There are numerous programming languages out there. Trying to choose one or more to build a mobile app can be very hectic, especially if you’re not sure which language will suit your needs the best. This blog was created with the intention of discussing the Rust programming language as an uncommon yet promising solution for building high-performance mobile apps. Keep reading to find out what Rust has to offer. Check out the article on Rust web development, if you’re also interested in testing Rust powers for a variety of projects, including web applications.
What’s new in the current mobile development market
The mobile development market is experiencing a lot of changes these days. The rise of cross-platform technologies and frameworks has made it easy for developers to build apps on multiple platforms without having to learn each platform separately. This has led to the creation of more apps than ever before.
The numbers are staggering — according to Statista, there were over 255 billion app downloads in 2022 up by 10 percent compared to 2021. Another research by Statista reveals that the total number of active mobile users will reach 6 billion by 2028.
As the brightest example of next-gen technologies, the Rust language can bring mobile development to an even more advanced level than it is now. But let’s find out why this language is the least talked about in the mobile app development context.
Is Rust even suitable for mobile development?
Rust isn’t the most obvious choice for mobile development or for custom website development if compared to Swift for iOS or Kotlin for Android. But it’s definitely possible to make use of Rust in the mobile development domain. Android itself recognizes Rust as the language to build certain OS components. Thus, Rust Android apps can be the future, as many of Rust’s benefits help developers work in a much more productive and safe environment. To get an example of how to develop a Rust iOS app, you can read this detailed article prepared by the Mozilla team.
Rust can also be a good option for developing cross-platform mobile apps. For instance, it’s possible to write the application UI in Flutter and then via a foreign function interface (FFI) program or a wrapper (e.g. Rid) integrate Rust code for necessary application components, particularly those that need the highest performance and low latency.
Using Rust for mobile development isn’t an easy task at all. You’ll need skilled developers by your side who know what they’re doing, and what is Rust used for and don’t need constant support and supervision. Plus, consider Rust for your mobile app only in cases when you’re in need of extremely high speed and want to use your hardware powers to the utmost.
Examples of successful mobile apps written in Rust
Now, you’re definitely eager to find out about some real-life examples of mobile applications written in Rust. Here are some of those:
RustDesk. It’s a remote desktop application entirely written in Rust. This application allows you to control diverse devices at a distance by simply entering their ID in the application. RustDesk is available only for Android mobile devices.
1Password. It’s a secure password manager that partially uses Rust code in production. The application team managed to deploy Rust to practically every target platform. You can read an insightful interview with the company’s VP of engineering to learn more details on Rust implementation in 1Password.
Rust is still a work in progress when it comes to mobile development. But we’re sure that, eventually, this language will win the hearts of mobile developers as well. It’s only a matter of time. In the next section, we give you some tips on how to develop a mobile app in Rust if you’re among those risk-takers who are ready for this.
Things to consider to develop a mobile app in Rust
If you’re thinking about developing your first mobile app in the Rust programming language, there are several things to consider. The main thing is that it’s not going to be easy. There’s a reason why most developers choose Swift or Kotlin for their first app: they’re simpler and easier to learn. But if you want something more powerful and versatile, then Rust might just be the right choice.
Critical factors of mobile app development to keep in mind always boil down to the basics like the following:
The target audience for your Rust mobile app will dictate many things about your project, including the features, how it looks, and how easy it is to use. If you’re developing an app for personal use, then you can be as experimental as you want and add features that aren’t necessarily critical to the overall function of the app. However, if you’re creating a business-oriented or corporate application, then it will likely require more careful planning and consideration of what features are necessary to attract users and keep them engaged with your product or service.
The functionality of your mobile app will determine what type of operating system it runs on (Android or iOS), how many devices it can be installed on (mobile phones, tablets), and whether additional data needs to be stored locally or remotely, in the cloud environment. The functionality also determines whether you need to include web services, such as social media accounts, or messaging systems, such as email and text messaging.
Performance and time constraints
One of the critical and sought-after advantages of the Rust language is the possibility to build high-performance systems. On the other hand, development in Rust is also known to be significantly slower than in other languages, as the language is relatively new and developers have to develop some necessary tooling from scratch. This is especially true for mobile development as it’s not among common Rust use cases. So keep this in mind and choose Rust only if you’re ready to wait for your extremely high-performance mobile application to launch in the market.
The Rust language may not be the most widely used, but its development has been steadily progressing. Whether you decide to use Rust for your next mobile app or not depends on what you are looking for in a language, but this language is certainly worth some consideration.