Which Android Programming Language to Choose?

Which Android Programming Language to Choose?

You are planning to develop an Android app. Great! But what to start with? Which language to learn? Where to apply learned skills? Today we will find answers to these questions.

We will conduct an overview of the main Android development languages by considering their peculiarities.

What Languages are Android Apps Written in?

Even a simple app might significantly enhance client base and bring more profits. But an app must solve particular tasks of clients to be a success.

So, what are the best languages for Android design and development? Let’s find out! 

Java Android Language: A Perfect Choice?

Java is the official programming language supported by the Android Studio development environment. According to the annual research by Stack Overflow, in 2018 Java entered the top five popular programming languages.

The first step towards learning Java is to install Android Studio. This type of software is known as “Integrated Development Environment” (IDE), or embedded software environment. Android Studio comes bundled with Android SDK – a must-have toolset for Android application development.

Unfortunately, the complexity of Java code makes it difficult to create new apps for a wide public. As an object-oriented programming language, it has many features like class constructors, exceptions causing app crashes during operation, and other moments one needs to keep in mind.

Kotlin Android Language

The language was initially introduced in May 2017 at Google I/O. The authors promote it as the second official programming language for Android (the first one is, of course, Java, but this language is a bit simpler to learn).

The native development environment of Kotlin files is IntelliJ IDEA. With it, you can quickly and comfortably create native full-fledged Android apps.

Unfortunately, there are only a few developers with advanced knowledge of Kotlin. Still, the language is very perspective so its learning will become a reasonable “investment” into the future.

Kotlin vs Java

To get the idea of how Kotlin works along with the basic language structure, you need to know Java. Many developers view Kotlin as the “wrapping” of Java and recommend studying it after you are confident with Java.

Kotlin is compatible with Java. It doesn’t slow down performance or increase file size. In contrast with Java, it requires less service, the so-called “boilerplate” code so it’s easier to read.

In fact, the usage of Kotlin is the application of the best Java features in a software product. The language has a contemporary and easy-to-understand syntax. While Java might seem a bit bulky and obsolete, Kotlin looks fresher, more convenient, and even more beautiful.

On the other hand, Kotlin is rather “young” language (again, in contrast with Java). Its first versions were released in 2011. The official release took place only in 2016. The good news is that Kotlin is free to use and has an open-source code.

C and C++, C#

C and C++ are lower-level languages supported by Android Studio. They use Java Native Development Kit (Java NDK). Thanks to this feature, developers can write native apps. This can be useful for games and other resource-intensive software.

Android supports C and C++ via Android NDK. This means that code is executed directly through a mobile device, not Java Virtual Machine. As a result, you will have more control over such system elements as memory, sensors, gestures, and the line. Besides, you will be able to make the most of Android resources.

However, both languages are difficult to set up and not so convenient. Thus, it’s recommended to use them to write program modules that perform complex operations: processing and rendering of graphics, video, and multi-element 3D models. 

C#, in turn, is a simplified version of C and C++ developed by Microsoft. With this Android app language, you don’t have to worry about working with memory as in the case with Java. Compared to Java, C# is more modern and “clean”.

Python for Android

Although Android doesn’t support Python for creating native apps, it doesn’t mean that the development in this language isn’t possible. There are many tools that help to compile Python code.

Among the most popular solutions for Python code conversion, one might highlight Kivy. This framework is designed in the way that significantly accelerates app development. You may confidently use Kivy as the tool for prototyping. Even a few lines of code can do great work!

However, you can’t harness the advantages of the native Android environment. Apps written in Kivy are usually converted into more sizable files. Those files generally have mediocre performance. Still, developers improve Kivy with each release.

BASIC: A Simple Android Language

Thanks to its simplicity and user-friendliness, BASIC is an optimal entry point for beginners. Unfortunately, it’s not supported by Android Studio and not compatible with Xamarin and Unity. Still, BASIC has specialized environment B4A for Android app development.

BASIC is not designed for resource-intensive software development. Moreover, the language doesn’t have an official status so it’s not supported by Google.

Lua (with Corona SDK): A Worthy Alternative?

Lua presents the balance between the simplicity of learning Android and the sense of control from the part of a developer. Lua became the basis of the Corona cross-platform graphics engine. Lua is much simpler than Java, while Corona SDK makes the work with the language easy. Corona supports native libraries, so you can use for multiple platforms.

PhoneGap: Mind CSS

If you already have the basic knowledge of HTML, CSS (cascading style sheets), and JavaScript, they will be helpful for simple cross-platform applications based on the PhoneGap framework. It occupies the last position in our program language list, but it’s definitely not the least important one for Android app development.

With PhoneGap, you can develop Android web apps. Your software will be visible through WebView but as a mobile app for Android OS. For developers, PhoneGap is a kind of a “bridge” to native smartphone or tablet features.

With the appropriate frameworks and utilities, you can create Android mobile applications practically in any popular language. Even if you are not familiar with some of these languages or they seem difficult to you, they are worth learning to write versatile and full-featured Android apps. 

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