If your ultimate goal is to have a career in mobile app development, there are specific programming languages that you'll need to learn. Each app platform has a different language requirement, though, so you'll need to narrow down your focus to find the one best suited for your app development goals.
Below, we'll explore the most common languages used for app development and describe why you might want to learn each one. After reading this article, you'll know which is the best language for app development according to your career aspirations and interests.
If you're interested in designing mobile apps on the Android platform, Java might be right for you. If you're unsure which platform you want to program on, consider that Android has a whopping 85% of the global market share, so learning Java will help you create apps that reach the largest possible consumer base.
Java is one of the foundational programming languages for Android and allows App Developers to customize just about every aspect of their programs. It's also very popular, which makes it easier to get help when you run into any issues while developing your app. Still, despite Java's functionality, it can be difficult to learn and master — so it may take a while for you to become proficient with it.
Check with the app store you want to publish on or the company you're hoping to work for so that you can be sure Java is required. You may just need to learn Kotlin for Android app development. But if you're looking to learn Java to cover all your bases, check out our Skill Path on building basic Android apps with Java.
Kotlin was developed by Google and JetBrains directly in response to App Developers searching for a lighter weight and more user-friendly programming language for Android development. It still runs on the Java Virtual Machine, but it includes some fantastic simplifications that allow for faster development, such as:
- Semicolons aren't required at the end of each line of code
- Way less code is needed to create the same mobile app
- You can create variables without defining the type beforehand
If you want to develop apps for Android, and you're looking for a programming language that's easy to use, you should learn Kotlin. Because it's interoperable with Java, it's also applicable in other settings. If working for Google is something you're aspiring to, that's another reason you'll want to learn Kotlin, because it's their preferred language for app development. If you dream of seeing your app in the Google Play app store, then Kotlin is the language you'll need to master.
With a similar origin story, only this time in the Apple universe instead of the Android universe, Swift was developed to make it easier for App Developers on the iOS platform. Before Swift, iOS App Developers needed to use Apple's Objective-C programming language, which was old and difficult to use. When Swift was introduced in 2014, iOS developers breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Now, iOS developers have Swift at their disposal, which is also interoperable with Objective-C, and just like Kotlin, has some built-in simplifications:
- Variables can be created without defining the type beforehand
- Semicolons are not required at the end of each line of code
- Swift runs much faster than Objective-C
As a bonus, it's open-source, meaning if you learn it, you can also use it on other platforms, like Linux, Windows, and MacOSX. Because it's a standalone programming language, you can also use it for other projects like building a desktop application or a website. But if building iOS apps is what you want to be doing, then learning Swift is a must.
Let's say building apps for Apple users is your goal. You're probably a fan of their products, and you likely also have a Mac, which means there are different environments and tools, like Xcode, which you'll be able to put to good use.
After you learn the basics of Swift, you might want to dive into our Skill Path on how to build iOS Apps with SwiftUI. Beyond learning how to use the programming language for app development, you'll also learn how to create and publish an app on the Apple App Store from start to finish and optimize the apps you develop.
While technically not a programming language, if you want your apps to be available for both Android and iOS users, React Native is the framework for you. It allows you to build apps that work on both platforms. But, before you jump right in, you'll need working knowledge of other languages and each platform.
How to get started learning programming languages for app development
No matter which programming language you decide is best for your app development goals, you can learn how to use it in one of our online programming courses. You can focus on exactly the skills you need for the career you want when you guide your learning path online.
To stay up to date with the latest code developments and new features or libraries, you can also join our online community. As you're faced with new challenges in app development, you can tap into your network online to learn, grow, and problem-solve together.