Cross-platform development is on the rise, and you may wonder why. As might be assumed by the name, it allows running apps on multiple platforms – whether it is iOS or Android – and helps businesses to reach more customers, therefore, earning more money. It is no wonder that the focus is gradually but steadily shifting to cross-platform development, and new technologies emerge more and more frequently.

After being around for a while, this type of development has established two winners: React Native and Flutter. So why do we want to tell you about Flutter vs Kotlin instead of Flutter vs React Native? What is Kotlin, and can it actually pose a threat to Flutter’s popularity? What is Kotlin Multiplatform, and what are the benefits of both technologies? Let’s find out.

Why Cross-Platform App Development is So Important?

The state of cross-platform app development

The number of smartphone users has been growing over the past years, covering half the population of the world in 2021 – 3.8 billion people. Where there’s demand, there will always be a need for supply to meet it, hence the mobile app revenues have skyrocketed in the recent years. It has gone from $97.7 billion in 2014 to an impressive $365 billion in 2018. Statista predicts continuous stable growth with $935.2 billion in 2023.

flutter vs kotlin

The numbers show the significance of mobile development. But why should you consider creating cross-platform apps? According to StatCounter Global Stats, as of January 2021, Android is dominating the market with a 71.93% share whereas iOS comes second with 27.47%. By building cross-platform apps, businesses cover two markets at the same time, thus, expand their target audience and end up reaching roughly 99.4% of smartphone users. Companies also save money from doing only half the work for the development process and the post-release maintenance.

No wonder specialists predict a further rise of cross-platform development and point out their multiple benefits. Developers and IT business owners name a few technologies that will become essential for the future development market, including Flutter vs Kotlin vs React Native.

But when should you consider building across platforms?

  • First of all, cross-platform development will help you reach a large portion of potential users. If for some reason you decide to concentrate specifically on iOS or Android users, then build the respective native applications.
  • And of course, it comes down to your budget. Building cross-platform is substantially cheaper than hiring two development teams and working on two apps for two operating systems.

But when should you think twice before choosing to build a cross-platform app?

  • For example, if your choice depends on the type and complexity of the application. May wouldn’t work with a cross-platform approach.
  • Additionally, there is the so-called native feel. When you build specifically for iOS or Android and use software development kits that were issued by them, you have a chance of creating an app of better quality. Native apps also tend to perform slightly faster and present a better user experience. It always depends on the situation, but in many cases choosing a cross-platform approach may be the right decision for your business.

The benefits of cross-platform app development

Why is cross-platform development becoming more relevant? What are the main benefits of this approach?

Larger market

Earlier, people believed that iOS users are more willing to spend money on extra features than Android owners, and based their marketing decisions on this. Maybe this belief had a little of the truth, but now the situation looks different. It is clear that platform choice is mostly taste-induced and has less to do with social status. Deciding which market to choose is even more difficult, therefore, building cross-platform and targeting 99.4% of mobile users is the way to go.

Shorter time-to-market

Although you will still require some insights from developers about specifics of iOS and Android, especially UI, guidelines, and store publications, the united codebase significantly accelerates the development process.

Smaller workload

Even though it is recommended to hire platform-specific developers who know the intricacies of iOS and Android regulations and standards, the majority of your team can consist of cross-platform coders. Reducing the number of workers will save a substantial sum of money and enable smoother and easier communication.

Faster development

Not only will you reduce the duration of development by focusing on producing one piece of code, but you’ll also benefit from its reusability. Cross-platform development implies applying reusable chunks of code instead of writing new code from scratch. This accelerates the development process itself and also shortens the testing phase.

Cloud integration

By requiring a single source code, cross-platform applications integrate easier with the cloud. Cloud-based technology is definitely the future of software development as it increases accessibility thus improves the user experience significantly.

The Best Cross-Platform Frameworks

flutter-vs-kotlin-cross-platform-mobile frameworks usage

Due to the abundance of frameworks for cross-platform development, it would take you too long to read about all of them, so let’s focus on the market leaders: React Native, Xamarin, and Flutter. Also, this article will cover such topics as Kotlin and also a Flutter vs Kotlin comparison. But before that, let’s delve into the descriptions of these frameworks. Here’s the comparison table.

