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Java vs Kotlin: What to Consider for Your Android App

Sitaram Sharma By Sitaram Sharma | July 22, 2019
Java vs Kotlin

Android holds 78% of mobile market share. Because of this, various startups and established brands prefer Android over iOS for making a mobile app presence. They consider that this is the end of the debate and the further process will be smooth as silk.

Alas, it is not so.

While you would have decided the right platform to target, you further need to pick the right language for Android application development – Java vs Kotlin. You would be required to take this decision to choose the right tech stack and develop an effective application.

Considering the urge to know how to determine which programming language is right for Android app development needs, let’s talk about the comparison of the two in this article.

But before we jump into the comparison to determine which language is used to create Android apps, let’s have a look back at the basics of both Java and Kotlin.
So, let’s start with all you need to know about Java – its advantages and disadvantages.

A Brief Introduction to Java Programming Language

Introduced by Sun Microsystems in 1995, Java is an object-oriented, multi-paradigm, and statistically-typed programming language. It works with WORA (Write Once, Run Anywhere)mechanism and is used for developing different types of software and applications such as websites, embedded systems, Android applications, and web apps.

However, when talking solely about Android application development, the programming language holds a momentous position in the marketplace. It is not just considered for developing applications, but even various Android development software and tools are designed using this language. And the reasons behind this is the set of opportunities it offers – about which we will talk in the next section of this article.

Benefits of Preferring Java for Android App Development

Advantages of Considering Java for Android App Development

Open-Source

Java is an open-source environment, basically because of Google’s adoption of JVM (Java Virtual Machine) for Android.

Flexibility

The answer to the question, “Is Java necessary for Android development” is that the code written in this language can easily run on a browser as well as a virtual machine. Because of this, it is flexible and handy to reuse your code and update an app.

Lighter Apps

Java applications are proven to be compact due to less complex computation involved in the development process. This act as another reason why developers prefer using Java for Android app development.

Ease to Handling Large Projects

Java comes with an accelerated assembly within Gradle, that simplifies the process to execute and manage larger app projects.

Higher Community Support

Java is a complete development ecosystem and is used for Android mobile app development for the past 10 years. Because of this, it has a wider community support.

While these are the advantages of considering Java for Android app development, the language also holds some drawbacks. So, let’s have a look at them before coming to any conclusion regarding what is apt for your Android development needs – Java or Kotlin.

Limitations of Developing an Android App Using Java

Disadvantages of going with Java for App Development

Higher Memory Usage

As compared to other programming languages, Android demands higher memory space to execute and run code effectively.

Extensive Coding

In the case of Java-based app development, you have to write more codes to perform any task. This not solely makes development a lengthy and cumbersome process, but also increase the risk of bugs and errors.

Limitations with API design integration

Being an ancient programming language, Java has certain limitations, which act as a barrier during Android API design integration.
Now as we have covered the advantages and disadvantages of choosing Java for Android application development, let’s turn towards Kotlin to get a better understanding of what to choose: Java vs Kotlin.

A Lookback at Kotlin Android App Development

Designed by JetBrains, Kotlin is a statistically typed programming language that runs on JVM (Java Virtual Machine). It was introduced as official Android development language in Google I/O 2017 and is supported by all the major Java IDEs such as Android Studio, IntelliJ IDEA, NetBeans, and Eclipse. 

Though a newbie, it has landed among the top programming languages that developers’ prefer for creating mobility solutions. And the reason behind is that it offers a complete set of benefits and opportunities because it holds the best features of both Object-oriented and Functional programming paradigms.
So, taking this thought forward, let’s dive into the Android market and see what are the pros and cons of Kotlin.

Advantages of Kotlin-based Android App Development

Benefits of Preferring Kotlin for Developing Android Apps

Simplicity and Interactive

Kotlin is a modern and Android-focused programming language. Because of this, it eases the process to build an Android app, offers a wider range of opportunities in terms of interactivity – something that gives a clear idea of whether to pick Kotlin or Java for developing apps based on Android.

Concise and Secure

Kotlin provides developers with an opportunity to cut down the line of codes by about 40%. Meaning, an application that was designed using Java with 12,371 lines can be written from scratch with only 8,564 code lines.
This not only reduces the mobile app development timeline, but also help developers to test and maintain their application more effectively and swiftly. And hence, give a clear indication that the winner of Java vs Kotlin battle is the latter one.

Mature Development Environment

Though created back in 2011, Kotlin was officially released in 2016 after going through a complete journey of Alpha and Beta tests. Besides, the language was designed using the best features of other programming languages and support of high-end IDEs – something that makes it more mature than Java development ecosystem. And eventually, make it easier to understand why one should use Kotlin over Java for Android development.

