It’s now more than a year since Google announced support for Kotlin as an official language for Android. In the meanwhile developer community has largely embraced the new language owing numerous benefits it offers. Many people consider the relation between Kotlin and Java as that of between Swift and Objective-C- one replacing the other. But the fact is, it’s not a matter of Kotlin vs. Java but rather how one compliments the other.
But before we get into the specific features of Kotlin, we must first understand how exactly it fits into the Android app development environment:
Interpretable with Java
Not only does Kotlin code runs seamlessly on JVM (Java Virtual Machine) but also it is completely interpretable with Java. That is, Kotlin code can be added to Java Source code or Java libraries can be used in Kotlin development. Also, there are converters that generate Java code using Kotlin code.
Though Java has an overall better performance than Kotlin, it still performs better for Lambda functions due to its higher execution speed and support for inline functions.
Less and secure code
A typical class written in Kotlin is generally much shorter than a class written in Java. It uses a lesser boilerplate code and thus code looks much cleaner and is easier to handle. Also, it takes away one of the major headaches of Java developers- NullPointerException. These can be a nightmare for many developers as they often cause applications to crash during runtime. Kotlin has a feature called null safety that allows developers to mention if the assigned values will be a null factor or not.
Now that we have a larger overview of Kolin, its particular features would make more sense for why developers are often choosing Kotlin to make an application:
Functions can be considered the backbone of Object Oriented Programming. But the problem with Java is, new functions can only be added when its corresponding class is expanding which puts severe limitations. Kotlin, however, comes with a feature called extension function that allows developers to add new functions to any class.
Java doesn’t allow developers to name their parameters in function calls. That is, they are completely dependent on positional parameters. With Kotlin, developers have the option to pass parameters either by position or name but not both. Also, it supports default value declaration so that callers can even omit parameters when needed.
To avoid unexpected behavior due to functions during compilation, languages need to provide some kind of cover. Java does it by restricting the code from altering anything outside its scope. Kotlin takes a more elegant approach. It offers high-end compiler support that can distinguish between properties and values and whether they are mutable or immutable.
The most you can do in Java is to allow enums to define attributes and properties for various instances. But Kotlin takes a high-level approach to enumerations and abstracted data types are well-defined.
Overall within a short period of time, Kotlin has completely integrated itself into Java development services owing to the numerous features we have discussed above. Also, because it has a much easier learning curve than Java, new developers are often inclined towards Kotlin for Android development. That said, if you hire offshore developers for your projects, you can rest assured that that would be comfortable in both Kotlin and Java as they are known to carry a broad skillset.