Using Python for Mobile Development

Almost all aspects of software development can be found in the Python libraries. There are tools in some of the libraries that can be used to build native code for specific mobile platforms such as the iPad. You heard that right? There is a way to create native mobile applications.

In the mobile market where speed to market is critical to gaining and keeping market share, Python is a huge benefit because of its ease of use. It is not possible to run Python apps on both theAndroid and theiOS. A number of frameworks bridge the gap to allow Python apps to be run on mobile devices with native look and feel.

In this tutorial, we will:

  • The most popular frameworks for mobile development are in Python.
  • You can learn how to create an app for the iPad.
  • Understand the pros and cons of using a framework.

Let’s get started.

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Cross-Platform Mobile Frameworks for Python

Kivy and BeeWare are the two main choices when it comes to developing cross- platform mobile applications.

Kivy

Kivy promotes itself as an open source library for rapid development of cross- platform applications. It has a graphics engine that is built over the open source software, so it can handle the workload. It has a python-to-android project that allows you to port applications to the phone. It has a similar toolkit, but only for the current version of Python.

BeeWare

BeeWare is a set of tools that allow you to write applications in Python and cross-compile them for deployment on a number of operating systems, including macOS, Windows and Linux.

There is a tool called briefcase that allows you to create project boilerplates. The bridge interface for using Python to call Java and Objective-C is provided by Rubicon-Java.

BeeWare provides commercial support that includes training, consulting and technical support, and their main repository seems to be updated frequently.

Python Mobile Application with BeeWare

To try out the BeeWare toolkit, we need to create a basic mobile application that does something simple like selecting today’s cafeteria special from a pre-populated list.

We begin by creating a new environment.

$ python3 -m venv .env

The briefcase tool will help us create the project code.

$ pip3 install briefcase

The briefcase tool is used to create a new project.

$ briefcase new

Briefcase is an interactive way to help you create your project.

The project name is FoodTracker and it’s called Hello World.

You can run the project on completion if you wanted to see the native app. There is an empty window.

$ cd foodTracker $ briefcase dev

Since we want our app to run on an iPad, we need to use the following command.

$ briefcase create iOS

We need to install Apple’s application development tools in order to move forward.

We can replace the boilerplate with code that implements our daily special app once we have Xcode.

Keep my favourite meals, import random from toga.style import Pack from toga.style pack. You would put your application in the main box. The main window has a name matching the app.

The window elements are built using imperative-style code. The main box element was added to hold the child elements. A readonly text field was added to the button and another message box. A random recipe will be displayed when a user clicks on the button.

The main window is defined in the last 3 lines of the startup method.

Now we can build our project:

$ briefcase build iOS

To see what our application looks like on our desktop, we can use Xcode to open the project. We should tell it to use the following folder.

We will see what we see when we run the emulator.

Every time we change our code, we need to run the following commands.

briefcase build and run

Python Mobile Tooling vs Native Tooling

Now that we have seen some examples of Python being used to create and build mobile apps, a really important question arises.

Why don’t you use standard mobile languages like Java or Swift to write your applications?

We need to discuss the pros and cons of using Python.

The Kivi and Bee Ware frameworks can be used to leverage the power of Python. If you and your development team are familiar with Python, you can port your applications to mobile platforms.

The power of Python can be harnessed with the Kivi and Bee Ware frameworks. If you and your development team are familiar with Python, you can port your applications to mobile platforms. Cross-Platform support means that we write our application once and then use it on different platforms.

  • The development loop is longer due to the need to run extra tools when changing something in our code This could be improved in the future with tooling integrations.
  • Less supported features will always be promoted by Apple and Google. Users of non-native frameworks are limited by the most recent version implemented. You will need to be on top of the current issue list and the limitations of the current version in order to resolve any issues you are seeing.

native tooling will always be promoted first over alternatives. Users of non-native frameworks are limited by the most recent version implemented. You will need to be on top of the current issue list and the limitations of the current version in order to resolve any issues you are seeing. There will be differences between different platforms as not all features are supported. You could have a layout that displays differently in the two systems. To make the designs consistent, you may have to implement many solutions.

It requires more effort to use imperative code to describe user interface. It is easier to implement those workflows within the built-in editors of the two companies.

There are many advantages to using Python for a job like this, and there are plenty of examples that you can use.

If your organization is considering writing applications in Python and cross-compiling them into native platforms, you should consider the pros and cons carefully.

Next Steps

To get started with the frameworks, you need to create a free ActiveState platform account and download the build. You can test the frameworks in the build and the version of Python that’s in the post.

The easiest way to install the environment is to use the command line interface.

The State Tool can be installed on Linux and Mac.

sh <(curl -q https://platform.activestate.com/dl/cli/install.sh)

Run the following command to download the build and install it into a virtual environment.

state activate Pizza-Team/Mobile-Development

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