React Native Xamarin Flutter
Performance Great Great Excellent
Popularity * 42% (stable) 14% (12%↓) 39% (9% ↑)
Languages JavaScript C# and F# Dart
Code reusability 90% 60-95% 80%
Community Substantial Massive Growing
Unique feature Native UI components Native-like performance Pre-built widgets
* Among cross-platform developers, according to Statista data from 2020 compared to 2019.

React Native

Launched in 2015, React Native is an open-source mobile app framework designed by Facebook. What makes it so great for cross-platform development? Using native components from API, React Native ensures a native-like feel and excellent performance and stability. This framework that uses JavaScript as an app development language comes with a number of benefits:

01

Live-tracking

The so-called Hot Reload feature allows developers to see changes in the app right after writing code. The real-time updates enable automatic refresh of the application and its interface.
02

Third-party plugins

Many developers point out this feature of React Native as superior since it allows them to utilize third-party plugins. Unlike most languages that do not permit plugins, React Native provides a higher grade of flexibility and customizability.
03

Shorter time-to-market

React Native highlights errors on the go, decreases debugging time, provides pre-built components, and allows the reuse of up to 90% of the code, all contributing to shorter development and launch time.
04

Modular architecture

Modular programming allows separating different functionalities into blocks, or modules, whereby every block contains all the data to execute a certain function of the app. On top of that, React Native provides flexible and optimized coding flow due to its declarative coding feature.

On the other hand, if you write an Android app with React Native, you will need to hire a native app developer, at least as a part-time contractor. Although the React community has been growing and offering more open-source libraries to add native features, the integration of complex functions still requires input from native app programmers.

 

Xamarin Forms

Originally based on the Mono project and acquired by Microsoft in 2016, Xamarin Forms has become one of the most well-known open-source frameworks for app development. It allows you to create reusable code and apply it across different platforms ensuring great performance and user experience. Xamarin Forms has the following advantages:

01

Native-like experience

Providing access to native toolkits, Xamarin Forms allows developers to build native-like applications for both iOS and Android.
02

Single language

Xamarin Forms uses single language C# and builds everything using one environment – Visual Studio, thus shortening the learning curve.
03

Cost-effectiveness

As you can write everything using one language and staying within one .NET framework, you will save money on building a development team and shorten the time to market. Xamarin also allows for reusing code up to 60% to 95%, which means that you can apply the code to your next project without starting from scratch.
04

Testing

Xamarin Forms offers great solutions to test application performance, such as Xamarin Test Cloud or Xamarin Test Recorder. These built-in tools allow you to test your app on a real device and detect possible issues prior to release.

The main downside of this framework is its inability to offer complicated graphics and lightweight applications. On top of that, Xamarin Forms is losing its support and community, which makes it a poor choice for the future of app development.

 

And what about Flutter?

Flutter is a Google app framework that provides an open-source UI software development kit to build applications across various platforms. Flutter’s popularity has been increasingly growing in the last years and will probably continue to expand in the upcoming years. It offers an extensive toolkit along with Flutter API, framework, and widgets to craft attractive and fast applications. Do you want to know more about Flutter? Read on!

Planning to develop an App?

Share your idea and we will contact you within 24 hours.
Contact

Flutter

This next section of the article will cover what makes Flutter so beloved among the cross-platform development community and which popular apps were built using the Flutter framework. So what is Flutter? What language is Flutter using to build the application, and what is Dart programming language? Let’s find out.

What is Flutter?

Flutter is a Google-built UI toolkit powered by the Dart platform that allows you to create a native-like mobile app with a single codebase. It enables app developers to build two different apps for IOS and Android using one programming language. Also, Flutter can be used to build macOS and is currently being beta tested for web apps. To build with Flutter, you use Google’s programming language, Dart.

Dart is the official Flutter programming language that provides asynchronous programming using the Flutter Future class, and ensures improved application performance and responsiveness. And the extensive toolkit makes it the great pick between Flutter vs Android Studio. Let’s dive into more details about the framework in our short Flutter review.

Pros of Using Flutter

Flutter offers a list of advantages that make it stand out from the competition. From easy-to-learn Flutter language called Dart to Hot Reload, you will definitely enjoy working with this framework. Let’s discuss the main benefits in more detail.

