14 Most Popular Mobile App Development Languages
In today’s digital economy, producing robust mobile applications is a must for solo entrepreneurs, small to medium sized businesses and major corporations alike. The good news is that it’s never been easier to develop full-featured apps in a short time frame. Selecting the right programming language for your mobile application can be tricky due to the sheer number of excellent options available. Here’s a quick rundown of the most popular languages for mobile app development at the present time.
Created by Sun Microsystems in the mid-1990s, Java has become one of the most popular coding languages around. It powers everything from databases to servers to mobile applications. Java allows developers to produce code faster than C++ with minimal reductions in speed.
- Rapid application development and debugging.
- Supported by a wide array of platforms.
- A large pool of experienced coders to choose from.
Thanks to its simple syntax and convenient features, Python is beloved by app developers all over the world. Python’s primary claims to fame are its extreme readability and flexibility. Over the years, many wildly successful sites and apps like Dropbox, Reddit and Instagram have been developed using Python.
- A diverse ecosystem of code libraries.
- Greater programmer productivity.
- Highly extensible via C++ and Java.
Developed in 1994 as a web-specific programming language, PHP has been powering sites of all kinds for decades. PHP is used to write server-side code that interacts with databases to generate dynamic app content. When written by a competent programmer, PHP code can be just as efficient as C++.
- Gentle learning curve.
- Nearly impervious security.
- Supports many databases.
- Tons of available frameworks.
Often referred to as “C with classes” by veteran coders, C++ is an object-oriented language that’s even more versatile than C. A growing number of professional web developers are relying on C++ to produce stunning apps. In the right hands, C++ can make your applications incredibly powerful while using fewer resources.
- Efficient hardware utilization.
- Lightning-fast data processing.
- Top-notch Android and iOS support.
- Rapid development cycles.
- Mature code libraries and frameworks.
- Suitable for client and server-side code.
In many ways, Kotlin is the heir apparent to Java when it comes to app development. Like Java, it’s easy to learn and runs on any device thanks to its compatibility with the Java Virtual Machine. As of May 2019, it’s Google’s recommended language for Android app development.
- 100% compatibility with Java.
- Less vulnerable to security exploits.
- Code that’s easy to maintain.
In a nutshell, C# or “C sharp” is Microsoft’s implementation of C++ using their .NET framework. Programmers that are proficient in C or C++ coding can produce C# apps pretty easily. Thanks to its rich standard library, C# can substantially accelerate development times for a variety of projects.
- General compatibility with C++.
- Scales well on big projects.
- Large pool of veteran developers.
- Supported by nearly every major browser.
- Clean syntax that’s easy to understand.
- Excellent support for multimedia files.
Possibly the only programming language that’s easier to read than Python, Ruby has been a favorite of web developers since 1995. Over the years, this language has been responsible for notable apps like Airbnb, Kickstarter and GitHub. It’s quick, easy to learn and powerful to boot.
- Rapid development and testing.
- Low code maintenance over time.
- Impressive scalability.
- An enthusiastic community of developers.
Described as “Objective-C without the C” by Apple, Swift is an object-oriented language favored by iOS developers. Its clean syntax and readability make rapid prototyping a breeze. Thanks to its open-source license, bugs are discovered and rectified quickly. Consequently, Swift is a promising language with loads of potential.
- Easier to maintain than Objective-C.
- Far more secure than many languages.
- Often much faster than Python.
Essentially Apple’s answer to C#, Objective-C has long been the go-to development language for iOS apps. Its small resource footprint and speed make for superior user experiences. What’s more, Objective-C is largely compatible with other C implementations. As such, coders can speed up development by reusing code.
- Widely used for iPhone development.
- Plenty of mature libraries to choose from.
- Speedy performance on mobile devices.
A relative newcomer to the app development scene, Rust was designed from the ground up to be as fast as C++ without the potential safety hazards. Thanks to its robust standard library, Rust is just as powerful as C and C++. Expect to hear a lot more about Rust in the coming years.
- Performance on par with C++.
- Fewer server-side errors.
- Less prone to security flaws.
- Incredibly easy to learn.
- An extremely mature code base.
- Tons of existing plug-ins.
- Enables quick app prototyping.
If you’re looking for a succinct language that was designed from the start to manipulate databases, SQL is the obvious choice for app developers. Originally developed at IBM all the way back in 1974, SQL is a language that comes in many flavors ranging from MySQL to MariaDB. When you write SQL well, you can rest assured that your code will remain relevant for a long time to come regardless of how much an app’s front end changes.
- Blistering query speeds.
- Well-defined implementation standards.
- Arguably the simplest syntax around.
- Superior data security.