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5 Best Kotlin Libraries/Packages for Building Native Apps

5 minutes, 7 seconds read

About Kotlin

Kotlin is a modern statically typed programming language that boosts productivity and increases developer happiness. It runs on the Java Virtual Machine and is completely interoperable with the Java programming language. It is an officially supported language for developing Android apps, along with Java. Developers are finding Kotlin libraries more reliable as compared to other open-source platforms as they improve productivity and make the overall code base more stable.

After Google officially launched Kotlin, several developers have started taking interest in this new language as it allows them to save hours of development time.

Reasons why Kotlin is gaining popularity over Java:

  • It is structured and presents a familiar development tooling that is meant to boost developers’ productivity.
  • It is a good compiler.
  • Kotlin enables seamless integration with the existing infrastructure as it is compatible with all Java frameworks and libraries. It is designed in a manner to integrate easily with Marven and Gradle build systems.
  • It provides an enhanced run-time performance.

Kotlin Libraries:

Below are some major Kotlin libraries that will help developers to make the right choice, as per their needs:

Anko

It is considered one of the popular Android libraries as it is written in Kotlin but maintained by JetBrains. Anko makes the code clean and easy to understand. It is lightweight and also helps to avoid Boilerplate code. The name Anko is derived from the first two letters of (An)droid and (Ko)tlin. The library has four diverse modules that include:

Layouts: Helps to write dynamic Android layouts and is fast and has type-safe approach;
SQLite: A Kotlin-specific query DSL and parser for Android SQLite with lot simpler way;
Commons: A lightweight library is full of helpers for intents, dialogs, logging, resources, and more;
Coroutines: Utilities based on the new kotlinx.coroutines library

Dynamic layout using Anko Layouts

Dynamic kotlin layout using Anko Layouts
Dynamic kotlin layout using Anko Layouts

It is best to make use of this library while trying to develop Kotlin projects.
For more details about Anko, refer to Github.

Kotlin Coroutines

Some of the APIs begin long-running operations like network IO, file IO, CPU or GPU-intensive work and need the caller to block until they finish. But Kotlin Coroutines helps to avoid blocking thread and replaces it with the more convenient operation known as suspension of coroutines which helps in writing cleaner and more concise app code. Kotlin Coroutines allows users to develop asynchronous programs in a very simple manner, which are primarily based on the concept of Continuation-passing style programming.
Coroutines is a recommended solution for asynchronous programming that includes:

Lightweight: Due to support for suspension,which doesn’t block the thread where the coroutine is running, it is possible to run many coroutines on a single thread. Suspending saves memory over blocking and also supports many concurrent operations.

Fewer memory leaks: to run operations within a scope, make use of structured concurrency.

Built-in cancellation support: by using the running coroutine hierarchy, Cancellation is automatically propagated.

Jetpack integration: the extensions included by several Jetpack libraries provide full coroutine support. Some libraries also provide their own coroutine scope that can be used for structured concurrency.

To begin with Coroutine, refer to the example below that is making use of the launch {} function:

Kotlin Coroutine using the launch{} function
Here we start a coroutine that waits for 1 second and prints Hello.

For more details about Kotlin Coroutines, refer to Github

KAndroid

KAndroid is a Kotlin for Android library that focuses on efficiency and delivers useful extensions to eliminate boilerplate code in Android SDK. This library can be of a huge help in various functions like Handler implementation, ViewPager Implementation, SearchView query text change, TextWatcher, SeekBar extension, using system services, Using Intents, Logging, loading animation from XML, etc. Making use of this library is helpful as much code is not needed to be written for common function.  

Refer to the example below:

KAndroid- Kotlin for Android library

RxKotlin

This is the most lightweight library as compared to other Android libraries because it adds convenient extension functions to RxJava, which allows it to utilize RxJava and Kotlin exceptionally. As it makes use of RxJava with Kotlin, it gathers the conveniences in one centralized library and standardized conventions. However, Kotlin has language features like extension functions, which streamlines usage of RxJava even more.

Refer to the example below:

RxKotlin


Klaxon

Klaxon is another lightweight android Kotlin library to parse JSON in Kotlin.

For example,

Klaxon
Klaxon code

The values extracted from a valid JSON file can be of the following type:

  • Int
  • Long
  • BigInteger
  • String
  • Double
  • Boolean
  • JsonObject
  • JsonArray

JsonObject and JsonArray behave differently. While JsonObject behaves like a Map, JsonArray behaves like a List. Once a file is analyzed, it can be cast to the type that one wants. 

For more details about klaxon, refer to Github.

Conclusion

To build a scalable Android application, above are the top recommended Kotlin libraries that Android developers can utilize for the development process. There is no need to develop everything from scratch as these libraries will help developers to save hours of time.

For more information, check out ktlint and KBinding.

