What to choose Kotlin v/s JAVA for Android application development?

Android Kotlin Java
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NOTE: All the views presented in this document are the author’s view over this topic. So kindly consider this fact before taking any business decision solely on the basis of this document.


Objective

To find the best suitable language for Android Application Development by comparing the existing languages used for Android application development.


Audience

This document will be helpful for new developers who want to dive into Android application development. Also, for business stakeholders who want to get an idea of which programming language to choose for Android application development.


Introduction

Android is a mobile operating system based on a modified version of Linux kernel and other open source software, designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets . It is free and open source software.

Android application development is the process of creating applications that can run on the Android operating system. Android applications can be developed using various languages such as Java, Kotlin, C++, C#, Python and so on. These different languages that can be used for Android app development have their own pros and cons which makes one more suitable than the other for the Android app development. Among all these languages the two most sought after languages for Android application development are Java and Kotlin.


History

Android and Java have a long history. Android was developed during the time when Java was the most popular language among developers. Since Android platform is designed keeping in mind that all the apps in Android should be able to run in a large number of mobile devices. So all these features point towards Java as the most favorable language for Android application development. So Android apps are starting to be developed in Java due to its platform independent feature and popularity.


Java

Java is a general purpose, statically typed, object oriented language developed by James Gosling at Sun Microsystems in 1995. Java, initially named Oak and was originally developed for cable television.

Advantages :

  • Java is platform independent. JVM and Bytecode makes Java programs support Write Once Run Anywhere (WORA) functionality.

  • Java has all the Object Oriented functionality. So Java programs are more manageable.

  • Java provides security. Each Java application has its own virtual machine to run so no process can interfere with other processes.

  • Java provides multithreading . Threads can be used to break the application into a number of lightweight processes which can be executed concurrently.

Disadvantages :

  • Boilerplate code makes Java programs lengthy.

  • More lines of code means more errors.

  • NullPointerException is a big issue in Java that leads to a large number of app crashes.

  • Difficult to learn. It is difficult for the beginners to grasp Java concepts as compared to other languages.

So due to the following drawbacks Android now only has partial support for Java 8 features instead of having Java 12 around.


Kotlin

Kotlin is a general purpose , open source , statically typed language developed by JetBrains. Kotlin has both object oriented and functional programming features in it. So one can choose from one of them or can use a mix of both.

Advantages :

  • Kotlin is concise. Kotlin uses fewer lines of code to represent an idea as compared to Java.

  • Kotlin has a null safety feature in it. The biggest issue with Java was NullPointerException. More than 70% of Android apps crashed due to this issue. But in Kotlin the compiler by default does not allow any type to have a value of null at compile time.

  • Kotlin has many modern features added to it. Since Kotlin is a new language it incorporates many new features in it like the null safety, lambda functions etc.

  • Interoperability with Java. Kotlin is 100% interoperable with Java programming language so your existing Java codebase can easily interact with Kotlin.

  • Less lines of code means less errors.

  • Fast application development due to concise code.

Disadvantages :

  • In some cases it has slower compilation speed.

  • It is new so has a limited amount of resources available.


TIOBE index of Java and Kotlin

TIOBE programming community index is a measure of popularity of programming languages, created and maintained by the TIOBE Company based in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. The index is calculated from the number of search engine results for queries containing the name of the language.The index covers searches in Google, Google Blogs, MSN, Yahoo!, Baidu, Wikipedia and YouTube.The index is updated once a month.
So according to the TIOBE index Java has captured the second spot whereas Kotlin is at 40th position.

TIOBE index reference: https://www.tiobe.com/tiobe-index/

NOTE: TIOBE index is used here to get an idea of how many times topics related to a particular language are queried by people. The more queries about a particular language means the more the language is being used and the more popular it is.


Future of Android Application Development

As per the current trends in Android application development we can say that in near future Kotlin will be heavily used for Android application development because of its rich feature set which overcomes many shortcomings of Java. And as Google has already announced in its Google I/O 2017 that Android is heading towards Kotlin-first so the future is bright ahead for Kotlin.


Conclusion

So we can conclude from the above discussion that Kotlin has gained momentum in terms of popularity due to its new generation feature set.


Developer’s view

https://survey.stackoverflow.co/2022/#technology


Author’s view

So now which language to choose for Android application development should we choose Kotlin for its new and fresh approach or should we go for Java which has a huge community support and resources online. So according to me if a developer is new to Android application development and he has never used Java then he should choose Kotlin which is concise and easy to learn. But if a developer knows Java and wants to dive into Android application development then he should choose Java to learn all the basic concepts of Android application development and after learning all the concepts of Android application development he can switch to Kotlin since it is not much different then Java.

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Pawan

Author:

Pawan is working as an Android developer in VT Netzwelt. He is an Android enthusiast who loves solving real world problems using his Android skills.

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