A mobile application—also referred to as a mobile app or simply an app—is a computer program or software application designed to run on a mobile device such as a phone, tablet, or watch.
Apps were originally intended for productivity assistance, such as email, calendar, and contact databases, but the public demand for apps caused rapid expansion into other areas such as mobile games, factory automation, GPS and location-based services, order-tracking, and ticket purchases. As a result, there are now millions of apps available.
Apps are generally downloaded from application distribution platforms operated by the owner of the mobile operating system, such as the App Store (iOS) or the Google Play Store. Some apps are free, while others have a price, with the profit being split between the application’s creator and the distribution platform.
Mobile applications often stand in contrast to desktop applications, which are designed to run on desktop computers, and web applications, which run in mobile web browsers rather than directly on the mobile device.
So what does the future bring for mobile apps? More importantly for a software developer, what programming languages are expected to be the most popular for mobile app development in 2022 and beyond? That’s what you’re about to find out!
The Most Popular Languages for Mobile App Development
With the above in mind, let’s walk through the best programming languages for mobile app development in 2022.
Python has been used in web development services for almost 30 years. It’s one of the most dynamically growing and best coding languages for web development.
Python is a high-level dynamically typed programming language that focuses on robust and rapid development, with a versatility that makes it quite suitable for web development or data science. Here are a few pros and cons of using Python programming language for your application:
- Versatile, fast to develop, and easy to use
- You can do more with less code
- Vast variety of libraries
- Not native to mobile environment
- Slower than other programming languages
- Memory consumption is very high
Swift is a new programming language for iOS and OS X that builds on the best of C and Objective-C, yet without the constraints of C compatibility. Swift is one of the few app development languages that adopt safe programming patterns and add modern features to make programming easier, more flexible, and more fun.
Swift’s clean slate, backed by the mature and much loved Cocoa and Cocoa Touch frameworks, is an opportunity to reimagine how mobile app development works.
- Rapid development process
- Improved safety and performance
- Speed and scalability of the application
- Limited pool of talent
- Lack of support for earlier iOS versions
- Language is still young
- Turns the real DOM into a virtual DOM
- Rich Interface and extended functionality
- Capable for frontend, as well as backend, development
- Lack of debugging facility
- Supports single inheritance and not multiple inheritance
SQL is a standardized computer language, currently considered one of the best programming languages. It was originally developed by IBM for querying, altering, and defining relational databases using declarative statements.
Developers can become masters in SQL development. SQL, also known as Structured Query language, is a database computer language designed for managing data in relational database management systems (RDBMS). It can execute queries against a database and retrieve data from a database.
- Easy to manage with no code
- Well defined standards and multiple data views
- Portable and interactive language
- Complex interface, difficult to scale
- Partial control and requires specialized personnel
- Problematic in rapid dev environments
Rust is a programming language that’s focused on safety, speed, and concurrency. Its design lets you create programs that have the performance and control of a low-level language, but with the powerful abstractions of a high-level language.
These properties make Rust suitable for programmers who have experience in languages like C who are looking for a safer alternative as well as those from languages like Python who are looking for ways to write code that performs better without sacrificing expressiveness.
- Strong community support
- Strong support of generics with guaranteed safety
- Saves time in testing and debugging
- Slow in compiling
- Programming language is complex
- Lacks efficient garbage collection
Scala smoothly integrates object-oriented and functional programming. It is designed to express common programming patterns in a concise, elegant, and typesafe way.
Scala introduces several innovative language constructs, such as a flexible syntax and type system that enables the construction of advanced libraries as well as new domain-specific languages. Moreover, Scala is compatible with Java, allowing the use of Java libraries and frameworks without glue code or additional declarations.
- Built in control structures
- Great IDE support
- Scalable and highly functional
- Limited developer pool
- No true tail-recursive optimization
- Makes type information hard to understand
Ruby is a dynamic programming language with a complex but expressive grammar and a core class library with a rich and powerful API. Ruby draws inspiration from Lisp, Smalltalk, and Perl but uses a grammar that is easy for C and Java programmers to learn.
Though a pure object-oriented language, Ruby is also suitable for procedural and functional programming styles. It includes powerful meta programming capabilities and can be used to create domain-specific languages or DSLs.
- Open-source and 100% free
- Vibrant ruby on rails community
- High velocity of prototyping
- Slower runtime speed
- Lack of flexibility
- Higher costs
C++ is used by countless developers in essentially every application domain. It was developed from the C programming language and, with few exceptions, retains C as a subset.
