mobile app development

Python for Mobile App Development - What's the Catch?

Python is considered a nice choice for the back-end. However, it is quite weak for mobile interfaces. Discover all the advantages and disadvantages of mobile development in Python and why it might be a good idea for startups.

Python

Yevgen Borysenko is a Lead Project Manager. He has extended experience in mobile development — dozens of successfully finished projects. Yevgen works at Digis, an international application development company, which has experience in mobile and web software development and design. Also, it specializes in startups, helping them to achieve success as a technical partner.

Python is probably the most popular language now and is very appealing to many programmers because of its general-purpose nature, clear and neat code, easier programming process, and plenty of helpful libraries. In the Stack Overflow survey, Python takes the fourth place among most popular technologies, third place among the most loved by developers languages, and first place among the programming languages developers express interest in.

It seems like Python is becoming a ubiquitous language. We mostly know that Python is used in data analysis, web development, machine learning, and different processes automation. But, how about Python for mobile app development?

According to the Python developer survey, only 1% of respondents are using the programming language for mobile app development mostly.

stats of python

Nevertheless, it's not as popular in mobile development, which does not mean that if you are working with mobile apps, you should forget about Python. Here we will cover what kind of features make Python so popular and why it may be a perfect fit for your project.

Python is attractive from the business point because of:

  • Development speed and flexibility
  • Easy to learn + simple and clear syntax, if you are planning to control development or build by yourself
  • Smooth integration with other languages such as Java, PHP, and .NET
  • Extended and at the same time free ecosystem, which is continuously improving due to open-source nature
  • Plenty of libraries for performing any sort of data manipulation

Here we discuss in what cases Python could be employed in mobile app development and what to expect. And, understand the scope of Python for mobile apps.

Backend in Python

Python usage on the server side is quite common. IT giants like Instagram, Dropbox, Reddit, Pinterest, Mozilla, Spotify are using this simple language for their intricate back-end processes.

Using Python for the backend, Instagram engineers explained why they are using the Python framework Django. Among the reasons:

  • Time to market speed is now more important than performance speed
  • It’s easy to get up to speed and get out the product, allowing the team to concentrate on user-facing features
  • It is easier to hire new engineers; - Engineers really love Python

Though you often hear about Python usage for web development, there is no problem to use it for Android and iOS server-side. Everything will work identically.

Talking about Python frameworks or Python mobile app frameworks employed, teams usually choose between Django and Flask. The latter is a better choice for building apps with python, which are simple apps and easier to learn.

Django is an open-source web framework built on top of python. The primary purpose of Django is to enable super-fast development of backend applications. It is quite a reliable technology. The development and support for Django show no signs of stopping anytime soon because huge companies have built their products using this framework.

Flask is a microframework because it does not require particular tools or libraries. Given that Flask lacks some basic components like database abstraction and form validation, it can offer advantages to Python developers who are interested in minimalist frameworks. An advantage of using Flask might be the fact that this framework is light, and the risk for encountering Flask security bugs is minimal.

Peculiarities of Python for backend

Benefits:

1. Simple syntax, which significantly speeds up the development process. You don’t have to worry about all the things that you need in other languages, particularly those issues of variable types or casting.

2. Python supports the graphical user interfaces required in web development.

3. Python’s syntactical structure makes it more readable. Reading code in other languages like C or Java might make understanding difficult because of different coding styles. To increase comprehension and productivity when developing software in a team, it is a good idea to choose Python.

4. Django is a ‘Batteries-included’ package, which means decreased (or eliminated) dependency on external libraries/packages. Everything needed is included. Do you want logging? There is something for that. Logs? Just add this line. Cache management? Add this one and you're ready to go.

5. With the integration libraries for Python, such as Cython and Jython, it is easier to cross-platform by integrating with other languages like C/C++ and Java.

Drawbacks:

1. Python is an interpreted language. So, it has relatively slow performance when it comes to implementing applications that require large stacks of complex calculations.

2. In general, Python is not the best case for scalable projects. Large projects usually need to perform tasks simultaneously, but Python has Global Interpreter Lock (GIL), which does not allow it and makes it run only one thread at a time.

Also, Python is dynamically typed. Yet, dynamically typed languages are not suitable for large projects with growing development teams. As it grows, the system gradually becomes excessively complex and difficult to maintain.

