Mobile devices are the fastest-growing enterprise platforms in IT. Mobile App development industry has gained huge popularity as more and more people are opting for Apps to expand their business on a worldwide level. You probably use a range of different apps in your everyday life. Enterprise IT shops and software publishers alike are moving every possible application to run on tablets, smartphones, and even smartwatches. Behind that set of decisions, though, is a huge question: How do you make it happen?
Mobile App development
The first thing that comes in mind is – Which programming language to use for Mobile App development? It seems like a simple decision, but different operating systems favor different programming languages. The language you choose can be the difference between great success and tremendous frustration.
There are a number of data sources for programming language statistics including code repositories, Q&A discussions, job advertisements, social media mentions, tutorial page visits, learning video views, developer surveys and more. Let’s take a look at the most popular Mobile App development language options available today…
Java is an object-oriented programming language developed at Sun Microsystems. It is now owned, along with the rest of Sun Microsystems, by Oracle. Java is top pick as one of the most popular programming languages, used for building server-side applications to video games and mobile apps. It’s also the core foundation for developing Android apps, making it a favorite of many programmers.
Java is a compiled language that can be run in two different ways: either in a browser window or in a virtual machine that doesn’t require a browser. It is a platform-independent language. If you’re looking at Android Mobile App development as your primary platform you’re almost certainly going to look at Java. Possibly you won’t be doing Java-first development if iOS is your main target. And if you want to develop a common code base that runs across many different platforms, then Java should certainly be on your list of finalists.
While most of the world was developing software using C++, Apple went with Objective C as its primary programming language. Like C++, Objective C is a C-language superset. It has a lot of functions, which mainly deal with graphics, display functions and I/O. Objective-C was part of the Apple development framework until it was replaced by Apple’s new language Swift.
Created by Apple, Swift was introduced at 2014 WWDC Apple showcase – the language to code for Apple’s latest APIs Cocoa and Cocoa Touch. Swift is a multi-paradigm, compiled Mobile App development language designed to work with Apple’s iOS and OS X systems. Swift has been designed to eliminate the possibility for many of the security vulnerabilities possible with Objective-C. Swift is meant to be easier to learn and less bug-prone than Objective-C. Swift was developed with the idea of creating fast, high-performing apps simply and easily.
At WWDC 2015 Apple announced that Swift will be going open source. That’s bound to increase the number of people willing to work with Swift.
PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor) is a server-side programming language which shares similar syntax with other C-based programming languages. PHP supports a large range of database types, making it ideal for any application that needs access to a database. PHP is also extremely flexible, allowing it to support object-oriented programming languages but it can also function well without them. PHP is a great choice for creating the interfaces for mobile applications. It provides a ton of power and is the beating heart of monster sites like WordPress and Facebook.
Compared to other languages, PHP applications do tend to run a bit slower than others. But, as PHP is open-source, improvements are being made constantly, plus there are tons of free pre-built modules that you can grab and modify to get your ideal Mobile App development results.
Python is a one-stop shop. There’s a Python framework for pretty much anything, from web apps to data analysis. Python is often heralded as the easiest programming language to learn, with its simple and straightforward syntax. Python has risen in popularity for Mobile App development due to Google’s investment in it over the past decade (in fact, one recent study has shown Python to be the most commonly taught programming language in U.S. schools). Applications built with Python include Pinterest and Instagram.
If you want to build a Web App (housed on the Web and run on mobile browsers), the one near-certainty is Hypertext Markup Language 5. Built over current version of HTML, HTML5 has the advantage of quick learning curve than that for a completely new language.
But HTML5 is still a proposed standard currently supported in a lot of different ways by a lot of different browsers. There might be slight tweaks in the language in months to come and more substantial changes in the way browsers handle HTML5. If you can cope with a bit of uncertainty and want to walk the browser-based path, HTML5 is an obvious choice for a primary language.
C# (pronounced C-sharp) is an object-oriented programming language like Java. It’s an expansion of C that directly addresses many of the unique features of the environment. It’s the default (and recommended) programming language for Windows-based apps. With Windows Phone poised to make a comeback with Windows 10 Mobile, and the Windows App Store still desperately in need of well-made apps, learning C# could give you a leg up in Mobile App development for the Windows marketplace. C# opens a lot of Windows
When you need to get down and dirty for Mobile App development on platforms like Android and Windows, then C++ can be the answer to your object-oriented dreams. At this point, C++ has been used to develop apps for virtually every purpose on pretty much every platform that exists. It’s not trendy or ultra-modern — it’s been around much longer than smartphones — but for low-level programming it’s still the go-to language on platforms that aren’t fruit-themed. C++ is best suited for low-level programming. It works extremely fast and is now used to develop high-performance applications and games. It helps power major software such as Adobe and Mozilla.
Having been around for more than 30 years, C is one of the oldest and most used programming languages around. C is the predecessor to more complex programming languages like Java, C++ and C#. C is best when you want to work small and when dealing with low-level applications. It’s widely used for embedded systems like the firmware of your television or the operating system of an airplane, as well as computer operating systems like Windows. C is the “lingua franca” of Mobile App development.
SQL (Structured Query Language) is a database query language that’s ideal when talking big data. SQL lets you siphon helpful data from massive databases. Nearly every app has a backend database, and SQL is the language that helps you interact with that data. In terms of Mobile App development, SQL isn’t ever used alone – rather, you invoke SQL from some other programming knowledge (a package deal).
So which language is the “best” for Mobile App development? “It depends” – on the Operating system, App type, Licensed vs. Open source, User’s needs, Budget, Knowledge level, App interfaces, etc.
It’s important to keep track of which programming languages are up-and-coming. The Mobile App development industry is evolving at a rapid pace. More than any language, first I would recommend grasping some general understanding of Mobile App development. Once it’s clear, you can pick a language and build on it.
Which would you choose? I’d love to hear what you have to say.
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