About the author:

Burhanuddin Zummarwala is a Senior Software Engineer at Mantra Labs. Burhanuddin likes coding, travelling, trekking, sports (especially cricket and TT) and loves exploring new technologies.

Further reading:

  1. 8 Best Ways to Reduce Android App Size
  2. WWDC20: 6 Latest Additions in SwiftUI for iOS Developers
  3. 5 Key Takeaways for iOS Developers from WWDC20
  4. 5 Reasons Why Flutter Framework is Better than React Native

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Virtual health: Delivering care through technology

8 minutes, 52 seconds read

Virtual Care, Telehealth, Telemedicine, etc. are terms used very synonymously. Indeed they are interrelated, however, Virtual Care is a broader term in which healthcare providers use digital tools to communicate and deliver care to their patients. Telehealth and Telemedicine are a part of Virtual Care where doctors deliver care to their patients, remotely via phone, video, or instant messaging. Virtual health includes care delivery beyond video consultation where hospitals provide services using technology such as wearables for remote monitoring, instruments for post-op care and second opinions, e-pharma services, and medical information, etc. 

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic gave an impetus to Virtual Care, but even in the Pre-COVID time, the Healthcare sector was slowly gearing up for this next wave in care delivery. What COVID-19 did was, help patients get acclimatized to the digital health tools and services. 

What does Virtual Health help with?

The pandemic has brought the burning issues of the healthcare sector to center stage. Patient experience and access to healthcare services are key differentiators for people while choosing a healthcare provider. Let’s take a look at some of these issues addressed by technology in the healthcare sector-

The increasing number of patients

Apart from the pandemic, there’s already been a rise in the number of patients due to drastic changes in lifestyle and food habits, an increase in pollution levels, increase in new types of viruses, etc. This has caused undue stress on healthcare institutions and workers and has led to the deterioration of the quality of patient care. Virtual Health technology such as mHealth apps, EHR (Electronic Health Record), video conferencing, etc. has helped reduce the pressure on hospitals.

Difficulty in traveling for old patients

The pace of life is increasing at a rapid rate. It is getting insanely difficult for the elder population to navigate through the traffic and commute long distances for a check-up. Many times, they have to depend on their family members to take them to hospitals. Moreover, they are at risk of exposure to viruses in hospitals and clinics. Now that they have had the experience of virtual consultations, they prefer care delivery at home rather than going to hospitals.

Chronic Diseases treatment

The number of people above the age of 45 face health issues. Some patients are suffering from chronic diseases regardless of age. Regular monitoring of their vitals is very important. Moreover people now prefer Virtual healthcare services which are easily accessible and save a lot of time, effort, and money. Now that people have found these services effective, they will opt for online consults rather than frequent in-person visits. 

Post-op Care

The duration of post-operative care is quite long and tedious. If given a choice, people will lean towards wearables which will help keep doctors posted on the status of the treatment. Many times, the cost of post-op care is more than the actual treatment and sometimes is not covered under insurance. Virtual care-delivery services will help reduce the financial burden of people going through these treatments.

Follow-ups/Second opinion  

Some health conditions need multiple follow-ups and second opinions to figure out the right approach to treat the issue. It is much easier for patients to do follow-up consults virtually rather than going through the tedious process of appointment booking, commuting, and waiting for their turn. It helps reduce the queue outside the doctor’s office as well. Some health issues need a second opinion, sometimes both by patients and doctors. Virtual Healthcare technologies make it possible for them to take second opinions from doctors all over the world. With electronic records and image sharing, doctors can diagnose the problem better.

What does Virtual Health include?

Virtual Health can be broadly divided into below applications-

mHealth Applications

mHealth applications have widespread use. From symptom checkers to appointment booking, from fitness trackers to uploading medical records, from video conferencing features to chatbot integrations, mHealth apps are on a rise mainly because of easy accessibility for the tech-savvy customers. According to a study by NCBI, among the 22 selected mHealth apps operating in India, Practo, mfine, DocsApp, 1mg, Netmeds, Lybrate, MediBuddy, and Medlife were found to be the eight most popular ones with over a million downloads and on average four-plus user rating out of five. All the above apps are mainly being used for online consults. This just goes about showing that people prefer having homecare services instead of stepping out. 

E-Triage Tools

The rising number of patients with different stages of COVID symptoms was a task to deal with. E-triage software here enables hospitals to triage patients into different sections when there’s an overload of patients at a particular time. Now, in the case of home care, e-triage tools help patients to access the gravity of their health condition and notify the healthcare provider accordingly. Such tools help reduce A&E waiting time and improve NHS performance. Many companies are building healthcare software integrating the E-triage module within EHR, telemedicine, clinical decision making, billing, etc. In India, Persistent Systems’ cutting edge platform has a Nurse Triage system that enables nurses to see the queue of patients and triage via phone calls. Once the calls are done, a triage report is generated and sent to care providers. Many leading doctors feel that AI in image triage will see a boost in near future.

