Kotlin Vs. Flutter: Which is Best for Cross-Platform Apps in 2024

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Kotlin Vs. Flutter

Kotlin and Flutter are both popular frameworks for building cross-platform mobile applications. Besides the similarities and differences, expect the unusual here!

By searching for specific questions pertaining to a technology, or to differentiate between two technologies, Generative AI, Bard, Chat GPT, or general Google search gives numerous, but similar-looking results. We got to believe on that information as it is generated by AI, and AI bypasses every human effort to be accurate.

While searching about, “Which amongst Kotlin and Flutter is a better programming language”, I found succinct illustration, precise and to the point. They are accurate and justify the question. But when every such result looks similar, why should we illustrate and iterate it one more time? Come along, have a look!

Meaning in one line

Kotlin

Kotlin is a general-purpose programming language that works with Java. It is an open-source, statically typed language that targets Java Virtual Machine, Android, JavaScript, Wasm, and Native. It’s designed to make app development faster and easier. Kotlin is 40% more compact than Java and runs on Java’s virtual machine (JVM). It can be easily learned, and has expressive syntax.

Flutter

Flutter is a toolkit/framework based on the DART programming language. It is used to build high-performance, Android-native apps on iOS. It can be used to develop cross-platform applications from a single codebase for the (1) web, (2) Fuchsia, (3) Android, (4) iOS, (5) Linux, (6) macOS, and (7) Windows. Flutter’s mature framework and growing community have made it a popular choice for building complex mobile apps.

Kotlin vs. Flutter – What are these and how do they differ?

Code

Kotlin: Kotlin programming language comes with a concise syntax that is easy to read, even by non-programmers. It is easier than Java (because that is also an Android app development language) and is easily maintainable.

Flutter: Flutter programming language too is a modern language that features relatively less complex code than Java, and is closely co-related to Kotlin (which features intuitive code), and can be used to create apps for (1) mobile, (2) web, and (3) desktop platforms. Flutter code is object-oriented, supports strong and weak typing styles, and is easy to learn (like Kotlin).

It can be coded for any platforms (mobile (iOS, Android, MacOS), Windows desktop, or Web), allowing reusing the same code multiple times by interacting with platform services. Flutter code easily renders into native code on each platform.

Use Cases

Kotlin: Kotlin is being used for creating (1) Android development, (2) server-side web apps, (3) web development, (4) data science, (5) desktop applications, and (6) embedded systems.

Flutter: Flutter is being used for creating  (1) decentralized exchanges, (2) payment methods, (3) journaling applications, (4) smart home interconnectivity, (5) music platform development, (6) booking apps, (7) games development, (8) banking;

Cross – Platform Compatibility

Kotlin: Kotlin makes use of Kotlin multiplatform to share code between Android and iOS projects to implement (1) networking, (2) data validation, (3) data storage, (4) analytics, (5) computations, and (6) related application logic.

Flutter: Flutter features a single codebase and UI engine for cross-platform development. This minimizes the effort required to create versions of an application for Android and iOS. It also has a widget library that automatically adapts to any screen. Flutter is also known for (1) Code-reusability, fast development, and native performance – and allows creation apps for multiple platforms (across web, android, iOS, and Mac, desktop, and embedded devices) using one codebase.   

Interoperability with Java

Kotlin: Kotlin is fully interoperable with legacy Java code, and can express the same idea in fewer words. It is used to write platform logic, allowing Flutter to communicate with Kotlin native components.

Flutter: Flutter is designed to be fully interoperable with legacy Java apps. This is evident from the fact that on Android, developers can use Java or Kotlin to call platform-specific APIs. Flutter uses a version of Java defined by the shell script’s JAVA_HOME environment variable. If JAVA_HOME isn’t defined, Flutter looks for any Java executable in your path.

Flutter developers also make use of the package: jnigen to automatically generate DART bindings for a given Java API. This cross-platform app development interoperability feature is experimental and is active development.

How does Flutter and Kotlin work across platforms?

A Flutter App Development Company makes use of Cupertino and Material designs to transform an Android app into an iOS app, an iOS app into a desktop app, and a desktop app into a web app, and vice versa. When using Flutter, 90% of the code becomes multi-platform and only requires to be updated once.

A Kotlin App development Company behaves that way by using Kotlin Multiplatform (KMM) – a software development kit (SDK) that allows developers to write shared code across multiple platforms. This shared code is compiled to platform formats – JVM bytecode for Android and native binaries for iOS. The resultant app features native performance.  

Differences: Kotlin vs. Flutter

We’re covering basic differences here:

 KotlinFlutter
Development LanguageJavaScriptDart
Platform compatibilityPrimarily used for native Android app developmentIdeal for cross-platform development
FeaturesMinimal code, advanced compiler, increased performance, NullPointerException safetyGraphic interface, compiled into machine code
PerformanceKotlin applications directly interact with the device so are faster than Flutter applications.Quick because it is compiled into machine code
UI/UXKotlin Multiplatform lets you utilize native UI elements to its fullestSimple framework with consistent graphical primitives
Time to marketKotlin Multiplatform requires familiarity with different tech stacks, not just KotlinSimple to set up in development environments
Deployment OptionsIt can deploy on any platform.It can deploy on any operating system (Mobile, Desktop, and Web)
Popular AppsPinterest, Coursera, Evernote, Postmates, Evernote, Corda, Coursera, Uber, Spring By Pivotal, Atlassian | Trello, Netflix, Zomato, Amazon Web Services, Basecamp3Hamilton, Google Ads, Alibaba, Cryptograph, inKino, eBay Motors, Reflectly, Xianyu, KlasterMe, Groupon, BMW, Cryptograph. 

What are the key takeaways from this illustration?

Considering all the differences and features, it is evident that Kotlin and Flutter are equally good programming languages for cross-platform app development.

Kotlin is worth learning in 2024 because it is considered as a simpler version of Java. Its syntax is a lot simpler, and its features and benefits are diverse. It is gradually becoming the language of choice amongst hybrid developers.

Flutter is a close counterpart of Kotlin, behaves like Java code, but is a lot simpler. Kotlin came in 2016, while Flutter came in 2017.

The reason why Flutter chipped in was because it was an improvement over Kotlin, and is a lot faster. Flutter features a hot reloading, hot restart feature that allows developers to update code instantly and see the effects quickly, which speeds up the development process. Kotlin, on the other hand, outperforms Java in terms of speed and is still slower than flutter.  

As cross-platform apps have a high pressure of behaving like native applications, Flutter fares better. But the choice to select one out of two is completely yours – based on the availability of developers, skillset, budget, location and demographics of the development team, the requirement of clients, and market demand.

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