7 Best Programming Languages for Mobile App Development [2020]

What is the best programming language for mobile app development?

Which mobile app programming language should you learn in 2019?

Which one will (insert your question here) ?

If you want to get started into mobile app development… then you might have found yourself in this dilemma.

Mobile app development is still a great career in 2019 as about 19 million people worldwide are software developers, with 8.7 million developing mobile apps.

However, there are many programming languages to choose from for mobile app development, which may make you feel overwhelmed.

Not knowing the best programming language to learn that will give you the best return on your investment in the long term…

Or if you are already a developer, you might also reach a point where you need to take the next logical step…

A step in advancing your app developer career by learning a new language.

Before you decide to learn a programming language as a developer, you need to take your time and do your research.

In this post today we are going to look at the best programming languages for mobile app development and how to choose which in one to learn.

Some mobile app programming languages are specific to one platform while others let you develop for multiple platforms with the same code.

But before I get into the list of the best programming languages for mobile app development in 2019, you might be asking yourself…

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How do you choose the programming language for learning mobile application development?

So let’s look at 3 important questions you should ask yourself before you choose the right mobile app programming language to learn.

  • Which mobile platform do you want to build for?
  • What is your previous coding experience?
  • How much time do you have to learn?

Okay, now that that’s out the way, let’s look at the best programming languages for mobile app development in 2019.

And they are in no particular order of superiority or inferiority… just the languages that I think are great to learn for mobile app developers.

Best Programming Languages for Mobile App Development in 2019 [Infographic]
Courtesy of: devCount

1. Java

The Java programming language was developed in 1994 by James Gosling at Sun Microsystems, now owned by Oracle.

This Android programming language came after C & C++ programming languages had already been introduced.

Today it has become very popular. In fact according to VersionEye, which tracks the open source software libraries, Java has the most completed open source projects by developers.

Java is the most prominent and highly employed Android app programming language in 2019.

It utilizes JVM that works smoothly in every system.

Most organizations prefer Java since it offers flexibility to app developers for quick and error-free mobile application development.

Being the most established Android app development language, Java also has the backing of a huge and vibrant user community who will help you out with any challenges.

According to SlashData, the number of Java developers in the world was 7.1 million as of September 2018 (source).

2. Kotlin

Kotlin is a statically typed programming langauage developed by JetBrains in 2011.

Ever since its introduction in the development world, Kotlin has quickly become popular and is now one of the best language for Android app development in 2019.

Much of the success of the Kotlin as an Android app development language in 2019 is attributed to its interoperability, its ability to run on JVM and its versatility for front-end and back-end development.

It was designed for building modern mobile apps because it provides the functionality modern app developers need that were lacking in Java.

With Kotlin you will writes cleaner and less code for the same functionality in Java, making it a top programming language for Android apps. 

If you want to get started learning Kotlin, check out my review of the best Koltin courses on Udemy.

The number of Kotlin software developers in the world was estimated to be 1.4 million in 2018 (source).

Even though Kotlin is a relatively young, it is evolving really fast and will probably replace Java at some point in the future as the best programming language for Android app development.

3. Objective C

Objective-C is an object-oriented general-purpose programming language developed by Tom Love and Brad Cox in 1984.

Before Swift, it was the primary iOS development language for Apple’s iOS devices and OS X.

One of the great things about Objective-C is that you can use C and C++ while using this language, which is not possible in Swift.

It supports dynamic typing and enables message passing among objects which is really useful for Apple iOS operating systems.

Even though Swift has taken over Objective-C in popularity and usefulness and is quickly replacing it, the transition will not be instant.

It is not going anywhere any time soon because based on StackOverflow.com queries and Objective C projects on Github.com, it is still used by more developers than Swift. .

The number of Objective C software developers in the world was estimated to be 1.8 million in 2018 (source).

So learning Objective C for creating iOS mobile apps will still pay off.

4. Swift

Introduced by Apple in 2014, Swift has quickly gained popularity and is now one of the best programming languages for mobile app development.

Swift is a great choice a for building high-performance and interactive mobile apps for iOS and Mac OS.

Prior to Swift, Objective-C was the primary programming language for iOS development.

Just like Kotlin, Swift it’s still rather young but promising iOS programming language and is definitely the future of iOS development.

Swift programming enables you to write clearer code and requires fewer lines of code for the same funcionality in Objective-C.

With Swift language, iOS developers can experience more effortless programming because its memory management system allows you to focus on the app logic instead of worrying about the memory of each object.

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Additionally, since Apple decided to release Swift as an open-source project in 2015, this iOS app programming language has evolved quite fast since anyone can contribute.

The number of Swift developers in the world was estimated to be 2.3 million in 2018 (source).

This review of Udemy Swift tutorials will help you get started learning Swift programming.

It’s the mobile app programming language I’d recommend for building new apps on iOS, tvOS, and watchOS platforms.

5. C++

C++ is an object oriented programming language developed by Bjarne Stroustrup in 1985.

