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Kotlin vs Swift: The Differences That Matter

Ashish Chauhan By Ashish Chauhan | November 21, 2019
Kotlin Vs Swift

There are around 2.6 million Android and 2.2 million iOS apps available in the app store. The never-ending demand for mobile applications is giving great opportunities to mobile app development companies. 

Due to this, mobile app developers are constantly trying their best to experiment more with the technologies to bring out the best for the users. To cut the chaos, both the promising programming languages, Kotlin and Swift have taken the app development industry by storm.

Ever since the entry of Swift in 2014, iOS mobile app developers have found an extremely valuable language in order to meet the evolving features and capabilities of the iOS ecosystem. Whereas on the other hand, Kotlin arrived in 2017 and established itself a better alternative of Java for Android development. This is the reason, even Google has declared Kotlin the first language for Android app development. 

These two languages- Kotlin vs Swift are seen and admired as the most advanced option for respective Android and iOS development. However, there are comparisons between them as well. 

Without further ado, let us understand how and why they are the best option for developing apps in their respective fields.

A Brief Introduction To Kotlin

In May 2017 at Google I/O, the tech giant made an announcement that it would now start supporting a new revolutionizing language, Kotlin for Android app development. 

The announcement and the language revolutionized the Android app development industry. Kotlin is a general-purpose programming language and is an alternative to old and slow Java language. Furthermore, due to the first-class support from Google for Kotlin on the Android platform, developers are moving towards adopting the language while many of the Java apps are being rewritten in Kotlin now. 

Being a young lad in the app development industry, Kotlin is showing great results within such a short span of time. Meanwhile, there are certain applications made from it that are proving how well Kotlin is performing.

A Must-Have Introduction to Swift

In 2014, Apple introduced a new programming language called Swift which was described as “Objective-C without the C”. 

Developed by Chris Lattner with an aim to curb issues and difficulties in Objective C, it is the most preferred and quite popular programming language for the iOS application, tv application, watchOS, and macOS applications. Still, if you have a question like should I learn Kotlin or Swift, the latter one is the object-oriented language, that functions, block-structured and is meant for general-purpose language.

top tech on stack overflow

The language is apt for writing codes that are compatible with phones, desktop server or any other device that executes the code. Furthermore, it is based and built on top of the modern programming approach while combining safety and design patterns. The combination allows the programmer to code easily and efficiently.

Few of the app examples which are based on Swift are-

A stiff comparison between Kotlin vs Swift:-

Reasons to choose Kotlin

Pros of choosing Kotlin for Android app development

Shifting from Java to Kotlin is one of the best decisions a mobile app development company can make. This is due to the following reasons –

  • Kotlin offers Brevity

One of the first and foremost android points in the category of Android Kotlin pros and cons is Brevity. Compared to Kotlin, Java is quite wordy and required a lot of coding things whereas brevity ensures lesser errors in code. 

Also, most of the developers prefer clean and concise code. Due to less code, it takes less time to write them along with less time to read them. This is what Kotlin is providing as Java still requires lots of code writing to get even the simplest things done.

  • Kotlin is open source

JetBrains declared Kotlin an open-source project since 2012. Thus, being an open-source language, developers can expect a high-quality mobile app development while getting considerable support from the Kotlin Slack Team.

  • Kotlin is a mature language with great IDE support

Kotlin was officially released in 2016 and was finally released in the market after several stages of alpha and beta improvements. 

It has proven features better than other programming languages with having world-class IDE support. These IDE plugins work quite smoothly in the case of Kotlin along with replicating a few of the most popular features of Java. 

  • Kotlin is a swift language for Android app Development

When it comes to what is the difference between Swift vs Kotlin, the former one is the language which is fast as it is integrated with Android Studio. A Kotlin mobile app development project can easily be set up to function in less than 10 minutes.  

Similar to Java, it can work through the IDE along with debugging without any flaw with several other things by mimicking what Java is capable of doing. 

  • Kotlin provides an easier way for Android app development

Being a simple language does not make it less powerful, the ultimate combination of simplicity and powerfulness, it notches ahead of Java. 

Furthermore, the libraries which are required to write Android apps with Kotlin are way smaller and does not even increase the method count much. 

  • Kotlin fans creativity

By using Kotlin for the Android app development project, developers can relate how it is more efficient while fanning creativity which is setting Kotlin performance benchmark.

Compared to Java, Kotlin is quite young and more advanced, thus, using a modern language open various different gates for thinking and innovation. While providing all this, it also makes developers more versatile along with adding value to their overall profile. 

  • Kotlin is said to be safer than Java

Kotlin is said to be a much safer option than Java. Due to the design of the language, Java leads to additional work and thus, more cost and time are being spent on the project. 

Also, Kotlin also provides null safety by eliminating any kind of null reference danger from the code as the system denies the compilation of code.

