Kotlin and Java are two well-known programming languages that are used by a lot of developers today.
These languages are used by mobile app development companies to write codes for mobile applications.
Recently, Google announced that Kotlin will be taking over as the officially supported programming language for Android.
Since then, there have been many debates and comparisons between Java and Kotlin.
In this article, we would like to take a look at some of the key differences between Kotlin and Java.
A Glance At Java
Java is a popular programming language that is known for being high-level and object-oriented. It came into wide usage in 1995 and is still one of the most popular programming languages. To use Java, programmers and mobile app development companies need to run Java applets which are embedded as plugins in the browser. It is mostly used only for stand-alone applications or back-end development purposes.
A Glance At Kotlin
Kotlin is also a programming language that is specifically designed for cross platform app development. It is a general-purpose language that is statically typed. Also, it is designed to work with Java and is dependent on the Java Class Library. It is rather new and was developed by programmers at IDE JetBrains. The project took off in the year 2010 and was first released officially in 2016.
Key Differences Between Java and Kotlin
The biggest and most important differences between Java and Kotlin are listed below.
1. Checked Exceptions
Java has checked exceptions, but Kotlin does not.
Checked exceptions are exceptions that need to be checked or declared if a code has to be compiled. In Java, this means that a developer has to use the ‘try/catch blocks’ in the code.
On the other hand, while using Kotlin for cross-platform app development, this feature has been removed.
So if a developer feels that the ‘try/catch blocks’ method in coding is cumbersome, then Kotlin will be more suitable for them.
2. Concise codes
When you compare a class of code in Java and Kotlin, the length of the code varies significantly.
To perform the same function, Java requires a longer code than Kotlin. So, if you hire dedicated developers who work with Kotlin, then your mobile app will only need a shorter code.
3. Null references
On Kotlin, the type system is geared towards reducing the dangers of null references.
In Java, one big issue is that if you access a member of the null reference, then this will result in a null reference exception.
So, if a developer assigns a null value to a variable, then when that object is accessed, the Null Point Exception is triggered.
This can be very frustrating for a developer or mobile app development company. On the other hand, with Kotlin, this is not an issue because all objects in Kotlin are by default non-nullable.
Kotlin can distinguish between variables that can hold null and objects that cannot.
4. Extension functions
On Java, it is not possible to extend the functionality of a class that already exists. Developers will need to create a new class and then inherit the parent class.
On Kotlin, a mobile app development company can use its extension functions without having to inherit from the parent class or use other features like Decorator.
So, in Kotlin, if you want to write a function from a third-party library, you can call in such functions as if they were part of the original class.
5. Coroutines Support
Kotlin has another feature that Java does not – Coroutines.
Android is essentially a single-threaded application. This means that only one process is working at a time.
However, Java allows for the functioning of multiple threads at a time. Even though this is true, it is hard to manage such multiple threads.
On Kotlin, Coroutines is a great feature that helps a mobile application development company to open multiple threads, like with Java, and also manage them properly.
With Coroutines, even on long-running CPU intensive programs, non-blocking programs are realized.
This way, the programming language will automatically suspend and resume execution at certain points, without blocking any threads.
6. Smart Casts
In Java, there is no function called Smart Casts. This means that developers have to be careful about the type of variables and cast according to the operation being executed.
With Kotlin, there is no need for this, as Smart Casts will track the ‘is -checks’ and explicit casts for any immutable values.
Then, it will insert safe casts when needed. This can make programming a lot easier for a mobile application development company.
7. Data Classes
Data classes function slightly differently in Java and Kotlin.
In Java, when an android app development company needs to create a data class, they will need to also define the constructors, variables, getter and setter methods, hashcode, toString, and equals functions.
This is a lot easier to do in Kotlin because by simply using the keyword ‘data’, it is possible to declare a data class.
So, in Kotlin, by using this keyword, the code compiler will make sure that the constructors, variables, getter and setter methods, and everything else is defined on its own.
8. Type Inference
Inference is a function that automatically identifies something. In this case, it means identifying data types.
In Java, it is necessary to specify the type of each variable while an android app development company declares it. However, in Kotlin, the compiler knows the data type with the help of the initializer.
9. Support for Implicit Widening Conversions
In Java, there is support for implicit widening conversions for numbers. But in Kotlin, this is absent.
So, in Kotlin, smaller types cannot convert to bigger types. Rather, Kotlin requires an explicit conversion to be performed for this.
This is something that may affect your development process when you hire Android app developers.
Few Final Words
Both Kotlin and Java have their benefits. But Kotlin is still new and Java has a well-established developer community that supports it.
So when you hire Android app developers, choosing between Java and Kotlin will depend on your needs and preferences.
Tarun Nagar is the Founder & CEO of Dev Technosys, a global ranking web development company USA. With 10+ years of experience of enabling then Startups which are now global leaders with creative solutions, he is differentiated by out-of-the-box IT solutions throughout the domain. He is known for his visionary qualities and adaptability for technology and trends, passionate as he is in every aspect dedicated to making IT simple, accessible and approachable for business enterprises.
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