This cross platform programming language features low-level memory manipulation and can be also used for developing new programming languages and operating systems.

Among all the programing languages C++ is the strongest and most powerful language for mobile app development.

It is the programming language that has been used to develop some of the most powerful tools like Photoshop, World of World of Warcraft, Google chrome and PayPal.

It is also one of the best programming language for mobile app development.

Because of it’s consolidating debugging experience and powerful environment, C++ can be used to build cross-platform mobile apps for Android, Windows, and iOS.

C++ is the primary language that propels the mobile industry in the present day and many top app development companies prefer using it for developing platform independent mobile apps.

However, because it’s code execution time is super fast, it is ideal for low-level programming and is mostly used to build high-performance mobile applications and games.

In 2015 there were 4,4 million C++ software developers. Today the number has increased slightly and reached 5.4 million (source).

6. C#

C# was created by Anders Hejlsberg and launched by Microsoft in 2000 as part of the .NET framework.

This cross platform language is a higher-level, object-oriented programming language bassed on the C programming language, with a similar syntax as C++ and Java.

C# is mainly used for building native apps for Microsoft platforms but can also be used to build native iOS and Android apps with the help of Xamarin.

Xamarin is a tool that enables developers to write C# code and then compile it to native iOS and native Android binaries.

Get started learning C# today through these Xamarin Forms tutorials on Udemy.

These binaries work exactly like any other iOS or Android native app written in their respective languages like Swift, Java e.t.c.. 

Xamarin offers C# developers the amazing ability to develop native iOS and Android mobile apps without learning a new programming language.

In fact, Xamarin makes C# one of the best cross platform programming languages in 2019.

You can even use C# to build video game apps because it is supported by Unity3D.

The number of C# software developers in the world was estimated to be 6.2 million in 2018 (source).

7. JavaScript

JavaScript was created by Brendan Eich, a Netscape Communications Corporation programmer 1995.

Since it’s inception this hybrid app programming language JavaScript has grown in terms of complexity and popularity. A developer survey by Stack Overflow revealed that JavaScript is the most popular language among today’s developers .

However, JavaScript is not a programming language primarily designed for mobile app development. It is a language that is run by browsers to develop and control web pages.

But recently creating hybrid mobile apps with JavaScript has become possible with HTML, CSS & Ajax, thanks to mobile frameworks like PhoneGapjQuery Mobile, and Ionic.

According to the 2016 Stack Overflow Developer Survey, “JavaScript is the most commonly used programming language on earth. Even Back-end developers are more likely to use it than any other language.”

Meanwhile, the most recent data provided by SlashData showed that there were 10.7 million JavaScript software developers in the world in 2018 (source).

It is one of the best languages for cross platform mobile development.

Once you code the mobile app you can release it on all platforms such as Android, iOS, and Windows.

If you want to get started with JavaScript hybrid app development, check out my other review of the best React Native courses on Udemy.

JavaScript and C# are the languages to learn if you want to build cross platform or hybrid mobile apps in 2019.

In conclusion…

In conclusion, mobile app development is an ever-growing industry and new mobile apps programming languages are built to upgrade the previous one.

So, how do you choose the best language for app development to learn when there are so many options?

How do you choose a programming language for mobile development that not only has a high commercial demand but will also give you satisfaction on the job?

These many mobile app programming languages to choose from give you the illusion of choice.

But, REALLY?

You DON’T have much of a choice.

Picking the best programming language for mobile app development from the list is NOT hard.

You know, you actually don’t choose the app programming language to learn.

All you have to do is choose the field you wanna get into, and the language is already chosen for you.

Each field is accompanied by one or two languages. For iOS learn Swift, for Android learn Kotlin and for hybrid apps learn React Native.

They have already been chosen for you by the industry, trends, market demand, historical accident, ecosystem and community e.t.c..

So choose the most popular one.

If after learning to code you still find a problem landind a developer job the check out my other post on how to get get your first developer job.

Did you find this article useful in helping you choose the best programming language to learn for mobile app development?

Which one of these app development programming languages have you learnt before?

What was your experience?

Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Author: Geoffrey Barnes

Hey, I’m Geoffrey, a mobile app developer with experince in Xamarin and React Native. I also double in as a freelance tech writer and blogger during my free time. On this blog I share my experience about mobile app development.

3 Thoughts to “7 Best Programming Languages for Mobile App Development [2020]

  1. Hello,
    Thanks for sharing such informative and helpful blog post and you are doing a good job so keep posting such amazing articles

  2. Thank you so much for your guidance. I’m motivated to be an application developer and I wish to study online. I am looking for more blogs on the mobile app development such as cross platform using react native which based on the JavaScript.

  3. Hey Geoffrey, it was really very great post written by you. I appreciate your efforts in the writing.
    I have one question if you are able to give answer then it really helps me. I’m looking forward to developing one android application that uses artificial intelligence, then which language should I use while developing that?

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