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Best Android Programming Languages

Ethan Scully - January 04, 2021


According to Statista , there were over 2.7 billion smartphone users in 2017. The same study found that over $41 billion was generated in revenue by mobile games alone. The mobile app market is strong and now is as good a time as ever to break into the market.

If you want to develop an Android app, you’ve got a ton of programming languages to choose from.  Some are general-purpose coding languages, while others serve very specific functions. Picking the right game development languages for Android can seem daunting, so we’ll try and clear it up a bit.  In this article, we’ll give you a basic rundown of the best (and most popular) programming languages for Android devices. Once you figure out what kind of app you want to create, you can use this list as a reference to help make a decision.

List of Android Coding Languages

Java

java logo

Java is the official language for programming Android apps, so it’s safe to say that it’s one of the best languages for Android apps. While Java code typically runs on the Java Virtual Machine, on Android, the lines of code are compiled by something called the Dalvik Virtual Machine. There are many Android API’s available for the Java language, and it’s the native coding language used in Android Studio.

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Java is a tried-and-true platform for both smartphones and computer software. It was developed in 1995 by Sun Microsystems (today known as Oracle), so it’s certainly stood the test of time.

Developers use Java for all sorts of applications because it can be used to code an entire program.  Java is unique, as it is designed to implement as few dependencies as possible with the policy of “write once, run anywhere” (WORA) in mind. In other words, you only need to compile Java code once, and it was formulated to run anywhere where the Java platform is supported. There’s plenty of online resources for Java, and it’s considered a straightforward platform for beginners.

BASIC

Believe it or not, ‘BASIC’ is actually a very long acronym.  It stands for ‘Beginners All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code.’  In case you’re wondering, BASIC is precisely what it sounds like. This simple, logical, and useful coding language is an excellent option for programming newcomers.

Although it’s not a universally supported Android development language, you can still build some useful apps with it. You’re best suited to use another language for complicated programs, but BASIC is an excellent place to start.  It’s fast, practical, and an all-around superb beginner coding language.

Kotlin

kotlin logo

While new to the Android world, Kotlin is a fantastic choice as well. Kotlin is cross-platform, statically typed, open-source and general-purpose. This coding language was designed with efficiency, practicality and effectiveness in mind. It’s fully compatible with Java and, as a result, has become the second official Android programming language.

Kotlin was created with the goal of being more efficient, modern and practical than Java. As a result, it’s easier to read than Java, and the layout is more logical. Although Java is still arguably faster and has a broader user base, Kotlin has shorter code, easier typing and more security features. According to Jetbrains, Kotlin is used for almost 60% of the top 1000 Android projects . It’s arguably a better way to program an Android app if you’re a beginner.

Lua

lua logo

One open-source and easy to use language for Android is Lua. Lua is a high-level programming language typically used for games like Angry Birds and Warcraft. While Android does not support Lua natively, the cross-platform Corona Game Engine features an Android SDK (Software Development Kit) that allows development in the Lua language. While this fully functional game engine is useful for making simple games, more complex games will often require a more robust language like C# or C++.

C/C++

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These languages aren’t the first choice for beginners, but they’re great for building complex Android applications. C++ is one of the most popular programming languages in the world, and it’s uses range from building operating systems to designing video games to producing 3D movies. A unique feature of C/C++ is that it was designed and tested by programmers, so it was specifically created with the programmer in mind.

Unlike Java and Kotlin, C/C++ runs natively on the phone. While this makes it more challenging to work with, it’s highly versatile in terms of features. Although C++ has a rather steep learning curve, it’s great for designing complicated games because of its native platform. In short, you can get the most out of your device with C or C++.

C#

C# logo

If you need the power of C or C++ but don’t want to deal with their complexities, try C# instead. C# combines the best features of Java and C++, and it’s used for a wide variety of tasks like developing Windows applications and designing games using Unity. C# is essentially a higher level and object-oriented C-based language, and it’s a fantastic option for Android development.

While it’s newer than most other coding languages (developed by Microsoft in 2000), it still has a large developer community.  It can be used along with a game engine to create some excellent 3D and otherwise high-tech games. According to Stack Overflow 2019 Developer Survey’s poll of 90,000 developers, C# ranked as the 7th most popular programming language in the world and 9th “most loved” programming technology.

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C# is a great option for beginning programmers for a variety of reasons. It’s a high-level programming language, meaning that it uses a simpler syntax than many other languages. It’s used for a wide range of purposes and has a great learning code, making it a great option for beginners.

Android Programming Language Review

While the official programming language for Android is Java, many other languages are used to develop Android apps. These include:

  • BASIC
  • Kotlin
  • Lua
  • C
  • C++
  • C#

Needless to say, programming can be challenging. If you’re not already into it, we suggest you learn from qualified professionals. Mobile app development can be a rewarding and lucrative career for you, and many top-notch programs exist to help you break into the industry. Coding bootcamps that specialize in app building can train you up in months and send you into the workforce with all of the skills you need.

If you’re into gaming or want to revamp your career, consider a coding bootcamp. Sign up for our free 21-day challenge and we’ll begin helping you learn how to code in no time!  Remember, anybody can break into app development and software engineering. All it takes is endurance, willingness to learn, and the right help.

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Ethan Scully

About the author: Ethan Scully is a writer, editor, and game developer who manages Career Karma's content partnership initiatives and is currently based in Istanbul. His relationships with coding bootcamps give him particular insight into these new job training programs. Before joining the Career Karma team, Scully worked in IT support, graphic design, and as an editor for Cambodia's Khmer Times.

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