A key tool in allowing businesses to build and reach a large audience of customers, mobile app development is important for any business strategy. But choosing the right mobile app development technology can be challenging as there are too many options with their own pros and cons.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the specifics of using .NET and Java for mobile software development, explore their strengths and weaknesses, as well as provide hands-on tips for making the right choice that fits your individual case.
Mobile app development with .NET
A popular Microsoft-backed framework for .NET application development services, .NET helps to build desktop, web, and cloud applications. In 2016, Microsoft acquired a cross-platform tool called Xamarin and included it in the offering, expanding their application development to mobile devices.
With the help of Xamarin – soon to be known as .NET MAUI (Multi-platform App UI) – developers can leverage one of the main .NET programming languages, C#, to build near-native mobile apps.
Benefits of using Xamarin for mobile application development
Let’s look at some of the advantages of using Xamarin when building mobile apps.
Code reuse across platforms
With Xamarin, .NET developers can write the app logic code once – and then reuse 80-95% of it for Android and iOS versions of the same app. This approach helps to minimize project time and costs.
While the core code of the Android and iOS app versions is shared, the hardware integration and UI customizations can be introduced to enhance app functionality and match the style of the target OS. Customizations like these can help to deliver a near-native user experience.
Large developer community
Backed by Microsoft, Xamarin has a mature and large developer community. Experts from all over the world regularly contribute to the growth and improvement of the development tool, share tips and best practices, as well as help fellow engineers solve their app project issues.
Rich set of build-in libraries
Developers can find many ready-made components and libraries in Xamarin – and leverage them in their projects. Naturally, all the built-in libraries had to pass security and performance checks to be included in the .NET tool, so they are safer and more reliable than third-party libraries. This makes the development of many complex features faster and more secure.
Seamless integration with other Microsoft products
By providing all the necessary APIs, Xamarin allows developers to easily integrate the apps with other Microsoft products. For instance, Azure integration helps to set up a cross-platform app’s communication with a cloud database or cloud-based back end.
Mobile app development with Java
Since the starting years of smartphone software development, Java has been the major programming language for building native Android apps. Even though Kotlin has now earned the status of an officially supported Android language and is gaining its support, Java is still believed to be the most popular Android development tool.
Benefits of using Java for mobile application development
Below, let’s list some advantages of Java mobile development .
Apps built with Java are targeted only at mobile devices that run on Android OS. While this means that you’ll need additional funds and efforts to deliver an app to iOS, the final product of your Java project will be a high-performing and resilient application that will guarantee the highest UX for all Android users.
With such built-in security features as automatic memory management and class loaders, Java helps to prevent security vulnerabilities in mobile apps and makes it easier to build applications with strict security requirements.
Power and performance
Java is, by nature, a powerful language known for its excellent performance and ability to handle various tasks. These peculiarities are essential for mobile apps with complex functionality or apps that need to run smoothly and respond quickly.
Strong community support
Like Xamarin, Java has a large and active community, eager to share knowledge and make meaningful contributions. However, compared to younger Xamarin, the mobile Java community can be considered a veteran in its experience.
Wide range of tools and libraries
Not unlike Xamarin, Java has a rich set of tools, frameworks, and libraries that can benefit mobile app developers. These easily accessible tools make the implementation process more efficient and less monotonous.
How to choose the right mobile technology
C# and Java both have something useful to offer to mobile projects. When deciding between the two technologies, you should pay attention to a number of factors, including your project budget and timeline, your mobile software functionality, your target platform, as well as the composition and expertise of your development team.
Development costs and time
If cost and time are significant factors, using Xamarin can be game-changing. Not only does Xamarin help you deliver iOS and Android apps for the development time of one Android app in Java, but also it helps you reduce project costs due to faster delivery by a single team of C# experts.
If your application is fairly simple and doesn’t require complex integrations with device hardware or payment gateways, Xamarin can be the way to go. For more complex apps – banking apps, high-end games, AR-powered applications – it’s best to opt for native development with Java to guarantee fast and smooth performance.
If you only plan to deliver your app to Android users, Java would be the obvious choice. Still, using Xamarin can be a great option even if you’re not planning to go cross-platform. With Xamarin, you can develop the app version only for Android or iOS even faster and at a lower price.
In case you’re planning to rely on your in-house development team, your talents can be a decisive factor. Needless to say, you should go for Xamarin if you already have a well-knit C# team. But if you have Java developers on board, make sure they have experience in mobile Java specifically. Java for back-end development and Java for mobile are very different skills and not too many back-end Java experts can also build mobile apps.
Deciding on the mobile app development technology is an important step in any mobile project. Both Xamarin and Java have pros and cons, so the ultimate choice depends on your project and app requirements, your target audience, and your development team’s expertise. By considering these factors, you can make a confident and informed decision and eventually deliver mobile software that lives up to your users’ expectations.
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