Cross-Platform App Development Showdown: Flutter and Kotlin

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Representational image for Cross-platform app development.

Cross-platform App development is becoming really popular. Wondering why? Well, it lets you run apps on different platforms like iOS and Android. This helps businesses reach more people and make more money. The best cross-platform frameworks are getting a lot of attention, and new technologies keep popping up.

According to Statista Digital Market Outlook, mobile app revenue is expected to go up in most sectors. By 2025, it’s predicted to be over USD 613 billion.

When picking the best framework for making apps that work on different platforms, the two main options were Flutter and React Native. But now, there’s a new player in the game: Kotlin, a programming language based on Java. Web developers are starting to pay attention to the debate between Flutter and Kotlin.

Flutter and React Native used to be popular frameworks for making apps that work on different platforms. Developers actively used these languages. But now, Kotlin has gained popularity among developers.

In 2019, Google introduced support for Kotlin in Android app development. It’s worth noting that Google also created Flutter, an open-source platform for mobile app development.

Flutter and Kotlin both have a Google tag, making them more relevant and important for developers. In this comparison, we’ll look at Flutter vs Kotlin, exploring their differences and examining their features, benefits, and drawbacks. This information will help readers decide which mobile app development platform is best for them.

Before we compare them, let’s quickly define cross-platform development and take a brief look at Kotlin Multiplatform and Flutter.

Understanding Cross-Platform App Development

Cross-platform app development refers to creating software that works on various operating systems or software environments. Engineers and web developers use different methods to make a single application compatible with multiple environments and operating systems. The main aim is to ensure that software applications work seamlessly across different digital environments. This is often done to provide solutions for various proprietary operating systems, enabling users to access the software on platforms like Apple and Microsoft.

What is Kotlin Multiplatform?

Let’s start by understanding what Kotlin is before diving into Kotlin Multiplatform vs Flutter. Kotlin is a versatile programming language that works across different platforms and is open-source. It’s a general-purpose language, similar to Java, running on the JVM and known for its statically typed nature.

With Kotlin, you can create applications for servers, Android, and more. JetBrains initiated Kotlin as a small project in 2010, and its official release was announced in February 2016.

Now, what about Kotlin Multiplatform?

Kotlin provides a feature called Kotlin Multiplatform, allowing compilation with JavaScript, LLVM code, and JVM bytecode. While experimental, this feature enables coding for both iOS and Android apps. It serves as a JavaScript and iOS development language, providing fully open-source programming.

Investing in Kotlin for cross-platform app development is a relatively new trend, yet it’s gaining popularity among well-known brands, such as –

  • Careem
  • Autodesk
  • Netflix
  • Touchlab
  • Icerock and many more

What is Flutter?

Google’s Flutter is a handy toolkit for web developers, letting them create attractive mobile, web, and desktop apps with just one set of code. Many organizations worldwide use Flutter to build web apps efficiently, all thanks to its pre-written code.

Introduced in 2013, Flutter quickly gained popularity as a free, open-source framework. It enables developers to craft apps with a native look for both iOS and Android, using a unified codebase. Flutter’s versatility extends to PCs and the web through Flutter Desktop app development, contributing to a daily influx of new apps in the Play and App Store.

Even though Flutter 3.0 came out a few months ago, its progress hasn’t slowed down. The Flutter team consistently enhances it, and the latest release, Flutter 3.3, is proof of their continuous improvements.

Flutter quickly became an excellent choice for developing apps that work on multiple platforms. It also joined the ranks of technologies favored by major brands, such as –

  • Google
  • Groupon
  • eBay
  • Alibaba Group
  • Postmuse and many more

Advantages and disadvantages of Kotlin Multiplatform

Let’s explore some pros and cons of using Kotlin Multiplatform for app development:

Clean and Brief Code

Kotlin’s easy-to-understand syntax helps make your code shorter and clearer. With less time spent writing fewer lines of code, your development work becomes more efficient, saving both time and money. Having less code also means fewer bugs, further saving time and resources. In summary, Kotlin enables faster, easier, and more reliable app development.

Higher Performance

Choosing the Kotlin cross-platform framework for mobile app development has a benefit – it compiles code to the same format as the target platform, ensuring performance comparable to native options.

