The best programming languages for mobile app development

Ever wondered what the best programming languages for mobile app development are? It's really a relevant question, considering that mobile apps are increasing and so is the demand for mobile app developers. There are billions of app downloads every year.
The following chart shows the number of worldwide app downloads from 2012 to 2017.
Mobile apps downloads in billions
Mobile apps downloads in billions

To state the obvious, Android and iOS are the two most used mobile operating system currently in the world.

Now, if you look at worldwide usage of mobile operating systems in the following chart, Android rules drastically. The total worldwide market share of Android is close to 75% compared to iOS at 20% currently.

Every other operating system is excluded.

Worldwide usage of mobile operating systems
Worldwide usage of mobile operating systems
Now, let’s take a look at the mobile usages in the U.S.A from the below chart, i.e., iOS is 55% and Android is 45 percent.
Mobile usages in the U.S.A
Mobile usages in the U.S.A

Obviously, there are a lot of other programming languages to build mobile apps for each of these platforms. And it doesn't even make sense to mention other operating systems as they don't matter.

The following list is the top 5 of the best programming languages for mobile app development

  1. Java
  2. Objective-C
  3. Swift
  4. Kotlin
  5. React Native


Java is one of the most popular programming languages in the world. There are approximate to 9 million Java developers in the world, among 23 million developers in total. Java is the main programming language of Android.
Unlike Swift, Kotlin, and C#, Java may not be a “modern” programming language and does not upgrade continually. Java, however, offers an opening point for new developers. Java is much easier to learn compared to Kotlin. If you’re a new developer who wants to learn Android development, Java may be one of the simplest ways to begin.


Objective-C was originally developed by Tom Love and Brad Cox way back in 1984. Prior to Apple launching the Swift language in 2014, Objective-C was the primary language of the Apple iOS mobile apps.

Objective-C is a general-purpose, object-oriented language that brings Smalltalk flavor to C programming language. Message passing among objects is a key feature in Objective-C and it quickly became really useful for Apple iOS operating system.

But, Swift has taken over Objective-C in popularity and usefulness.

Objective-C is a superset of the C programming language and presents object-oriented capabilities and a dynamic runtime. Objective-C acquires the syntax, primitive types, and flow control statements of C and adds syntax for assigning classes and methods. It also adds language-level assistance for object graph management and objects literals while presenting dynamic typing and binding, deferring many responsibilities until runtime.


Swift is the first programming language of the iOS operating system. The Swift language was revealed and launched by Apple in 2014. In Dec 2015, Apple open-sourced Swift under the Apache License 2.0. Besides iOS, Swift is also a programming language of macOS, watchOS, tvOS, Linux and z/OS.
Earlier to Swift, Objective-C was the primary language for iOS development. Objective C being 30 years old, the language did not sustain modern needs. Swift is a contemporary programming language that presents modern language features such as dynamic, safe, late binding, and extensibility.
Earlier in 2018, Swift outdid Objective-C in popularity and became the #1 programming language for iOS and other Apple operating systems. Swift is the most highly suggested language for building your new iOS, tvOS, and watchOS platforms.


The Kotlin language is a modern, compact, safe, object-oriented, and cross-platform programming language that was designed by a software product company, JetBrains, in 2011. Kotlin is used to create JVM, Android, Browser, and Native apps. Currently, Kotlin is backed by Google under the Kotlin Foundation.

Since the announcement of Android Studio 3.0 on Oct 2017, Kotlin has been declared as the official programming language of Android.
Kotlin is intended to build modern apps and presents the functionality modern app developers need. Kotlin's development is seamless via Android Studio. Kotlin allows simplicity, flexibility, and productivity. Kotlin also writes cleaner and less code for the same functionality in Java.
For your next Android mobile app, I highly recommend using Kotlin.

React Native

“Learn once, write anywhere”.

React is an open-source framework produced by Facebook. Launched in 2013, it enables developers to create high-level web User Interfaces in JavaScript, based on reusable visual components (e.g. a custom blue Message bubble including text content and timestamp in a chat). It can manage data changes over time without reloading the page.

React Native was also produced by Facebook. Announced 2 years later, it continues and brings the power of its older brother React to the mobile world. It is your mobile application that you will be able to write in JavaScript. The elements you manage wrap iOS and Android native relatable elements into one single React Native object, exposing a unified API (e.g. the React NativescrollView element is bridged into UIScrollView in iOS and ListView in Android).

Because React Native is developed on top React, and because they both rely on the same language, it makes it feasible for them to collaborate exceedingly in as varied areas as business logic and back-end integration for example. This means that past the aforementioned unification between iOS and Android offered by React Native, a bridge can now be produced between Web and Mobile.

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