Kotlin vs Flutter – Comparison of Popularity, Performance in 2022

By Saurabh Barot   |   13 September, 2022
Kotlin vs Flutter – Comparison of Popularity, Performance in 2022

Quick Summary:

Are you considering creating a cross-platform application but unsure about the best technology? Two of the top technologies utilized to create mobile technologies are Kotlin and Flutter. Flutter and Kotlin are two up-and-coming contenders in the struggle for supremacy in the cross-platform mobile app framework. Kotlin is a programming language, whereas Flutter is a framework. To clarify the argument between Kotlin and Flutter that is attracting the attention of many developers.

It can be challenging to understand why cross-platform development is becoming more popular. As implied by the name, it enables enterprises to reach a wider audience by enabling the operation of apps across many platforms, including iOS and Android. The global mobile application market will reach $187.58 billion in 2021 and is expected to increase at a CAGR of 13.4% from 2022 to 2030, according to Grand View Research, which has observed a significant boom in the tech sector today.

In the battle of cross-platform mobile app frameworks, two players were battling it out for the throne – React Native Vs. Flutter. Over the last decade, a new java-based programming language has gained enough popularity that developers are starting to notice. This new language is Kotlin. There is a new debate that is catching the attention of many developers – Kotlin Vs. Flutter.

The past standard programming frameworks for cross-platform development were Flutter and React Native. Developers used to utilize these languages a lot. However, currently, Kotlin has established itself in the developer community. Google formally launched Kotlin support for Android mobile app development in 2019. But it’s also critical to remember that Google developed the open-source mobile application development framework known as Flutter.

Kotlin and Flutter both have a Google Label associated with them. Therefore, the crucial question for developers is which is more appropriate. To help readers choose a mobile app development platform wisely, we will compare Kotlin and Flutter’s unique features in this article. So let’s take a quick look at both before delving into their differences.

What is Kotlin?

Github Stats: Stars: 42.5K |Forks: 5.2K | Licence: Apache2.0 |Contributers: 550+

what is kotlin

Initially designed for JVM (Java Virtual Machine), Kotlin is a general-purpose programming language developed by Jetbrains in 2016. General-purpose means the developers can share code data and business logic with various web programs. Hence Kotlin can interact with XCode and Swift for iOS, Android Studio, and Kotlin for Android. This makes Kotlin a flexible programming language that can interact with different Native environments.

The primary focus of Kotlin is on interoperability, clarity, and safety. The best part about Kotlin is that it uses multiple syntax and concepts such as Java, C#, etc. With these, users can have their native app experience. Also, the apps built on Kotlin generally observe minimum crashes and downtime because it brings easy solutions to programming misconceptions and errors.

Kotlin Vs. Java

Kotlin is looked at as a Java alternative. Java is the most known and widely accepted programming language amongst developers. However, ever since Kotlin has stepped into the market, the faith in Java seems to have taken a hit, and developers have started considering Kotlin as a better alternative. Java inspires Kotlin, and it is an improvised version of Java with more beneficial features. The language is clean, minimal, simple, and has fewer rules and formalities than Java. Google also announced Kotlin as an officially supported language to write Android apps in their Google I/O in May 2017. Kotlin Vs. Java is a whole other debate for some other time.

How does Kotlin Multiplatform work?

Kotlin Multiplatform is an additional feature provided by Kotlin for enabling developers to reuse business logic by not imposing any rules on how they want to build their app UI. This ensures that the app’s performance, behavior, and appearance remain native. Native UI provides the best user experience to customers. Since we compare Kotlin with Flutter, we will see how Kotlin Multiplatform works for two of the best smartphone platforms – Android and iOS.

Kotlin Multiplatform Framework

You start by writing the shared code in Kotlin. For Android, it will get converted to Java bytecode and be executed in the JVM. For Apple, since it doesn’t have a virtual machine, the Kotlin code would be converted to source code (native code for iOS) that goes inside the framework. For converting Kotlin code to source code, you need to use Kotlin Compiler divided into two components –Frontend and Backend.

The Frontend part of Kotlin converts the Kotlin Code to IR (Intermediate Representation). The backend converts IR to native code that is machine-executable. This is possible due to the powerful Kotlin/Native Infrastructure built by JetBrains.

