What Are the Best Languages for App Development?

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Read this guide to discover the best languages for app development for your app development requirements. Uncover the programming language for your projects.

[Featured Image]:  A male, wearing a blue shirt and glasses, is working on his laptop and holding his cellphone, as he works on his development project.

Choosing the best programming language for app development depends on what you’re looking to build and what platform you plan on using. For example, if you’re looking to develop an iOS app, then Objective-C or Swift could be your best bet. If you plan on creating an Android app, Java could be the way to go.

According to a recent survey, JavaScript is the most popular language among developers, with around 69.7 percent using it. HTML/CSS is the second most popular language, with 62.4 percent of respondents saying they code with it. Java, Python, C++, Kotlin, and Rust are popular app development languages ranked among the world's top 10 most preferred languages in 2022.

What exactly are programming languages?

When writing a software application, you must convert it into instructions that a computer can understand. To do this, you write the code in a language the machine can interpret. These languages are known as programming languages. 

Hundreds of programming languages exist, each with its own syntax and purpose. As with human languages, you’ll not find a single programming language you can use for all purposes. 

Why different programming languages?

Different programming languages are for different purposes. The language you should use depends on why you want to use code. Some languages are easy to learn, while the designs of other languages are suitable for more specific or complex purposes. Different languages also have different syntax or rules for how you should write the code and are ideal for deployment on other platforms or architectures.

In-demand programming languages

The needs of employers vary, and what is in demand today may not be in five years. However, some of the most popular programming languages currently in high demand include Python, Java, JavaScript, C++, C#, Swift, and Ruby.

Complex vs. less-complex programming languages

The less complex programming languages are easier to learn and use. They typically have a limited number of features and commands and are not as powerful as more complex languages. However, this simplicity can make them more reliable and easier to debug. More complex programming languages have more features and capabilities, but they can be more challenging to learn and use.

Examples of complex programming languages include C++, Malboge, Prolog, and LISP. These languages tend to be more challenging to learn and use than simpler ones, such as JavaScript, Java, Python, and HTML.

Different languages for different apps

You can use many different languages for different types of app development. Depending upon the type of app you want to develop, you’ll need to choose a language suited for that particular app.

  • For native mobile app development, use a language that works with iOS and Android operating systems. Some popular languages for this type of development include Objective-C, Swift, and Java.

  • To develop a hybrid or cross-platform mobile app, choose a language that can work with web and mobile technologies. Some popular choices for this type of development include HTML5, CSS3, and JavaScript.

  • To develop a website app, choose a language compatible with web browsers. Some popular choices for this type of development include PHP, ASP.NET, and Ruby on Rails.

  • For desktop applications, you’ll select a language compatible with the operating system you’re using. Some popular choices for this type of development include C++, C#, and Go.

  • To develop an AI/ML application, use a language compatible with artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms. Some popular choices for this type of development include Python, R, and Lisp.

  • To develop a secure application, choose a language with built-in security features. Some popular options for this type of development include SQL, Python, and HTML. 

How to choose the best app development language for you to learn.

When choosing the best app development language to learn, you'll want to consider a few things. Ask yourself some questions. First, for what platforms do you want to develop? Second, what languages are you familiar with already? Third, what language will best suit your needs and purposes? Once you've considered these factors, it's time to choose the language that's right for you. 

Starting with a language like PHP or Java is recommended if you're a beginner. If you have more experience, you might want to try a more challenging language like C++, Rust, or Lisp.  Ultimately, the decision is up to you and what will best suit your needs and purposes.

What skills are required for app development?

You can develop the skills to create your own apps with patience and practice. You'll need to be familiar with basic coding concepts to start. Once you have a handle on that, you can begin working on more specific app development projects. As you gain experience, you'll find it easier and more enjoyable to program apps of your own design. Here are some skills and app development requirements:

  • Basic computer skills: You’ll need to use a computer and navigate the various operating systems.

  • Familiarity with basic programming concepts: While you don't need to be a master programmer, understanding basic programming concepts will make learning how to program apps much more straightforward.

  • A willingness to learn: Like anything else in life, if you're not willing to put in the effort to learn how to program apps, you're unlikely to be successful.

  • Patience and attention to detail: You’ll need to be patient, pay close attention, and be willing to experiment until you develop your knowledge.

  • Suitable programming skills: This includes languages like Java, C++, and others we have already discussed.

  • Data structures and data science: Experience with databases, analytics, and user experience is also beneficial.

  • UI design and mobile apps:  If you’re programming for mobile, you’ll need familiarity with the Android (software development kit) and a good understanding of user interface (UI) design and how mobile app development works.

How long does it take to learn an app development language?

Learning an app development language will take some time and effort. On average, it takes from three to six months to learn the basics of an app development language.  However, this can vary depending on your experience with programming languages. The time it takes to learn a top programming language for app development also depends on how quickly you learn and how much practice you get.

App development job overview: Salaries, careers, and courses

The job outlook for app developers is positive, as demand is high for mobile apps, and new technologies are constantly emerging. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the job outlook for app developers will increase by 22 percent between 2020 and 2030, which is much faster than the average for other careers [1].

Well-paying jobs are available for those with experience and expertise in specific programming languages and platforms. Emerging technologies and trends such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and blockchain create new opportunities for developers with the right skills.

Average salaries for different types of developers:

• Java developers -$107,978 per year [2]

• C/C++ developers - $114,704 [3]

• PHP developers- $108,743 [4]

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Steps to becoming an app developer

To become an app developer, you can choose from a few different learning options. You can attend a coding boot camp, which will provide you with learning opportunities to discover the basics of coding and help you begin your development journey. Alternatively, you could go the traditional route and enroll in a computer science degree program.

Many people these days choose to study online at their own pace. If you're ready to learn more about app development languages, you'll find several professional certificates and courses on Coursera that can help you gain the skills you need to show potential employers you're knowledgeable in the field. You might like to consider the Introduction to Front-End Development or the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript for Web Developers course.

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Introduction to Front-End Development

Welcome to Introduction to Front-End Development, the first course in the Meta Front-End Developer program. This course is a good place to start if you ...

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Average time: 1 month(s)

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Web Development Tools, User Interface, Front-End Web Development, HTML and CSS, Responsive Web Design

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HTML, CSS, and Javascript for Web Developers

Do you realize that the only functionality of a web application that the user directly interacts with is through the web page? Implement it poorly and, to ...

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Average time: 1 month(s)

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HTML, JavaScript, Css Frameworks, Cascading Style Sheets (CSS)

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Article sources

1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Software developers, quality assurance analysts, testers, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/computer-and-information-technology/software-developers.htm.” Accessed July 4, 2022.

2. Glassdoor. “How much does a Java Developer make?,  https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/us-java-developer-salary-SRCH_IL.0,2_IN1_KO3,17.htm.” Accessed July 4, 2022.

3. Glassdoor. “How much does a Developer C/C++ make?,  https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/us-c-developer-salary-SRCH_IL.0,2_IN1_KO3,14.htm.” Accessed July 4, 2022.

4. Glassdoor. “How much does a PHP Developer make?,  https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/us-php-developer-salary-SRCH_IL.0,2_IN1_KO3,16.htm.”Accessed July 4, 2022.

Written by Coursera • Updated on

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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