Do you know how often you check your smartphone in a day?
No? Well, according to the Journal of Accountancy, that’s an astounding 86 times a day (At least for us millennials…The rest of the population is a little saner). And the reason we are so addicted to our phones is the overwhelming sensory experience they provide in our daily lives. How so, you ask? Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, WhatsApp (need I go on?!!)
So in a nutshell, smartphone apps are an integral part of our daily lives. They can be used to create connections, obtain information or just have fun! And while creating a smartphone app is also fun, it requires a little more guidance, specifically in choosing the right programming language. That’s why this article deals with the top programming languages required for Android App Development (Android because I like it!).
What language to choose?!!
While Java is the official language for Android, there are many other languages that can be used for Android App Development. Details about these are provided below to help you make an informed decision.
Java is the official language for Android App Development and consequently, it is the most used language as well. Many of the apps in the Play Store are built with Java and it is also the most supported language by Google. In addition to all this, Java has a great online community for support in case of any problems (And trust me, there will be problems!).
However, Java is a complicated language for a beginner to use as it contains complex topics like constructors, null pointer exceptions, concurrency, checked exceptions, etc. Also, The Android Software Development Kit(SDK) increases the complexity to a new level!
All in all, Java is a great language to experience the full joys of Android App Development. However, it may be a little complex with beginners who would prefer to start with something easier and then return to it.
Kotlin is a cross-platform programming language that may be used as an alternative to Java for Android App Development. It has also been introduced as a secondary “official” Java language in 2017. Kotlin can inter-operate with Java and it runs on the Java Virtual Machine.
The only sizable difference is that Kotlin removes the superfluous features of Java such as null pointer exceptions. It also removes the necessity of ending every line with a semicolon. In short, Kotlin is much simpler for beginners to try as compared to Java and it can also be used as an “entry point” for Android App Development.
C++ can be used for Android App Development using the Android Native Development Kit(NDK). However, an app cannot be created totally using C++ and the NDK is used to implement parts of the app in C++ native code. This helps in using C++ code libraries for the app as required.
While C++ is useful for Android App Development in some cases, it is much more difficult to set up and is much less flexible. It may also lead to more bugs because of the increased complexity. So, it is better to use Java as compared to C++ as it does not provide enough gain to offset the efforts required.
C# is quite similar to Java and so it is ideal for Android App Development. Like Java, C# also implements garbage collection so there are fewer chances of memory leaks. And C# also has a cleaner and simpler syntax than Java which makes coding with it comparatively easier.
Earlier, the biggest drawback of C# was that it could run only on Windows systems as it used the .NET Framework. However, this problem was handled by Xamarin.Android (formerly Mono for Android) which is a cross-platform implementation of the Common Language Infrastructure. Now, Xamarin.Android tools can be used to write native Android apps and share the code across multiple platforms.
Python can be used for Android App Development even though Android doesn’t support native Python development. This can be done using various tools that convert the Python apps into Android Packages that can run on Android devices.
An example of this is Kivy that is an open source Python library used for developing mobile apps. It supports Android and also encourages rapid app development (which is a win-win situation according to me!). However, a downside to this is that there won’t be native benefits for Kivy as it isn’t natively supported.
Corona is a software development kit that can be used for developing Android apps using Lua. It has two operational modes, namely Corona Simulator and Corona Native. The Corona Simulator is used to build apps directly while the Corona Native is used to integrate the Lua code with an Android Studio project to build an app using native features.
While Lua is a little limited as compared to Java, it is also much simpler and has an easier learning curve. Moreover, there are build in monetization features as well as various assets and plugins that enrich the app development experience. Corona is mostly used to create graphics applications and games but is by no means limited to that.
Now, its time to go forth and conquer Android!!!
There are a lot of apps such as Chat messengers. Music players, Games. Calculators. etc. that can be created using the above languages. And there is no language that can be called a “correct language” for Android App Development. So, it’s upon you to make the correct choice of language on the basis of your objectives and preferences for each individual project. And always remember, whatever your choice, it will only expand your skill set and lead to your growth as an Android developer.