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Java vs Kotlin: Which one to choose for Android App Development?

Sitaram Sharma By Sitaram Sharma | July 22, 2019
java vs kotlin

Android App Development can be an overwhelming task for freshers. Especially when it comes to choosing between the programming languages, there are many questions that can arise.

“What are the major android app development factors?”
“What are the different types of the programming language used for android apps?”
“What is the major difference between Java and Kotlin?”
“Can we develop the android app using Kotlin as good as Java?”

Unlike iOS programming languages (that includes limited platforms such as Swift), Android apps include a number of programming languages. These choices can be a bit confusing for the Android app developers but simultaneously it also makes it flexible to code.

So, for Android App Development, which programming language pops in your mind instantly? For more than 70% of the developers, it can be Java due to its maturity and is one of the oldest programming languages.

In addition to this, there are a number of apps on Google Play Store developed using Java programming language. However, with the addition of other platforms, there has been a paradigm shift in the development process.

These languages have come up as a challenge in the Android app development world that was once all about Java. There are a number of platforms that developers took interest in. you can learn all about them here:

Among many, one such programming language is Kotlin known as the first-class language for android development as per Google. Before moving towards Kotlin vs Java, you can also see how Kotlin affects other platforms.

Kotlin is rapidly growing and is considered as a major android app development language giving a tough competition to Java. To settle down Java Vs Kotlin, we dug deep into it and contacted some experts. 

Let us walk you through on what we understood about Kotlin and Java as per the developer’s perspective.

What is Java?

Java is an object-oriented programming language that is widely popular for Android application development. It is a reputable language that includes a number of open-source libraries and tools due to which it is considered as the King of Android development.

Here is a bit more detail about Java including its Pros, Cons, and where it is used.

pros and cons of java

If the developer wants to learn a new platform then also it is mandatory to have an understanding of Java. In addition to this, the Java platform has a development kit that is used for the whole Android development.

There are a few websites for android developers through which they can become pro. Some of them are:

What is Kotlin?

Kotlin is a modern language that enhances the quality of Java code and helps in the Android app development. It is a JVM-based (Java Virtual Machine) and open-source platform for developers to easily implement during app development. Due to its interoperation with Java and the compilation with JavaScript, it is easy for developers to switch from Java to Kotlin.

Here are the Android app development Kotlin pros and cons, along with its use cases of the Kotlin to give you a better understanding of it. In addition to this, you will get an understanding of what Kotlin is used for.

pros and cons of kotlin

Kotlin is made for JVM and Android that is a bit new in the programming world. As a result, there are not many resources available in the market for Kotlin. However, here are a few websites that offer Kotlin tutorials.

Java Vs Kotlin – Head-To-Head Comparison

Now that you are aware of what Java and Kotlin programming languages are all about. Let us give you a better understanding of the difference between Java and Kotlin in android.

FeaturesJavaKotlin
Code ConcisenessCan’t be labeledBetter than Java
Checked ExceptionsAvailableUnavailable
Data ClassesRequires boilerplate codeRequire only data keyword
CoroutinesUnavailableAvailable
Higher-Order FunctionsImplemented using CallablesPrebuilt feature
LambdasIntroduced in Java 8Prebuilt feature
Extension FunctionsUnavailableAvailable
Inline FunctionsUnavailableAvailable
Implicit Widening ConversionsAvailableUnavailable
Non-private FieldsAvailableUnavailable
Native Support for DelegationUnavailableAvailable
Primitive TypesVariables aren’t objectsVariables are objects
NullPointerExceptionsAvailableUnavailable
Static MembersAvailableUnavailable
Smart CastsUnavailableAvailable
Ternary OperatorsAvailableUnavailable
Support for ConstructorsNo secondary constructorsOne or more secondary constructors
Wildcard TypesAvailableUnavailable

#1 Market Situation

Market situation showcases the actual aspect of Kotlin vs Java in the Android programming world. Java is a reputed programming language in the Android App Development world as backed up by Tiobe.Index. Java has been in the market for almost 25 years where Kotlin is fairly new (approx. 9 years).

