Top 5 Programming Languages for Mobile Application Development

pqzvkdbe_HTML5-Present-Past-and-FutureThis guest column is by Cris Styris, Mobile Application Developer at Solution Analysts

Programming language plays a big role in determining how frustrating or enjoyable the entire mobile app development process will be for you. There are some commonly preferred languages that all developers veer towards and then there are some languages that the native platform is built upon. As smartphone sales are ready to hit the 1.4 billion mark in 2016, the industry for mobile applications also expands. As new platforms are arising and programming languages are getting consolidated, more avenues open up for integrating dynamic features in apps and even coding becomes simplified. We bring you a choice of top 5 programming languages for mobile application development that is highly prevalent among developers worldwide.


HTML 5 is best suited for web-fronted apps for mobile platforms. With this programming language, it is easy to insert different data types, rationalize input parameters, ensure uniform performance across different screen sizes and work seamlessly across browsers. HTML 5 based programming is cost-effective and though it is a relatively new programming language, it is popularly adopted by mobile app developers.

It supports multimedia on mobile devices and has advanced syntactic features for video, audio and canvas tags. It has phenomenal features for user interaction with documents such as parsing rules for enhanced flexibility, drag and drop between documents, offline editing, messaging enhancements, and a common standard for storing data on SQL database.


Java is the most widely-used object-oriented programming language in mobile app development mainly because it is the language used for Android’s SDK and the wide-spread popularity amongst programmers. Java is a compiled language that can be run in a browser window or in a virtual machine without a browser. Thus, a lot of codes can be reused while updating the software. Java is the primary programming language for cross-platform app development frameworks.

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The JavaScript scripting language is popularly used for web browser app development and is extremely useful for adding web page features while working with HTML 5. Java is widely used for enterprise mobile app development as it offers unwavering performance and can be run with or without a browser. The only drawback with Java is that it cannot be used in iOS app development.


Swift is the programming language being used to write Apple’s latest APIs – Cocoa and Cocoa Touch. Though Swift is written to work along with Objective C, Apple’s eventual aim is to completely overhaul the former programming language by Swift. The programming language has been designed to plug many security vulnerabilities that occurred on Objective C. At the WWDC 2015, Apple announced that Swift will be going open source and it can be accessed by developers worldwide to build projects with Swift, making it the primary development language.

At the WWDC 2016, Swift 3.0 was unveiled with a whole bunch of features including new design guidelines for building APIs. Also, with the new version, Swift can be ported to other platforms, primarily Windows and Linux and Apple’s Swift Evolution GitHub page has codes with portable attributes. There are rumours that Google may also adopt Swift in favour of its Java-based development platform.

Objective C

Apple adopted Objective C as the primary programming language for the iOS platform that serves iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch and MacOS framework. Just like C++, Objective C is a C language superset and does all the things done by C and C++. However, Objective C has additional functions for graphics, display and I/O. It is slowly being replaced by Swift in the Apple ecosystem.

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C# is an object-oriented programming language that is used widely by Microsoft and extensively on the Windows Mobile platform. As per a study by Developer Economics Survey, 38% mobile developers use C# for part of their work while 16% use C# as the main language. If Windows Mobile platform figures in your development portfolio then C# is an essential programming language for you. C# is also widely used for cross-platform mobile application development and can be used instead of Objective C, Java or Swift.

Developers who are familiar with the curly brace syntax of C# will be familiar with Java, C and C++. C# supports generic methods and types and provides powerful features such as lambda expressions, enumerations, nullable values and direct memory access that are not found on Java.  This enables the programmer to implement custom iteration behaviours that are simple to use on the client-side.

As of June, 2016, a report by Statista states that Android’s Play Store has 2.2 million apps and Apple’s App Store has 2 million available apps, and these are the leading mobile platforms worldwide. As the mobile app development fraternity increasingly adopts the open source format, and even Apple is finally opening its platforms to the worldwide developers’ community. Programming languages are also maturing and codes can now be reused to speed development process and reduce development costs.

Disclaimer: This is a guest column. The statements, opinions and data contained in these publications are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of iamwire and the editor(s).

Image Credit: Malideveloper

  • Lisa

    Java and Javascript are two completely different languages.