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


Date & time Apr 25
Creator jasonbeckham

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The Kotlin mobile app development community is growing. Last year, Google acknowledged Kotlin by making it the second official language of Android app development. Since then, Kotlin has also been steadily building partnerships with Google Cloud Platform, the Spring Framework, and Gradle. Mobile application development in New York Android app developers finally have the pragmatic, modern, and intuitive language they’ve been waiting for.


Kotlin is a statically typed programming language for Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and JavaScript. Described as a general purpose language, Kotlin introduces functional features to support interoperability and intelligibility. The Kotlin project was born out of the aspiration for heightened productivity. The goal was to improve the coding experience in a way that was practical and effectual.


Kotlin is both an object-oriented (OO) and functional programming (FP) language. It’s compatible with OO and FP styles allowing developers to incorporate elements from each form. Kotlin offers support for higher-order functions, function types and lambdas, making it a great choice for functional programming.


A central focus for Kotlin is to enable mixed-language projects. Kotlin is entirely compatible with Java and Objective C, which makes learning the new language painless. Kotlin introduces improved syntax, as well as concise expressions and abstractions. Using Kotlin with Java eliminates the need for excessive boilerplate code, which is a huge win for Android developers.

Kotlin 2018: A Year In Review

After Google I/O 2017, Kotlin saw explosive growth for Android development. Since then, JetBrains hosted the very first KotlinConf and announced the beta release of Kotlin/Native.


Last year, JetBrains released the first preview of Kotlin/Native, and as we move into 2019, developers now have access to Kotlin/Native Beta. In the Kotlinverse, the adoption of cross-platform development has been slow-moving. Pusher’s State of Kotlinreveals that out of 3,000 respondents, only a quarter have used some kind of cross-platform support with most settling on Kotlin/Native. 


Kotlin/Native runs on the LLMV compiler infrastructure allowing developers to write platform-specific modules and compile them directly to native binaries. Kotlin/Native Beta also creates multiplatform capabilities covering all supported platforms and business logic is shareable between components as Android or iOS apps.


In 2018, Airbnb began transitioning away from React Native in favor of Kotlin. In fact, they’ve written 80 percent of their new code in Kotlin. So while the adoption of cross-platform Kotlin development hasn’t been explosive, major industry players are taking note of the many benefits Kotlin has to offer.



Java is a reputable programming language with vast open source tools and libraries to help developers. With that said, no language is without fault and even Java is subject to complications that can make a developers job tedious. If anything, Kotlin will introduce solutions to common programming headaches and improve the Java ecosystem as a whole.


In the last year, Kotlin has become a more stable and congruous development option for Android Studio. Some developers seem to believe that Kotlin will oust Java for Android development in the coming years. Other experts see Kotlin and Java existing in parallel without one outweighing the other.


For most, Kotlin’s strengths outweigh the language’s setbacks. There are definite limitations within Java that impede Android API design. Kotlin is inherently lightweight, clean and far less verbose, especially in terms of writing callbacks, data classes, and getters/setters. In other words, Kotlin was specifically designed to improve existing Java models by offering solutions to API design deficiencies.


Kotlin addresses a number of Java-induced weaknesses:


A lot of developers praise Kotlin for being concise. This is a quality Java is not known for; however, readability should always take priority over concision. Yes, the succinct nature of Kotlin uncomplicates a developer’s job and leaves less room for error, but Kotlin doesn’t practice concision for concision’s sake. Boilerplate code is a problem to read through and leads to more bugs and wasted time to try to identify them.

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