These are difficult times. Going outside doesn’t feel the same anymore, and who knows whether it ever will. It seems that the world has increasingly turned to technology to cope with the effects of the pandemic. People are in dire need of digital solutions, and that’s why programming as a job is experiencing a steep rise in popularity once again. Looking at that, one of the most widespread platforms out there is, without doubt, Android.
So, if you’re considering to venture into Android App Development, you have to start with the basics – which language should you pick? And even when you start, staying on track and expanding your abilities is going to be a challenge, so you have to pick wisely.
Speaking of staying on track, perhaps during the pandemic gadgets have been eating away too much time. If that’s the case, don’t worry – there are ways to stay productive while working remotely.
Once you get comfortable, it’s time to discover the three best programming languages for Android app development, with some bonus languages you might want to consider. The popular ones are Java, Kotlin, and C#, with C++ and Lua also having their pros in this field. Let’s examine them in detail.
The Official One – Java
For many developers, this is a no-brainer first pick, since this is the official Android development language. It is also one of the most used within the scene with its 26 years-and-counting legacy. Java remains resilient to outside pressure, not bowing to trendy new languages that aim to replace it. In fact, many competitors are viewed as a remake or just another version of Java.
What are the pros of Java?
Here are the 3 main ones:
- Fairly easy to learn and quick to start with – you’ll be up and running in no time. What’s more, is that a well-established community is there to help you, may any initial issues arise.
- Google used to be an ardent supporter of Java, which is a part of why so many Play Store apps are developed with it. Popular social media apps like Twitter and even streaming apps like Spotify are made with Java.
- Vast API that can massively expand what your Android app has to offer. Also, it is no secret that real situations are best handled by object-oriented languages, and Java is one.
What novices might particularly enjoy is that Java is a strong-typed language, so it will go easy on you.
Unfortunately, not even such a legend is without complications, which many advocates tend to forget about. A beginner may get confused by null pointer or checked exceptions, constructors, or even concurrency, among other advanced programming features. Add to this the fact that Android app development requires the use of an SDK, and we might have a problem.
But don’t worry, the community has plenty of resources to give any beginner a meaningful introduction to the language. From there it’s up to your imagination. To sum up Java in three words: reliable, trusted, well-documented.
The (Rather) New One – Kotlin
This programming language quickly stole the spotlight from Java, when Google itself announced that “Android development will become increasingly Kotlin-first” back in 2019. A powerful introduction and a language you should consider. What is it all about?
It was revealed in 2016 and uses JVM to function. You will be glad to know that setting up is easy and completely free of charge, and the language works across platforms in numerous IDE’s. On top of that, many would say that Kotlin is a tidier version of Java, which makes it a pleasure to work with.
What are the pros of Kotlin?
You will enjoy these three:
- It is statically-typed. The way Kotlin does it gives you a clean experience and a great start without needless complications. The aforementioned null pointer exceptions that Java might throw can be avoided with Kotlin. If you don’t have that much experience with either language, the latter might be kinder to you initially.
- Great documentation. It is seriously some of the best around and gives you a fun way to journey into the language with pleasure. A supportive community can be found on Slack, Github, or any-where else, and they are some of the savviest experts in Android app development.
- Easy to convert to from Java. If you had started developing your app in Java, but then had a change of heart or simply wanted to give Kotlin a try – parts of the existing project can stay and Kotlin can be added on top. Google rarely loses its bets, so when the chips are on Kotlin, you know you’re getting yourself a smooth experience. The developers of this language, JetBrains, take their time and make every effort to listen to users’ concerns, too.
The Disciplined One – C#
C# is founded on the principles of respected programming concepts, such as declarative, imperative, functional, and object-oriented ones. Tidy in nature, C# collects «garbage» to prevent memory leaks. It is versatile in function, simple in syntax, and has a strong user base of desktop and Android developers alike. That desktop orientation used to be a hindrance, however, it has now been successfully fixed by Xamarin.Android infrastructure. It worked so great that Microsoft acquired Xamarin in 2016. C# code is now cross-compiled to be able to power native Android applications.
What are the pros of C# for Android development?
- Shares a lot with Java, yet cleaner and simpler.
- Custom tools. If your needs just can’t be accommodated by anything out there, you could consider making your own tools (or using the ones already on offer) for that custom Android experience.
- Object-oriented versatility.
The Easiest – Corona
This is not exactly a language itself as much as a software development kit – the language behind it is Lua. Lua is extremely simple and easy to use, making it a favorite for scripting even among the least coding-savvy in the development world. Indeed, that comes with a price – Lua is quite limited in comparison to Java or Kotlin, yet the learning process here is much, much faster.
The Most Control – C++
What’s great about C++ is that it is a good fit for you if you want to make high-performance cross-platform Android and desktop apps. An extension of C itself, C++ allows you to gain full command over system resources. Perhaps not something a beginner would want or even need, as Android Studio compatibility requires one to install an NDK (Native Software Kit). Yet if a down-to-detail supervision is what you desire, C++ could be a serious consideration.