Which technology is best for mobile app development?

Which technology is best for app development

In the competitive digital world, mobile is a pivotal arena that helps businesses to achieve their desired goals. The mobile app sector has grown immensely. Data shows that the figures for mobile app downloads in 2019 were at 204 billion apps, and by 2021 they might cross over 592 million daily app downloads. The growing demand for mobile apps has also increased the demand for mobile app developers. Entrepreneurs understand the importance of mobile apps, so they started to hire developers to build interactive mobile apps for their businesses. Through mobile apps, businesses can attract larger audiences, gain their attention, and allow them to use their product and services. 

Types of mobile app 

Let’s first understand the types of mobile apps before proceeding with the best mobile app development programming languages and frameworks.  

  • Native apps
    Native apps are mobile apps built using a specific programming language for a particular mobile device platform, Android, or iOS. The native iOS apps are built-in Swift or Objective-C, and the Native Android apps are written in Java or Kotlin and use SDK for the platform. Their performance is fast, with a high degree of reliability. They can be expensive as they have their programming language and SDKs, so you have to hire a new developer for a different operating system. Native apps are more interactive and intuitive compared to web apps and hybrid apps. Things run much smoother as far as user input and output because there are extensive APIs that are optimized for different screen sizes and versions.
  • Hybrid apps
    Hybrid apps are a combination of both native apps as well as web apps. They can be downloaded from the app store, like native apps. They run inside a container or webView ( A view that displays a web page using the standard browsers like chrome, safari, etc. ) similar to web apps. Hybrid apps allow the developers to build for any platform from a single code base.  They are cheaper than native apps because hiring a Javascript developer is cheaper than hiring a Swift developer.  They are written using web technologies, such as HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Some of the popular frameworks to build hybrid apps are ReactNative, Flutter, Xamarin.
  • Mobile web apps
    Web apps are not mobile apps, but they are websites that are running on your device.  They are accessed via an internet browser ( safari, chrome, etc) and will adapt according to your device. Web apps have designed fluidly, responding to being viewed on a smartphone. They are easy to host and maintain, simply uploading to a hosting account with a domain. You need a single app for all platforms i.e. iOS, Android. It is cheaper than native and hybrid apps because If you are a web developer, then you can repurpose your skills to build web apps. They are less interactive and intuitive as compared to native apps. Web apps are built using standard web technologies including HTML, CSS, and JavaScript.

Best frameworks and programming languages for native app development: 

1. Swift programming language and Xcode

Swift is a robust and intuitive programming language developed by Apple for developers to build amazing iOS apps. It is optimized for performance and built from the ground up to match the realities of modern iOS development. Swift is a fast and efficient programming language that provides real-time feedback, using which developers are creating amazing apps. It can also be incorporated into an existing Objective-C code. It adopts a safe programming pattern and adds advanced features with minimal coding to make programming flexible and comfortable. Apps like Lyft, LinkedIn, and Hipmunk are some examples of the apps developed and upgraded in the iOS version using Swift.

2. Objective C and Xcode

Objective-C is a flexible programming language developed by Tom Love and Brad Cox in 1984. Before the launch of Swift, Objective C was the primary language used in writing software for OS X and iOS.  Objective C has object-oriented programming capabilities of small talk programming language. When you talk to other programming languages like Java, C++ to invoke functions in an object, you can call the method directly during the compile time. There are remarkable features of Objective C. It has got inherited messaging capabilities from the small talk programming language. During runtime, when you want to invoke a function, a message is sent to the object having information about that function, which has to be translated.  This particular concept gives greater flexibility during implementation. Objective C  is accused of dynamic typing because an object can receive messages not specified in the class interface. Categories are also a feature of Objective C.  They are a superclass structure that is part of the class. It allows methods to be added to class during the runtime. You can dynamically add methods to the classes based on the requirements. 

3. Java+ Android Studio

Java is an object-oriented programming language that is the official Android development language. It is easy to handle and has several open-source libraries available for the users to choose from. Java also offers the best documentation and community support to the developers.  Android mobile applications like vlc media player, Telegram, SeeWeather are examples of apps developed using Java programming language. Frameworks like TestNG and Log4J have developed using Java. 

4. Kotlin +Android Studio

Kotlin is a cross-platform programming language that is used as an alternative to Java for developing modern Android applications. Google introduced the Kotlin programming language in 2017. Kotlin and Java are interoperable, meaning they can exchange and can make use of the same information. Several developers admit that Kotlin is the advanced version of Java. The only difference between Java and Kotlin is the superfluous features of Java, such as null pointer exceptions. Kotlin is a language that has influenced other programming languages, such as Scala, Gosu, Groovy, Java, etc. 