01

Easy to Use

The Flutter-Dart coding combo is easy to use and quick to learn. If your developers have ever coded with Swift, React Native, or Java, they'll feel the difference with Flutter's modern framework. You can create fully functional apps with significantly less code. Flutter framework also ensures a quick and simple installation that takes only 30 minutes, at which point you can start building your first Flutter application. We have highlighted the four main benefits that distinguish it from other tools and make it special in the Flutter vs Kotlin comparison below.
02

Open-Source and Free

Because Flutter and Dart are both open-source, you'll get free access to the original code and all the documentation you need. Flutter's documentation is user-friendly and easy to navigate, making it quick and simple to find answers to all your questions.
03

See Output in Real-Time

Flutter empowers you to edit your code and watch the changes in real-time through a functionality called Hot Reload. Hot Reload allows you to make changes to the back-end and observe the front-end changes instantly, decreasing the need to reload the entire app frequently. This functionality saves teams valuable development and compilation time. This is a feature that native development does not provide, which makes the cross-platform development even more beneficial.
04

Growing in Popularity

Flutter isn’t as widely adopted yet, but it’s quickly growing in popularity. Dart is swiftly becoming one of the most popular programming languages, and Flutter received first place by GitHub issues among other cross-platform development technologies. While Flutter isn’t as popular in the United States as it is in other countries, it’s on a fast track to becoming a go-to option for programmers in many fields of development.
05

Great Native Support

While Flutter’s Native support isn’t perfect, developers are in love with the technology. One states, “Flutter takes care of things like scrolling speed, so it feels as close to native Android/iOS app as possible.” Nowadays, application performance has become one of the most crucial parts of a good UX. And Flutter’s app performance comes close second after native applications, but with more complex UI animation. This is due to the fact that the Flutter framework allows building directly into the machine code, thus eliminating the possibility of bug occurrence. This way, you can quickly and easily build iOS and Android Flutter applications using one technology.

Have a project in mind?

Let's have a discovery call. Send request

Cons of Using Flutter

Nothing is perfect, and Flutter also comes with its limitations. We have highlighted the two most important disadvantages that you might face while working with this framework.

01

Not as Widely Adopted

While developers enjoy Flutter's modern framework, there aren't as many educational resources and classes for up-and-coming coders because Dart is less popular than Kotlin, Java, JavaScript, C#, and C. As of now, there are roughly 400 courses on Udemy that teach Flutter, while there are at least 945 that teach Kotlin. This can cause hiring and training slowdowns. However, Flutter’s fast-growing popularity could negate this con in no time.
02

Large App Sizes

Flutter-built apps are relatively big, and this is a problem for developers who are trying hard to build apps that won't take up too much space on limited IOS and Android devices. There is a significant downside for using Flutter, which is that users obviously do not want to erase their favorite songs and videos, so they can download an app. Hopefully the team working on the Google app framework updates will solve the problem.

5 apps built using Flutter

Large companies like Google, Alibaba, and SpaceX have recognized the Flutter framework’s benefits and have used it for mobile app development. Here is a shortlist of the top 5 applications that were built using this Google UI framework.

flutter vs kotlin apps

Google Ads

Google Ads is a Flutter-built application for ad campaign management that allows you to launch marketing campaigns on the go. The app provides an in-depth analysis of your ads, such as impressions, conversions, clicks, lead generation, and more. You can enjoy an excellent design along with real-time alerts, as well as the good technical support of the Google team.

Xianyu

Xianyu is an eCommerce application made by Alibaba that offers a quick and easy shopping platform. It has already reached more than 50 million users and encompasses an enormous number of various categories of goods, making the process of both selling and buying easier and more transparent.

Pairing

Pairing is an online dating application that allows for a search in geographical proximity, within social networks. It also acts as a messaging application and offers an attractive and interactive design.

PostMuse

PostMuse is an application designed with this Google UI framework that offers a wide range of various templates for Instagram stories. Acting as an editing tool and a photo-sharing app, it allows customization and creates Instagram-worthy images and videos. Flutter ensured a high grade of usability without sacrificing performance.

SpaceX Go!

This Dart mobile app was also built using the Flutter framework and gives its users constant updates on Tesla’s space division. You will discover all the available information about the company’s past, present, and future plans, as well as updates about launches, vehicles, and ships. Thanks to the Flutter framework, the application comes with a clear and interactive design and simple navigation.

Get inspired by our article “Software Development Plan: How to Build One in 2021“.

Kotlin Multiplatform

What is Kotlin for Android development? What is the difference between the Kotlin programming language and Kotlin Multiplatform? Do Kotlin Android applications show better performance? You will find out in the next section of the article.

What is Kotlin?

