Best Software for Android App Development
Mobile application development continues to grow and evolve as the needs of users and the capabilities of devices expand. Fundamentally, though, app development is still about using software tools to create technology that provides a service or solves a problem.
Right now the Android landscape is dominated by three very capable app development tools—Kotlin, Java, and React Native. Each app development software offers you the ability to develop cutting-edge, full-function mobile apps for Android devices (and often ios devices as well).
Let’s take a look at each of these app development software options, some of the key features of each one, and the different benefits that each one offers.
Kotlin, a general-purpose, statically typed programming language, is designed for heightened productivity and multiplatform programming. Kotlin is an open-source programming language and is generally regarded as being fairly quick to learn as well, making it a great choice for app development teams and independent developers alike.
One of the benefits of Kotlin is that it reduces excessive code, allowing for lighter-weight mobile applications and faster, simpler programming for the developer. Kotlin is also more concise than Java, which allows Kotlin to solve problems with less code. Not only does that help with development on the front end of a project, but it makes code more readable and easier to maintain, debug, or update down the line for functionality reasons or others.
Kotlin code is also regarded as safer than Java and can coexist with Java code in an Android application. This means that switching to Kotlin for an existing app is possible, and allows you to bring the benefits of streamlining and simplification to Android apps that you have already developed.
Java is essentially the granddaddy of Android app development. This C-based programming language has been around as long as mobile applications have, and it was by far the most-used application development tool for a very long time.
Java is praised by many Android and web developers for being a clean code, and for having a huge library of classes that allow for fast app development.
These features may sound a great deal like Kotlin that we described above, and with good reason; Kotlin is a Java-based development language, but one that has been optimized and further enhanced for modern application development.
Two of the biggest selling points for Java are the fact that it is so established, and also that it is utilized across so many platforms. Java is great for developing web, mobile, and IoT projects, and its popularity means there are thousands of resources available for virtually any development environment.
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Perhaps the number one benefit of React Native is that you can develop applications for the Google Play store and iOS simultaneously, saving big time and big headaches in the process. Up to 95% of the codebase can be shared, meaning that you’re essentially mere steps from the finish line when developing applications for Android devices and iPhones and iPads. Additionally, React Native is generally considered easy to learn and has a growing community and great tutorials available, so experienced developers can dive into React Native rather quickly.
The Big Question: How Much Does It Cost?
Obviously, each of these Android development options has its upsides and benefits. As a result, a lot of the decision comes down to cost. In other words, what’s it going to cost to develop an app using “Android development software option A, B, and C.”
First up is Kotlin, and since it’s an open-source app development solution, it should come as no surprise that it’s free. Kotlin is developed under the Apache 2.0 license, and the source code is available on GitHub for anyone that wants or needs it. It’s hard to argue with “free” as a price point, so Kotlin is definitely a great choice for independent Android developers, freelancers, and small companies or businesses that are just getting an app launched.
Asking the same question about Java results in a slightly more complicated answer. Free Java options still exist, meaning that Java is still a great option for the freelance Android app developers and small businesses mentioned above. However, Oracle has moved Java into a subscription payment model for both individual users and organizations. For individual users, the Oracle Java SE desktop subscription is $30 per year. For larger departments, companies, etc., the subscription cost varies, and there is a full breakdown of that pricing available on Oracle’s website.
As for React Native, it is also open source and free to use. In this way, it is very similar to Kotlin, and in fact, means there are some free options that exist for each of these big three Android mobile app development solutions.
The cost for the tools, however, does not always reflect the full cost of development for Android apps. If you are going to be contracting with a team of developers or an external Android development firm, the labor and development costs will need to be factored into your budget. Even if you have a team in-house to develop your native app, there will be some overhead costs associated with that.
Which Android App Development Tool is Right for You?
No doubt your number one concern is just getting your business’ app in an app store. The downloads and installs are key for any business, and with mobile device usage continuing to grow exponentially, there is no bad time to invest in high-quality native app development. Cross-platform app development is also an important consideration, especially for organizations with limited time or budgets.
In the end, each of the developer tools mentioned above could be a great choice for your native app, whether it is aimed at gaming, eCommerce, social media engagement, or other uses. And because there are benefits to each of these selections, ultimately the choice may come down to your development goals, your platform of choice (Windows or Mac, Apple or Android, etc.). You may also be looking for the simplest option, such as drag-and-drop functionality, hybrid app development, and so on. From backend considerations to customization capabilities, available templates, there are a number of questions to be answered upfront before choosing the best Android app development option for your project or business.