Complements Java

Converting Java code to Kotlin is easy since Kotlin keeps many of Java’s object-oriented features. This compatibility makes the switch from Java to Kotlin quicker and simpler for applications. When choosing between Flutter and Java for technology transitions, Kotlin’s advantage is particularly beneficial, making it a preferred option in the Flutter vs Kotlin for Android comparison.

Disadvantages of Kotlin Multiplatform

Takes Time to Grab Knowledge

Although Java and Kotlin share a common codebase and functional platforms, it’s important for the organization to train developers in Kotlin. This is because transitioning between platforms may not be smooth without proper knowledge of Kotlin. The organization may need to invest in training the team for Kotlin cross-platform, incurring associated costs.

Slow Compilation Speed

Kotlin’s main downside is its slower compilation compared to Java. While it’s generally slower, there are rare instances where Kotlin outperforms Java in compilation speed. Although Kotlin handles incremental changes well, it still lags behind more modern approaches like Flutter when you compare their speed.

Finite Available Libraries

Right now, the development environment has only a handful of simple libraries, such as those for data serialization and HTTP clients. Even though Kotlin 1.4, the next version after Kotlin 1.3.60, introduces additional libraries like DateTime, building applications smoothly remains a bit challenging.

Advantages and disadvantages of Flutter

Let’s explore some pros and cons of using Flutter for building mobile apps:

Open-source and free-to-use

Flutter and Dart are both free and open-source. Developers can access documentation, ask questions in the developer forum, and easily learn and apply the code. Worldwide, Flutter app development is gaining popularity, with businesses in the US, Netherlands, UAE, and beyond choosing Flutter app development companies to meet their goals.

Real-Time Output

Flutter lets you quickly see the effects of code changes with its hot reload feature. You can make changes to the backend and instantly see the frontend updates, saving you from frequent full program reloads.

Go to choice for Creating MVPs and App Prototypes

Flutter is a programming language that lets you create apps for both Android and iOS quickly, cost-effectively, and with less effort. It’s a great choice for MVP development and making prototypes to test ideas or secure funding.

Disadvantages of Flutter

Bigger App Size

Flutter-built apps can be a problem for developers trying to make apps that won’t use up too much space on Android and iOS devices. While using Flutter has some downsides, the Google app framework update team is expected to fix the issue.

Issues with iOS

Flutter app developers worry about implementing Flutter on iOS because Google is focused on quickly fixing bugs. Creating Android apps with Flutter is fast and enjoyable due to Google’s prompt bug resolution. A recent update in Flutter ensures a pixel-perfect iOS look, enhancing Cupertino widgets for iPhone settings. Features were updated and delivered for iOS 10 and iOS 11 over time.

Lack of Third-party Libraries

Third-party libraries and packages play a big role in software development by adding useful features for designers. These libraries are usually free, open-source, pre-tested, and easy to get. However, finding every feature you need might not happen right away.

Because Flutter is a new programming language for mobile apps, finding free packages and libraries can be challenging. So, you might have to wait a bit longer or choose a different option for long-term development.

Which one to choose: Flutter and Kotlin

In Android app development, Kotlin and Flutter are two popular choices. Flutter has a strong presence, while Kotlin is becoming more popular for its efficiency in building Android projects and keeping up with current market trends.

When it comes to coding, Kotlin’s syntax is robust, allowing developers to write less code compared to Flutter. This simplicity makes Kotlin a winner, offering code that is easy to understand and maintain, leading to better quality and quicker bug identification.

In terms of performance, Flutter and Kotlin are generally equivalent, with Kotlin often showing faster execution in certain scenarios as it is designed to run on the JVM.

Both Kotlin and Flutter have strong community support, although Flutter has a more established community due to its longer presence in the market. Kotlin, being relatively newer, is still growing its community.

In conclusion, Kotlin is a forward-looking technology for Android app development, promising quick, error-free projects with simplified code and easy maintenance, making it a promising choice for the future.

Ultimately, the decision between Flutter and Kotlin rests on your project’s specific needs. If you’re still unsure, seeking guidance from a reputable mobile app development company like Xcelore can be beneficial. They can assess your requirements and priorities to help you make the best choice between Flutter and Kotlin.

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