The mobile app development industry is growing strongly in 2022 and will continue to grow in the following year.
Technological advances, consumer demand, and many other factors impact mobile app development trends.
Are you ready for the technological changes in mobile app development next year? We have prepared expert material on the best tech stack for mobile app development in Android. Think about the tech stack for mobile apps in advance!
What is a software development stack?
The software development stack is a set of components that can help you run your application efficiently. We can highlight some of them:
- Programming languages can be various. For example, C++, Java, PHP, Kotlin, etc. This is one of the main tools to develop any software product. The C++ programming language is used for a vast development spectrum like embedded systems, operating systems, video games, etc. Java and PHP can be used to develop web servers. Kotlin is used to develop mobile applications.
- Databases. For example, MongoDB, MySQL, NoSQL, RoomDB, etc. The databases are used for storing different types of data, for example, first/last names of users, their cell phone numbers, address, etc. So it's an essential and indispensable tool for large projects.
- CI/CD tools. They can help you automate your software product’s development, testing, and deployment. Here are some examples: Jenkins, Tektone Pipelines, GoCD, etc.
- Operating system. No matter how tritely it sounds, it is an important part of this “chain”. The Operating system is the environment where your product will be developed (optional) and, in the future, will be launched. Here are some of them: Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, ChromeOS, etc.
So, as you can see, the software development stack is a complex set of different languages, systems, and tools. For different platforms and tasks, such stack will be different, but in some cases, it will be similar. For example, you can use Java programming language to develop Android applications or web servers. So, what is the modern technology stack for mobile applications? Let’s take Android as an example.
Technology stack for creating Android apps
The tech stack for mobile apps works on the Android platform and has different software tools, languages, and frameworks. First, we need a device that can run the Android operating system. This is the leading hardware requirement for launching Android applications. We need a Linux or Windows-based PC to launch Android Studio IDE for development. This is the leading tech stack for android app nowadays. Google provides developers with a considerable number of different tools that they can just use or modify for their tasks. The modern Android application uses the following mobile tech stack:
Integrated development environment (IDE):
There are some “sandboxes” for development applications in the technology stack for mobile app development. Such “sandbox” is called IDE.
Nowadays, in Android development, developers use Android Studio IDE. This is a modern IDE with different features and tools that can help your application come to its first launch.
There are three primary programming languages for developing Android applications — Java, Kotlin, and Dart.
Java is one of the most popular programming languages for Android apps. Java is in demand among developers due to the versatility of the language and ease of design.
Kotlin is the new language that is used for development in Android. This is fully interoperated with Java, which means you can use Kotlin and Java code in one project. Nowadays, Kotlin is the most preferred language for Android projects and will continue to grow in popularity in 2023.
Dart is used for the Flutter UI software development kit that Google created for cross-platform development. Flutter is used for developing different apps for Android, iOS, Linux, Windows, macOS, and Google Fuchsia platforms.
Android UI tools:
Android provides some ways to create UI for your applications:
Android pre-built tools
Android provides you with standard pre-built UI tools which you can use just to install the Android SDK package. This implies that you create UI using XML files, where you will declare how your application will look. SDK provides many UI classes like Button, TextView, and ConstraintLayout, which XML uses to describe application UI.
Android Jetpack Compose
Jetpack Compose is the new UI library made by Google, which uses the declarative method to build native UI. Unlike the pre-built way used XML, Jetpack Compose can be declared right in the code. To use Compose, you need to add dependencies, enable compose build feature, and describe the Kotlin compiler extension version in your build.gradle file just like described here. After that, you can use Jetpack Compose in your projects.
Android pre-built UI tools and Jetpack Compose can cooperate with the Material Design library to use modern designed UI components. Here you can read more about Material Design and how to integrate it into your project.
Given the trend, Android Jetpack Compose has become more popular than XML in native UI building, but standard methods are still popular too. The mobile technology stack in Android includes not only UI tools, of course, but an application also needs network, storage, and dependency injection technologies for more easy management of dependencies in project code. Read about such elements of the mobile app technology stack below.
Dependency injection technologies in Android apps:
Android app tech stack is vast. It includes many dependency injection technologies that can help you as a developer using your classes more efficiently, and you do not need to manage dependencies between classes and their “parents” or “children”. In terms of creating new class objects, this protects you from memory leaks that can use more system resources than they should. In general, dependency injection gives you the advantages of reusability of code, ease of refactoring, and ease of testing. There are some modern dependency injection libraries in the Android app development stack. Let’s take a look.
Dagger Hilt is one of the modern dependency injection libraries for Android applications. It is easier to learn for beginners. For example, you may hear about Dagger and Dagger 2 libraries. Maybe someone used it and knew how much boilerplate code you need to write into your project to provide dependencies. Hilt can help you with it. For example, if you want to use injection into your Activity or Fragment, you need to provide whatever you need with annotation @Provides and annotate Activity/Fragment with @AndroidEntryPoint annotation. After that, you can inject something with @Inject annotation. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Here is an example:
You create some class. For example, it will be an Object class:
Here you can see the Hilt module, which provides a StableElectricity object for your project. After that, you can use it in your code, for example, in Activity or Fragment. To provide a singleton object, you need to annotate provide-function with @Singleton.
