Can I Make Android Apps With Visual Basic?

By Allen Bethea

The increasing popularity of smartphones has created a large market for professional and hobbyist programmers to create small, smart and visually appealing apps. Hundreds of thousands of apps are already available for Google Android devices. Writing Android apps typically involves writing the code in the Java programming language using the Eclipse integrated developer environment or IDE. If you are an experienced Visual Basic programmer, however, there are other ways to write Android apps.

Visual Basic Overview

Microsoft's fortunes began in the 1970s with their Basic interpreter for the Altair kit computer. Microsoft has made continual improvements to its Basic in the decades since. Visual Basic combined the Microsoft Basic compiler with an IDE. A Visual Basic programmer could add graphical user interface or GUI components such as menus, check-boxes, dialog boxes, radio boxes and lists-boxes to his application with the click of a mouse. Visual Basic versions up to 6.0 compiled sources to native Intel x86 code. Visual Basic compiles code that works only with the .NET Common Language Runtime.

Xamarin for Visual Studio

The .NET language C# and the CLR are functionally similar to Java and the Java Virtual Machine. Visual Basic applications, however, will not run on the JVM or Google's Dalvik JVM work-alike. The software company Xamarin sells a tool for C# programmers that produces Android applications using the Microsoft-sanctioned .NET clone, Mono. In 2013, Xamarin also introduced a Visual Studio plugin that gives Visual Studio developers the ability to develop apps for iOS and Android devices. The plugin supports building, deploying, and debugging on simulators and mobile devices.


Basic4android is a commercial, Windows-based subset of the Visual Basic language that features an IDE, a graphical visual editor, built-in documentation, a step-by-step debugger and support for objects. Basic4android compiles your Basic source code to Dalvik-compatible, Virtual Machine bytecode. Basic4android also helps you create Android application package or APK files for simple installation on the user's Android device. Basic4android supports Android versions 1.6 and up.

Google Simple Language

Another Visual Basic-like for Android solution is the free, open source Simple Compiler and Runtime system from Google. Simple is not a full-featured, general purpose language such as Visual Basic or even Basic4android. The aim of the Simple is to produce a Android app tool that is easy to learn and easy to use. Unlike Basic4android that is Windows only, Simple works under Mac OS X and Linux operating systems.