Kotlin vs Flutter: Which one to choose in 2020?

Kotlin vs Flutter

Few years ago, cross-platform development was considered a synonym for building an app using  React Native and Flutter. The entrepreneurs and mobile app development companies were depending upon these two frameworks to make their presence on both Android and iOS in a cost-effective way. But now the time has changed. Kotlin has also entered the competition; making everyone wonder who will be the ultimate ruler of the cross-platform market. Here, we will discuss the Kotlin vs Flutter comparison and help you to choose the appropriate option for your cross-platform application development needs. Before that go through the Kotlin platform.

What is Kotlin multiplatform?

Kotlin multiplatform is an extra feature of the language that helps it extend beyond Android application development. Which means, it allows developers to share codes, data, and business logic over various platforms, for example, iOS, Web, Linux, macOS, Android, and Java Virtual Machine (JVM).

The concept of putting resources into Kotlin application development for cross-platform presence is still new in the market, however it is surprisingly grasped by different famous brands. And, the prime reason for this is the following benefits it gives to the mobile application developers.

Pros of Going with Kotlin Multiplatform-

1. Ease to Learn-

Since Kotlin has a syntax structure like other top programming languages like Swift, Java, Groovy, and Scala, it is very simple to learn the language and invest in Kotlin multiplatform development.

2. It’s an SDK, not framework-

The greatest advantage of choosing Kotlin is that you won’t need to shift the complete application. You can start with a single module or feature, determine its working, and then progressively migrate other parts.

3. Reuse of Business Logic-

It is true that it isn’t the only tool that allows separate business logic and UI. Various cross-platform frameworks like Xamarin and React Native have been offering this service.

Also know- Flutter vs Xamarin- Know the comparison!

However, the way that makes it unique is that it uses shared logic and libraries below the UI layer. This makes mobile application developers to interact with the native environment – Swift and XCode for iOS, JavaScript for web, and Kotlin and Android Studio for Android – without using any bridge and deliver codes in a more native way.

4.  Native UI Experience-

Kotlin Multiplatform doesn’t need developers to follow any instructions for UI creation. It allows UI developers to work on the appearance, behavior, and performance of the application simply like they would in case of native.

5. Flexibility and Scalability-

It allows developers to scale up their application project and operate without using any VM. This makes it an ideal decision for developing a mobile application while focusing on flexibility and scalability factors. However, regardless of such advantages, the multiplatform extension of Kotlin language is still trying to become the most favorite of all due to  specific disadvantages.

6. Performance-

One of the benefits of considering Kotlin language for cross-platform development is that multiplatform compiles code to the explicit same format as the targeted platform. This makes it as great at performance as its native counterparts.

Cons of Preferring Kotlin Multiplatform

1. Still in Experimental State-

In spite of the fact that introduced in Kotlin 1.2, the SDK has not yet reached a stable 1.0 version. It is still in an experimental state; making developers reluctant in picking it for their next project.

2. Finite Available Libraries-

Right now, just a couple of basic libraries like data serialization libraries and HTTP client libraries are available in the development environment. Although many libraries like DateTime library are expected to enter the market with the arrival of Kotlin 1.4, the successor of Kotlin 1.3.60, it is difficult to build applications consistently and effortlessly till date.

3. Need Familiarity with Other Tech Stack-

Since Kotlin multiplatform isn’t designed to be a substitution for each application programming interface (API) that a platform focuses on, it is required for application development companies to have basic knowledge of each platform and API. This is again a downside of picking Kotlin over Flutter and other cross-platform development choices.

4. Higher Development Cost-

The Kotlin SDK provides several semi-native functionalities. Due to this, it needs a higher cost to build mobile applications, which makes it not a good fit for creating MVPs and application prototypes. 

What is Flutter UI Framework?

Introduced in 2015 with an intent to prepare a market for Google Fuchsia, Flutter is an open-source SDK that allows one to develop native-looking mobile, web, and desktop using a single codebase. Google’s UI framework focused on various winning technological and market challenges and provide effective solutions. A result of this is that Flutter became a perfect cross-platform application development framework in less time. Not just this, it went into the rundown of advancements that top brands work with.