Pre-requisites of Kotlin

If you want to learn Kotlin programming language, you should have a basic understanding of:

  • Java programming language
  • Exposure to any programming environment
  • Basic knowledge of basic concepts like – variables, syntax, and commands

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Features of Kotlin

  • Cross-platform Support
  • Reuse of logic
  • Concise
  • Interoperable
  • Null-safety
  • Adaptability & Flexibility
  • Tool Friendly
  • Extension function

Pros and Cons of Kotlin

As every technology has pros and cons, Kotlin is no different from them. Following are some of the advantages and disadvantages of kotlin.

Pros of Kotlin

  • 100% Java Code Interoperable
  • It is easily maintainable
  • Least buggy programming language
  • Easy bug detection
  • Increase Team Productivity
  • Easy to Learn
  • Compatibility with existing JAVA code

Cons of Kotlin

  • A small pool of Talent
  • Slower compilation speed
  • Smaller development community
  • Limited Resources

Popular Mobile Apps based on Kotlin

  • Airbnb
  • Netflix
  • Pinterest
  • Tinder
  • Trello

Top Company uses Kotlin

What is Flutter?

Github Stats: Stars: 144K  |Forks: 23.1K | Licence: BSD-3-Clause license |Contributers: 1000+What is Flutter
Flutter is Google’s open-source and cross-platform UI software development kit. Google introduced Flutter in 2017, and it has been the talk of the town ever since. It helps developers to build unique native-like apps that have cross-platform abilities. It uses Dart as its programming language that makes use of AOT (Ahead-of-Time) compilation.  With Flutter, developers can use a single-code base across various platforms – Mac, Android, iOS, Windows, and Linux.That’s why most tech companies looking to hire expert flutter developer for their app development project.

How does Flutter work?

How does Flutter work
Flutter is built differently compared to most other frameworks. The Flutter framework is composed of widgets. These widgets are rendered on Skia canvas and sent to the platform. The platform shows the canvas and sends the needed events back. The Flutter architecture is divided into three broad categories – Platform, Engine, and Framework. In the platform, Flutter provides a Shell that hosts Dart Virtual Machine. The Shell is platform-specific, giving access to native platform APIs and hosting and establishing control of the platform’s relevant canvas. The next layer is Engine. This layer provides Dart Runtime, Skia Platform Channels, and more. The relevant Flutter engine runs inside the relevant platform Shell. Finally, on top of this, you have Flutter Framework. It is one of the most relevant frameworks for an app developer. It has all the necessary components you would need to develop your app as a developer.

Pre-requisites of Flutter

For a basic understanding of the Flutter programming language, you should know:

  • Object Orientated Concepts – Class, Methods, Inheritance, Objects, Abstraction
  • Dart Language
  • Knowledge about Object-Oriented Languages like – C++ and Java

Features of Flutter

  • Open source
  • Hot Reload
  • Widgets
  • Access Native Features
  • Minimal code
  • Platform-specific Logic implementation

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Pros and Cons of Flutter

Pros of Flutter

  • Faster code writing
  • One code works for two platforms
  • Apps made with Flutter are faster
  • Less testing needed
  • Consistent app UI on older devices
  • Ideal for MVPs

Cons of Flutter

  • Limited set of tools and libraries
  • Lacks password management support
  • Apps usually are heavy and chunky in size
  • iOS support isn’t that great

Also, Read – Flutter App Development Cost

Popular Mobile Apps based on Flutter

  • Google Ads
  • Cred
  • PostMuse
  • SpaceX Go!
  • Xianyu

Top Company uses Flutter
Because there are such stark differences in both these mobile app development platforms, we should first understand them individually and then discuss their differences on the following factors:

  • Popularity
  • Learning Curve
  • Performance
  • User Experience – UX
  • Third-party libraries & Tools Integration
  • Scope in Backend Development
  • Pricing
  • Support for Testing
  • Documentation & Community
  • Time-to-market
  • Job Opportunity

The Ultimate Technical Kotlin Vs. Flutter Comparison – 2022

Now that we have a better understanding of both the platforms let us dive straight into the ultimate Kotlin Vs. Flutter comparison and see which one is better suited for your app development needs.

Flutter vs Kotlin

The Popularity and Market Share of Kotlin and Flutter

In terms of popularity, both Kotlin and Flutter are popular in mobile app development. There are plenty of reasons why Fluttershines, however Kotlin, with its features and functionalities, is one of the top mobile app development tools. When comparing in terms of popularity, Kotlin has 42.5K stars and 5.2K forks on GitHub. On the other hand, Flutter has 144K stars and 23.1K forks. Let’s take a look at the google trends stats.

