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.
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.
The Developers’ Take 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
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.