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Kotlin vs Java: Which is a better choice for Android Development?

Know the Difference Between Java and Kotlin for Android Development

by Rajni
Kotlin VS Java which is best for dev
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Deciding whether to use Java or Kotlin for Android development is a big decision for app creators. Both of these choices are well-liked around the world and are used by many developers. 

Statista’s data tells us that Java is in the 7th position with 30.55% usage. On the other hand, Kotlin stands at the 15th spot with 9.16%. Both these languages has its own special qualities and works better for different types of projects. 

In this article, we will look at how these options compare when it comes to making Android apps effectively. 

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What is Java?

Java is a robust and versatile object-oriented programming language, that has been a staple in the Android development landscape for years. It was initially released in 1995 by Sun Microsystems. It has since become the go-to choice for many developers. 

Read More: What is Java used for? 
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What is Kotlin?

Kotlin is a programming language that was created by JetBrains, a software development company, in 2011. It is designed to be a more modern and concise alternative to languages like Java. Kotlin is particularly popular for developing Android applications. Although, it can also be used for other types of software development. 
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Features of Java vs. Kotlin Comparison

Java has been the dominant language for Android development, but when Kotlin was introduced in 2011, it soon grabbed the attention of developers. Since Kotlin has concise syntax and is easily compatible with Java, developers can leverage the strengths of these two powerful languages in one project. Let’s compare the features of Java and Kotlin: 

Syntax and readability: Kotlin improved syntax more than Java. Its syntax reduces repetitive code and provides a straightforward way to read and write. Developers don’t need to keep adding semicolons at the end of each line, and the introduction of smart casts, string templates, and extension functions improves the language’s readability. However, in Java, variables are null by default. This increases the likelihood of a null pointer exception. Therefore, Kotlin’s syntax is more expressive and intuitive than Java, which allows developers to easily write, read, and maintain code.  

Tools and Community Support: Java has a mature ecosystem and a large community that actively contributes to its development and maintenance. It also offers extensive libraries, frameworks, and tools. Whenever Java developers encounter any issues or have any questions, they can have resources and community support to overcome the issue. Kotlin was publicly released in 2011; thus, it has a relatively young ecosystem but is rapidly growing. Although it has gained wide support and recognition from top-leading firms like Google, Spring, and JetBrains, this has further boosted its credibility. Koltin also offers a wide range of resources, tutorials, and libraries.  

Performance: Java and Kotlin are on the same level in terms of performance. Both languages are compiled into Java bytecode and then run on the Java Virtual Machine (JVM). Having said that, Kotlin offers performance optimizations over Java since its standard library has inline functions, which avoid the overhead of function calls. Java, on the other hand, has gained an upper edge in maturity and optimization over the years of development and optimization. Not only that its Java Virtual Machine (JVM) has also gone through significant improvements over the years. This in return makes it highly efficient and capable of running on a wide range of devices. 

Cross-platform App Development: For cross-platform app development, Kotlin has a feature called Kotlin Multiplatform (KMP). It enables developers to share their code on Android, iOS, the web, desktop, and server-side. By using platform-specific APIs, developers can make the most of both native and cross-platform app development. On the flip side, Java achieves this cross-platform app development compatibility from JVM writes once and runs anywhere (WORA). Besides, the Java-rich ecosystem provides libraries, frameworks, and tools that allow Java developers to build a wide range of applications for Windows, Linux, macOS, and Android. 

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Kotlin vs Java for Android Development

Kotlin and Java features overview

For a long time, Java held the prime position as Google’s preferred language for creating Android apps. But in 2017, Kotlin officially joined the ranks, gaining Google’s support as a preferred language for Android app development in 2019. 

So, what sets these programming languages apart, especially in the context of Android app development? And when should you lean towards Java over Kotlin? 

One of Kotlin’s major strengths lies in its syntax. It demands significantly fewer lines of code compared to Java, leading to more readable and simpler code. This also translates into better code quality, as bugs and errors become easier to spot. 

With less code to write, developing and maintaining apps in Kotlin typically takes less time than in Java. This efficiency can reduce costs, making Kotlin an attractive choice for project sponsors. 

The ease of use of Kotlin further adds to its appeal. It successfully avoids the Java-specific issue of NullPointerException. Additionally, all Java-based frameworks and libraries can be accessed seamlessly in Kotlin. 

An essential point to consider is that Kotlin has become the favored programming language within Android Studio, Google’s Integrated Development Environment (IDE). While Android Studio still supports Java and C++, Kotlin has gained priority since 2019. 

Google has been actively promoting a Kotlin-first approach for Android, recommending it for new app development. Interestingly, the extensible support provided by Android Studio tools allows for the use of both Java and Kotlin code within the same project. 