Remote Patient Monitoring 

There are multiple benefits such as reduced post-op expenditure, time wastage, less exposure to other diseases, etc. The global remote patient monitoring devices market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 7.1% during the forecast period (2019–2027) according to Coherent Market Insights. Some of the top players in this space are Biotronik, Boston Scientific Corporation, CAS Medical Systems, CONTEC MEDICAL, Dragerwerk, GE Healthcare, Guangdong Biolight Meditech, Medtronic, Mindray Medical, Nihon Kohden, Philips Healthcare, Spacelabs Healthcare, Abbott. Companies such as GE Healthcare and Philips Healthcare have done a great job with building remote patient monitoring systems within the hospital premises as well as homecare for COVID patients. The main goal was to reduce the exposure of healthcare workers to at-risk patients. 

Synchronous and Asynchronous Telehealth

Synchronous telehealth, in other words, Telemedicine is where there is a live conversation between the patient and the doctor. Asynchronous telehealth involves the exchange of recorded data e.g. images, video, medical reports, pathology reports between patients and doctors, at times between doctors as well. Similar to mHealth space, companies like Practo, 1mg, Lybrate, Medlife, and Portea Medical in India are some of the top players in telehealth and telemedicine. Lybrate’s USP lies in CMS (Clinical Management System) which helps doctors with tedious tasks of managing patients and providing better care. Meanwhile, Portea Medical’s home consults and pharma delivery have more relevance with the audience as it combines technology with a touch of personalization. 

Digital Therapeutics

Digital Therapeutics delivers evidence-based therapies with the help of software which can be used both as a preventive measure as well as treatment application. The effectiveness of the medication and lifestyle changes on patients are monitored by leveraging technology. In India, major non-communicable diseases that account for 62% of the total mortality rate are CVD, diabetes, respiratory conditions, and cancer. Prominent global players in this space include Noom (US), Livongo Health (US), Omada Health (US), WellDoc (US), Pear Therapeutics (US), Proteus Digital Health (US), Propeller Health (US), Akili Interactive Labs (US), Better Therapeutics (US), etc. Omada Health is the pioneer in the DTx (Digital Therapeutics) that focused primarily on diabetes and pre-diabetes but now is branching out in the mental health space as well. In India, Altran (a part of Capgemini) is into building personalized DTx applications for clients. Whereas a start-up called Wellthy Therapeutics has ready solutions catering to multiple diseases.

Future of Virtual Health

Undoubtedly, there has been a massive increase in the adoption of Virtual Health technologies as people have gotten accustomed to the ease of certain services at home. In the coming future, mHealth apps, remote patient monitoring, and Digital therapeutics see a surge in demand from the customers. According to a study by Markets and Markets, “The global digital therapeutics market is projected to reach USD 6.9 billion by 2025 from USD 2.1 billion in 2020, at a CAGR of 26.7% during the forecast period (2020–2025).” A study by Fortune Business Insights, “The global mHealth market size is projected to reach USD 293.29 billion by 2026, exhibiting a CAGR of 29.1% during the forecast period.” A Research and Markets report says, “The remote patient monitoring market is expected to reach US$31.326 billion by the end of 2023.” Apart from the above, development in digital infrastructure such as virtual health stations where doctors can provide consultations globally, mobile ICUs, MRIs, X-rays, ultrasound equipment, the establishment of rural virtual care units reaching the remote areas of the country are some of the trends which will gain momentum. The focus would always lie upon the personalization of the virtual care experience for patients driven by data exchange and interoperability. 

Indeed, there are certain challenges to the implementation of these technologies, lack of infrastructure, and digital literacy amongst elders and lower strata of society. Many healthcare institutions still have inhibitions while investing in digital technologies fearing rejection from the customers. It will be crucial for care providers to choose the right partner for implementing these technologies and create awareness amongst people to adopt them.  

In a Nutshell

The success of virtual care relies on how well the digital experience is designed for the patient. “By 2025, as many as 95 percent of all customer interactions will be through channels supported by artificial intelligence (AI) technology” – Microsoft. The use of algorithms and AI for personalizing these experiences will be the key. 

Find out more about unchartered territories in ‘Blue Ocean’ of Digital Health. Join our webinar hosted by Parag Sharma (CEO, Mantra Labs) as he shares his insights on untapped opportunities using digital self-care tools within behavioral healthcare & emotional wellness.

Save your spot! 

Further Readings:

  1. Reimagining Medical Diagnosis with Chatbots
  2. HealthTech 101: How are Healthcare Technologies Reinventing Patient Care
  3. What will be the state of the healthcare industry post pandemic?
  4. Healthcare Chatbots: Innovative, Efficient, and Low-cost Care
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