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The Clash of Clans: Kotlin Vs. Flutter

First things first – Kotlin is a programing language whereas Flutter is a framework. As frameworks provide solutions to particular problems, you’ll find several inbuilt functions in Flutter to complete an application. And, of course, programming languages know no limit for app development. 

Since May 2019, Google officially supports Kotlin for mobile app development on Android. But, Flutter is an open-source mobile application development framework created by Google itself!

Both Kotlin and Flutter have a ‘Google tag’ attached with them. Therefore, ‘which is better’ is a big question before developers. Reading further, you’ll get to know ‘when’ to use Kotlin or Flutter.

When to use Kotlin?

Kotlin is a cross-platform general-purpose programming language. Although it relies on Java Class Library, its syntax is more concise. Want to know the difference between Kotlin and Java? Here’s your answer.

The scope of app development in Kotlin is unlimited. For instance, Uber’s internal tooling processes (e.g. Annotation processors, Gradle plugins, etc.) are coded in Kotlin. Pinterest app moved from Java to Kotlin to provide users a better interface. 

Source: Pinterest@GooglePlay

Following are the situations where Kotlin supersedes any other programming language for mobile app development.

#1 Adding Features to an Existing App

Kotlin works well and is interoperable with Java and Java components. If you want to add features to an existing app, then instead of revamping the entire architecture or changing the platform, you can simply use Kotlin to solve the purpose.

#2 Simple Syntax for Sophisticated Codes

With intuitive syntax, it is easy to write and deploy new codes in Kotlin. For apps that require heavy coding, Kotlin is simple to maintain. 

#3 Inbuilt Debugging

Kotlin’s fail-fast compiler can search bugs automatically and prevents them from coming again. Thus, Kotlin is safer than Java and reports and resolves crashes instantly.

StackOverflow survey 2019 reveals-  Kotlin is the fourth most loved programing language!

When to use Flutter?

Flutter is a framework developed by google on Dart programming language. Its architecture includes the Dart platform, Flutter engine, Foundation library, and design-specific widgets. Flutter got the spotlight because apps developed in Flutter are compatible with both iOS and Android.

The Flutter framework is capable of building full-fledged applications in different domains like e-commerce, utility, social, and entertainment. For example, Alibaba’s mobile app is built in Flutter.

Image source: Alibaba@GooglePlay

#1 For Building Minimum Viable Product (MVP)

If you want to build an application in minimum possible time, you should go for Flutter. Be it to impress investors, or present prototypes, Flutter is just sufficient (and fast too) to give a clearer idea of the product.

#2 Quick Fixes

Flutter’s hot reload feature allows developers to execute code changes in real-time. If you know, the project will require frequent changes, Flutter can give you quick fixes. 

#3 Easy Set-up

Flutter is easy to set-up, even in low-end PCs. It enables developers to access native features like Geo-location and camera along with additional widget support.

It would be unjust if we don’t discuss the situations where Flutter doesn’t meet developers’ expectations.

At present Flutter is still in its early stages. There aren’t too many CI (Continuous Integration) Platforms (e.g. Jenkins and Travis) that support it. Flutter, although makes it easy to build apps for android and iOS, does not cover web-apps. Therefore, Flutter is a misfit for businesses that require both mobile and web applications.

Now that Kotlin vs. Flutter is a hot-topic, should ‘React JS’ feel left out?

React JS, which is backed by Facebook was once popular for developing mobile user interfaces. Many developers still prefer React Native, which enables native Android, iOS, and UWP development with React. However, the new-age developers are more inclined towards Kotlin and Flutter.

What Developers say on Kotlin Vs. Flutter

“Dart is just a wannabe amateur hobby me-too project compared to Kotlin.”

Mike Milpot, Software Architect, Inventor

“Apart from the fact that you can still call Android/iOS APIs, building Flutter UIs is a bit more exhaustive than it is on Android.”

Wilberforce Uwadiegwu, Mobile Software Engineer, NCK Tech

“You can of course, use the Flutter knowledge to develop iOS apps later, so it can be a more useful knowledge if you want to focus on mobile development, but learning java will give you a step if you want to work on Back-end web development.”

Maycon Miranda, Web Developer, Bio Extratus

“Currently flutter lacks library/guide when comparing to Kotlin/Java. Therefore sometimes you’ll need to transfer or wrap Android library to flutter by yourself. It’ll make the time of developing your application increased.”

Phạm Anh Minh, Samsung Vietnam Mobile R&D Center

Final Thoughts

Kotlin and Flutter are competitive and are going to be better with every release. Experts say, if you want to strengthen back-end app development skills, you should learn Java followed by Kotlin. Thereafter, with little effort, you’ll automatically get hold of flutter.