Java is already stable in the market and has a huge fan following. Whereas Kotlin is rapidly gaining popularity in the market backed up with Amazon, Netflix, and Basecamp. However, due to the maturity in the market, Java is more popular than Kotlin.

popularity of java vs kotlin

#2 Verbosity

Java developers are mainly frustrated due to its verbosity and consider it as the shortcoming of the programming language. On the other hand,  Kotlin mobile app development uses fewer lines of code that help reduce the code by 30-40%.

Kotlin offers a number of features that beat Java in android app development such as Coroutines that minimizes the error, Extensions for class functionality, and Null-safety to reduce any risks in the app.

This makes apps developed over Kotlin safe and robust with limited bugs. As a result, the total time of development is decreased and limits the output generation.

#3 Interoperability/Transaction

Ever wonders that if Kotlin is the extended version of Java then why to even look out for Java Vs Kotlin for android development? It is all because of interoperability.

Interoperability is the major factor of Kotlin that allows developers to change the Java code to Kotlin easily. The change in code from Java to Kotlin doesn’t change the operations of the apps or its features. It just decreases the total line of codes.

There might be a few features in which Java works better than Kotlin. In such a case, JVM bytecode is used to compile Java and Kotlin that will make it difficult for end-users to differentiate between them. 

#4 Adoption Costs

Kotlin can be used for free due to its open-source nature. If you want to grasp Kotlin in a  better way then start with the Java to Kotlin converter since Kotlin supports all the frameworks and libraries of Java even the one that doesn’t depend upon annotation processing.

In addition to this, Kotlin also integrates with Maven, Gradle, Kobalt, Ant, and other building tools with only Kotlin plugin. Even though Kotlin and Java are a bit similar, the maturity of Java makes it not equivalent to Kotlin. The learning curve of the languages that might take some time for developers to master Kotlin.

#5 Android Studio 3.0 Support

The demand for Android developers is not completed in the Java implementation. Even though Android Studio 3.0 and SE 10, the latest version of Java, support Java 7 and Java 8 (a few features). The latest version of Java has managed to overcome the basic issues.

Also, JetBrains IntelliJ IDEA is used to work on Android Studio that automatically makes it ideal for Kotlin. In addition to this, you can easily switch from Kotlin to java in android studio. 

#6 Performance & Compile Time

Due to the Bytecode Structure, the performance of the Kotlin-based app is equivalent to the Java one. However, the use of inline functions in the Kotlin code along with lambdas makes the app faster as compared to Java.

Java for Android development is better in terms of clean build and can compile the code faster than Kotlin. Kotlin shows identical features in an incremental compilation. This decreases the compilation time for the developers. 

#7 Community Support

Two decades in the programming background automatically gives Java a plus point. There are so many projects that are developed in Java. Also, Java has an impressive community. If we talk about just GitHub, there are more than 1,000,000 repository results on the query “Java”.

The android app development Java large community can be a leverage for the developers since there are a number of people that solve any query. This makes it enjoyable and easy for developers. However, Kotlin has a small community as compared to Java. The fact is that there are more resources that can help developers to polish their Kotlin skills but limited experts to guide them. 

#8 Security

Another major aspect of the Java Vs Kotlin is security. Kotlin-based applications are safe and secure due to limited app crashes due to the NullSafety feature. However, Kotlin uses a limited line of code that also decreases the line of code that is much easier to test. This results in fewer system failures and application crashes.

Programming android apps in Java include many lines of code and as a result, errors are bound to happen. This makes Kotlin a better platform for developers to write secure and robust code. The code has a lot of potential and allows developers to work explicitly. 

#9 Easy Learning Curve

If you have a basic or advanced knowledge of Java developers then it will be easy to grasp the concept of Kotlin. There is no need to be overhead while switching from Java to Kotlin. Whereas with Java, since it has been in the market for almost 25 years, there are a number of resources available that make it easy to grasp the concept. 

