January 2024

Most popular languages and frameworks to build your next Mobile App

In the past, making a mobile app was limited to using one set of instructions for iOS apps and another for Android. Nowadays, developers have more choices when it comes to creating apps. I made this guide to help you understand the most popular ways to write code for mobile apps. You can use this information to decide which coding language is best for you to learn and use in your mobile app.

For this guide, I won’t be talking about simple mobile app builders. You technically don’t have to learn coding languages for those kinds of mobile app development services. If you’re interested in those other methods, take a look at our guide on the five ways to build apps for more details.

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Different Kinds of Mobile Apps

Let’s talk about the various ways developers create apps. They usually fall into three categories:

Native Apps:

Native apps are built using a language that matches the operating system of the device, like iOS or Android. For example, you’d use a different language to make an app for iPhones than you would for Android phones. This is useful when you want to create an app specifically for the Apple App Store or Google Play Store. It’s great for apps with lots of customization, like games or virtual reality apps. However, the catch is that the code won’t work on both types of devices – you have to make separate versions for each.

Hybrid Apps:

Hybrid apps work on both iOS and Android. They are written in a single language that can run on both types of devices. This speeds up development because you only have to write the code once, instead of twice (once for iOS and once for Android). However, compared to native apps, hybrids might not offer as much flexibility. Still, for most developers, it’s a good compromise.

Now, let’s dig a bit into the ongoing debate among developers about whether to go native or hybrid. As mentioned earlier, native apps are designed for a specific operating system. So, if you want your app on both iOS and Android, you have to create separate versions for each.

Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages, and we’ll explore them further in this guide.

PWA Apps

A PWA (progressive web app) is like a mini app that you can use in your web browser. It seems and works just like a regular app on your phone, but it doesn’t need to be installed on your device.

People who know how to make websites can make PWAs without too much trouble. If you’re already familiar with the coding languages for making websites, it’s easier to learn. However, these apps might not be able to use all the special features of your device like regular apps can.

Top Programming Languages for Making Apps

Let’s explore the best 14 coding languages for creating mobile apps. Each language has its strengths and weaknesses, and the best choice depends on your skills and what you want to achieve. No matter what computer or software you use, you can find a suitable language and coder below.

Languages for iOS App Development

The iPhone uses a system called iOS, made by Apple. If you make an app for iOS, it will work on iPhones and iPads. You can also share your apps on the Apple App Store for people to download.

To start making an iOS app, you need an Apple developer account. You’ll also have to use a program called Xcode, but it only works on Mac computers. You can’t build and fix things properly if you’re using a Windows computer.

Xcode is a toolkit that has everything you need to create apps for all Apple devices. It includes a code editor, simulators, a debugger, and software development kits (SDKs).

There are two main languages for making iOS apps—Objective-C and Swift.

Now, let’s examine each of these iOS apps programming languages more closely.


Objective-C was the first language Apple used for mobile apps. It’s a type of programming language called object-oriented programming (OO), which mixes C syntax with the object-oriented ideas from SmallTalk.

However, it’s not very friendly for developers. One problem is that the way you write the code feels a bit awkward, and fixing mistakes in the code can be tricky.


Swift came into the picture in 2014 as a programming language by Apple. The next year, it was available for iOS app developers to use in a tool called Xcode.

Now, when people make iOS apps, they usually prefer using Swift. If you’re just starting to make iOS apps, Swift is one of the best languages to learn. Since Swift came around, not many people use Objective-C anymore, especially for new apps. If you’re building something with Apple, they really encourage you to use Swift.

Compared to Objective-C and other languages, Swift is simpler and more concise. If you already know how to make apps with Objective-C, it’s not hard to switch to Swift.

Programming Languages for Android App Development

Android is a type of software that lets people create and use different programs on their phones and tablets. It’s made by Google, but many companies, like Samsung and Huawei, also use it on their devices.

If you want to create an app for Android, you’ll need special tools. These tools include things like debuggers, which help find and fix problems, emulators that let you test your app, and the SDK, which is a set of tools for building apps. The best tool for making Android apps is called Android Studio. It’s like a special computer program that makes creating apps for Android easier. There are other tools you can use too, but Android Studio is the most popular one.

You can use Android Studio on different types of computers, like ones with Windows, Mac, or Linux. So, no matter what computer you have, you can still make cool apps for Android!

Let’s explore two programming languages used for creating Android apps: Java and Kotlin.


Java has been the main language for developing Android apps since the platform’s official launch in 2008. It is an object-oriented language that was first created in 1995. Despite having some drawbacks, Java remains the most popular language for Android development because it runs on a virtual machine. Many Android languages are variations or versions of Java.


