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Mobile platforms play an important role in our lives today. As more millennials choose to surf the internet with their smartphones instead of their laptops and PCs, the demand for mobile app developers has increased immensely. Whether you decide to take it up as a hobby or become a dedicated app developer, the rewards are huge.
To become a professional Android app developer, you need a certain degree of technical knowledge. You also need to know different programming languages. Here is a list of the top four languages you need to know to become an Android app builder.
Java was first developed by Sun Microsystems in 1995. It is one of the most common programming languages and is used to code everything from mainframes to Android smartphones.
Each platform that runs Java needs a virtual machine (VM) implementation, which allows it to recognize the Java bytecode. The VM used for Androids is called ‘Dalvik’. The VM interprets the bytecode – which is similar to the machine code found in CPUs and is used to relay instructions - and runs it on the platform. To speed up the process, the VMs use technologies such as just-in-time-compilation (JIT) and ahead-of-time-compilation (AOT).
The Java compiler converts the code for Android apps into bytecode, and the built-in VM interprets and processes it. To successfully create this, you need the Android Software Development Kit (SDK) which provides you with all the Android APIs and tools required to build the app. However, developing an app needs more than just the knowledge of Java. You also need to understand how the Android UI is created using XML, as well as the method of accessing different Android subsystems.
Corona is an alternative to Java-based app development. Corona SDK is a high-level development kit built using the LUA programming language. LUA is much simpler to learn as compared to Java and the SDK is also better-equipped, thereby making the task of Android development easier.
The Corona SDK includes an emulator that allows you to run your code directly without the additional step of compiling it. When you start building an .apk file with Corona’s online compilers, the app is saved directly to your PC. This works well for developing gaming apps, and the SDK has libraries for sprites, audio, game networking and 2D physics engines. Corona is available for download online, and you can use the free version to build a basic gaming app. For added features like the ability to call native Android APIs, you will have to purchase the paid version.
3. HTML 5
This is the ideal programming language to use when building a web-fronted Android application. HTML 5 makes it easy to insert different data types, adjust screen sizes, rationalises input parameters and choose between browsers. However, there is a drawback amidst these benefits. HTML 5 is a proposed web standard as of now, which means that unlike other programming languages that have been in use for a while, the web standards and best practices for HTML 5 are still being worked upon.
HTML 5 builds upon the drawbacks of HTML coding (which is basically a mark-up used to design web pages) and is also supported by different browsers. HTML alone cannot be used to make an app; you also need an editor like PhoneGap to be able to run the code on an Android platform. Along with this, you will require an Android SDK to be able to use the native Android APIs. However, an editor like PhoneGap has limited abilities so the final product cannot be a dynamic app. Using HTML 5 can solve all of these issues and help you create a more dynamic and versatile app.
Python is a widely used programming language and one of its biggest pros is that it allows the coder to express concepts in fewer lines of code than older languages like Java or C++. Python is not an Android language (the only language native to Android is Java), so to make an app using Python requires additional editing tools and IDEs (Integrated Development Environment). Don’t let this fool you though; Python is an easy language to learn and is great for beginners.
The language is fairly new and is undergoing constant change. Therefore it is advisable to make sure that you use the latest version while coding. Write your code on a scripting engine like QPython and use the Python Standard Libraries to develop commands as and when you need them.
Hope this information helps you in choosing a language to create Android apps. If you wish to learn more about Android app development, the Manipal ProLearn has a Google-approved Android app building course designed specifically for app developers.