Picking a Python Mobile App Development Framework
Python is one of the most popular programming languages in the world, but it’s never had a strong presence in the mobile market. This lack of presence is due to interpreted languages’ incompatibility with smartphones. Nowadays, thanks to Python’s popularity, we’ve seen many solutions developed to bypass this limitation. There are many Python mobile app development frameworks available today; you just have to pick the one that best suits you.
Picking a mobile app development framework is like growing a flower. If you plant a flower in its preferred climate, then it’ll grow and blossom with little effort. If you plant a flower in a hostile environment, it will require extra time, effort, and resources.
Similarly, you can develop an app in any framework you like, but an unsuitable framework is going to cost you time and resources — as well as sanity. We aim to shed light on the best Python mobile app development frameworks, and why you should pick one over another.
Why Is Python Unpopular for Mobile App Development?
Despite being the 3rd most popular programming language in the world, Python doesn’t receive much love in mobile apps. This is largely due to iOS and Android not natively supporting interpreted languages like Python.
Interpreted languages don’t work well with smartphones. They require more resources, and they run more slowly than natively supported languages. These resource demands don’t matter much on PCs, because PC hardware is relatively quite potent. Smartphones, on the other hand, run on weaker hardware, where the extra resource cost impacts performance far more.
Things have started to change in recent years. We've seen excellent Python mobile app development frameworks emerge thanks to the language’s passionate community. With these frameworks, anyone who knows their way around the language can release a killer mobile app.
Some of the world’s most popular apps, like Instagram and Spotify, run (mostly) on Python. That level of success is a testament to the language’s incredible power when used correctly; if you can run a massive social media app like Instagram on Python, you can run anything on it.
Python Mobile App Development Frameworks: The Options
Building a mobile app takes lots of work. Writing code, testing, and debugging are all routine challenges for developers.
Frameworks make parts of the job simpler — but only when you pick the right one. When it comes to Python mobile app development frameworks, you have 2 options:
- Building a mobile app with a framework like Kivy or BeeWare
- Building a web app with Django as a backend, and a frontend framework like React Native
Other frameworks let you build mobile apps in Python, like PyQt, but they’re not fully mature yet. They’re great to toy around with, but reliability takes precedence in app building.
Each framework has its pros and cons. Let’s look at them more in detail.
The Kivy Framework
Kivy is a Python mobile app development framework that lets you create cross-platform apps. With Kivy, you can write code that is compatible with Android, iOS, Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux devices. This cross-platform access eliminates the need to write separate code for each platform, which can save sweat and tears.
Kivy also has a built-in OpenGL graphics engine that allows for the creation of rich user interfaces, and support for multi-touch input, which is crucial in many apps.
Multi-touch input is a technology that allows a device to track and interpret more than one finger touch at the same time. This allows for more complex user interactions, such as pinch-to-zoom and two-finger scrolling. Multi-touch input is common in mobile devices, as it allows for more intuitive interactions with smaller screens.
Kivy lets you design a full app from scratch — you can use it to create both the frontend and the backend of your application.
The BeeWare Framework
The BeeWare framework is a collection of tools for developing apps in Python. It's similar to Kivy, but with one important difference: BeeWare uses the native programming languages and libraries of each platform — which allows it to be more performant than other frameworks that rely on web technologies.
BeeWare includes Toga, a native GUI toolkit that replicates the native feeling of the OS it’s on. So if you're looking for a Python framework that gives you native performance and look and feel on each platform, BeeWare is worth considering.
The Django Framework
Django is a web development framework. It helps you create both websites and web applications. It is written in Python language and has a powerful ORM. Django follows the MVC (Model, View Controller) pattern which makes the code more readable, modular, and reusable.
Django is an excellent tool to create your mobile app’s backend. With its powerful features, you can quickly build a robust application in no time. You can use Django to create an API or a web app — and then use this API or web app with any mobile app development framework to create a cross-platform mobile app.
