With a bigger slice of mobile market share, Android has remained the first choice of every business and Android app development company. It has gained a huge attention of every business vertical and niche market for making a significant presence in the mobile market and deliver an enriched experience – making no one ponder upon what’s best for their app development needs – Android or iOS.
But, the Android platform itself put the app developers into dilemma of making a choice by introducing two official Android app development languages – Java and Kotlin. While many embraced Java for a longer span of time since it has been in the market for years, many set their journey with the support of Kotlin.
In such a scenario, if you are someone wondering what you should go for, it is profitable to consider Kotlin and the reason behind this is what we will cover in this article – beginning with a brief introduction of Kotlin programming language.
Kotlin- An Introduction to the New Official Android Programming Language
Kotlin is an open-source, statically typed, cross-platform, and general-purpose programming language used for creating Android applications. Designed by JetBrains and announced as an official Android app development programming language by Google in I/O 2017, the language runs effectively on JVM (Java Virtual Machine) and offers the opportunity to combine the functional and technical aspects of the development phase.
The language, in the span of just 3 years, has entered the list of Top 10 Programming languages in the marketplace. It has offered the Android app developers and businesspeople with plethora of benefits, because of which various popular apps have migrated from Java to Kotlin and many more are heading towards embracing Kotlin. It is emerging out as the first choice to relish the benefits of Android economy, making Java take the backseat.
A proof of which is that today, around 0.48% apps residing in the Google Play Store and 2.08% of the app downloaded are designed using Kotlin. And the reasons behind this dramatic change in the choice of programming language for creating an Android mobile app are:-
1. Easy to Learn
The foremost reason that Kotlin is gaining higher popularity in the Android application development environment is that it is easier to learn for someone who has knowledge or prior experience with Java app development.
2. Higher Maturity Level
Kotlin has gone through years of tests and updation based upon the real-time challenges faced by the Android developers and users. Because of this, the language has grown to be mature and easy to implement for embracing the right Android app development tools and concepts.
3. Lower Instances of App Crashes
Since the number of codelines in Kotlin app development is less than that associated with Java, it offers higher support against bugs and errors. This eliminates the instances of app crashes and empower developers to deliver high speed and productivity.
4. Safer Coding
Unlike Java, Kotlin language does not compel the developers to identify a null safety exception on their own. Its compiler resolves this issue by introducing inherent null safety. Not only this, it also executes a myriad of checks, resulting in lower runtime errors and higher app efficiency, and that while giving developers an escape from wasting their time into this context.
5. Higher Readability
Kotlin, when compared to Java, enables you to solve a problem with lesser lines of codes. This not only reduces the development efforts and cost, but also improves the code readability, which in turn provides developers with more time to audit and update their codes effectively.
6. Enhanced User Experience
Kotlin, with traits of functional programming, empowers the app developers to enhance the app performance via inlining and employ the concepts of functional programming in a better manner. This, in turn, helps the Android app development companies to look into different ways to cater to the needs of the users and provide them with services as per the current market needs. Besides, the Android programming language offers higher readability and safety against bugs and errors, which altogether enhances the app user experience.
7. Ease of Maintenance
With concise coding, Kotlin provides an escape from higher demand of boilerplate code. This eventually cut down the app errors, make codes more reliable and thus, ensures ease of maintenance process.
8. Android Studio Support
Backed by JetBrains who have introduced Android Studio, Kotlin has emerged out with all the characteristics that are required to work efficiently with Android Studio. Also, it has been observing updated compatible with Android Studio, making it a better option for developers looking ahead to build an application on Android Studio platform.
9. Interoperability with Java
Above all, Kotlin offers 100% interoperability with Java. This implies you can bring the Java code onto the Kotlin development environment and proceed further with introducing new features and functionalities, rather than starting from scratch.
With this attended to, let’s directly jump into the main section of the article, i.e., how to develop an Android app using Kotlin.
Steps to Perform Android App Development Using Kotlin
1. Install Android Studio
The first step to consider for starting with Kotlin app development is to install Android Studio – an IDE designed primarily for Android mobile application development. To leverage the benefits of Kotlin support in Android Studio, it is necessary to go with Android 3.0 or higher versions. Also, it is imperative to ensure that the Java Development Kit, Java 7 or higher is already installed on your system.
Once these two terms are fulfilled, install Android Studio just like other softwares. But again, if you wish to look into other requirements, check the documentation at developer.android.com/studio.
2. Build Your First Project
Once the Android Studio is installed, click on the ‘Start a New Android Studio Project’ option from the Android Studio dialog box. In the New Project dialog opened, enter the name and default example domain for your application. Also, ensure that the box ensuring Kotlin support is ticked.
Accept the default location of the project, defaults in the target Android Devices dialog, and pick the empty activity. Then, customize the Activity dialog, accept the defaults and click on ‘Finish’ button.
After this, create a folder for your App project, build the project using Gradle, open the code editor showing the project you are working upon, and focus upon the requisite essentials.
3. Explore the App Project Layout
To see the layout of your Android application project, click on View all properties icon in the design tab. If the properties are visible to your, it’s fine. But, in the converse case, ensure that the TextView is selected in the Component Tree.
4. Add String and Color Resources
In the so far journey of switching from Java to Kotlin, you have learnt how to change the values of the existing entities. Here, you will come across how to create a resource and employ the same value in multiple areas or determine values and revamp the UI automatically with a change in the value, a comprehensive overview of which is available at this Google Developers link.
5. Consider Views and Constraints
The next step is to add different buttons and set constraints to link the positions of view to each other. For example, assign the following values to each of the buttons to ensure that some action is executed when they are pressed:-
6. Focus on App UI/UX
While you have created buttons and assigned some action value to each, this step will be all about making the buttons responsive. For example, making the ‘Toast’ button show a pop-up message and ‘Count’ button display the updated number in the TextView.
Once done, create another app screen and activity by following the same steps (though not creating a new project again) till the whole app vision is turned into a functionable application.
Kotlin, though being a modern programming language, is gaining a huge momentum in the marketplace. It is receiving a robust support from Google’s Android and is even becoming the first preference of the mobile app developers, indicating a brighter future of Kotlin Android development programming language.
In a scenario like this, if you are someone entering into the Android app industry or are looking forward to upgrading your skills, it is the best time to look forward to investing in Android app development using Kotlin language.