Google Trends Comparison Between Kotlin Vs Flutter

Google trends Kotlin vs Flutter

The Google Trends graph shows the data for the last 5 years for the technology where the blue color represents Kotlin, and the red color represents Flutter. You can see a steady rise in both technologies. This graph represents the average queries asked about both the technology in general. kotlin generates an average of 22 questions, whereas Flutter generates 35 queries.

StackOverflow Stats – Kotlin vs Flutter

According to the Stackoverflow developers survey 2022, Kotlin is used by 9.16% of developers. Regarding salary, As of 2021, the median yearly salary of Kotlin developers was $55,071, which increased to $69,318 in 2022.

kotlin stackoverflow

While talking about Flutter, it is used by 12.64% of developers in the other frameworks and libraries.

Flutter Stackoverflow
Flutter has remained in the top three most loved technology with 68.03%.

stackoverflow flutter

Learning Curve of Kotlin Vs Flutter

One of the first things new developers are interested in knowing when deciding on a new framework is the learning curve that comes with it. Overall, Kotlin is easier to learn since Google has many detailed courses available for Kotlin, and it is also interoperable with Java. However, the focus of Kotlin currently is more on its extension –Kotlin Multiplatform. And there is limited documentation and resources available for it in the market compared to Flutter.  Flutter has better comprehensive documentation compared to Kotlin.

Winner for this round of Kotlin Vs. Flutter – Flutter.

Kotlin Vs Flutter Performance

Performance is an important factor to consider in the debate of Kotlin Vs. Flutter. When we discuss performance, Flutter gains points for Hot Reload and Hot Restart feature, allowing developers to change their codes and see its effect instantly, which speeds up the development process, making it easier to build apps. Kotlin has a different approach and provides more native features and components like Bluetooth, a Camera, and more.

Winner for this round of Kotlin Vs. Flutter – Draw.

User Experience – UX perspective of Kotlin Vs Flutter

Flutter is a widget-oriented cross-platform framework. It has unparalleled customization options, allowing Flutter developers to create unique, functional, and scalable applications. Kotlin is a general-purpose language that makes it cross-platform capable. Using this language, Kotlin developers can easily create efficient applications without any issues.

Winner for this round of Kotlin Vs. Flutter – Draw.

Third-party libraries and Tools Integration

Flutter is an open-source, cross-platform SDK. It provides easy integration of third-party UI development tools. Kotlin is a programming language that is capable of developing native-like cross-platform apps. For this, it makes use of native tools like SwiftUI and Jetpack Compose.

Winner for this round of Kotlin Vs. Flutter – Kotlin.

Scope in Backend Development

Google backs Flutter; hence it lets Flutter developers leverage Firebase (Backend-as-a-service platform) to write codes at the backend. Kotlin multiplatform allows developers to directly write the backend code without any hassle.

Winner for this round of Kotlin Vs. Flutter – Kotlin.

Pricing

We are comparing pricing in regards to the app development costs with Kotlin and Flutter framework. Both Kotlin and Flutter are open-source and free to make use of platforms. Flutter provides the fastest way to build an MVP – Minimal Viable Product. Moreover, it significantly reduces app development cost and time as you can make Android and iOS apps using a single codebase at the same time with Flutter. Since Kotlin is also open-source, you can directly download it from Github and start using it.

Winner for this round of Kotlin Vs. Flutter – Draw.

Support for Testing

Flutter has immense testing support for various features to test widgets, conduct unit testing, and app integration. Flutter’s well-documented support also is a plus point. Flutter also works on Firebase, which is an efficient backend-as-a-service tool. Flutter can integrate quickly with iOS and Android platforms, which makes the testing process easier. However, with Kotlin, you don’t need to integrate. Kotlin is multiplatform which enables developers to work using their native framework. This helps developers work with their native tools for cross-platform apps too.

Winner for this round of Kotlin Vs. Flutter – Kotlin.

Documentation and Community

Flutter is relatively new and rising as a platform. It has one of the most impressive and extensive documentation amongst all popular frameworks for a relatively newer framework. Kotlin has decent documentation ready and is constantly working on improvising it for its developers. As far as community goes, Flutter already has 811 contributors even after being a new platform compared to Kotlin that has 475 contributors on GitHub.