In 2017, Google announced support for the Kotlin programming language as an alternative to traditional Java for Android development. Kotlin also runs on the Java Virtual Machine and has gained popularity quickly. The interesting thing is that Kotlin and Java can work together seamlessly—they are interoperable. This means they can share the same information, and you can use your existing Java libraries with Kotlin. From an execution perspective, Kotlin complies with Java Bytecode, making it a more organized and cleaner version of Java.

Programming Languages for Native App Development

I mentioned earlier that the programming languages used for making apps on your phone have their good and not-so-good sides. Whether you’re working with Objective-C or Swift for Apple devices, or Java (or something like Kotlin) for Android, each has its advantages and disadvantages.

Pros of Native Programming:

  • Maximum Control: You get a lot of control over how your app works on the device.
  • Low-Level Coding: You can code at a very detailed level, especially for the newest technologies on the device.
  • Fast Access: Your app can quickly use the latest and coolest features through the language you choose.
  • Fast Execution: Your app runs quickly, no beating around the bush.

Cons of Native Programming:

  • Slow Development: It takes a while to build an app this way.
  • High Cost: This is one of the more expensive ways to make an app.
  • Skilled Developers Needed: You need really skilled and specialized developers to make apps for both iOS and Android.
  • Hard to Start: It’s not easy to get into this kind of programming.

While these languages give you a lot of power over your app, they are tough to learn and building with them takes a long time. If you’re not making a very specialized app, you probably don’t need to use these languages.

Programming Languages for Hybrid App Development

Hybrid applications are made in a way that saves time because they are created once, but they use a programming language that can be used on different types of devices.

Programming Languages for Hybrid Apps

Usually, a single development process can be used for both iOS and Android. Some hybrid languages can also be used for other platforms, like progressive web apps (PWA) or mobile web apps. This is helpful if you want your app to work well on the web.

When you’re making a hybrid app or trying to create an app that works on different devices, you’re likely working with a language, framework, or toolkit based on JavaScript. Hybrid apps are designed to function on various mobile devices.


C# is a type of computer language made by Microsoft. People use it to create programs, especially for making games and doing certain tasks on Android phones.

Some other options, like OutSystems and Kony, are easier to use because they work with different languages. There are also other languages for making phone apps that are similar to C#.

When you use a special tool called an IDE, it helps you make apps that can work on both iPhones and Android phones.


Xamarin is not a language itself; it’s a tool that Microsoft owns. App developers use Xamarin to make apps using C#, and these apps can work on iPhones, Androids, and Windows.

React Native

React Native uses JavaScript to talk to pre-made parts that are built into its system. This lets you control how the app looks, gather and show information.

In simple terms, you’re using JavaScript a lot to control the different parts of the app. There are good and bad things about making apps this way.


Appcelerator, like React Native, also uses JavaScript to talk to the different parts of the app. Appcelerator Titanium lets you make apps that work on iPhones, Androids, and Windows.

Pros of Appcelerator:

  • It uses Java to control something built into the phone.
  • You can directly use features of the phone with JavaScript.

Cons of Appcelerator:

  • It doesn’t use things like HTML5 or CSS, which are usually used with JavaScript for designing the look of the app.
  • Learning to use this way of making apps is kind of in the middle, not too hard or too easy.


Cordova/PhoneGap and frameworks like Ionic are basically built on top of the Apache Cordova programming language. When developers use this language, they create hybrid mobile apps by adapting a web experience into a native one.

In simpler terms, it means you can build apps in a way similar to creating websites. If you’re a web developer, it’s familiar because it uses Javascript, HTML, and CSS. This web setup is then made to work on both iOS and Android devices, giving you a final app that functions on different types of mobile devices.


  • Easy to get started: If you know web development, you can start programming mobile apps this way without much difficulty.
  • Simple learning curve: It’s not hard to learn how to use this approach.


  • Slightly lower frame rate: 

The apps might not be as smooth, especially if you’re creating mobile games, machine learning apps, or augmented reality (AR) apps. For these types of applications, a different programming language might be more suitable since they require a higher frame rate.

PWA Programming Languages

Progressive web apps (PWAs) are like mobile apps but work from a website. They’re fast and reliable, even offline, and can use features like the camera and GPS on your device.

Now, let’s talk about the languages you can use to create PWAs:


  • Ruby is a simple programming language used for various things, including PWAs.
  • It has been around since 1990 and is still popular among developers.
  • While it’s easy to write code in Ruby, fixing mistakes might not be as straightforward.


  • Python is another versatile language suitable for both small and large projects.
  • It’s used not only for PWAs but also for data analytics, visualization, websites, and more.
  • Learning Python might be a bit tougher compared to some other languages.


  • CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) is a rule-based language that helps make code look good.
  • You can’t build a PWA with just CSS, but you’ll likely use it along with JS or HTML.


  • If you’re familiar with web development, JavaScript is a good choice for creating PWAs.
  • You can use JS with HTML and CSS to build your web app from the ground up.
  • It’s easier to get started with JavaScript, but it’s not as flexible as Ruby or Python for PWAs.


  • PHP is a scripting language introduced in 1994, and it can help with PWAs.
  • However, it’s not the best choice. You can use PHP on the backend, but you’ll still need HTML, CSS, and JS on the front end.
  • Using PHP alone won’t give you a full-fledged PWA, but you can still use it for some parts of the work.

In summary, each language has its strengths and weaknesses when it comes to building progressive web apps. Choose the one that suits your needs and skills

Not sure which programming language to choose for your next app development project?

Choosing the Right Programming Language

Different programming languages have their own strengths and weaknesses. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to which one is the best because it depends on factors like the type of app you want, your budget, how much time you have, and your technical skills.

Native development is usually the most costly and challenging to learn. However, it’s essential for certain types of apps, such as games.

Hybrid like App Development using Flutter are easier to learn if you already know a bit about technology and web development. This method allows you to launch your app faster because you don’t have to use two separate processes.

Apart from choosing a specific language, you also need to decide on your approach. We have a detailed guide that explains the differences between synchronous and asynchronous programming to help you choose between these two popular methods.

When to Use a Coding App

If you’re just starting to learn how to create computer programs, using apps like Grasshopper, Sololearn, and Mimo is a great idea. These apps are designed to help beginners like you.

Another way to make an app is by using something called an app builder. Apps like BuildFire let you create apps without needing to write any code. This means even if you don’t know much about technical stuff, you can still make an app for both iPhone and Android.

But, if you don’t plan on becoming a professional programmer, using an app builder might be your best bet. Learning different programming languages takes time, and it might not be worth it if you only need one app for your business. Even if you do learn to code, your first app may not be good enough for real users.

MBaaS (Mobile Backend as a Service)

MBaaS, which stands for Mobile Backend as a Service, is something important when making mobile apps. Whether you’re using hybrid frameworks or programming languages specific to a certain device, they all have something in common—they need to be created from the beginning, and they’re missing a big part.

If you’ve ever made a mobile app before, you know that the app itself is just one part of the whole picture. You also need something called MBaaS, or a massive mobile backend service. This is like the behind-the-scenes support for your app.

Why do you need MBaaS? Well, here are a few reasons:

  • Store Your Data: It helps keep your data safe and accessible.
  • Manage User Profiles: It helps in handling user accounts and profiles.
  • Collect Analytics: It gathers information about how people use your app.
  • Send Push Notifications: It lets you send messages or updates to users.

There’s more to the list. Basically, these are servers in the cloud that you also need to create to make sure your app works well. Unless you’re making a really simple app, like a calculator, you usually need things like user authentication, a database, and a content management system (CMS).

Final Thoughts – Choosing the Best Programming Language

Your final thoughts highlight important considerations for choosing the best programming language for mobile app development. Tailoring your choice to the specific needs of your project, business, and goals is crucial. Here’s a summary of the key points you’ve mentioned:

  • No One-Size-Fits-All Solution: There’s no universally “best” programming language for mobile app development. The choice depends on various factors.
  • Consider Your App’s Requirements: The type of application you’re building plays a significant role. Consider whether you need cross-platform compatibility, the target mobile devices, and the desired user experience.
  • Development Effort: Determine where you want to invest the most effort. Some languages and frameworks prioritize ease of development, while others focus on performance or flexibility.
  • Single or Multiple Platforms: Decide if you want to develop your app once for multiple platforms or separately for each platform. Cross-platform frameworks may be suitable for some projects, while others may benefit from native development.
  • Data Access Control: Consider your requirements for data access control. Different programming languages and frameworks have varying capabilities in managing and securing data.
  • Typed vs. Interpreted Languages: Evaluate whether a statically typed or interpreted programming language is better suited to your needs. This can impact factors like performance, debugging, and development speed.
  • Low-Code/No-Code Tools: Explore the possibility of leveraging low-code or no-code development tools. These platforms can expedite the app development process, particularly for less complex projects.
  • Market Readiness: Emphasize the importance of bringing your app to market quickly. Balancing speed with the quality of the app is crucial for success.

Ultimately, your decision should align with your project’s specific requirements and constraints. Stay informed about the latest developments in the programming world, and be ready to adapt your choices based on the evolving landscape of mobile app development.