What do the Android App Developers Need to Know about Kotlin?

Mindfire Solutions
Oct 11, 2017 · 3 min read
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The developers have option to write Android apps in a number of programming languages. But Google recommends programmers to write apps for Android apps in Java programming language. The app code written in Java is compiled into bytecodes which run on Java Virtual Machine (JVM). Many Android app developers who prefer JVM programming languages to Java to avail new language features and enhanced performance.

Kotlin was developed by JetBrains as a statically-typed JVM programming language. The developers have option to compile the app code written in Kotlin to JavaScript code. They can even avail the features provided by Kotlin to simplify and speedup Android app development. Recently, the Android team extended first class support for Kotlin programming languages. Hence, the developers can now write Android apps in a modern programming language.

7 Things Each Android App Developer Must Know about Kotlin

1) Interoperable with Java

JetBrains has developed Kotlin as a JVM programming language. Kotlin runs seamlessly on the Java Virtual Machine. At the same time, it is fully interoperable with Java programming language. Hence, the developers can avail several Java libraries while writing Android apps in Kotlin. They can even generate Java and JavaScript code from Kotlin using the converters provided by JetBrains.

2) Human Readable Code

Both Java and Kotlin refers to same set of classes and libraries. But Kotlin, unlike Java, enables programmers to write human-readable code. The human-readable code makes easier for programmers to debug Android apps. The programmers can even maintain and update the Android app quickly by making changes to its source code.

3) Kotlin Standard Library

The resources provided by Kotlin Standard Library make it easier for programmers to build Android apps rapidly. Based on their precise needs, developers have option to choose from an array of packages, high-order functions, extension functions, extensions for JDK classes, and utilities. They can even avail the functions, types, properties, and utilities provided by the kotlin.test package to perform assertions in mobile app testing independent of the mobile app testing framework.

4) Language Features

Java is mature programming language. But Kotlin is a modern programming language. The syntax rules and language features of Kotlin helps programmers to keep the source code of Android apps clean, readable, maintainable, and debuggable. While writing Android apps in Java, developers explore ways to avoid NullPointerException. Kotlin makes it easier for programmers to eliminate NullPointerException supporting both null and non-null types. It further helps the compiler to assume to type of a variable from the initialize by supporting type interface.

5) Robust IDEs and Frameworks

While writing Android apps in Kotlin, the developers can take advantage of robust IDEs and frameworks like Android Studio, Eclipse and IntelliJ IDEA. Android Studio 3.0 is designed with full tooling support for Kotlin. But the developers have to install the Kotlin plug-in while working with earlier versions of Android Studio. They even have option to use a standalone compiler while building Android apps with Kotlin.

6) Android App Development Tools

The developers can write Android apps in Kotlin more efficiently using the development tools provided by Kotlin team. They can use Kotlin Android Extensions to eliminate the findViewById() function which often makes the code unreadable and creates new bugs. The extension enables programmers to replace the findViewById() function with synthetic compiler-generated properties. Likewise, they can use a robust library like Anko to speed up Android app development using components like Anko Commons, Anko Layouts, Anko Coroutines and Anko SQLite. These components further help programmer to keep the app code readable and clean.

7) Performance

Kotlin does not outperform Java in terms of speed. But Kotlin increases the execution speed of lambda functions by supporting inline functions. Also, it has a compact runtime library which adds fewer methods than Java at runtime. The Android app developers can even use tools like ProGuard to compress the runtime library. Hence, an Android app written in Kotlin runs as fast as an Android app written in Java.

However, Kotlin is not going to replace Java as the official programming language for Android app development. Also, it is not a fully open source programming language. The developers can always consider building high quality Android apps by integrating Java and Kotlin, while accessing both Android and Java APIs.

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