journey.

PRO TIP: If you’re still unsure which language to use, pick one and start using it. This will help give you a feel for the language to see if you like it and want to continue learning it.

Final Thoughts

Every programming language has its pros and cons, and not a single one is perfect.

Picking the right one is all about what kind of app you’re trying to build and for what platform.

Knowing these details first will help you narrow down your list so you can make the best choice for your specific app project.

Remove any uncertainty you have and set your project up for success with our Simple Starter package—a cost-effective solution that will turn your app idea into an actionable plan

(Video) How to Develop Cross-Platform Apps

What’s your go-to programming language?

FAQs

What language should I learn for mobile app development? ›

If you plan on creating an Android app, Java could be the way to go. According to a recent survey, JavaScript is the most popular language among developers, with around 69.7 percent using it. HTML/CSS is the second most popular language, with 62.4 percent of respondents saying they code with it.

What are the 3 most important things you would consider when developing a mobile app? ›

11 things to consider before you design and build your App
  • Do you really need an App? ...
  • Decide if it is for Android, Apple or both? ...
  • Have you allowed enough time to design, build and test it? ...
  • App Registration. ...
  • Who are you competitors? ...
  • Use an App developer or use on online build service? ...
  • Do you need a tablet version too?

Which language is best for mobile app development 2021? ›

Java is the most prominent and highly employed Android app programming language in 2021. It utilizes JVM that works smoothly in every system. Most organizations prefer Java since it offers flexibility to app developers for quick and error-free mobile application development.

Is kotlin hard to learn? ›

Kotlin is a beginner-friendly language, and you can learn it even if you have little to no prior knowledge of programming. However, anyone having experience working with Python or Java will be able to master Kotlin quickly.

Is kotlin better than Java? ›

Kotlin Application Deployment is faster to compile, lightweight, and prevents applications from increasing size. Any chunk of code written in Kotlin is much smaller compared to Java, as it is less verbose and less code means fewer bugs. Kotlin compiles the code to a bytecode which can be executed in the JVM.

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