Why are Android developers switching from Java to Kotlin?

Hari Vignesh Jayapalan

January 23rd, 2018

When we talk about Android app development, the first programming language that comes to mind is 'Java'. However Java isn’t the only language you can use for Android programming – you can use any language that compiles to the JVM. Recently, a new language has caught the attention of the Android community – Kotlin.

Kotlin has actually been around since 2011, but it was only in May 2017 that Google announced that the language was to become an officially supported language in the Android operating system. This is one of the many reasons why Kotlin’s adoption has been so dramatic. The Realm report, published at the end of 2017 suggests that Kotlin is likely to overtake Java in terms of usage in the next couple of years.

When you want to work on custom Android applications, an advanced technology will help you achieve your goals. Java and Kotlin are commonly used languages for Google for writing Android Apps. A great importance is given to programming languages because it might cut down some of your time and money.

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There are many reasons why mobile developers are choosing to switch from Java to Kotlin. Below are some of the most significant.

Kotlin is easy for anyone who knows Java to learn

Similarities in typing and syntax make Kotlin very easy to master for anyone who’s already working with Java. If you’re worried about a steep learning curve, you'll be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is for developers to dive into coding in Kotlin. Kotlin is evolving with a lot of support from the developer community. A lot of developers who contribute to Kotlin’s evolution are freelancers who find work on different platforms and experience a wide range of smaller projects with varied needs. Other contributors include larger companies and industry giants like Google.

Kotlin needs 20 percent less coding compared to Java. Java is a bit outdated, which means every new launch has to support features included in the previous version. This eventually increases the code to write, resulting in absence of layer-to-layer architecture. If you compare the coding of Java class and Kotlin class, you will find that the one written in Kotlin will be much more compact than the one written in Java.

Kotlin has Android Studio support

Because Kotlin is built by JetBrains, it’s unsurprising that Android Studio (also a JetBrains product) has excellent support for Kotlin. Android Studio makes it incredibly easy to configure Kotlin in your project; it’s as straightforward as simply opening a few menus. Your IDE will have no problem understanding, compiling and running Kotlin code once you have set up Kotlin for Android Studio. After configuring Kotlin for Android Studio, you can convert the entire Java source file into a Kotlin file.

The fact that Kotlin is Java compatible makes it a uniquely useful language that can leverage JVMs while at the same time be used to update and improve enterprise-level solutions that have enormous codebases written in Java.

Kotlin is great for procedural programming

Every programming paradigm has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. There will always be certain scenarios where one is more effective than another. One thing that’s so appealing about Kotlin is that it combines the strengths of two different approaches – procedural and functional.

True, the largely procedural approach can sometimes be the most challenging aspect of the language when you first start to get to grips with it. However, the level of control such an approach can give you is well worth the investment of your time.

Kotlin makes development more efficient and your life easier

This follows on nicely from the point above. While certain aspects of Kotlin require patience and concentration to master, in the long run, with less code, errors and bugs will be greatly reduced. That saves you time, making coding much more enjoyable rather than an administrative nightmare of spaghetti code.

There are plenty of features in Kotlin that makes it a practical solution to today’s programming challenges. Where JetBrains takes the language next remains to be seen – we could, perhaps, see Kotlin make a move towards iOS development, and if it compiled to JavaScript we may also begin to see it used more and more within web development. Of course, this will largely be down to JetBrain’s goals and just how much they want Kotlin to dominate the developer landscape.

Hari Vignesh Jayapalan is a Google Certified Android app developer, IDF Certified UI & UX Professional, street magician, fitness freak, technology enthusiast, and wannabe entrepreneur. He can be found on Twitter @HariofSpades.