Kotlin is an open-source, statically typed programming language designed to interoperate with Java. As a standalone language, it provides excellent features over Java, but it also works well in conjunction with the older language. Kotlin’s multiplatform capabilities allow developers to share code, logic, and data across several platforms: IOS, Android, Web, and more.

flutter vs kotlin PYPL

In React Native vs Kotlin, the latter has much higher compatibility with the native Android platform and ensures better performance. In the Kotlin vs Dart match, Kotlin would be a better choice for Android developers since they don’t have to acquire new knowledge. However, if your team consists of iOS developers, the Dart vs Kotlin battle loses its advantage, as they will have to learn a new language either way. Let’s discuss this mobile coding language, Kotlin performance, and other benefits in our Kotlin review.

Pros of Using Kotlin

In this part, we will talk about the benefits of using Kotlin and compare Flutter vs Kotlin.

01

Works Well with Java

Since Kotlin preserves a good portion of Java's object-oriented nature, it's straightforward to convert any pre-existing Java code. This compatibility makes both the writing in both languages and application migration from Java to Kotlin much easier and faster. You can maintain old apps with Java, build new Kotlin-based ones, and easily convert applications one file at a time without disrupting the process. This Kotlin advantage is especially valuable in the situation of Flutter vs Java, where you need to jump from one technology to another, and makes it a preferable choice in Flutter vs Kotlin Android.
02

Clear and Concise Code

Kotlin's straightforward syntax makes your code clearer and more compact. Less time writing fewer lines of code makes your development team more efficient, saving you valuable time and money. How does it save time and resources? Less code means fewer bugs, especially when your framework will handle the mundane parts of coding and let you concentrate on other important aspects. Kotlin allows for the reliability, simplicity, and acceleration of the app-building process.
03

Safe and Consistent

Because your codebase is shorter and easy-to-read, bugs are compiled in the development process, so errors are spotted and fixed early on. Kotlin developers tried to create one of the best mobile programming languages for Android and fix the issues that Java had. As a result, Kotlin prevents you from making common mistakes during the program execution, and shows higher-level safety. Here Kotlin wins in the Flutter vs Kotlin performance race.

Cons of Using Kotlin

What about Kotlin’s disadvantages? Do they override the benefits? Let’s take a look at the most common limitations when it comes to developing with Kotlin.

01

Relatively New Language

While Kotlin and Java share several similarities, hiring a Java developer is not the same as recruiting a Kotlin-savvy coder. Because the programming language is relatively new, the current hiring demand greatly exceeds the number of available Kotlin developers. While there are currently over 12,000 vacancies for Kotlin developers, a lot of them remain unfilled due to the lack of specialists. However, the language is gaining more traction, so we are expecting this technology to become more popular within the IT community.
02

More Expensive

Because the Kotlin SDK offers semi-native functionalities, the cost of building a mobile app skyrockets. Kotlin's price consequences make it an expensive programming language, especially when building prototypes and MVPs. Also, Kotlin is a relatively new language that needs to be learned first which also requires an investment from your side to teach your developers this new mobile app coding language.
03

Slower Compilation Speed

Another point on the list of disadvantages of Kotlin is its slower compilation speed compared to Java. . In rare cases, Kotlin beats Java in compilation speeds, but it's frequently much slower. When compiling incremental changes, Kotlin does a decent job, but it's still not as quick as some of the other modern options, like Flutter.
04

Weak Support of Native

Currently, Kotlin isn’t very supportive of Native. While the Kotlin/Native product is expanding, it’s still lacking features developers need, like a Kotlin-based, platform-independent GUI.

What is Kotlin Multiplatform?

But what is Kotlin Multiplatform? It is a software development kit prepared by the team of Google cross-platform mobile development. Kotlin Multiplatform is a new experimental feature that allows for building an iOS application as well as writing an Android app.

Android Kotlin based applications have been around for a while, as we will show you the best advantages in the next part, but now you have a chance of also deploying to the iOS platform without hiring extra workers who can work with Swift, Flutter, or React Native.

 

The benefits of Kotlin multiplatform for cross-platform app development

Does Kotlin Multiplatform open new doors for cross-platform development? What advantages does it have and will it make the process of code writing easier?

