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The Best Programming Languages for App Development

Estimated read time: 9 minutes

There are many programming languages, however, which one is the best programming language for app development? The best programming languages for different types of projects are as follows:

The best programming languages for native Android app development

Both Java and Kotlin are great options for developing native Android mobile apps. They are fully compatible with the Android development toolkit.

1. Java

Java is one of the most popular programming languages for a long time. You can use it for many purposes, and it has been a mainstay of Android development for a long time.

This high-level and general-purpose programming language is excellent for object-oriented programming (OOP). Java is a class-based and compiled language. It’s a statically-typed programming language. You can run a Java app on any Java Virtual Machine (JVM) since Java is a cross-platform programming language.

James Gosling at Sun Microsystems had develop Java. The company first released Java in 1995. Java has seen many rounds of development, and enhancements to the language continue. Oracle now owns Java. Java is a free and open-source language, however, licensing requirements exist in some cases.

Java offers the following advantages for Android development:

  • The powerful features of the Java language work very well with the Android operating system. App developers can make optimal use of the features of Android mobile devices.
  • Java offers top-notch user experience, performance, and security for native apps running on Android devices.
  • Excellent documentation, tooling, and community support make it easy for programmers to write Android apps in Java.
  • Many developers already know Java.

2. Kotlin

Kotlin, a relatively new language is free and open-source. Google prefers it among the Android development languages. The Kotlin programming language is statically typed. It’s a general-purpose language. While it’s an object-oriented programming language, it also supports functional programming.

JetBrains, the creator of IntelliJ IDEA has created Kotlin. The company launched Kotlin in 2011, and Kotlin became an open-source project in 2012. There were many rounds of developments and enhancements since then.

Kotlin is fully interoperable with Java. It targets JVM. You can develop apps for Android, Windows, Linux, iOS, macOS, watchOS, etc. with Kotlin. Kotlin offers the following advantages for native Android mobile development:

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  • Powerful features like higher-order functions, anonymous functions, etc.;
  • Interoperability with Java;
  • Short learning curve;
  • Top-notch performance;
  • Readability;
  • Maintainability;
  • Reliability;
  • The ability to avoid common programming errors;
  • Achieving more while writing fewer lines of code;
  • Optimal access to native device capabilities;
  • Bright future;
  • Excellent documentation;
  • Community support.

The best programming language for native iOS app development

Swift is the best language for native iOS mobile app development. Programmers earlier used Objective-C to develop native iOS apps. Apple now prefers Swift for developing native apps targeting its platforms like iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS.

Chris Lattner and a few other software engineers created Swift, and they launched it in 2014. Swift is an open-source, general-purpose, compiled, and multi-paradigm programming language. Many rounds and development and enhancement have made this feature-rich language even more powerful.

You can use this statically typed language to develop apps for other operating systems like Windows and Linux too. When you develop iOS apps in Swift, you get the following advantages:

  • Powerful features like tuples;
  • Minimal learning curve;
  • Ease of use due to simple syntax;
  • Performance;
  • The ability to use native device capabilities optimally;
  • Security, since Swift helps to avoid common coding errors;
  • Maintainability;
  • The ability to write cleaner code;
  • Accomplishing more even when writing fewer lines of code;
  • Excellent memory management capabilities;
  • Support for dynamic libraries;
  • A growing pool of developers due to the popularity of Swift;
  • Bright future since Swift is supported by Apple;
  • Robust community support;
  • Better app store optimization (ASO) in the Apple App Store;
  • Interoperability with Objective-C.

The best programming language for front-end web development

JavaScript is the best language for developing the front-end of web apps. Along with HTML and CSS, JavaScript is one of the core underlying technologies of the World Wide Web.

JavaScript is a high-level programming language. This interpreted language is free and open-source. JavaScript is an object-oriented language, however, it supports multiple programming paradigms. It’s the scripting language for web pages. That said, you can use JavaScript for purposes other than web development too.

