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Java vs Kotlin: What is Better For Android App Development?

Java vs Kotlin

Kotlin has emerged as a sterral new programming language for Android app development as Google has approved Kotlin as the second official Android language at I/O conference. Kotlin community is flourishing, which means that now Java isn’t your only resort even though many android apps are written in Java. JetBrains have introduced this compelling programming language Kotlin that runs and is compatible on Java Virtual Machine.

In this article, we will go a little deep into why you being an Android app developer need to make a switch from Java to Kotlin and how certain features of Kotlin as a programming language can power-charge your Android app development. In the end you will realize the benefits of moving to Kotlin and decide what could be a better choice for you.

About Kotlin:

Kotlin is a static general-purpose programming language designed for JVM and JavaScript. Built to improve coding efficiency and development productivity, Kotlin contains many features that promote lucidity, interoperability and versatility.

So far Kotlin has achieved glory and fame due to its distinctive ability to enhance coding experience and eliminate certain drawbacks that Java offers to developers. The purpose for creating Kotlin was to increase productivity of android app developers in a practical and effective manner.

Some of its features are:

  • Incorporates both Object oriented and functional programming
  • Support for high-order functions and types
  • Enables developers to incorporate both OO and FP forms
  • Powers mixed-language operations
  • Full compatibility with Java and Objective C
  • Much improved syntax and concise abstractions
  • Supports usability with Android, web and server development

The chief purpose of Kotlin is to enable Android developers to work on mixed-language projects using its compatibility with Java and Objective C so that developers can relish broader learning curve.

The Emergence of Kotlin/Native

To allow developers to leverage universal language across all platforms, JetBrains has released Kotlin/Native that enables inter-platform coding. Since Kotlin/Native runs on LLMV compiler infrastructure, developers can easily write platform-specific components and reuse them on any platform it supports. It gives access to Objective-C API on iOS platform so that developers can also write iOS apps in Kotlin.

Kotlin/Native is not completely ready as the development of compiler, library and runtime is still a work in progress. When fully mature, Kotlin will have consistent interoperability of code and build common libraries.

Prime advantages of Kotlin over Java

Although developers are quite accustomed to Java, it also suffers many critical drawbacks. Kotlin seems to surpass them all with its significant benefits such as:

The comfort of Succinct Code:

Unlike Java where developers are compelled to write bigger forms, Kotlin proves to be succinct for the same code results. By enabling Android developers to avoid redundant lines and syntax while coding the app, Kotlin saves them from meeting complications or entering the room of errors.

With Kotlin’s concise nature:

  • Same functions can be written in less code
  • Occurrences of bugs are greatly brought down
  • The code lines remain quite uncompromised when it comes to clarity and cleanliness
  • Coders save almost half the efforts put in composing Java code lines
  • You can observe much more brevity, more power and productivity as a developer
  • The amount of boilerplate code is significantly reduced
  • Coding experience in is much more enjoyable for Kotlin developers

Having succinct code becomes especially important when Android app specialists have to handle much larger and demanding projects than simple Android apps.

On the other hand, Java code snippets are relatively long-winded even for the same output or computing function. This results in consumption of more time and strenuous job for Android developers to craft a single function for the app.

Interoperability and Versatility:

This is one of the surprising quality of Kotlin that fascinate any Java developer. In Kotlin, modules can be simply written in a way that immaculately fits into existing Java code. All that is required is emitting Bytecode so that Kotlin compiler can have the two languages work harmoniously in the same development project.

This is termed as interoperability that allows you to try Kotlin in a small portion of your existing project. Kotlin and Java classes co-exist without having developers convert entire coding in Kotlin.

Also if you wish to continue with Kotlin, migrate the completed Java code to Kotlin or alternatively leave the Java code in its original form and build new features and class with Kotlin. The interoperability is so seamless users will not have any clue about parts that are written either in Java or Kotlin.

Android apps developers can even use Java libraries in Kotlin development making the language a most versatile option for building Android apps.

Easy Learning Curve:

Before learning any new language updates, developers often dread how much time and energy it may consume before they are thorough with it. Kotlin does not disappoint those who want to learn coding fast since you just spend a few good hours reading the language references to be able to use it. This is because:

  • Kotlin acts as a Java enhancement enabling developers to use their polished Java skills in Android projects
  • Kotlin has lean, lucid and intuitive syntax offering easy learning curve to Java developers
  • Kotlin and Java classes can exist and work in the same project
  • It is Intelligible and so easy-to-read that even an unforeseen code can be interpreted quickly

Programmers find Kotlin flexible as they do not need to convert the existing project into Kotlin or work afresh on a new project with Kotlin.

Android Studio Support:

JetBrains who developed Kotlin is also behind IntelliJ, which is responsible for the existence of Android Studio – which means developers will have sufficient support from Android Studio. All you need to do is install Kotlin plugin and Kotlin will be configured in your current project in a few straightforward steps.

Kotlin users can easily understand and run its code once once the plugin is installed. Some of the development areas where Android studio offers support are:

  • Auto-completion
  • Debugging
  • Unit testing
  • Code navigation
  • Refactoring

You can even convert your existing Java source file into Kotlin code with Android support at lightning pace.

Ensured Safety

The main cause of Android development errors NullPointException is eliminated in Kotlin since Kotlin system comes with in-built safety measure. Usually, null represents the absence of value, but it can cause the app to go dysfunctional. Kotlin has inherent null protection which saves developers extra effort to write code to address the problem.

No problem of raw types

Usually, raw types were used too often to help ensure backwards compatibility. However, raw types also caused the error of CastClassException during execution but it did not occur in compiling stage. Kotlin resolved the issue by forbidding raw types and improved coding efficiency.

Checked Exceptions are purged

In Java programming, checked exception feature is unnecessary and annoys developers with empty catch blocks. It misinforms developers to identify a non-existent exception in coding. Again, Kotlin eliminated them completely to reduce code density and increase type safety and productivity.

Does adoption of Kotlin mean a farewell to Java?

To answer this, let’s first mention the enormous brands that have converted to Kotlin. Some of them are:

  • Pinterest
  • Netflix
  • Amazon
  • Uber
  • Trello

Such adoption of great scale means Kotlin is definitely considered as a superior choice in programming language for Android apps development.

Still, Java is a highly reputed programming language for many years and offers a bounty of open-source tools and libraries to assist and support developers.

Kotlin’s Unfavourable Cons:

No programming language is impeccable. Though Kotlin is growing more stable and popular, there are certain cons about Kotlin:

The issue of Runtime Size

Due to Standard library and runtime of Kotlin, your .apk size will go up by extra 800KB. This may become a problem for applications having large size since users don’t download large-sized apps.

Limited help of community

Android studio does support Kotlin users, but Google is still not the official supporter of Kotlin. Moreover, since the language is still new and emerging, the community is quite smaller compared to beloved Java. Kotline may not offer the same amount of tutorials, documentation, blogs and community support. This might be a heavy disadvantage for Kotlin starters.

Conclusion

Kotlin has certainly taken the world of Android app development by storm mainly due to its innovative coding benefits. As a JVM-compatible language, Kotlin is undoubtedly beneficial to developers and better than Java when it comes to speed, efficiency and clarity of Java coding. But the decision of whether or not to switch entirely to Kotlin depends on the project requirements and suitability of developers.