Java, however, boasts a larger pool of developers compared to Kotlin, leading to a more substantial Java support community and comprehensive documentation.

While Java code might seem more intricate than Kotlin, its application potential can be simpler for beginners due to reduced complexity. Furthermore, Java’s APKs tend to consume less memory, which can be advantageous for lightweight applications. However, in most cases, the slightly larger memory footprint of Kotlin won’t have a noticeable impact. 

Kotlin emerges as a future-proof option for Android app development, providing confidence that apps built with it will remain relevant for years. It’s a fitting choice for swift app development that requires simplicity and easy maintenance. 

For intricate, expansive applications, choosing Java might be prudent as there is likely to be a more abundant pool of Java developers available to work on them. But looking forward, it’s reasonable to assume that in five or ten years, the market might be teeming with more Kotlin developers than Java developers. 

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Why Kotlin is a Preferred Android Development Language?

Kotlin’s native path support allows Android developers to program asynchronously, and multiplatform development makes it easier to exchange code, reducing the time and effort required for Android app development. Therefore, Kotlin offers many benefits over traditional languages like Java. That makes it a go-to language for Android development. Let’s have a look at following reasons why it is one of the go-to Android development languages: 

 Null Safety: Null pointer exceptions are the most common issue in Android applications. But with this null safety functionality, runtime errors are reduced significantly, which also contributes to easier maintenance. Combining the nullable and non-null types, along with the Elvis operator, makes the code more robust and less prone to crashes. 

Co-routines and strong typing: Co-routines are a lightweight concurrency mechanism that allows developers to write a program asynchronously. The best part is that there is no need to deal with the complex callbacks and threading. Also, it offers a convenient way to manage background tasks. In addition, strong typing easily catches the error at compilation rather than during runtime. 

Concise and Expressive Syntax: This feature encourages developers to write clean, readable code. Key features like type inference, extension functions, and lambda expressions help reduce repetitive code. 

Extension functions: Kotlin allows Android developers to extend existing classes without making any changes to the code. This means developers can customize and add functionality to the Android apps as well as work with Android framework classes efficiently. 

Supports functional programming: Functional programming promotes modular and maintainable code. This functional programming includes lambda expressions, higher-order functions, and extension functions that help developers define anonymous functions, enable abstractions, and ensure code reusability. 

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Kotlin vs Java: Strategic Business Considerations for Your Company's Economic Success

When aiming to create an app that prioritizes speed and performance, you often wonder which technology is the right choice. Java and Kotlin produce similar bytecode, resulting in comparable performance

The real difference lies in how effectively and cleanly the code is written.

Kotlin stands out for requiring fewer lines of code compared to Java. Thus, it saves a lot of time. The code is also simpler, more concise, and easier to maintain. This cleaner, more efficient code can contribute to improved app performance. 

Kotlin’s efficiency can accelerate development, potentially reducing project costs. While Java compiles faster with clean builds. However, this advantage becomes neutral in Agile development due to incremental builds.

For fast, high-performance apps, Kotlin often emerges as the better technological choice. Maintaining Kotlin code is generally smoother

Nonetheless, Java remains a viable option, especially for large, intricate apps. Java’s internal storage can narrow the performance gap.

Choosing between Java and Kotlin depends on available development resources. A team proficient in Java would likely build a better app in Java. Java’s relevance persists, assuaging concerns about app obsolescence.

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Concluding Thoughts

Kotlin and Java both hold significance in the IT and software industries. Neither is likely to become irrelevant soon. Kotlin offers high performance and efficiency, while Java boasts a robust community. The better choice often aligns with the expertise of the development team.

Notably, a trend is emerging as companies shift from Java to Kotlin. Uber, Pinterest, Evernote, and more have migrated their Android apps. This switch is driven by improved stability, performance, code quality, and user experience. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

If you’re looking for better code efficiency, cleaner syntax, and ease of maintenance, learning Kotlin is recommended. However, learning Java can still be valuable due to its larger developer pool and existing extensive documentation. 

Kotlin code is safer and shorter than Java code. It’s not only good for new apps but can also work alongside Java files, making it suitable for existing applications.

It is a web-based tool for prototyping ideas, collaborating with others, and learning Kotlin code. 

Both Kotlin and Java are capable and efficient for developing Android apps because Java runs well on any platform with its runtime environment and API. 

Kotlin is a popular language for Android development due to its user-friendly features. However, Kotlin won’t replace Java, which has a broader history and is used for various projects beyond Android.

It is an online code editor that allows users to write code, and then compile it and execute the code in the browser.  

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