  • Kotlin is easy to learn

Compared to other languages, Kotlin is way easier to learn. The language is that easy that even the novice person or a stranger can also understand the code written. The ease keeps away errors as well. Moreover, it closely resembles things that a Java developer already understands.

kotlin graph
  • Kotlin is evolving

As another programming language for the Android developers has already reached their maturity, Kotlin is still in its infancy and is evolving continuously. 

Kotlin evolvement graph

Cons of Kotlin for Android app development

  • Kotlin is still not Java

Though Kotlin and Java are somewhat similar but by digging deeper at their core these are ultimately two different languages. 

No doubt, Kotlin is easy to learn but shifting quickly from Java to Kotlin is not that easy. 

  • Compilation speed issue

Kotlin is faster when performing incremental builds whereas Java still scores higher when it comes to clean builds.

  • Smaller developer community

As Kotlin is still evolving, it still has a smaller developer community support. The smaller developer community leads to limited resources for learning the language along with figuring out the answers to the question that might arise which will make the whole app development project difficult. 

  • Less number of experts

The language is still new to most of the developers, finding professionals having full proof knowledge about the language is hard and challenging. 

Reasons to choose Swift

Pros of choosing swift for iOS mobile app development project

  • Readability 

When it comes to a Comparison of Swift and Kotlin languages, readability is one of the first advantages of choosing Swift along with the clean syntax that makes it easier to read and write. 

Furthermore, it is very concise, thus as compared to the task allocated to Objective-C,  it requires less codes to perform the same task. Thus, it takes less time to build iOS applications with Swift than any other language. 

  • Maintenance

Swift performance benchmark showcases that it does not carry any dependencies, it is quite easier to maintain. Also, as compared to Objective-C, which requires developers to maintain two codes files for improving build time and efficiency of the code, Swift is, however, dropping two-file requirements. Furthermore, with Swift, mobile app developers can more time creating app logic while improving the quality of codes, comments, and features. 

  • Safer platform

Thanks to Swift’s syntax and language construction, it helps in excluding several types of mistakes which are possible when using Objective- C. Though, it does not fully prevent iOS mobile app developers from writing bad code, rather it makes them made fewer mistakes. 

In addition to this, with Swift, developers can compile and fix the errors while writing the code. Also, it works way faster and better when it comes to bug testing.

  • Less codes and less legacy

Another in the list of iOS Swift pros and cons is that it provides less error-prone codes due to its inline support for manipulating text strings and data. 

Also, when writing repetitive statements or causing string manipulation, it does not require more coding efforts. 

  • Dynamic libraries

These are the executable chunks of code than can be linked to an app. The feature allows Swift apps to link against newer versions of the Swift language. Also, dynamic libraries are directly uploaded to the memory while cutting down the initial size of the app and increasing app performance.

  • Open-source

It is an open-source since 2015, which makes the language usable across a variety of platforms and also for backend infrastructure.   

Being open-source, it becomes easy and quite convenient for Apple to collect feedback from the community in order to make improvements on a consistent basis.

Cons to look at when choosing Swift

  • It is still young

The language is still in its infancy as it was introduced in 2014 and is quite young as compared to Objective-C. Meanwhile, looking at the bigger picture, the language is limited to native libraries, tools and becomes unstable after every release. 

  • Limited support

Though the language is growing fast, but it is still smaller as compared to other open-source languages. 

Poor interoperability with third-party tools and IDE

Due to frequent updates, it becomes difficult to find out the right tools made developers to compare and complete certain tasks. However, the official  Apple IDE, XCode, lags in terms of tooling and support for Swift. This is the reason, iOS mobile app developers often report issues with syntax highlighting, autocomplete, refactoring tools, and compilers.

Lack of support for earlier iOS versions

Unfortunately, swift cannot be used for legacy projects that run on older versions of the operating system.

Lack of support for earlier iOS versions

Future of Swift

Despite being in its infancy while gathering controversy from developers, Swift also has a number of prominent success stories. Some of the companies that accepted the new language are Lyft, Pandora, Vimeo, Twitter, Fitbit, and Groupon. In addition to this, even Facebook and Uber have shown significant interest in Swift.

Though there are a lot of things to fix, meanwhile, Swift has become a more mature language with the latest update. Thus, Swift adoption will continue to grow, which will soon displace Objective-C as the leading first-class language for iOS mobile application development.

Future of Kotlin

Kotlin is ready to indulge in the greatness of a bright future in the Android app development ecosystem. Its lower cost of development and maintenance is a big plus for any business. It has a plethora of great language features and offers brevity that ensures higher quality with faster turn-around time.

Still, if you have any doubts, we are here to help you. Contact us today.

Ashish Chauhan
Ashish Chauhan

Co-Founder and VP Mobile Architect at Appventurez. An expert programmer who is passionate and loves to explore emerging mobile technologies. As a leader, he is a perfect match as he is always there for the team to help and guide them to learn and implement smartly and effectively.

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