Top Most Popular Programming Languages for Mobile App Development

Addevice
6 min readNov 16, 2022

Programming languages stand behind the mobile apps we are using today. Of course, there are dozens more nuts and bolts, but everything starts with a choice of programming language. Which is the best, or is there a ranking of programming languages for developing mobile apps? Let’s figure it out together.

Where to start and how to choose a programming language

There are over 8,900 programming languages created so far, but only a small portion of them are in use today. For mobile app development, the list is filtered to only those that can help you build modern, highly responsive apps.

Mobile App Types

Practically, there are three types of mobile apps: native, hybrid, and web apps.

Native mobile apps

Native is an app developed for one particular operating system, Android or iOS. Those apps are written in a platform-specific language native to the operating system. They look and feel like part of the OS.

However, developing a native app means two apps for each OS, two development teams, and double expenses.

Hybrid apps

A hybrid app combines web and native technologies and open-source frameworks. Such an app is available on different operating systems: Android, iOS, and Windows.

Even though hybrid apps provide a near-native experience, they may have limited user interface details and no access to native features.

Web apps

Web apps are developed with web technologies and frameworks. By sending each request to a server, a web application makes the user wait for a response. This type is mostly used as a quick solution for idea validation.

The choice of application type depends on a number of factors, starting with a budget and ending with target audience preferences. We start our collaboration with in-depth research and business analysis to discover the best option for your business.

Best Programming Language for App Development

It’s time to talk about serious things. Once you have determined the type of future app, you can choose a language for the platform.

Programming Languages for iOS Apps

Objective-C

An object-oriented and powerful language is chosen by specialists already skilled in Java, C++, C#, PHP, Python, R, Visual Basic.NET, Ruby, or JavaScript. It uses syntax from the C and object-oriented aspects of Smalltalk. Objective-C is not a new programming language, but it is still quite popular.

Objective-C Features

  • Automatic garbage collector
  • Natural language syntax
  • Static and dynamic typing

Objective-C Pros

  • Easy to learn
  • Legacy codes supporting nest coding style

Objective-C Cons

  • Not supporting new features
  • Extended coding needed

Swift

It will be the official language for iOS apps in 2022. Younger, faster, and more effective, it overtakes Objective-C. Swift is focused on safety, but it still lacks maturity because it is dependent on third-party tools. An open-source programming language works with the iOS, OS X, and tvOS platforms.

Swift Features

  • Free-standing IDE
  • Native error handling
  • In-built memory management techniques

Swift Pros

  • Extensive libraries
  • Executed on Cocoa and Cocoa Touch
  • Easy-to-learn language and scalable projects

Swift Cons

  • Incomplete cross-platform support
  • Poor support of earlier OS versions
  • Young and unstable language

Programming Languages for Android Apps

Python

Python is a general purpose, object-oriented language with flexibility for projects of any complexity. Android doesn’t support native Python development, but with the tools provided, Python apps can be converted into Android packages. Some of the most popular apps, like YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram, are actually developed in Python.

Python Features

  • Rapid development and deployment
  • Clean and readable code
  • Enables creating GUIs using a standard library

Python Pros

  • Easy to learn, a high-level programming language for computing numeric data
  • Builds scalable apps and supports multiple systems
  • Flexible programming through an extensive set of frameworks

Python Cons

  • Slower than other modern programming languages
  • Not the best choice for memory-intensive tasks
  • Long and verbose codes

C / C ++

High-performance languages like C can be great for things like mobile 3D gaming. However, it’s important to remember that you will still need Java to create a complete mobile application. The Android NDK allows you to write C/C++ for part of an application, usually just a library.

Java

Java has been the default development language for Android apps and is still one of the top object-oriented languages. The language has a powerful community, open-source libraries, and documentation to handle the features.