For example, you can use Django to create your app’s backend and then use a frontend framework like React Native or Kivy itself to create the frontend. What matters is that the backend and frontend can communicate freely.
The beauty of Django lies in its simplicity and flexibility. Django comes with a set of ready-to-use libraries and tools that make the development process easy and quick. It has an excellent templates system, caching framework, template engine, URL dispatcher, and other powerful features. You can customize these features as per your requirements to create highly customized apps in no time.
Django’s biggest advantage lies in its scalability. Some of the world’s biggest apps run with Django as their backend language. You can deal with thousands of requests each second, and the framework takes care of database connections, serializing data into cache and twiddling app configurations.
Python’s Biggest Weaknesses in Mobile App Development
No matter which Python mobile app development framework you pick, you will run into these issues. Now, that’s not the end of the world — the perfect language doesn’t exist. But you must consider how your users’ experience is going to be affected by these shortcomings.
Python's biggest weakness in app development is its inability to produce fast and efficient apps as languages like Java. The characteristics that make this impossible are Python’s interpreted nature, as well as its low usage.
Smartphones can't run Python directly. Python can't be compiled into a machine code like other languages, so it must be interpreted. This process is generally slower and can lead to some inefficiencies. This is fine when you have lots of computing power, like in modern PCs. But smartphones don't have the same level of power and resources, so running Python on them directly is often not possible or practical.
Python’s low usage in mobile app development creates a vicious cycle: there is not enough interest in Python mobile app development frameworks to justify creating better ones. Due to this reality, the tools we are currently offered are imperfect, so consequently, we don’t see many mobile apps made with Python frameworks.
Another issue with Python is that it can be difficult to integrate with existing codebases. Python's syntax is not very compatible with other languages. It can be difficult to use Python in a project that relies on code written in another language.
The last big issue is support. Google and Apple, owners of the 2 biggest app stores in the world, always favor apps built with their native tooling. It’s common to see your app rejected by either store because it doesn’t conform to the store’s standards when using 3rd party tools like these frameworks.
Advantages of Using Python in Mobile App Development
Despite these challenges, there are many advantages to using a Python mobile app development framework:
- One, it's a highly flexible language with many libraries and tools available. These make it a breeze to add new features to your app.
- Two, its interpreted nature makes it quick and easy to develop and test apps. The faster development cycle means you can iterate faster, test more, and ship earlier.
- Three, Python has a very active community that provides support and guidance. Languages with thriving communities are faster at offering help to developers. This saves everyone time and money.
Overall, while Python does have some limitations in mobile app development, its flexibility, versatility, and ease of use make it an excellent choice for developers who want to create high-quality applications.
Python Frameworks FAQs:
Picking the right Python mobile app development framework is crucial to ensure a smooth development process. Python is a powerful language with a massive library of frameworks that lets you build virtually anything. However, with so many possibilities, it’s easy to pick the wrong framework, which ultimately will cost copious amounts of time and money.
All that said, figure out what you need your app to do, then pick the framework that will let you build the app you want.
Q1. Which Python framework is best for mobile app development?
The best Python framework is Django, as it’s the most reliable and scalable. As a testament to its prowess, some of the biggest apps in the world use it for their back-end. Plus, Django’s popularity means getting support for it is way faster.
The main issue with other frameworks is that they aren’t as mature, and thus not as reliable as Django. But if you want your app to look like a native mobile app, they’re the superior choice.
Q2. Is Django better than Kivy?
Yes, Django is better than Kivy for building mobile apps. Reliability and scalability are the 2 main reasons for this, as you will want a rock-solid foundation for your app. Django, being a mature framework, offers this foundation.
Q3. When is Python not good for app development?
Python is a poor choice for app development when you need your app to work swiftly or to perform specific tasks. Things like Bluetooth connections or NFC (Near-Field Communication) can be made to work in Python, but they’re not worth the effort.
Java is the superior option when you need to utilize modern smartphones’ capabilities fully.
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