When will Python be the best choice?

1. If you’re looking to make an app with python, all you need is the speed of development or have a limited budget. Given the many frameworks available, its concise code, plus the fact that it is dynamically typed means that development costs can be lowered and faster apps can be built. To understand your app spendings, it is convenient to use special calculators.

2. For a mobile app that requires data analysis, voice and face recognition systems, image-processing software, neural networks, and machine learning systems.

3. Python is one of the most popular languages for enterprise software applications largely due to its smooth integration with other languages traditionally used in the industry, such as Java, PHP, and .NET.

Frontend with Python

Python doesn't have built-in mobile interface capabilities and it is not supported as an official language by either of the two most widely used mobile operating systems —  Android and iOS.

BUT. Python has several frameworks that can be used for this purpose. The most popular are Kivy and Beeware.

Kivy is a cross-platform Python framework. Kivy does not attempt to use native controls or widgets. All of its widgets are custom-drawn. This means that Kivy applications will look the same across all platforms. However, it also means that your app’s look and feel will differ from your user’s native applications. This could be a benefit or a drawback, depending on your audience.

When you’re building apps with python, your application will look the same on all platforms, and you also won’t need to compile your code after every change.

BeeWare framework, on the contrary, provides native interfaces for iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, Linux, Web, and tvOS.

Main limitations in Front-end with Python:

1. As we mentioned earlier — Python is an interpreted language, which means Processing Speed is slow.

2. Because Python is a language that uses dynamic structures, it requires more memory space than other languages. It’s not suitable for use in development with limited memory restrictions.

3. Community is poor for this area of Python development. So, it is more difficult to find tutorials, answers to your questions, and code solutions on the Internet. 

4. Python is not that good at graphics.

5. Kivy framework doesn’t offer many functions and platform-specific features, compared to native mobile languages like Java, Kotlin, and Swift.

Mobile QA testing with Python

Python is used in mobile testing. From manual testing to automated tools, Python for mobile apps provides the necessary framework to perform better testing mechanisms.

Unit Tests and Integration Tests can also be performed using the core Python tools available in the open-source framework. For example, you can perform geolocation testing for mobile applications with Python.

Coders can verify only coding glitches or look at the entire code from the integration testing mechanisms available.

Many QA automation specialists choose Python for its simple learning curve – it’s also great for those with a more limited technical background — strong community, clear syntax, and readability.

Python Use cases in mobile development

We have already mentioned some of the best Python use cases for the mobile back-end. Here are general usages for both mobile front-end and back-end.

1. Simple apps that do not require great performance.

2. Python is really recommended for prototyping. Python takes significantly less time to build your projects compared to other programming languages, your ideas come to life a lot faster, allowing you to gain feedback and iterate quickly. In fact, building apps with python for desktop is simple.

3. Development of minimum viable product (MVP). Because of Python mobile app development speed, it will provide you with higher chances of hitting the market early. Multi-platform nature is also a benefit here since you can launch your app on all most wide-spread operation systems.

Conclusion

We hope we’re able to answer how to create an app using python. Despite the fact mobile app development using Python is uncommon, you can find it really useful in some cases. It depends on the project’s purpose.

Python is good for startups. Since it is easy to learn and a very popular language, you are able to find developers even with a limited budget. For example, juniors or interns. Also, building an app with python is a perfect solution for testing your app ideas.

Python is the best option for the field of data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. For example, you can put AI and ML bots developed with Python in a Java app.

Using Python for mobile apps is rarely a good fit for a mobile app front-end since Python is not built for that kind of thing. However, there are some promising projects such as Kivy and Beeware. Maybe, someone will create a python mobile app framework to do android or iOS development. Who knows what can happen in the future? Technology is changing very fast — it's almost impossible to predict what may happen next.

If you’re looking to outsource your mobile app development using Python. You can browse top app development companies that hold good market repute with their best-in-class mobile application development services in the world.

Aparna <span>Growth Strategist</span>
Written By
Aparna Growth Strategist

Aparna is a growth specialist with handsful knowledge in business development. She values marketing as key a driver for sales, keeping up with the latest in the Mobile App industry. Her getting things done attitude makes her a magnet for the trickiest of tasks. In free times, which are few and far between, you can catch up with her at a game of Fussball.

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