Best cross platform frameworks for app development

1. Xamarin

Xamarin, launched in 2011, is owned by Microsoft. It is build using .NET and C# and allows developers to build applications for both iOS, and Android. Using Xamarin, developers can create rich user experiences using the native UI element. It has several tools and libraries needed to build native applications. Xamarian is an abstraction layer that manages the transmission of the shed code with the underlying platform code. On average, about 90 percent of the application code can be shared by developers across all the platforms. It enables the developers to pen down all the required logic in a single language or by reusing the existing code. Developers can achieve a native performance look and feel on each platform.  There are a few remarkable features of Xamarin: 

  • Cross-platform app development.
  • Xamarin is also included in the visual studio allowing individuals, source projects, and smaller teams to access Visual Studio Community version for free. 
  • Underlying SDKs are completely bound. Xamarin consists of binding for almost complete underlying SDKs in both iOS and Android. These bindings are easy to navigate and use. They also provide strong compile-time checking. Strongly typed bindings lead to fewer on-time errors and higher quality applications. 
  • Allows developers to invoke libraries from various languages such as Objective-C, Java, C++. These give them the flexibility to choose from a wide range of third-party code. It allows you to use the existing iOS and Android libraries.

2. React Native

React Native is a cross-platform framework for mobile application development. React Native, created by Facebook, and was first implemented for Facebook’s News Feed in 2011. Later, it was used in the Instagram application. React native uses Java as its base language. If a developer has good knowledge of Java, then he/ she can start developing applications without wasting much time getting habitual to the framework. It has gained immense popularity because of its easy learning and widespread usage. React Native framework relies on JavaScript runtime environment architecture that is also known as JavaScript bridge. The JavaScript code is compiled into native app code at run time. React native uses Flux architecture from Facebook. We can say that react native uses JavaScript bridge to communicate with the native modules. It is dependent on third party modules and libraries. There are several other features of React Native: 

  • Reusable codes & cost-effective. 
  • Makes use of JavaScript.
  • Compatible plugins and third-party packages.
  • Strong Community support.
  • Declarative API for predictive UI. 

3. Flutter

Flutter, developed by Google. Google has been utilizing resources in flutter development for a few years before launching flutter in 2017. It is used to build mobile applications more quickly and efficiently for both iOS and Android. The main reason behind the shift of several developers to Flutter is that the project has a single code base. It also provides a wide array of y of customizable widgets to build native interfaces. Flutter is built on the Dart language, which is also developed by Google. This language is considered a niche language in the developer’s community, but it is not a tough language. If a developer has any experience of working in object-oriented programming, then learning Dart will be a cakewalk. Flutter gives a native experience to both the developer and end-user with platform features, like scrolling, navigation, icons, plus fonts. There are a few striking features of a Flutter framework :

  • Uses Dart framework that has most of the components inbuilt. 
  • Strong widget support.
  • Rich Flutter API. 
  • Flexible User interface. 

4. Ionic

Ionic is an open-source SDK that allows developers to build hybrid and progressive web apps, using technologies like HTML, CSS & JavaScript. Developers love the Ionic framework because it offers numerous default UI components, such as forms, action sheets, filters, navigation menu, and many other UI components for attractive designs. Ionic Studio is the lite version of Ionic, but it is quite powerful. Developers can install it locally to have a visual development environment. Ionic uses the Cordova plugin to access smartphone features, such as camera, GPS, flashlight, and others. App developers can utilize these modules to build their intuitive mobile applications. There are other features of the Ionic framework: 

  • In-built UI components.
  • Support rapid app development environment and App flow ( it is an integrated suite of mobile DevOps services to automate every phase of the application lifecycle from native built to live updates) 
  • Complete app development kit
  • Support cross-platform app development as well as progressive web app development. 

Choosing the right technology

Several app development frameworks and  programming languages are available. Offering a unique set of features and benefits along with the powerful support of the innovation and incredible user experience. The best mobile app development technology is one that is user-friendly, quick as well as easy to develop, minimizes the testing efforts by a developer, provides widgets and libraries, and cross-platform compatible, etc. The above listed are some of the most popular mobile app development frameworks and  programming languages. Selecting the right technology for app development depends on what type of app you want, on which platform to launch, how it should look.

Author Bio:

Piyush Jain is the founder and CEO of Simpalm, a Chicago based mobile app development company. He leads the business and engineering team to build the mobile and web product solution for clients. He loves to write thought leadership articles on IoT, Mobile, Blockchain, BigData, Web and other software technologies.