Brendon Eich created JavaScript at Netscape. The first release of the language was in 1995. Subsequently, many developers contributed to its growth. JavaScript is consistently one of the most popular languages. However, enhancements to it still continue.

JavaScript offers the following advantages for web development:

  • Simplicity;
  • Short learning curve;
  • Speed;
  • Popularity;
  • A large pool of JavaScript developers due to its popularity;
  • Interoperability, which enables you to use other programming languages for back-end web development;
  • The ability to create very appealing user interfaces (UIs);
  • Extensive documentation;
  • Excellent open-source tools created by a large community of JavaScript developers;
  • Community support.

A note about using JavaScript in developing progressive web apps and hybrid apps

Developers commonly use JavaScript to develop progressive web apps (PWAs). The similarities between progressive web apps and web apps make JavaScript a natural choice.

JavaScript has a key role in hybrid app development too. Several popular cross-platform mobile frameworks like React Native, Ionic, and PhoneGap are based on JavaScript.

The best programming languages for developing the back-end of web applications

You can use several prominent programming languages for back-end web development.

A note about Java, JavaScript, and Python for back-end web development

You can use multi-purpose languages like Java, JavaScript, and Python for back-end web development too. Spring, Struts, and Hibernate are highly popular Java frameworks for back-end development.

Node.js, a popular open-source runtime environment for JavaScript helps you with back-end web development. You can then use JavaScript for the entire web development project. Django is a popular Python framework for back-end web development.

1. Go

Go is also known as Golang. This open-source language is statically typed. Go is compiled, and it’s a strongly typed language.

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A team consisting of Robert Griesemer, Rob Pike, and Ken Thompson at Google developed Go. They announced Go as an open-source project in 2009, and the first release of Go was in 2012. Many rounds of developments and enhancements have made Go a powerful language.

Go is a multi-purpose language. You can use it for back-end web development, data science, cloud-based programming, and other purposes. It offers the following advantages:

  • Powerful features inspired by C;
  • Ease of use;
  • A short learning curve due to the simplicity of Go;
  • Versatility;
  • Extensive documentation;
  • A bright future due to the support from Google;
  • Speed;
  • The ability to prevent common programming errors;
  • Maintainability;
  • Support for concurrency;
  • Support from a vibrant and growing developers community;
  • Ease of deployment.

2. C#

C# is a high-level and general-purpose language. This open-source programming language supports object-oriented programming. It supports functional and component-oriented programming. C# is compiled to a virtual language, subsequently, a virtual machine interprets it. You use C# with the .NET framework.

Anders Hejlsberg of Microsoft designed C#, and Mads Torgersen of Microsoft developed it. The first release of C# was in 2000. There were many rounds of enhancements to this popular language.

You can use C# for developing desktop apps, web apps, and games. C# offers the following advantages for web development:

  • Ease of use;
  • Minimal learning curve since C# is similar to C, C++, Java, and JavaScript;
  • Faster software development;
  • Community support;
  • Scalability;
  • Versatility.

3. Ruby

Ruby is a free and open-source programming language. It’s a dynamically typed and interpreted language. This high-level and general-purpose language supports several programming paradigms like object-oriented and functional programming.

Yakihiro Matsumoto and a few more developers created Ruby in Japan, and the first release of Ruby was in 1995. Their objectives were developer productivity and simplicity. Ruby has had multiple rounds of enhancements. Enhancements to this popular language continue.

Ruby is a cross-platform programming language. You can use it for back-end web and general software development projects. Ruby offers the following advantages for web development:

  • High developer productivity due to the simplicity of Ruby;
  • Robust security features;
  • Minimal learning curve due to simple syntax;
  • Flexibility;
  • Scalability;
  • Maintainability;
  • Popular open-source frameworks like Ruby on Rails;
  • A noticeable pool of developers;
  • Community support.