Winner for this round of Kotlin Vs. Flutter – Flutter.

Time-to-market

The quick experimentation and adjustments made possible by Flutter’s hot reload speed up UI development. Stateful Hot Reload, along with a set of rich widgets, completely customizable architecture, and layered design, enables developers to offer a native-like user experience more quickly.

Compared to Kotlin, Flutter appears a little quicker. Kotlin offers a lot more than that, though. Its clear syntax and code reuse make faster app development and shorter app-to-market times.

Both frameworks significantly reduce development time by using a single codebase to create apps for several platforms, even though the program’s complexity determines the coding speed.

Job Opportunity

Last but certainly not least, when comparing Kotlin and Flutter, we need to consider Job and Market Share of these two mobile app development frameworks. As a fresher who is looking to learn either one of the frameworks for career purpose or as a company that is trying to decide between the two frameworks, market share and job opportunity can be important metrics to consider. Here are the overall market stats gave by App Brain on both these mobile app development frameworks:

Kotlin Market Share

app brain kotlin

Flutter Market Share

flutter app brain

Kotlin Vs. Flutter : Head-to-Head Comparison

Though both Kotlin and Flutter offer great things to mobile app developers, a choice must be made between the two.

Factors Flutter Kotlin
Developed By Google JetBrains
Released May 2017 July 22, 2011
Programming Language DART programming language is utilized It was created to work with Java and is a programming language in and of itself.
Hot Reload Supported Not Supported
Supported Platforms Android, iOS, Google Fuchsia, Web, Linux, macOS, Windows Android, JVM, iOS, macOS, Windows, Linux, JavaScript, WebAssembly
Popular for Using a single codebase, beautiful and quick UI development is possible for desktop, mobile, and the web. Google’s top-notch support for Android app development and compatibility with Java
App Size Bigger Smaller compared to Flutter
Job Availability 470,822 Jobs Available 471,980 Jobs Available
Salary $72,166 /yr $80,760/yr
Learning Curve Must learn Dart to build an app Easy Learning curve
Third-party Integration Being a UI tool, Flutter requires third-party libraries and tools to connect to the native environment. To connect with the native environment, a connection does not need to be made using third-party libraries and tools.
Scope in backend development To ensure efficient backend opportunities, Flutter partners with Firebase. Kotlin enables programmers to create backend code.
Deployment It can be deployed beyond mobile, desktop, and web It can be deployed on mobile, desktop, and web
Release Status Relatively new compared to Kotlin Mature and Stable language with tools
Component library Big & Quickly growing Small & Quickly growing
UI Design Proprietary Widgets No Preconceived Regulation
Testing Support No Yes

Wrapping Up!
As we can see above, Kotlin and Flutter are both capable platforms for developing efficient cross-platform apps. They both bring different advantages and limitations to the market. And since Kotlin is a programming language, we cannot directly declare a winner in the hot debate of Kotlin Vs. Flutter. It is anyway more beneficial for a developer to have a clearer idea of which tool to use for their requirements.

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When to Use Kotlin?

  • When you want a fast and lightweight application
  • When the app design needs to be minimal, and the app needs forms and pop-ups to work correctly
  • When there is no need for a cross-platform environment
  • The application is a commercial product for the end user

Kotlin is an ideal programming language for revamping your existing application. It is 100% interoperable with Java and simplifies the app editing process significantly. Kotlin also makes writing highly sophisticated and heavy codes easier. Its fail fast compiler detects bugs automatically and resolves them instantly.

When to Use Flutter?

  • When you want a full-fledged mobile application
  • When you want to create an app for retail businesses
  • When you want to create an app for fintech and banks
  • When app needs to be made with a tighter deadline and budget restraints

Flutter is mostly famous for its unparalleled hot-reload feature. Using this, a developer can instantly check the changes they make to the source code. Flutter is ideal for making an MVP product or prototype to show it to your potential investors.

Get in Touch!

    Saurabh Barot

    Saurabh Barot is co-founder and Experienced Chief Technology Officer at Aglowid IT Solutions. His deep industry experience in Angular, React, Ruby on Rails, PHP, Mean Stack and just to name few, has helped the company reach to a new level. He believes that technology is all about exploring new possibilities. Whatever a mind can think (exception can't be ruled out), technology brings it into reality.

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