Kotlin vs. Java: Which is the Better Option for Android App Development?

Marina Astapchik
IT Trends Research Specialist
March 9, 2020

In the near future, Kotlin could become the new standard for Android development, paving the way for growing popularity among Android app developers and the global community of software providers. With the support of JetBrains and Google, Kotlin was declared the official Android development language for Android studio in May 2019

Despite this almost unconditional love of a new multi-platform dream, Java, like C ++, remains one of the most popular coding ambassadors. The main question is: can it seriously penetrate the developer community, even outside of Android?

In the context of this question, let’s plunge into the world of comparison, statistics and facts about Kotlin and Java. This will help us to make some predictions about their destination and future fate. 

Introduction to Kotlin

First introduced by JetBrains in 2011 as an object-oriented statically typed multi-platform language for JVM and JavaScript, Kotlin is supported by Google and is the second official development language for Android along with Java. 

It is no coincidence that the meaning of “Kotlin” comes from the island of Kotlin near St.Petersburg, just as “Java” was named after the Indonesian island of Java. According to a JetBrain 2019 study, developers use Kotlin for Android, JVM, Native, and JavaScript. Among the apps that have already been written in Kotlin are Pinterest, Trello, and CarLens.

Features of Kotlin:

Concise: drastically reduces the amount of boilerplate code or the extra code written in other languages.

Safe: avoids annoying and irritating error classes, such as null pointer exceptions, because every variable in Kotlin is not zero by default.

Interoperable: uses existing libraries for Android, JVM, and browser. 

Tool-friendly: chooses any Java IDE or can be run from the command line. 

Why Kotlin?

The code written in Kotlin often means much less code for input, testing, and maintenance.

It’s easy to switch from Java to Kotlin, and it is considered much safer than Java.

You can use Kotlin both for development for Android, and for the backend server.

Multi-platform project: Kotlin handles all the components of a modern application with support for JVM, Android, JavaScript, iOS, Linux, Windows, Mac and even embedded systems such as STM32.

Source: Jetbrains

As you can see above, comparing Java and Kotlin applications for Android for 2018-2019 shows the fact that almost all Android applications are now created using Kotlin.

Introduction to Java

Java was developed by Green Team (James Gosling, Mike Sheridan, Patrick Naughton) in 1995 as an object-oriented multi-platform and free access programming language similar to C ++ with advanced and simplified features. Java became one of the most popular and widely spread programming languages because it’s easy to learn, use, compile and debug.   

Features of Java:

Flexible: allows you to run the same program on different computer systems using a platform-independent programming language.

Object-oriented: makes programs well organized with easy maintenance and modernization of legacy code, where objects can be reused in other programs.

Multithreading: it can execute more than 2 threads at a time, which is extremely important for game development.

Pervasive: Java provides a large ecosystem of well-tested libraries and frameworks for any use case.

Why Java?

Largely due to the large community of developers, Java has survived since 1995 and is one of the most preferred programming languages ​​of our time.

It’s simple to learn and easy to use. 

The functions of automatic garbage collection, exception handling and type checking make it a very robust language.

Java is a language with a fairly detailed syntax that can dynamically link new Java class libraries, Java objects, and Java methods.

Kotlin or Java?

The author of the article believes that both go hand in hand for Android development and unit to expand the capabilities of programmers. In situations where you need to transfer software projects or change the offshore development team to full-time programmers, Kotlin is the ideal solution. Kotlin is 100% interoperable, and Kotlin developers can use all Java libraries to seamlessly switch a project from one language to another.

At the same time, if you need a more compact and lighter product with a faster apps experience, choosing Java will be better. Moreover, when it comes to complex and long-term projects, Java development is simplified thanks to the accelerated build with Gradle.

Summary

The features and facts discussed above simply illustrate the fierce competition between Kotlin and Java developers and the general tendency to create more flexible and easy-to-manage programming languages ​​for developing applications. We at Elinext have extensive experience in Java application development and see the obvious advantages of this language, but the increased interest in developing Kotlin applications is an occasion for us to take on new tasks and expand the range of our services with new case studies.

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