Indeed, developing Android apps helps you engage with your target audience better and gives your business the needed agility to create a niche in today’s competitive market. But picking up the right programming language to support this agility is not an easy task.
Most businesses were considering Java as their go-to language for all their app development needs, but the arrival of Kotlin has changed their approach drastically. While Java makes your code super expensive, Kotlin for Android developers proves to be a great platform to overcome development issues.
So, how to choose the appropriate option that satisfies your unique business requirements? Today we will discuss the same in detail and resolve your queries related to Kotlin vs. Java. So, let’s get started.
What is Java?
Java is the most popular developer platform in the world right now. It is used to power over 13 billion devices worldwide and shows no sign of decline in popularity. This programming language is used to create a variety of applications such as websites and computer games.
Java for developers proves highly convenient. It supports cross-platform operability and functions on the Write Once Run Anywhere (WORA) theory. Apart from creating websites and games, Java also works with big data, such as programs for scientific purposes. Famous mobile applications like Netflix, Uber, Spotify, Amazon, etc., are developed using Java. You can refer to our other blog on Java for further details like features, Java development tools, etc.
Now that we have covered some of the most popular apps to use Java, let’s understand the pros and cons of this language.
1 Easy to Use
One of the most praised features of Java is that it is one of the simplest languages to use and is less complicated than C++. You can quickly learn how to read, write and maintain the code in Java. The complex concepts of this language, such as storage classes, explicit pointers, and operator overloading, are being removed from Java. This is one of the main reasons why it is simpler than the other languages.
2 Efficient Memory Allocation
Memory is divided into two parts, namely, stack and heap. Whenever a variable is declared in a Java program, it is assigned to the stack or heap memory sections. Java Virtual Machine (JVM) helps allocate the memory and retrieve it very conveniently by automatic allocation.
3 Supports Multithreading
Being multithreaded, it can execute several tasks simultaneously. A thread is the smallest unit of a process. So, multithreading allows us to use the CPU to the maximum. The individual threads run independently without affecting one another.
4 Object-oriented Programming (OOP)
It helps you write and compile reusable code and is platform-independent. Using this method, You can organize the bigger modules into smaller ones that are easier to understand.
5 Secure Language
By eliminating the use of explicit pointers, Java improves security. This is because a pointer leads to another variable, which can cause unauthorized access. A set of security rules in each class allows your developers to define all the class access rules clearly.
1 Not Suitable for Complex GUI
The default look of applications written using Java for android development is very different from those written in native languages. While there are GUI builders in Java, none of them are suitable for building complicated UI. There are also many inconsistencies in these GUI builders.
2 Complex Code
Java code are verbose and can often raise complications to read or understand. The overall readability of the code is compromised due to the explanations for each part of the code.
What is Kotlin?
Kotlin was introduced in 2011 and derived its name from Kotlin Island in Russia. It was created by YouTrack, JetBrains, and many other IDE solutions as a modernized version of Java. In 2018, it was also recognized as the second most popular programming language by the StackOverflow Developers Survey.
Kotlin is a general-purpose, open-source, statically written ‘pragmatic’ programming language that is designed for Android and JVM. It can combine object-oriented and functional programming features to develop apps quickly and efficiently. Top mobile applications like Pinterest, Evernote, Uber, Coursera, Trello, etcare created using Kotlin.
Now, let’s check out the pros and cons of Kotlin:
1 Can Be Used with Java Code
The interoperability in place means it is effortless for developers to add new features or migrate code from Java to Kotlin. Both languages can be used together if needed.
2 Easy to Maintain
New IDEs are not required since most of them on the market currently support Kotlin, such as Android Studio. This enables the developers to work with tools that they are already used to.
3 Highly Reliable
Kotlin has proved its reliability, having entered the market in 2011. And it has undergone multiple beta and alfa versions prior to being released officially. So, the interface has minimal bugs and is highly usable on a daily basis.
4 Improves Productivity
Kotlin removes the complexities of Java and replaces it with a concise and efficient syntax instead. Writing and compiling a program using Kotlin requires very little time. As a result, it can help enhance the overall productivity of your team.
5 Easy to Learn
The aim of Kotlin is to help enhance the features of Java. So, if you have any prior mobile development skills using Java, they can be used for development using Kotlin as well.
1 Limited Learning Resources
Limited learning resources means that it could take you some time to master the language since you have to tinker with it yourself.
2 The Number of Kotlin Developers is Less than the Demand
Although talent for Kotlin is rising after Google declared its support in 2017, the number of available developers is still less than the demand.
