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Java just celebrated its 25th anniversary at the beginning of 2021 and it's still going strong. According to Stack Overflow, it's still one of the most-used programming languages. Let's take a look at some of the cool ways you can build (and earn a living) with Java.

1. Build mobile applications

Android, which is closely modeled on Java, is dominant when it comes to mobile phones. Currently, Android has with approximately 85% of the global market share for mobile devices. If you're interested in developing mobile apps, just about every top application has an Android version, whether that's productivity apps like Asana, payment apps like Venmo, or travel apps like Airbnb. There's also the world of gaming, ranging from adventure video games to implementations of popular board games. Interested in exploring augmented reality? Pokemon Go, a mobile game which uses augmented reality, was partly built with Java. And some popular games like Minecraft don't just have Android versions—the original Minecraft was actually built with Java.

2. Work with big data

Want to work with big data? Java should be part of your skill set. Java is fast and reliable, which makes it a great choice when you're working with data. Apache Hadoop, which is designed for processing large data sets, is built in Java. Apache Kafka, which was developed at LinkedIn for working with massive amounts of real-time data, is written in Java and Scala. Companies like Paypal, the New York Times, and Pinterest all use Kafka. We also use Kafka at New Relic to ingest large amounts of data, allowing users to observe errors and anomalies throughout their applications.

Elasticsearch, a powerful search engine for ingesting and analyzing data, is also written in Java. Companies like Uber, Slack, and Shopify all use Elasticsearch.

3. Work in the cloud

Java applications are often referred to as WORA (write once, run anywhere), which means the language is perfect for decentralized, cloud-based applications. When it comes to providing anything as a service, whether that's software, infrastructure, or a platform, Java really is everywhere. Whether that's Netflix, Amazon, or Twitter, Java often powers part or all of the backend stack. And because Java is such a powerful tool for working with big data, it often powers data collection and sharing in cloud-based applications.

4. Develop artificial intelligence

Want to work on cutting-edge technologies like the software for self-driving cars? If so, it's time to explore machine learning, which is already being used for everything from Netflix (for predicting what you'll watch next) to Alexa and Siri (for voice recognition). The potential applications for machine learning are vast, ranging from curing diseases to solving world hunger.

Java is a powerhouse when it comes to machine learning libraries like Deep Learning for Java (DL4J) and Apache Spark's MLib, which can be used with Java as well as other languages such as Python and R. While many consider Python to be the top language for machine learning, Java's stability and speed make it an excellent alternative for incorporating artificial intelligence.

spaceship5. Explore outer space

While we're at it, here's a far out use for Java: outer space. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) uses Java for a number of interesting applications. World Wind is a software development kit (SDK) that lets you zoom in from outer space and examine any location on earth. The WorldWind API has over 100 code examples that showcase how you can use this SDK.

Java has also been a reliable mainstay for space exploration for more than twenty years. All the way back in 2004, Java was used to control the Maestro Mars Rover Controller. Meanwhile, JMARS and JMARS for Moon are GIS (geospatial information systems) that NASA still uses for data analysis.

6. Get involved with open source

Are you looking to get involved in the open source community, learn more about Java, or work on Java open source projects? 50 Top Java Projects on GitHub showcases top open source projects for Java. Top open source projects include the Spring, a framework for building web applications, Elasticsearch, and RxJava, a library for using observables to work with async events. And check out New Relic's open source Java projects, too.

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