#10 Multithreading

The mobile app speed is decreased due to many threads (used for garbage collection and object allocation). However, there is a multi-threading feature in Kotlin that allows concurrent execution for CPU maximum utilization. These threads are lighter and are performed in a different manner such as implementing the Runnable interface, extending thread class, and Lambda expressions.

Whereas in Java, the multiple threads are implemented at the same time for small-processes. These threads don’t interrupt the users and work independently to enhance user experience. In addition to this, the threads save a lot of time while working on small processes at the same time. 

#11 Code Quality

Concision is one of the major advantages of Kotlin that decreases the line of code and increases functionalities. As a result, the limited code also decreases the bugs or eros in the code. Whereas it is a pain point for the Java developers that need a long code to allow transferring the data. This makes Kotlin better for safe and robust code as compared to Java and is an important aspect showcasing Java Vs Kotlin.

Why are Brands Switching to Kotlin?

Kotlin has gained a lot of popularity in the past few years making many apps switched from Java to Kotlin

brands switched from java to kotlin

However, switching from Java to Kotlin is not an easy decision as it is to say. There are a number of factors that android app developers need to consider such as:

  • Make sure that the team is comfortable with the switch and have a basic understanding of the platform. 
  • Switching from Java to Kotlin is easy as compared to the other platforms. Java to Kotlin decreases the complexities but this is not true with other platforms. 
  • Consider the Mobile Architecture and make sure that it is expandable to work on the language and adjust to the changes. The translation process might degrade the architect.

The fact is that Java is around the market for a longer period of time as compared to Kotlin. As a result, the information gaps between the platform are extremely large and that might be a matter of concern in some cases.

Android development with Kotlin might be growing at a rapid rate but Java is already a mature language. As a result, Kotlin will take some time to cultivate to that level and hence have issues. This might not be solved easily with Kotlin.

However, the future of Kotlin can include easy functionality and a lower workload. The popularity is also skyrocketing with time. This puts one question in mind “Is Kotlin replacing Java?”.

Kotlin is a revolutionary form of Java and it is likely to replace Java. Hence, it is essential for companies to consider the switch due to the competitive edge in the market. 

“Should we go for the Kotlin to Java switch?” or “when to use Kotlin instead of Java?”

There is no need to directly go for the switch but it is best to consider it slowly and be prepared for it. However, it is essential to consider the product architecture as well that can be damaged due to the switch.

Kotlin is the reality of android app development. Also, Kotlin is a great platform and less challenging to learn if the developers are familiar with Java. It has a huge potential to grow and a great future for robust and suitable apps. 

Conclusion

There is just so much about Kotlin and Java with no fixed result on which platform is better. There are projects in which Java is superior to Kotlin and vice versa. And hence, the superiority of the platform depends widely on the project details and requirements.

As a leading mobile app development company, we work on both the platforms due to:

  • Kotlin – It works with less code and high quality that increases the productivity of the app. The security of the app is well-maintained and works well with small projects.
  • Java – If you are tight on budget then Java is a great platform to go for. It works well with complex and larger projects.

Java vs Kotlin has its own sets of pros and cons. Hence, it is difficult to choose one on the long-term strategic aspect. It can be a tedious task for anyone. It is best to take experts’ advice on this decision to choose the ideal platform.

We have a team of expert Java and Kotlin developers that have years of experience that can help you out with the app development. For any query, feel free to contact us

FAQ

Q- #1 Which is better: Java Vs Kotlin?

Choosing between one depends upon the project requirements and efficiency. Hence, it is vital for business owners to be very precise, as Java is best for complex architecture whereas Kotlin is best in terms of limited lines of code.

Q- #2 What is the salary of Java and Kotlin developers?

As per PayScale, the Java developers earn around #50K-100K per year whereas Kotlin is around $77K per year. The hourly wage of a Java developer is $32-45 and Kotlin developer is $45.

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: Which one to choose for Android App Development?”

  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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