Programming Languages: What Are Mobile App Developers Using?

Underneath the shiny interface of every mobile app are lines and lines of code that make it work. Behind that code is a specific programming language that essentially acts as an interpreter between app developer and machine. In some cases, multiple languages are used to create a single app. So what languages are mobile app developers using these days?

The subject of programming languages and development environments is a touchy one among developers. The truth is, we all have our favorites. Yet there are so many choices because there are so many different needs and preferences. And, of course, a developer’s choice of programming languages will determine what his or her final product looks like. Just like the language used during Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU will influence the outcome of those negotiations, the programming languages used by mobile app developers influences the outcome of development.

Woman using taxi app on mobile phone

Woman using taxi app on mobile phone

According to Dzone, the top five programming languages used by mobile app developers right now are:

1. HTML 5

HTML 5 is the fifth version of the original hypertext markup language developed solely for the purpose of structuring and presenting internet content. The strength of HTML 5 is that it is easily understood by both computers and humans, making programming relatively straightforward. HTML 5 is intended to replace HTML 4, XHTML 1, and DOM Level 2 HTML.

HTML is one of the oldest and most often used programming languages for web pages and applications. It should be no surprise that the fifth iteration of this language still owns a very strong position of preference among app developers. If something isn’t broken, why try to fix it?

2. Java

Java is often seen as the all-purpose programming language for mobile app development. It is an object-oriented and class-based language that has been designed to be as simple as possible with the least amount of dependencies needed. Java and its many derivatives dominate many aspects of mobile app development, especially on products where versatility and presentation to the customer are critical.

3. C++

C++ is another all-purpose programming language with an object-oriented focus. Its main strength is its ability to be used for system programming and embedding in complex applications. Mobile app developers who use C++ extensively know full well that the language was rock solid long before the introduction of mobile computing. Its long history and reliability make C++ a natural for mobile app development.

4. Objective-C

Objective-C was originally developed in the 1980s as a general-purpose programming language. At one time, it was the primary language used by Apple developers for OSX and iOS. Although iOS developers may use other programming languages now, Objective-C still provides the basis for most of what they do. That said, Objective-C now rides on the coattails of Swift – which takes us to our fifth and final programming language.

5. Swift

Swift may be the one programming language used by mobile app developers that the general software development community doesn’t know much about. The language was developed by Apple to extend the functionality of Objective-C for Apple-driven products. However, it is a general-purpose, multi-paradigm language that goes beyond just creating attractive apps for customers. It also addresses many of the security concerns of Objective-C.

There are other programming languages mobile app developers use that are not listed here. However, these five are the top players in the industry. Anybody hoping to get into mobile app development as a career would do well to learn at least HTML 5, Java and C++ to start. The rest can be learned on the fly.

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