The best programming language for Artificial Intelligence (AI)/Machine Learning (ML) development

Note: You can develop AI and ML systems using Java, a multi-purpose language. Julia is a relatively new language that has emerged as a choice for AI/ML development. Python is the most common choice for AI/ML development.

Python

While you can use other languages for AI/ML development, Python occupies the pride of place. It’s one of the most popular programming languages. Python is free and open-source. It’s a high-level and general-purpose programming language.

Python isn’t only an object-oriented language. It supports other programming paradigms like functional programming, procedural programming, etc. This interpreted programming language is dynamically typed.

Guido van Rossum started developing Python in the 1980s, and it was first launched in 1991. This versatile language witnessed many rounds of developments and enhancements since then. Python offers the following advantages for AI/ML development:

  • Short learning curve;
  • The ability to develop apps for platforms like Windows, Linux, Unix, and macOS;
  • Flexibility;
  • Versatility;
  • GUI programming support;
  • Automatic memory management;
  • Scalability;
  • Readability;
  • Maintainability;
  • A large pool of skilled developers;
  • Excellent libraries that facilitate AI/ML development, e.g., Scipy, Scikit-learn, TensorFlow, Numpy, and Theano;
  • Extensibility;
  • A large, growing, and vibrant community of developers;
  • Extensive documentation;
  • A bright future.

The best programming language for data science

Python, Julia, Java, JavaScript, Swift, Go, Scala, and R are some of the common languages for data science. Python and R are especially popular with data science project teams.

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R

R is a popular programming language for statistical computing and data science. It’s both a language and an environment. The R language is open-source and dynamically typed. The R environment is a systematic and structured collection of computer programs for data manipulation, calculation, and graphical display.

Ross Ihaka and Robert Gentleman created R. They first launched it in 1993. The R Core team and a large community of developers have carried out plenty of enhancements to R.

R offers the following advantages for data science projects:

  • Excellent packages created by the community of R developers;
  • Robust support for data wrangling;
  • Ease of creating visually appealing graphs;
  • Compatibility with popular languages like C, C++, Java, and Python;
  • Cross-platform programming with support for Windows, Linux, and Mac;
  • Powerful reporting capabilities;
  • Support for ML development;
  • Ease of use in statistical computing projects;
  • Regular enhancements that add powerful features.

The best programming language for IoT development

C is the choice of many developers for IoT development. However, you can use other popular programming languages like Java and Python too.

C

The C language isn’t only a software. It’s a defined standard, which is an open standard. Dennis Ritchie and Ken Thompson developed C. The effort was part of the larger effort to develop the Unix operating system. They released C in 1972.

Many enhancements to the C language followed. This programming language remains popular decades after its release. It’s also the inspiration for many other languages like Java, JavaScript, Go, Python, PHP, Swift, Objective-C, and Ruby.

The C language offers the following advantages for IoT development:

  • Flexibility;
  • Interoperability with many other software;
  • Powerful capabilities due to extensive libraries;
  • Portability;
  • Compatibility with micro-controllers, which are important in IoT architectures.

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FAQs

1. I have a large iOS app written in Objective-C. Should I migrate it to Swift?

You can continue to have the Objective-C app. Apple will continue to support both Swift and Objective-C for the foreseeable future. While Swift is a more modern language, Objective-C was the mainstay for developing iOS apps earlier. It’s still the preferred language for many developers.

2. Can I use Java and Kotlin together while developing native Android apps?

You can use Java and Kotlin together in a native Android app development project. In a single project, you can call Kotlin code from Java code. You can call Java code from Kotlin code too. You can use Kotlin files in Java files. On the other hand, you can use Java files in Kotlin files too.

3. Which are the best frameworks to develop cross-platform apps?

React Native and Flutter are two of the best frameworks for developing cross-platform apps. While cross-platform mobile apps can’t fully match the user experience, performance, and security of native apps, React Native and Flutter come quite close.


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