C++’s greatest strength is its ability to be used effectively for applications that require work in a variety of application areas. It is quite common to find an application that involves local and wide-area networking, numerics, graphics, user interaction, and database access.
- Platform independence and portability
- Multi-paradigm language
- Scalable and compatible with C
- No garbage collector
- Doesn’t support built-in threads
- Lack of security
C# is a general purpose, type-safe programming language. The goal of the language is programmer productivity. To this end, C# balances simplicity, expressiveness, and performance.
The C# language is platform-neutral and works with a range of platform-specific compilers and frameworks, most notably the Microsoft .NET framework for Windows. It is a rich implementation of the object orientation paradigm that includes encapsulation, inheritance, and polymorphism.
- Boolean conditions and standard library
- Automatic garbage collection
- Easy to write code
- Lack of independent compiler
- Not suitable for low-level things
- Poor platform GUI
PHP started out as a small open-source project that evolved as more and more people found out how useful it was. Rasmus Lerdorf unleashed the first version of PHP way back in 1994. PHP is a recursive acronym for “PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor.” It is a server-side scripting language that is embedded in HTML.
It is used to manage dynamic content, databases and session tracking and even build entire e-commerce sites. PHP is integrated with a number of popular databases, including MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, Sybase, Informix, and Microsoft SQL Server.
- Powerful support library
- Built-in database
- Tough to manage
- Prone to handling errors
- Not secure
HTML5 stands for Hypertext Markup Language version 5. It was published by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) in October 2014 as one of the best coding languages for app development. It is the most recent version of the language or code that explains web pages.
HTML5 was created to enable various characteristics that present-day websites need. It is simple to adopt, as there are no major alterations to the programming version of HTML. Debugging and tweaking the code is easier, and it greatly facilitates search engine optimization (SEO).
- Complete UI and grid system
- Most friendly search engine
- Easy to use and learn
- Unnecessary coding required
- Additional customization
- Insufficient for dynamic pages
Kotlin is a modern, statically typed, Android-compatible language that fixes many Java problems, such as null pointer exceptions or excessive code verbosity. Kotlin takes application development to a whole new level by improving code quality and safety, boosting developer performance.
Kotlin is designed to seamlessly work side by side with Java as a cross-language project. The existing ecosystem of Java libraries and frameworks works with Kotlin without any performance penalties.
- Clear and compact codebase
- Merges procedural and functional programming
- Maximized productivity
- Slow compilation speed
- Smaller pool of talent
- Limited learning sources
Flutter is developed using Dart and contains a unique technology stack that sets it apart from its competitors. The Dart language is present at the core of the Flutter app development.
A modern framework such as Flutter requires a high-level modern language to be capable of providing the best experience to the developer, making it possible to create robust mobile applications. Dart aims to aggregate the benefits of most of the high-level languages with mature language features, including productive tooling, type annotations, and garbage collection.
- Customized widgets
- Allows instant updates
- High performance and hot reload
- No third-party libraries
- Not supported by web browsers
- Limited resources
Go was built by Robert Griesemer, Rob Pike, and Ken Thompson, all at Google, and was announced in November 2009. The goals of the language and its accompanying tools were to be expressive, efficient in both compilation and execution, and effective in writing reliable and robust programs.
Go bears a surface similarity to C and, like C, is a tool for professional programmers, achieving maximum effect with minimum means. But it is much more than an updated version of C, with a unique approach to data abstraction and object-oriented programming that is unusually flexible.
- Easy deployment
- Ability to optimize code efficiently
- Static code analysis
- Defective dependency management
- Automation inviting errors
- Internal inconsistencies
The Objective-C language is a simple computer language designed to enable sophisticated object-oriented programming. This approach makes programs more intuitive to design, faster to develop, more amenable to modifications, and easier to understand. It leads not only to alternative ways of constructing programs but also to alternative ways of conceiving the programming task.
The Objective-C language was chosen for the Cocoa framework because of its dynamic nature. Its syntax is small, unambiguous and easy to learn and promotes best code for apps.
- Portable and structured programming language
- Reusability; write once and use it multiple times
- Data redundancy and inheritance
- Insufficient memory management
- Run time checking
- Absence of exception handling
Programming Language Are Constantly Evolving
The type of software you want is one primary consideration you’ll need to make for which programming languages to choose.
The repertoire of programming languages is constantly evolving. If you consider the list of factors, pros, and cons as I showed you above, you’ll be able to sensibly choose the best coding language for your app development.