Advantages of Considering Flutter-

1.   Open-Source and Free to Use-

Both Flutter and the fundamental programming language, Dart are open-source and free to use. This allows developers to view the documentation, post their questions in the open developer forum, and inevitably, learn and execute the code.

2.  Hot Reload Functionality-

Flutter’s hot reload feature helps you with rapid and easy experiments, build UIs, add features, and fix bugs. Hot reload works by injecting updated source code files into the running Dart Virtual Machine (VM). After the VM updates classes with the new versions of fields and functions, the Flutter framework automatically rebuilds the widget tree, allowing you to rapidly view the effects of your changes.

3.  Highly Customisable-

By putting resources into Flutter application development, developers get a chance to use various widgets in the development environment. This makes it simpler for them to make mobility solutions that are faster and have customized look and feel.

4. Support for Google Firebase-

With the advantage of Firebase integration, Flutter allows developers to include backend facility into the development environment.

5.  Lower Development Timeline and Cost-

One of the benefits of Flutter is that it renders chances to create native-like applications for both iOS and Android using a single codebase. Something that makes the cost to develop a Flutter mobile application considerably low.

Disadvantages of Using Flutter SDK-

1. App Size-

The main disadvantage of choosing Flutter for your application development plan is that the application size is too large. Compared with React Native and Xamarin, even the release file size of ‘Hi World’ application is around 6.7MB.

2. Coding is in Dart-

Dart is easy to learn and faster to execute. But, it isn’t as popular as its companions – Java, C#, JavaScript, and C. This prevents developers from selecting the best dart programming courses and land into the Flutter industry.

Now as we have seen both Kotlin and Flutter, let’s see which is good for cross-platform development?

Factors to Consider for Comparing Kotlin Multiplatform and Flutter-

Kotlin vs Flutter

1. Popularity-

Both Kotlin and Flutter are open-source and free to use tools. Due to this, developers are showing interest in working with both. If you analyze Kotlin and Flutter based on their GitHub presence, the Kotlin has 28.3K stars and 3.29K forks while the Flutter has 69.5K stars and 8.11 forks. This means Flutter is getting more popular than Kotlin.

2. Learning Curve-

If you consider the learning curve as a factor of comparison in the Kotlin vs Flutter fight, the former obviously wins. An explanation for is that it is interoperable with Java and Google offered various Kotlin learning courses a couple of months back. But, when discussing Kotlin Multiplatform and Flutter, the situation is somewhat different. The Kotlin Multiplatform is a new ecosystem and has limited resources available in the market, in comparison with Flutter. Hence Flutter wins the battle.

3. Performance-

Flutter allows developers to use the same language for both layout and backend needs, higher animation speed, and so on. But, as compared to Kotlin, it is still lagging much behind in the market. The prime reason behind which is that Kotlin multiplatform code compiles exactly in the format as that of the targeted platform.

Hence the winner is Kotlin.

4. Focus on Multiple Platforms-

As of now, applications designed for targeting mobile (Android and iOS) and web comes under the Flutter use cases. One can’t use it for making their presence on tvOS, Android Auto, CarOS, and WatchOS. However, there is no such constraint in case of Kotlin multiplatform. It is intended to develop application projects for devices and platforms beyond mobile too.

Hence, preferring Kotlin multiplatform is a good decision for mobile application development companies for launching their application idea on each imaginable platform and device.

5. Documentation and Community Support-

Compared with Flutter, Kotlin multiplatform is still new and actually, in a trial state. Hence, the documentation and community support for the later is to somewhat lagging behind the former.

But, it is expected that the documentation as well as community strength will improve once the multiplatform becomes stable; further encouraging all to use Kotlin for cross-platform development.

Final words-

Both Kotlin multiplatform and Flutter are reliable, aim to reduce time to make a presence on both Android and iOS platform, and are supported by Google. Both are becoming more competitive with every release. 

From all these, you came to know about which one is better? If you’re still having difficulty to choose the best one, consult with Solace experts. We have a dedicated team of mobility experts to provide appropriate solutions as per your requirements. Connect with Solace to develop an effective mobile app. We will be happy to help you.

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