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Kotlin vs Flutter: Which Is Best For Cross-platform App Development?

According to a recent study by Statista, the number of smartphone users worldwide today surpasses three billion and is forecasted to further grow by several hundred million in the next few years. China, India, and the United States are the countries with the highest number of smartphone users, with a combined 1.46 billion users.

With such a high rate of the global number of mobile phone users, the number of app downloads is also projected to increase. According to another study by Statista, as of 2019, over 2 million apps are available for download on the Google Play Store, while 1.83 million apps are available on the Apple App Store.

Now, let’s talk about app development. There are two primary ways of developing an app, native app development and cross-platform app development.

The native app development uses codes written in Java for developing an app for Android, while for iOS, codes are written in Swift and Objective-C. This method leaves no room for errors, making it the best choice for developing a flawless and high-performing application, though this perfection is achieved after abundant codes, various expenses, and much time.

Cross-platform app development requires no such sacrifices to develop a high-performing app. It allows app developers to write single code for every platform, thus saving time and effort. To achieve a native-like experience, developers use tools and frameworks like Flutter, React Native, Kotlin Multiplatform, Xamarin, and Ionic, among others.

In this blog, we will be discussing the pros and cons of Kotlin Multiplatform and Flutter to evaluate which one is best for cross-platform app development.

Let’s dig in!

What is Kotlin?

Developed by JetBrains, Kotlin is amongst the most reliable app development languages and platforms. This language successfully overrides general programming errors and misconceptions, thus ensuring minimal crashes and system failures.

According to AppBrains, over 136 thousand apps currently use Kotlin and its overall market share stands at 16.84 percent of apps, and 40.18 percent of installs.

Since we are talking about cross-platform app development, it is important to mention Kotlin Multiplatform.

Kotlin Multiplatform is an additional feature of the language that expands beyond Android app development. It was created by the team of Google cross-platform app development to allow developers to share codes, data, and business logic across multiple platforms such as iOS, Web, Linux, macOS, Android, and Java Virtual Machine.

Pros of Kotlin Multiplatform

Easy to learn

The Kotlin language is very easy to understand. It was created to interoperate with Java, therefore both languages are quite similar. This makes it easy for developers who have already mastered Java to understand and learn Kotlin.

Native UI Experience

Developing a cross-platform app using Kotlin Multiplatform doesn’t require any extra steps or instructions to create the native UI experience. Developers have the liberty to work on the appearance, behavior, and performance of the application just like they would in the case of native app development or as they deem fit.

Better performance

Kotlin multiplatform compiles the code in the same format as the platform, using its form. This allows for enhanced and customized performance. The performance of the Kotlin multiplatform app is comparable to native apps.

Maintainable code

Due to the code modularity and testability, new developers joining the ongoing development can easily pick up.

Cons of Kotlin

High development cost

Though Kotlin multiplatform is free to use, the different semi-native functionalities that it delivers cost much while developing an app.

Few libraries

Being still at the experimental stage, Kotlin multiplatform has fewer libraries available for now.

Requires knowledge of tech stacks

Developers are required to have knowledge of each platform and API as Kotlin multiplatform is not designed to be a replacement for every application programming interface (API) that a platform focuses on.

What is Flutter?

Developed by Google, Flutter is an open-source UI software development kit that allows developers to create a native-like app using a single codebase. Dart is the official programming language of Flutter.

According to Google, nearly half a million developers now use its open-source UI framework Flutter each month and 2 million developers have used Flutter since version 1.0 was released in December 2018.

Pros of Flutter

High performance

Flutter framework allows building directly into the machine code, thus eliminating the possibility of bug occurrence. It gives room to developers to be innovative and also offers customized solutions to them. Furthermore, Flutter offers great speed and has advantages over others because of Dart.

Lesser coding

Using Flutter saves much time for developers as Flutter’s Dart programming language is strongly typed and object-oriented. Dart, based on C/C++ and Java, offers numerous benefits. Using a single codebase reduces both time and cost of developing an app.

Open-source platform

Flutter is an open-source platform and developers have access to all original codes and documentation for free.

Easy to use

Flutter allows the development of high-performing apps with significantly less code and the Flutter Dart combo is both easy to learn and work with.

Cons of Flutter

Bigger app size

Flutter-built apps are usually bigger as the framework’s size is quite big. This creates a problem for developers who are looking to develop apps that do not take much space on iOS and Android devices.

Rare coding language

Though Dart is quite easy to learn, it is a rare coding language and is not used by many developers.

Kotlin Multiplatform vs Flutter

FeaturesFlutterKotlin Multiplatform
PerformanceGreat performance due to the hot reload feature and Flutter is fast and stable at 60 frames per second.Allows customizability of code: Kotlin code is compiled in the same format as the targeted platform
Integration of Third-Party Libraries and ToolsIs required as Flutter is a UI development tool.Operates within the native platform ecosystems so it does not require integration of third-party libraries and tools
Learning CurveComprehensiveLimited resources to learn
UI designExtensive customization featuresGreat UI experience and customization
Backend DevelopmentFirebaseAllows developers to write backend code.
PopularitySlightly more popular than Kotlin MultiplatformPopular

Wrapping Up

When it comes to choosing one between Flutter and Kotlin Multiplatform, Flutter seems to be the winner for now. However, Kotlin is not so far behind.

Both frameworks offer various advantages. To choose one of them, it is advisable to consult with mobile app development experts and analyze your project requirements and priorities to determine which one is better.

If you are looking for an mobile app development company, then Jellyfish Technologies is the best choice for you.

Jellyfish Technologies has developed numerous mobile apps for global clients across diverse domains, such as social media, micro-finance, sports & leisure, e-commerce, productivity, and fitness, among others.

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