3 Slow compilation
Kotlin is faster than Java during the incremental build, but only in select cases. Although Java is slower, it can provide cleaner builds than Kotlin.
4 Not Same as Java
Kotlin is not a perfect copy of Java and is an original concept, after all. So, additional expenses for training would be needed, along with time to get familiar with the software.
Kotlin vs Java: What Are the Key Differences?
As you have come across the basics for Java vs Kotlin, let’s discuss the key differences to help you understand where they stand in a head-to-head comparison.
What Does Java Have That Kotlin Doesn’t?
Firstly, Java’s checked exceptions feature is something that coders look out for when they want to create robust programs with the option for error recovery. This is something that Kotlin has removed to promote conciseness, but it still remains favored among developers.
Kotlin doesn’t have the provision for static members, while Java can do so and share all instances of the variable with the class. As a result, the static keyword shows that the variable declared belongs to itself instead of a class.
Java also edges out in the comparison of Kotlin vs Java when we consider wildcard types. While Kotlin does not have this feature, Java does, and it provides users with much more functionality in the process. Wildcard types can be used in the form of the type of a field, parameter, or local variable.
What Does Kotlin Have That Java Doesn’t?
First-class functions offered by Kotlin can be stored in data structures and variables. This allows the functions to be used in a variety of ways. Lambda expressions can also be used since Kotlin is a statically typed language. Creating extension functions in Kotlin is extremely simple. All you have to do is prefix the name of the class to the function being created.
One of the most frustrating issues faced by developers while using Java is the NullPointerExceptions. Kotlin eliminates this problem by making all the existing types non-nullable.
Also, dynamic values can be assigned directly to the strings and can easily be printed while using Kotlin. Developers also get the privilege to create ranges for comparison between any similar type of data using the rangeTo() and downTo() functions built-in.
Comparing Kotlin vs Java Performance for Android App Development
Now that we have discussed the difference between Kotlin and Java, let’s compare the two. As said earlier, Kotlin can combine object-oriented programming with functional programming. Java, on the other hand, can only operate with object-oriented programming. While Java supports implicit conversions, Kotlin does not.
Kotlin does not require any specifications for the datatype of variables. The same cannot be said for Java since all variables need to have their data types specified. Java programs require the use of a semicolon, while Kotlin programs do not. However, both languages are 100% interoperable, which means that you can derive Java code from Kotlin and vice versa.
Being released into the market over 1.5 decades after Java, Kotlin has addressed several issues that bugged Java developers before. This has encouraged them to switch over to the newer platform. So, here are the issues that Kotlin has solved to take the edge in the Kotlin vs Java debate for many developers:
- Null references are now being controlled by the system.
- Arrays declared in Kotlin are always invariants.
- In comparison to Java’s SAM (Single Abstract Method) conventions, Kotlin has proper function types.
- It does not have checked exceptions.
- Site-variance can be used without wildcards.
Kotlin vs Java: Which One is Better?
Google has announced that Kotlin is its preferred language for app development. However, before migrating to Kotlin from Java, do ensure that your development team is on board with the switch.
While Java is certainly older, it’s reliable and is not close to being replaced any time in the future. But, Kotlin might be preferred due to the benefits over the existing features provided by Java for developers.
One of the other important things to note if you’re considering a switch is how the change would affect your existing project. Content could be deleted, modified, or bugged in the process, and it is important that you are aware of the side effects of migration and the net benefits that your team shall gain.
Kotlin has a reputation for having fewer crashes due to the fewer lines of code, which results in less area for bugs to hide in. Reduced pressure on the processor also reduces crashes to a minimum, which is why Kotlin is set to be the language of the future.
In addition, when you consider that there is a rising demand for programmers well-versed in Kotlin, it might just be the better option in the long run. So, if you’re looking for the best programming language for android in the years ahead, irrespective of whether you’re a budding developer or company, you need to keep all the above in mind.
The Final Words
As a business owner, you must be knowing that one of the key factors that determine the success of an app is a programming language. As such, we have laid down solid cases for Kotlin vs Java to choose the one that best suits your requirements and helps you build powerful Android apps faster. You can also hire Android app developers from Mobisoft to build future-ready native Android applications and accelerate your development journey like never before.
Pritam Barhate, with an experience of 14+ years in technology, heads Technology Innovation at Mobisoft Infotech. He has a rich experience in design and development. He has been a consultant for a variety of industries and startups. At Mobisoft Infotech, he primarily focuses on technology resources and develops the most advanced solutions.