Java Features

  • Server-side language
  • Independent of environments
  • Security of programs with access modifiers and virtual machine sandbox

Java Pros

  • Code portability and reusability
  • Explicit interface
  • Prevents memory leaks, issues inherent to native code, etc.

Java Cons

  • Poor garbage collection, leading to complex implementations
  • No backup facility

Programming Languages for Cross-platform Apps

Scala

Scala is a high-level language combining functional and object-oriented programming. It is more concise, productive, and easy to pick up than Java.

Scala Features

  • Good IDE support
  • Interoperability with Java

Scala Pros

  • Helps build scalable and fault-tolerant systems
  • Rapidly developing ecosystem

Scala Cons

  • Small developer pool with expertise and limited community
  • Immature development tools

JavaScript

JavaScript is the most popular interface language for building desktop apps, websites, and games. The language uses the React Native framework and smoothly runs in other environments for cross-platform apps.

JavaScript Features

  • Platform-independent and prototype-based
  • Validates user input and client-side calculations
  • Supports dynamic typing

Pros

  • A huge community of developers
  • Easy to learn
  • Has support from most browsers

JavaScript Cons

  • Not easily changed and updated
  • Exploited for malicious purposes

Dart

Popular for both native and cross-platform app development, Google’s Dart is an open-source programming language focused on speed and productivity. It is used on the Flutter framework to deliver high-performance apps.

Dart Features

  • Iterative changes and hot reload
  • Static and dynamic typing
  • Feature-rich library

Dart Pros

  • Fast app development on several platforms
  • Familiar syntax of C
  • Growing community

Dart Cons

  • Low focus on the backend

SDK Toolkit for Windows

With this set of development tools, software engineers have all the necessary tools, including the latest headers, libraries, and metadata for creating great Windows applications.

Progressive Web App

Progressive web apps (PWAs) are gaining popularity in the digital environment as a super-fast solution for brand owners. PWA uses specific technologies to build web pages that can be installed on a smartphone as apps. PWA is written in JavaScript, CSS, and HTML and has a native-like user experience.

Responsive web programming

Responsive Web Design (RWD) interacts with any device based on the platform, screen size, and orientation, adapting the page to its characteristics. It still requires coding for various platforms, unlike PWAs, which are device-independent. A responsive web application is written in HTML for content and CSS for design.

Mobile App Development Platforms and Tools

The versatility of programming languages is supported by extensive tools, software, and frameworks compatible with native and hybrid apps. Here are the top mobile app development tools working with the languages listed above.

Xamarin

Xamarin is a Microsoft platform running on the C# programming language for building cross-platform applications. This framework has native API access and Xamarin.Forms interfaces to share 100% of the code across all dev platforms.

Flutter

The Flutter open-source framework by Google is one of the most popular tools for building natively compiled and native-feeling apps for multiple platforms. It runs on Dart and is supported by multiple libraries. One of the best features of Flutter is its ability to share UI code and the UI itself without the need for platform-specific UI components.

React Native

React Native is a cross-platform framework by Facebook used for iOS app development. Supported by JavaScript, React Native is easily adapted to the hybrid environment, giving native results. It means you can use native libraries when developing apps with React Native.

Angular

Angular is a component-based framework for developing and scaling mobile and desktop apps. It is part of the Javascript ecosystem and one of the most popular instruments supporting enhanced design architecture. Angular also has a flexible templating system that supports custom structural directives, 2-way binding, and more.

mBaaS

Mobile Backend as a Service provides backend services and infrastructure, allowing engineers to focus on the front end. mBaaS includes a platform, hosting, data, and a mobile app. Any application, native or cross-platform, needs a mobile backend to host your data, user profiles, run analytics, etc.

What is the best programming language? Final thoughts

This and similar listings cannot give a clear answer to your question because every project has unique requirements. The easy way to filter the options is to define the answers to these questions:

  • Does your application need to run on multiple platforms?
  • Is it going to be a native or hybrid application?
  • Are you limited in time and budget?

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