The development of software apps compatible with various mobile operating systems is called cross-platform development. The complexity of developing mobile apps originally was compounded by the hardship of building out a backend, which worked across numerous platforms.
The issue was that it’s not possible for a code made for a particular OS to be reused for another. Today, developing cross-platform apps is easier for app developers. Cross-platform development is exploding.
There was a time when it was synonymous with creating an app with the use of React Native and Flutter. Business enthusiasts and development vendors, such as in particular mobile app developers in India relied on these two frameworks to make a cost-effective presence in both Android and Apple Phone. Today, however, Kotlin has joined the competition, which makes everyone wonder just what the ultimate ruler in the cross-platform market will be.
Who dominates the app market? Let’s make a description of each and compare for you to make a better choice for your cross-platform development requirement.
Flutter is the UI toolkit from Google used to create natively compiled, beautiful apps for mobile, desktop, and web from one codebase. It’s open-source and targets several prevailing market and technological challenges and provides effective solutions. Thus, it became the ideal cross-platform app development framework used in mobile app development services in no time.
It furthermore entered into the technologies that top organizations work with.
- With the ‘hot reload’, making code changes and seeing results instantly is possible in the app previews, with no need to recompile code. This way, fixing bugs and experimenting with various UI elements and features become easier.
- Fast development time that saves not just money and time, but effort as well. The same as other cross-platform technology, it allows using the same code base to create separate apps for Apple Phone and Android.
- Works for the web and provides proper documentation, enabling you to check out how native controls work.
- Fast rendering and full customization, thanks to its layered architecture. It’s said to ‘provide you control over each screen pixel’, and enables you to overlay and animate video, text, graphics, and controls with no limits.
- It separates UI from native controls, eliminating many errors and nuances made by manufacturers of smartphones. Although this is not an often occurrence, still, it’s difficult with native development. Moreover, a separate UI means a unified view of all versions of a system without effort.
- Still an immature framework since it hasn’t been around for long, thus it’s not completely stable. Several or more or less problematic concerns remain, together with a lack of more advanced features, which leverage the operating systems’ capabilities. A lot of these features are not supported yet, with many libraries in the pre-alpha stage, showing limitations in comparison to other native counterparts.
- The apps are quite heavy and big to start with. They occupy plenty of space and take longer to update or download.
- Dart is somewhat immature as well. Compared to Kotlin and Swift, basically, it’s a step back. It either has lesser features or the current ones aren’t really well-refined.
- No single ‘guidelines in terms of developing Flutter applications, which could be an issue when creating a more complicated software.
- The feel and look are not 100 percent similar to native solutions. Flutter, basically, doesn’t build native components, but somewhat replicates the Material Design of Android and the iOS-specific components with its Cupertino Library, but not exactly the same.
- Flutter and Dart are changing rapidly, which could make code maintenance difficult later on. And, given the track record of renowned projects that Google killed, the future of Flutter could still be undetermined.
When to Use It Then?
While it’s still immature in handling more complex projects, for now at least, it’s however a good solution for an MVP, particularly for startups. When you have a mobile app idea but not sure exactly if it’s good, build your MVP with Flutter to save on costs and see your idea come to life. If the MVP succeeds, then you should begin to think of turning it instead into native mobile apps.
Developing two separate applications from the beginning takes so much money and time, thus startups with limited resources turn to Flutter. Moreover, more established brands seem to appreciate Flutter to create highly-branded experiences that support numerous platforms.
The Kotlin platform is an added feature of the language, which helps expand beyond Android app development to create scalable apps. Meaning, it lets developers share data, code, and business logic across numerous platforms, including Android, macOS, iOS, Linux, Web, and Java Virtual Machine.
- Boosts team efficiency. Being rather compact and clear, it boosts the efficiency of the development team, thanks to its intuitive and succinct syntax. More work could be accomplished in less time and lesser lines to write and deploy code.
- Seamless maintenance. Supported by a big majority of IDES, which include the Android Studio, and other software development kit tools, it helps boost the productivity of developers since they could continue working the toolkit that they’re used to.
- Complies with the current code of Java. It’s consistent with Java and all related frameworks and tools, making it possible to change to Kotlin step by step. If your product could not be written in Kotlin alone, both languages could be used at the same time in a comfortable manner.
- Less buggy. Kotlin offers a more compact and clear codebase, which makes code in production more consistent and stable. Bugs are detected during compile time; thus developers could resolve errors before runtime.
- Fluctuating speed of compilation. Kotlin, in some instances, is faster than Java, mostly when doing incremental builds. Still, keep in mind that Java is the winner in terms of clean builds.
- Not Java still. They are similar, sure, but at their core, these two are different languages. It won’t be possible for developers to shift from one to another quickly, without taking some time to learn Kotlin. Thus, if you’re considering changing your approach to Android app development, it would need more expenses for team training.
- Fewer Kotlin experts. The demand for specialists has escalated drastically after the announcement that Kotlin is being adopted as a first-class programming language of Google. Still, there are more Java programmers in the market than Kotlin programmers.
When to Use It Then?
As you can see, there’s no reason to not switch to Kotlin. Still, you could give it a try now and let a team of mobile app developers India gain some experience in using more advanced tech stack for developing Android apps. The Kotlin development investment concept for cross-platform still is relatively new in the market, yet surprisingly it’s being embraced by different renowned brands.
Kotlin and Flutter—the Comparison
1. Popularity in the Market
Both are free and open-source tools. Thus, developers are showing interest in both. With Flutter, if you check the Google Trends, it’s showing a steep growth in popularity than Kotlin.
In the same way, if you compare both Kotlin and Flutter based on their presence in GitHub, the former has 28.3 thousand stars and 3.29 thousand forks, while the latter has 69.5 thousand stars and 8.11 thousand forks. This is an indication that Flutter gets a big momentum in the market.
With Flutter, developers could use the same language for layout and backend needs, enjoy higher speed of animation, and so on. But, compared to Kotlin, it still lags behind in the market.
The main reason is that the code of Kotlin compiles exactly in the format of the platform targeted. Thus, when it comes to the multiplatform performance battle, the winner is Kotlin.
3. Learning Curve
When comparing the learning curve in Flutter versus Kotlin, undeniable the latter wins. This is because it’s Java interoperable, and Google offered various learning courses for Kotlin a few months back. However, when talking about Flutter and Kotlin multiplatform, the scenario is somehow different.
Kotlin is a new ecosystem compared to Flutter and has limited available resources in the market. Because of this, Flutter comes out the winner.
4. Backend Development Scope
When taking into account the backend development services, Kotlin again has an edge over Flutter. While Flutter goes with Firebase, an effective Backend-as-a-Service (BaaS) platform, to ascertain effective backend opportunities, the Kotlin multi platform allows developers to write backend code.
5. Third-Party Tools and Libraries Integration
Instead of creating ones, Kotlin operates within the native platform ecosystems. Thus, app experts could employ the same libraries and tools that they’ve been using during native development, which include SwiftUI and Jetpack Compose.
This means ultimately that they don’t have to find third-party tools and libraries to bridge a native environment connection. It is however required in Flutter cross-platform SDK, provided that it’s basically a User Interface development tool.
Both platforms are reliable, and their aim is to lessen time to make a presence on both iOS and Android platforms, as well as supported by Google. With every release, they become more competitive, which is really a great advantage to app developers and organizations alike.