That is how you can use provided object with Hilt. Here you can see the Hilt-Dagger annotations cheat sheet, which can help you with the most usable annotations. For more information, see the official documentation.
This is the youngest DI framework that can be used in Android development. Koin gives you simple tools and API to let you build, assemble Kotlin-related technologies into your application, and scale your business with ease. Here is an example of how to create modules, start Koin, and inject dependencies:
- Create module:
- Inject dependency:
That is all. Look’s like more simple than Hilt DI Framework! More information about Koin integration can see here. So, what must we use? If you want your application runtime performance to be better, you must use Dagger Hilt. Koin has a much smaller impact on our built time.
Network technologies in Android apps
Modern mobile applications need Internet access for many online features. For example, a user wants to buy something via your application, receive notifications, or upload some stuff. Android tech stack has different libraries that can help you to bring out your application to the Internet.
Ktor includes a multiplatform asynchronous HTTP client, which allows you to make requests and handle responses, and extend its functionality with plugins, such as authentication, JSON serialization, and so on. Ktor is written 100% with Kotlin. Ktor is very easy to configure and use. If you want to launch the network in your project fast, you must choose this network library. One of the main advantages of Ktor is that it is not wired to anything Android-specific and is completely Kotlin-powered. This means that in the future, if you are planning to extend your android app into a multiplatform app, then you won't need to scratch your head on what to do with making network calls. Ktor will handle it. More information about Ktor integration you can find here.
Retrofit 2 is a type-safe HTTP client for Android and Java. Retrofit used in a wide range of Android applications, that have access to the network. You can say that Retrofit 2 is an old tool, that can be deprecated in the near future, let’s use something new libraries for Android networking. Don’t invent a bicycle, Retrofit 2 is a very popular and powerful network library that is used and will be used for a long time. So, if you want a reliable network client in your native project, you should use Retrofit 2, or combine it with OkHttp network library. How to use this library, you can see here.
OkHttp is a compelling library that can be combined with many other libraries and work nicely. Here you can see a list of them. OkHttp has written on Java and is still a trendy network library in the Android tech stack, so you can use it confidently. Here is an example of how to make a synchronous network call with OkHttp:
Android local data storages: encrypted shared preferences and Room database
Let’s imagine that users don’t have an Internet connection. What will they do with your application? Nothing! What will users do with your application if they know it isn’t secured? Right, they just won’t download it and won’t use it. So what must we do with it? In the technology stack for mobile applications exists some local storage that can securely store user data like user settings. In Android, it calls Encrypted shared preferences.
Encrypted shared preferences
Encrypted shared preferences storage should be used if you want to store a manageable amount of data. To store a large amount of data, you should use a database, specifically Room. We’ll talk about it later. Android has two types of shared preferences:
- Shared preferences;
- Encrypted shared preferences.
What is the difference? It is clear from the name that shared preferences store data in the following form:
<?xml version=’1.0’ encoding=’utf-8’ standalone=’yes’ ?>
It’s not secure; you can easily see all data stored in shared preferences. For example, how it will look if you stored the same data in encrypted shared preferences:
<?xml version=’1.0’ encoding=’utf-8’ standalone=’yes’ ?>
Another matter. You can’t easily access the true name and value of this data field. It can be advantageous if your application is data-sensitivity. Note: the best experience in data-sensitivity applications is not storing sensitive information locally.
The Room database provides an abstraction layer over SQLite to allow fluent database access while harnessing the full power of SQLite.
The Room can be used with Kotlin coroutines, RxJava2/3, Guava, and Paging 3 library. The Room is essential if you want that your application can work in offline mode or to reduce network calls using data locally cached in the database. The main advantage of the Room database is that more easily to use and configure than the SQLite database. To use RoomDB you should do the following:
- create entity data class;
- define data access object (DAO) for manipulating data in the database;
- define the database and describe DAO for it.
The usage-ready RoomDB is next:
- retrieve database object -> val db = Room.databaseBuilder(applicationContext, YourDatabaseClassName::class.java, “Database name”);
- retreive database DAO -> val userDao = db.userDao();
- get all users from the database -> val userList = userDao.getAllUsers().
Looks very easy. So, what with SQLite creation, configuration, and usage? Full list of SQLite configuration tutorials you can find here, but to save your mental health, I recommend you to use RoomDB.
What do Axon software developers recommend? Be careful with new libraries. Take your time using them in your large projects. If you want to use some new android stack in mobile application development, integrate it gradually in a test environment. For example, do not simultaneously rewrite all application screens to Android Jetpack Compose. Take one screen and do it in the test environment. It will be safer for project integrity.
Choose your best-fit mobile technology stack, and good luck!