01

Faster Development

Kotlin Multiplatform facilitates faster feature development as one coder adds model objects, networking, business logic, and unit tests, while the other developer would plug in the feature. This process accelerates the development cycle, especially when it comes to adding new features.
02

Improved Code Quality

By uniting your team to work on one cross-platform application, you improve their communication which inevitably leads to better bugs detection and cleaner code. Without consistent and candid communication flows, you risk failing to identify mistakes early on and drag them into the next stages of the development process. This collaboration will also ensure better functional consistency between the apps.
03

Maintainable Code

New developers who join your project will not have a problem with understanding what is going on, due to the code modularity and testability.

5 apps built using Kotlin

Kotlin has been utilized by many big players like Tinder or Trello. But why did these companies choose Kotlin, and how did it affect the result?

flutter vs kotlin companies use kotlin

Pinterest

Pinterest is an image-sharing service that used Kotlin to build its application. This mobile coding language has helped to write a clear and accurate code that translates into great performance.

Trello

Trello is a project management tool that is used as a collaboration platform for various occasions, from business to personal. Kotlin helped to make this application more interactive and faster.

Tinder

Tinder is an online dating platform with a unique approach to matching people. The company used Kotlin in its development because of its concise and clear code architecture.

Netflix

Netflix barely needs an introduction since it’s the most popular streaming service in the world with over 180 million subscribers. When they decided to rebuild the UI player, they chose the Android Kotlin language.

Airbnb

Airbnb is an online rental marketplace that used Kotlin to develop an Android application that ensured a great user experience.

 

Flutter vs Kotlin Multiplatform

There’s no best choice when it comes to Flutter vs Kotlin — you’ll need to decide based on your unique case, team, and potentially existing codebase. Both Kotlin and Flutter are supported by Google, so you can’t go wrong.

If you’re a startup with a smaller team, Flutter is a great low-cost choice because it allows you to create multiple apps with one codebase—requiring less time and fewer developers. Kotlin, however, is a great choice if you’re working with any pre-existing Java code, but keep in mind it’ll be harder to find experienced developers.

 

Flutter vs Kotlin: Table of Comparison

Flutter Kotlin
Language Dart Kotlin
Performance Great due to Hot Reload feature Great due to customizability of code
Popularity 114K stars on GitHub 35.3K stars on GitHub
Learning Curve Comprehensive documentation Limited resources to learn
UI design Extensive customization features Great UI experience and customization

Since both Kotlin and Flutter are reliable and help to shorten time-to-market, either of them will make an excellent choice for a cross-platform development project. The competition is so close that it becomes more of a preference thing than an actual Flutter vs Kotlin battle.

Conclusion

Who is the winner in the race Flutter vs Kotlin 2021? In fact, Flutter vs Kotlin will be compared for the foreseeable future more and more frequently. They both present great benefits but also have some significant shortcomings.

Nowadays, in Flutter vs Kotlin, Flutter usually takes the lead only because it’s better known and comes with a bigger support group. However, it is only a matter of time till Kotlin becomes the next big thing. If you still have remaining questions and are unsure about what choice to make, contact a team of experts that will help you make the right pick.

DOIT Software is a software development company that builds apps for clients from various industries and markets. Our skilled and qualified developers have solid experience with both technologies and know a lot on the Flutter vs Kotlin topic. Share with us your exciting idea, and we will help you to turn it into reality fast and easily! Contact us – get a quote!

Frequently Asked Questions

Need to hire developers?

Get a consultation and start building your dream team ASAP.
Contact us
What are the benefits of cross-platform apps?

In short, cross-platform development opens up a larger market of potential users, shortens time-to-market, ensures a smoother workload, and accelerates the development process.

Why is Kotlin the right choice for Android app development?

Kotlin is the official language chosen by Google to build Android applications. First of all, it works well with Java, enables writing clear and concise code, and ensures safety and consistency.

Is Flutter better than Kotlin?

It depends on your needs. Although Flutter does come with some very valuable benefits like live-tracking, third-party plugins, and modular architecture, it is not the best choice for an Android application. Kotlin is the number one choice for Google apps.

When should you choose Flutter for app development?

In the Flutter vs Kotlin scenario, choose your priorities:If you need to launch an app quickly and enhanced UI levels are not your number one goal, Flutter is your choice. If you are after an optimized and custom user interface, then Kotlin would be your best pick.

Serhii Osadchuk
CTO @ DOIT Software
Please, rate the article
  • star empty star full
  • star empty star full
  • star empty star full
  • star empty star full
  • star empty star full
4.91/5
Based on 5893 reviews

Read more about