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Enhancing digital patient experience with healthcare chatbots

5 minutes read

Chatbots are fast emerging at the forefront of user engagement across industries. In 2021, healthcare is undoubtedly being touted as one of the most important industries due to the noticeable surge in demand amid the pandemic and its subsequent waves. The Global Healthcare Chatbots Market is expected to exceed over US$ 314.63 Million by 2024 at a CAGR of 20.58%.

Chatbots are being seen as those with high potential to revolutionize healthcare. They act as the perfect support system to agents on the floor by providing the first-step resolution to the customer, in terms of understanding intent and need, boost efficiency, and also improve the accuracy of symptom detection and ailment identification, preventive care, feedback procedures, claim filing and processing and more.

At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, digital tools in healthcare, most commonly chatbots, rose to the forefront of healthcare solutions. Providence St. Joseph Health, Mass General Brigham, Care Health Insurance (formerly Religare), and several other notable names built and rolled out artificial intelligence-based chatbots to help with diagnostics at the first stage before a human-human virtual contact, especially while differentiating between possible COVID-19 cases and other ailments. The CDC also hosts an AI-driven chatbot on its website to help screen for coronavirus infections. Similarly, the World Health Organization (WHO) partnered with a messaging app named Ratuken Viber, to develop an interactive chatbot for accurate information about COVID-19 in multiple languages. This allowed WHO to reach up to 1 billion people located anywhere in the world, at any time of the day, in their respective native languages.

For Care Health Insurance, Mantra Labs deployed their Conversational AI Chatbot with AR-based virtual support, called Hitee, trained to converse in multiple languages. This led to 10X interactions over the previous basic chatbot; 5X more conversions through Vanilla Web Experience; Drop-in Customer Queries over Voice Support by 20% among other benefits.

Artificial Intelligence’s role in the healthcare industry has been growing strength by strength over the years. According to the global tech market advisory firm ABI Research, AI spending in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries is expected to increase from $463 million in 2019 to more than $2 billion over the next 5 years, healthtechmagazine.net has reported. 

Speaking of key features available on a healthcare chatbot, Anonymity; Monitoring; Personalization; collecting Physical vitals (including oxygenation, heart rhythm, body temperature) via mobile sensors; monitoring patient behavior via facial recognition; Real-time interaction; and Scalability, feature top of the list. 

However, while covering the wide gamut of a healthcare bot’s capabilities, it is trained on the following factors to come in handy on a business or human-need basis. Read on: 

Remote, Virtual Consults 

Chatbots were seen surging exponentially in the year 2016, however, the year 2020 and onwards brought back the possibility of adding on to healthcare bot capabilities as people continued to stay home amid the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. Chatbots work as the frontline customer support for Quick Symptom Assessment where the intent is understood and a patient’s queries are answered, including connection with an agent for follow-up service, Booking an Appointment with doctors, and more. 

Mental Health Therapy

Even though anxiety, depression, and other mental health-related disorders and their subsequent awareness have been the talk around the world, even before the pandemic hit, the pandemic year, once again could be attributed to increased use of bots to seek support or a conversation to work through their anxiety and more amid trying times. The popular apps, Woebot and Wysa, both gained popularity and recognition during the previous months as a go-to Wellness Advisor. 

An AI Wellness Advisor can also take the form of a chatbot that sends regular reminders on meal and water consumption timings, nutrition charts including requisite consultation with nutritionists, lifestyle advice, and more. 

Patient Health Monitoring via wearables 

Wearable technologies like wearable heart monitors, Bluetooth-enabled scales, glucose monitors, skin patches, shoes, belts, or maternity care trackers promise to redefine assessment of health behaviors in a non-invasive manner and helps acquire, transmit, process, and store patient data, thereby making it a breeze for clinicians to retrieve it as and when they need it.

Remote patient monitoring devices also enable patients to share updates on their vitals and their environment from the convenience and comfort of home, a feature that’s gained higher popularity amid the pandemic.

A healthcare chatbot for healthcare has the capability to check existing insurance coverage, help file claims and track the status of claims. 

What’s in store for the future of chatbots in Healthcare? 

The three main areas where healthcare chatbots can be particularly useful include timely health diagnostics, patient engagement outside medical facilities, and mental health care. 

According to Gartner, conversational AI will supersede cloud and mobile as the most important imperative for the next ten years. 

“For AI to succeed in healthcare over the long-term, consumer comfort and confidence should be front and center. Leveraging AI behind the scenes or in supporting roles could collectively ease us into understanding its value without risking alienation,” reads a May 2021 Forbes article titled, The Doctor Is In: Three Predictions For The Future Of AI In Healthcare. 

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