Mobile app development has been a career that is popular amongst millennials along with digital marketing and tech-driven careers. Mobile apps have also become a great way to start digitalising a business. Moreover, since the popularity of entrepreneurship has improved, startups are using mobile apps to launch their business forward.

Now, if you are not familiar with mobile app development, you might be wondering: what programming languages are being used to develop a mobile app. Today, we will be sharing the different programming languages that are being used for developing a mobile app.

Types of mobile apps

Native mobile apps are apps that are written in a specific language that is supported and created by the device’s operating system’s vendor. This means that it is the original mobile app development framework being used. The build process then converts the native code into executable mobile apps that native to the OS.

Hybrid mobile apps are basically websites packaged into a mobile app. This is also called Progressive Web Apps or PWA. By designing the elements similarly to native apps, the look and feel can be widely similar to native mobile apps. In this mobile app,  the app developer only needs to write the code once to run on Android and iOS.

Cross-platform mobile apps are apps that we also write once in order to run on both platforms. Cross-platform apps usually render native elements as compared to hybrid apps which package a website into an app. This allows app developers to develop native apps quickly with similar or better performance. 

Mobile App Development for Native iOS

iOS developers are one of the first mobile app developers as iPhone apps were the first smartphones to be popularised. iOS app development consists of devices such as the iPod, iPhone and iPad. 

However, development of these iOS apps allows iPhone apps to also be used on iPads efficiently. The difference is that you will have to take into the responsiveness of the mobile apps (i.e. how it looks like in different sized devices). 

iOS development requires XCode IDE on a Mac computer. It is not recommended to build iOS apps on Windows computers. This includes simulators, compilers and also code editors built into Mac computers. The main languages that are being used are Swift and Objective-C. 

Objective-C

Objective-C is the most primitive way to develop iOS apps. It has a syntax of C and the “Objective Oriented”-ness of SmallTalk. There were much negative feedback regarding the programming language and the popularity of Objective-C started to fall drastically with the introduction of Swift in iOS development.

Swift

Swift was introduced by Apple themselves in 2014 as a language, then introduced for mobile app development on XCode in 2015. After the introduction of Swift, it was the preferred app development technology for native iOS apps, thus surpassing Objective-C in terms of usage.

Swift is easier to use, learn and a more compact language as compared to Objective-C. Apple is also making it very clear that Swift is the default programming language for mobile app development for iOS apps.

Mobile App Development of Native Android

Mobile app development for android is open source that is created by Google, who is also the creator of android. Android is a very common operating system in smartphones that are not running on iOS. Some examples of companies that are using Android large are Samsung, Oppo, Vivo, Huawei and Xiaomi. 

Android devices also come in different sizes such as tablets from different companies, different sized mobile devices, etc. For native Android development, the main IDE being used is Android Studio which includes all the necessary resources to kickstart the mobile app development for android. 

The main languages used for Android app development in Java and Kotlin.

Java

Since 2008, Java was the default language being used to create mobile apps in Android native. It is an object-oriented programming language that is quickly adopted by android platform. Java code is being fed into a JVM (Java Virtual Machine) that’s running on the OS. Java is being written against the Android SDK. 

However, Java is a native programming language that says that it uses very traditional programming syntax which requires many lines of codes to do simple tasks.

Kotlin

After 10 years of Java dominating the field of android app development, Google announced in 2017 that Kotlin was an alternative programing language to Java. Both programming languages have similarities. In simple terms, Kotlin is neater than Java in terms of code visibility.

Hybrid Mobile App Development

Hybrid apps, like native apps, run on the device and are built with web development technologies such as HTML, CSS, JS. They are websites packaged into am mobile app to render elements that look and feel like native app elements. 

Ionic

The most common hybrid app development framework will be the ionic app framework. It was released in 2013 by Drifty Co. Ionic allows the app developer to choose any user interface frameworks such as Angular, React, or Vue.js. 

The main language that is being used in ionic is javascript, HTML and CSS. Surprisingly, it means that as long as you can develop websites and understand the 3 languages, you are also able to build hybrid apps. 

Of course, there are some framework terminologies that you would need to pick up fro their documentations as well. Since javascript is rather common in the web area, it is quite quick to pick up ionic as compared to other app development frameworks.

Cross-Platform Mobile App Development

React Native

React Native was released by Facebook in 2015. It uses Javascript as a programming language as well. There is no HTML in JAvascript as compared to ionic app framework. The code is being “translated” at runtime to be converted into native elements that are provided in respective native SDKs. 

Flutter

Flutter framework is written in Dart, which was released by Google in 2017. It is also an object-oriented programming language. Dart is not a very universal language, meaning that Flutter is one of the few things that you can do with Dart. It has a similar syntax with languages such as Java and Javascript. 

Flutter comes with their own widgets that have very high performance.

Conclusion

Hope that this gives you an overview of the languages that are being used mainly in mobile app development. 

If you ask us, we prefer Flutter and Dart over the other languages as it is the most cost-effective, yet does not have a steep learning curve.

SleekDigital is a mobile app development company in Singapore that is focused on developing high-quality mobile apps for companies, organisations and startups in Singapore.