Multi-Platform Approach

Another reason why Kotlin is the future of Android app development is that its scope is not confined to Android development. It also offers support for JavaScript, making it easier for developers to move their front-end development to Kotlin.

BONUS READ: A Must-Have Guide on JavaScript Frameworks for Frontend Development

Besides, it also enable mobility experts to write Gradle files that support that empower them to build iOS applications.

Interoperability with Java

Above all, Kotlin is interoperable with Java. This implies you can easily employ Java codes into Kotlin development environment – you need not start from scratch. This not solely cut down the development efforts, but also lower down app development cost.

While this is all about what’s new in Kotlin, let’s take a closer look of Android app market and see what makes Kotlin better than Java.

What Kotlin Fixed in Java

What challenges of Java have Kotlin solved

Code Complexity

The foremost challenge that Kotlin solved is code complexity. It simplified methods and processes required for Android development as well as reduced the code length. This, as a whole, helped mobile application experts in writing complex codes with ease, efficiency and higher security features – something because of which why these famous apps migrated from Java to Kotlin.

Null Safety

Another reason why Android developers are switching from Java to Kotlin is that the former suffer from null pointer execution (NPE). This eventually result in higher chances of app crash – making it tough for developers to fix all the NPEs and ensure that their code is right and effective.

But, with the introduction of Kotlin, this became easier since the language introduced null safety as a default part of its type system. This enhanced the chances to catch NPEs at the time of compilation, which further lower down the chances of app crash during runtime. 

No More Raw Types

Since Kotlin is interoperable with Java, it is possible to call Java code from Kotlin and vice-versa. This eliminated the risk of raw types.

Use-site Variance

In Java, ‘wildcard types’ are used to make generic types to handle the situations when a particular type is used (also referred as use-site variance). Now, since Kotlin does not rely upon wildcards, this problem is also resolved – eventually resulting in migration of Java application to Kotlin.

Wrapping Up

As we have seen in this article, Kotlin has not only solved Java-related challenges, but has also brought new ways to develop advanced Android mobility solutions. Because of this, preferring Kotlin for your Android mobile application development needs is an optimal solution.
But, in case you still can’t make up your mind what is best for your app development needs – Java vs Kotlin, contact our Android app experts. Our developers are skilled and experienced in designing Android applications and can provide you with innovative business-centric solutions. So, discuss with our experts today!

Frequently Asked Questions about Java vs Kotlin Comparison

Which is better for Android Development – Java or Kotlin?

If you ask me, I would recommend Kotlin over Java. Kotlin is a modern programming language with scope of integrating the latest technologies and techniques as well as mitigate the challenges associated with Java.

Is Kotlin replacing Java?

Not currently, but Kotlin would replace Java in the future. Kotlin is gradually becoming the official Android app development language and various popular brands have started switching from Java to Kotlin, which clearly indicates that the popularity of Kotlin will someday overrule the influence of Java.

Is Kotlin really better than Java?

Yes, it is. Kotlin offers simple, secure and effective mobility solutions over Java. And a clear evidence of this is that various brands have started switching from Java to Kotlin.

Which is easier – Kotlin or Java?

Kotlin is easier than Java in terms of learning because it is influenced by various programming languages including Go, C#, Scala, JavaScript, Gosu, Java, and Groovy.

Should I learn Java before Kotlin?

Ofcourse, you should. Java is the former programming language used for developing Android apps. Most of the basic concepts, tools, and apps are created using Java. Because of this, it is necessary to know Java for Android development.

What makes Kotlin better than Java?

Kotlin is a better choice over Java because it helps to mitigate the challenges associated with the latter, including:-
1. Code Complexity
2. Null Safety
3. No More Raw Types
4. Use-site Variance

Can I learn Kotlin without learning Java?

Though it is possible to start directly with Kotlin, I would recommend learning Java before Kotlin. This is because learning Java will help you to get a clear and basic understanding of Android app development world and get better insights of what new opportunities have entered into the development environment with the introduction of Kotlin.

Is it easy to learn Kotlin?

Kotlin programming language is influenced by Java, C#, Scala, JavaScript, Gosu, and Groovy. So, if you know any of these languages, learning Kotlin will be easier for you.

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Sitaram Sharma
Sitaram Sharma

Co-Founder and VP Mobile Architect of Appventurez. A software professional who is highly experienced in Android, Flutter, React Native. He is a passionate developer with excellent programming skill who believes in bridging the technology gap and making the life of a large number of people much easier through his wide knowledge and experience.

⚡️ by Appventurez

One Reply to “Java vs Kotlin: What to Consider for Your Android App”

  1. (5/5)

    The kotlin vs java debate is a new, with each language having their own merits but what exactly makes them stand apart? Get interesting and informational post here!

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