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Should I learn iOS, Android or Hybrid app development?

iOS, Android, React Native
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I want to learn how to build mobile apps but, which is the best to get started to learn app development? iOS, Android or Hybrid app?

Mobile apps development is vast! There is much to learn that oftentimes beginners get confused about what to get started with.

In this post, I want to share with you my opinion as regards to what to get started with if you want to learn mobile app development. There are different options to choose from!

Options for building mobile apps

Currently, native Android, native iOS and hybrid apps are the top options when you think about building an app. There is also Progressive Web App (PWA) option which tries to build mobile apps using web technologies/functionalities. PWA is not part of my considerations here as it is not widely accepted yet.

What are native and hybrid apps?

In case you don’t already know, a native app is an app coded in a specific programming language that is well supported by the underlying OS the app runs on.

For example, native iOS apps are built using Swift programming language whereas native Android apps are built using Java or Kotlin.

NB: This does not mean that you can’t build native apps like Android with other programming languages, but the key thing to note is how much support the programming language has for the platform you are developing for.

On the other hand, a hybrid app is a cross-platform compatible solution, meaning you can write that has one codebase and it runs on different platforms (eg. iOS and Android) and can access the device’s hardware. React Native, Xamarin, Ionic and Flutter and some of the options for building hybrid apps. The solutions have similarities and differences that are worth taking note of.

So, while in native app development you have to build the apps separately for each platform (iOS, Android, Windows, etc) using their specific native languages, in hybrid app development you build the app once (usually with one programming language) and it runs on different platforms.

Which should I get started with?

To choose which platform to get started with as a beginner depends on your main purpose of learning app development. Is it to:

  1. get a job as a mobile app developer
  2. to become an app publisher, build apps and make money from them
  3. build upon your background knowledge of programming

1. Learning app development to get a job

If your primary goal is to get a job, then you need to first find what is on-demand in the job market. In Nigeria for example, Android developer jobs seem higher than iOS jobs. But don’t forget that there are also more Android developers than iOS developers in Nigeria. However, for getting started Android won’t be a bad choice.

2. Make money from your own apps

If on the other hands you just want to build your own apps and make money through the different app monetization techniques then you have to think like an entrepreneur.

You have to consider things like:

  • your target market (who will use your app)
  • what kind of devices do most of them use (Android, iOS, etc.)
  • the features your app will have so you find out if it will be much easier going native or trying to build those features with hybrid solutions
  • etc.

For example, if you want to build a native app that targets the Nigerian undergraduate students, you are better off starting with an Android version because I can guess that up to 80% Nigerian undergraduates use Android devices.

If on the other hand, your target market is a country like the USA where iOS is widely used then starting off learning Swift programming for iOS development is definitely a great choice.

3. Building upon your programming knowledge

If you want to go into mobile app development because you have been a programmer for some time now and just want to build upon the experience you already have, you might consider choosing something close to your prior knowledge.

For example, a JavaScript developer might find hybrid mobile app development using React Native much easier than learning to build native Android apps with Swift, Kotlin or Java.

On the other hand, someone with the experience with statically typed languages like Java will find it easier to learn Android development than learning Progressive Web App (PWA) development or React Native.

So, which is it going to be for you? Native, hybrid or even PWA? Determine your primary goal and get started right away!

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