If you are about to start a new project using a cross-platform development tool and you are thinking about Kotlin Native vs Flutter.
This article will give you an overview of both the platforms.
I need to tell you something before you start reading this article.
Here I am not comparing Kotlin as a programming language with Flutter as Cross-platform SDK.
Instead I am comparing Kotlin Native which is cross-platform tool by Kotlin team which can be used to develop cross-platform Native Apps.
Flutter also do the same. so we will be talking about Kotlin Native vs Flutter. Not Kotlin vs Flutter.
Just to clarify you:
You should not actually compare Kotlin and Flutter.
- Because Kotlin is a programming language which has features of Functional and Non-functional programming.
- Whereas Flutter is SDK (Not a programming language).
- Flutter uses DART Programming language. so If you want to write apps using Flutter you will have to use Dart programming language.
- Flutter can be compared with Kotlin/Native (Continue Reading we have compared Kotlin Native and Flutter SDK 🙂 ). Kotlin team at JetBrains introduced Kotlin/Native for cross-platform development using Kotlin.
Native or Hybrid Apps
First, you need to understand the difference between Native and Hybrid apps also.
Native apps are written for the specific platform or operating system.
For example, if we develop an app using Java/Kotlin it will be called as a Native Android app.
Because of Kotlin or Java fully support Android framework and libraries and this app cannot run on any other operating system except Android.
Because all operating system can support or execute these technologies using WebView(for Android) and UIWebView (for iOS).
Nowadays many companies started cross-platform development because this can save their time and effort.
If a company has to develop an app and they decide to go with a Native approach they will have to manage 2 different code bases, iOS Developer, Android Developer, the same UI will have to be designed for both platforms.
But if a company go with a Hybrid approach (using React Native by Facebook, Flutter by Google, PhoneGap by Adobe, Xamarin by Microsoft) or any other cross-platform SDK, this will save their time, effort, development cost.
In addition, Hybrid apps use a Native container (Cordova for example) which can communicate with framework specific libraries and frameworks.
Going Kotlin and Kotlin Native
I suggest you to read this article about Kotlin Multiplatform Development and Kotlin Native.
Kotlin is a statically typed programming language developed by JetBrains Inc.
Kotlin has all features of any modern programming language.
It supports both functional and object-oriented programming features.
Last year Google announced Kotlin as a First class/ Official programming language for Android Development.
Kotlin is 100% interoperable with Java which means that Kotlin can call or use Java code and libraries.
Similarly, Kotlin code can be called from Java code.
Kotlin can also compile into Native binaries which empowers Kotlin to run without any virtual machine.
Kotlin Native binaries are produced through Kotlin Native Framework.
With the help of Kotlin Native Framework developer can develop apps for the iOS platform.
Kotlin Native compiler uses LLVM library. LLVM library is used to produce an intermediate or binary machine code, which can run without any virtual machine.
Features of Kotlin
Kotlin is backed by JetBrains and somehow Google for Android Development which means its future is bright and it has potential.
- Kotlin support best features of functional programming and OO programming language.
- Kotlin handles Null Pointer Exceptions easily.
- Kotlin support lambdas, higher order functions, smart casting.
- Approximately 40 % less code lines as compared to Java.
In near future, Kotlin will allow you to develop a single platform using Kotlin for different platforms (Android, iOS, Web, and Server).
Each platform will have its own module, A Module will have platform specific code and libraries.
For example, An Android module in Kotlin Multiplatform project will have Android OS specific framework and libraries which are only accessible in Android apps or which are only required for the Android portion of the project.
Flutter was first announced by Google at Google I/O 17 and Flutter beta 1 was released on Mobile World Congress (2017). And now Flutter Beta 3 is announced at Google I/O 18 which is ready to be used for production apps.
Flutter is open source cross-platform SDK by Google for developing Native experience apps for Android and iOS platform.
Flutter uses Dart programming language for developing apps.
Introduction to Dart Programming Language
Dart has many similar features of Kotlin and Swift.
- Dart support Ahead of time compilation (AOT). Using this feature of Dart, Flutter SDK improves app performance and app startup time.
- Dart also support Just in Time compilation or JIT.
- Using JIT compilation feature of Dart, Flutter SDK allows hot reload for flutter apps.
Flutter support Material Design components for Android and Cupertino for iOS, so if you design and develop your apps using Flutter SDK they will look and feel like Native Android or iOS app.
Flutter SDK can be installed on Mac or Windows, and it has plugins for Android Studio, IntelliJ IDEA, Visual Studio.
Flutter also supports Firebase API’s.
Many companies started using Flutter SDK like Alibaba.
Flutter still lacks a huge developer community as compared to Kotlin.
- Apps developed using Flutter compiles down into the Native code for both platforms (iOS and Android).
Fast Development with Hot Reload
Flutter has hot reload feature which facilitates you rapidly and effectively analyze, fabricate UIs, include highlights, and fix bugs in milliseconds. Experience sub-second reload times, without losing app state, on emulators, test systems, and device for iOS and Android.
Flutter Native Features
Using Flutter SDK developer can access existing Java, Swift code and libraries.
Flutter SDK has support for unit testing and integration testing.
Native User Interface
Flutter has Material Design widgets for Android and iOS widgets (Cupertino) which means if you design and develop your application with Flutter SDK your application will look and feel like Native Application.
Because your app will be using Native UI widgets.
Want to learn More about Flutter and Dart?
Want to learn more about Kotlin and Kotlin Native?
Purpose of this article is not to tell you that Flutter is better than Kotlin Native or vice versa.
We just tried to explain both the platforms.