What Programming Language is Used for Android App Development?
In this article, we are going to take a detailed look at what programming languages are used for Android app development.
Smartphone apps have become an integral part of our day-to-day lives. In fact, you are likely to look at your phone around an astounding 86 times per day, constantly checking your Facebook, Instagram, or WhatsApp updates.
Today’s smartphone applications can be used to obtain information, build connections, or simply have fun, – and creating them is also one of the most interesting jobs out there.
If you are thinking about becoming an Android app developer but aren’t sure how to begin your career, a good starting point would be to figure out which Android programming language you’re going to use.
Top 10 Android Programming Languages
With countless programming languages out there, it is easy to get lost. Some are general-purpose coding languages, while others offer highly specific functions.
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To help you sort things out, we have prepared a comprehensive rundown of the top 10 Android programming languages worth giving a try.
1. Java (Native)
Java is the official and most popular programming language for developing Android apps. While Java code itself usually runs on the Java Virtual Machine, on the Android platform, the code is compiled by the Dalvik Virtual Machine.
It is the native coding language used in Android Studio and a tried-and-true platform for both smartphone and computer software development.
Developed in 1995 by Sun Microsystem (now known as Oracle), this language has certainly stood the test of time. You can use Java to create all kinds of applications, because it can be used to code the entire program.
There are plenty of online learning resources available, and the language is considered quite straightforward for beginners.
2. Kotlin (Native)
While relatively new to the Android world, Kotlin presents a fantastic option for Android app developers.
This general-purpose open-source language was designed with practicality, efficiency, and effectiveness in mind. Kotlin is completely compatible with Java, and, as such, has quickly become the second official programming language for Android.
The language was designed with the goal of being a more modern, efficient, and practical alternative to Java. As such, it features a more logical layout and a higher readability as compared to its competitor.
Java still has a broader user base and is arguably faster as compared to Kotlin, but Kotlin has easier typing, shorter code, and more security features.
3. C++ (Native)
While C++ isn’t the first language that comes to mind for beginners, it is an excellent choice for building more complex Android applications. Being one of the most popular programming languages in the world, C++ is used for anything from designing video games to building operating systems and producing 3D movies.
C++ runs natively on the phone – and while this can make it more tricky to work with, the language is highly versatile in terms of features. Despite a rather steep learning curve, C++ is truly great for designing complicated games due to its native platform.
4. C# (Native)
Combining the best features of C++ and Java, C# can be used for a broad variety of tasks, from designing games using Unity to developing complex Windows applications.
C# is an object-oriented and higher level member of the C-language family, and it is an amazing option for Android development. C# was developed by Microsoft in 2000 and, while it is considerably newer than most other programming languages, it has gained a large developer community since then.
The language has a reasonable learning curve, a simpler syntax than many other languages, and can be used for a variety of purposes, which makes it a great choice for an Android programming language.
5. Lua (Native)
If you are looking for an easy-to-use and open-source language for Android development, it is worth considering Lua. This high-level programming language is often used for games like Warcraft or Angry Birds.
It is a fully-functional game engine useful for creating simple games, but more complex games would still likely require a more robust alternative, such as C++ or C#.
6. BASIC (Native)
While the name “BASIC” may seem simple, it is actually a very long acronym. BASIC, or “Beginners All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code,” is logical, simple, and useful and presents an excellent option for Android newbies.
While BASIC isn’t a universally-supported Android programming language, you will still be able to create some useful apps with it. It is a fast and practical place to start, but we still recommend using another language for more complicated programs.
To simplify the process and create engaging apps faster, you could use Back4App’s low-code backend to support your Android development process.
7. React Native (Cross-Platform)
React Native started out as a Facebook’s internal hackathon project but quickly went out to become one of the best programming languages that could create apps that run on any platform.
React Native is a cross-platform language, meaning that you don’t need to build separate apps for Android and iOs. This robust coding language has been used to develop widely popular apps like Airbnb and Uber, and is often called “the future of hybrid apps.”
With React Native, you can write sections of code that can be reused on different platforms. Once you deploy the code, you can easily customize it for respective platforms by simply detailing the finer nuances and stylizing elements.
In addition, React Native includes a number of pre-built components available through an open-source library. The language is ideal for creating Android apps that are more responsive, faster, and smoother to use, and a number of supporting libraries and third-party plugins make the job even easier.
8. Flutter (Cross-Platform)
Flutter was developed by Google as a mobile app SDK and provides an easy and quick way to create rich, high performance mobile apps that can be easily deployed on Android or iOs.
Flutter presents an app development framework that uses the programming language Dart and contains a rich library of tools and widgets to help create immersive, highly visual app experiences.
With Flutter, you can create cross-platform apps that feel just as smooth as native apps, and code reusability means that you can write your code faster.
In addition to offering an extensive library of UI widgets to help you develop visually stunning apps, the framework also allows for widget customization, so that you can achieve that rich native experience you are looking for in an Android programming language.
9. Xamarin (Cross-Platform)
Xamarin is a popular framework for cross-platform development that allows the creation of native-like apps for both Android and iOS.
First created in 2011, it was acquired by Microsoft five years later, when Xamarin became open-sourced and made available for free as a part of Microsoft Virtual Studio.
Xamarin uses only one programming language, C#, along with the .NET framework to build mobile applications for various needs and platforms. A single tech stack and shareable codebase within Xamarin allow for faster development, as you will only need to make slight changes to release the app across different platforms.
At the same time, native APIs and toolkits effectively cater to native app performance and design, making it nearly impossible to distinguish between a native and a Xamarin app.
One notable drawback of Xamarin, however, is that it isn’t too good at incorporating animations and rich graphic elements, making it not an ideal choice for gaming apps.
10. Ionic (PWA)
Ionic is an open-source UI toolkit that makes it possible to develop hybrid cross-platform mobile apps.
Ionic is known for providing efficient performance with minimum DOM manipulation and contains multiple component presets that provide native functionality.
While Ionic is an excellent choice for reducing the time, effort, and resources required to create a cross-platform application, the use of WebView to render apps makes it unsuitable for building intensive or complex applications.
This article explained the best ten programming languages for an Android app. It covered native languages like Java and Kotlin but also cross-platform frameworks like React Native and Flutter.
Hopefully, it will help you to make an informed decision about the best technology stack for your application.
What Programming Language is Used for Android App Development?
7. React Native