Flutter vs Kotlin: Which One Should You Choose?

Published On: December 28, 2022
Last Updated: January 13, 2023
Flutter vs Kotlin

Today, there has been a significant boom observed in the tech sector. The global mobile application marketwas valued at $212.72 billion in 2022 and is anticipated to reach $452.35 billion by 2028, with a CAGR of 13.4% from 2022 to 2028.

So for businesses & startups trying to enter into the world of mobile app development, one of the most confusing questions is – which is the most effective framework or language that helps them to build robust, cost-effective yet secure mobile app solutions?

However, choosing a technology stack for a product is critical as it directly affects its success. But emerging frameworks, languages, and libraries have made it easy to develop applications. With the emergence of the latest technologies, such as Kotlin and Flutter, it seems like cross-platform app development is on the rise. No wonders why there is surging interest among developers and buyers alike.

In order to help you make the right choice, here we will compare two cutting-edge technologies that allow you to build apps for multiple platforms. Let’s dig into the difference so you can make the best decision for your needs.

What is Flutter?

Introduced in 2017, Flutter is Google’s UI toolkit based on the DART programming language. It allows developers to build natively compiled and feature-rich applications for web, mobile, desktop, and embedded devices using a single codebase.

Flutter is an open-source, free SDK that enables developers to build a cross-platform application that works on iOS, Android, Linux, Windows, Mac, and Google Fuchsia.

The Flutter framework is also known for its widget-based technology. Developers can build widgets using a render engine written in the Dart object-oriented language. That’s why many tech companies are looking to hire Flutter developers for their app development projects.

Features of Flutter

Open Source: Flutter and Dart both are open-source, so developers get free access to the original code and all the documentation it requires for development stages. It’s easy to find answers to all the questions as Flutter’s documentation is easy to navigate and user-friendly.

Hot Reload: View the changes in real-time through functionality called Hot Reload. It allows developers to instantly examine your changes, like fixing bugs, adding a feature, building UI, etc. It executes code faster and decreases the need to reload an app frequently.

Access to Native Features: Easily access Flutter’s native code, third-party integration, and platform APIs for app developments. Since it allows developers to build applications into the machine code, it reduces the chances of bugs and offers quick performance.

Cross-platform development: Develop code once and it will work on multiple platforms. Saves the time, effort, and money needed to build an app.

Widgets: Flutter SDK comes with two sets of widgets, one is Material Design, and the other is Cupertino widgets. These widgets help developers build customized designs and provide a glitch-free experience on different platforms.

Dart Benefit: Flutter uses the Dart programming language with JIT and AOT compilation methods. It improves the overall start-up time and functioning of an app.

Pros of Using Flutter

  • Faster code writing
  • Single code works for multiple platforms
  • Consistent UI
  • Ideal for MVPs
  • Rapid rendering
  • Less testing needed
  • Fully customizable

Read More: Advantages of Flutter

Cons of Using Flutter

  • Not as widely adopted
  • Large apps size
  • Frequent changes
  • Lack of standard guidelines
  • High loading time

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What is Kotlin?

Kotlin is a general-purpose, cross-platform, open-source programming language developed by JetBrains from Russia. It is statically typed programming that runs on JVM and can be used everywhere where Java is used.

One of the main reasons for Kotlin’s growing popularity is that Google has officially supported it for developing Android applications.

Kotlin has a special “Kotlin Multi-Platform” feature that allows developers to share code across several platforms like Android, iOS, Web, and more. It can be compiled with JVM bytecode, JavaScript, or LLVM code.

Features of Kotlin

Concise: Kotlin’s straightforward syntax makes the code concise. Developers can develop an application with fewer codes, speeding up the app-building process. Less code means few chances of errors and bugs, which make the code more efficient.

Null safety: Null safety features distinguish between nullable and non-nullable references and remove the risk of Null pointer exceptions being thrown at runtime. Kotlin doesn’t compile the code which tries to return null.

Interoperable: The interoperability feature of Kotlin makes things easy for developers. Both languages can co-exist, so Kotlin can easily call the Java code, as well as Java, can also use the Kotlin code.

Smart cast: Kotlin classifies the absolute values and puts them automatically in its safe cast.

Tool-friendly: Kotlin is tool-friendly in nature, and hence developers can build Kotlin programs by using the command line and any Java IDE.

Extension function: Kotlin supports extension functions called standard library functions. It helps to extend the process of adding functionality super smoothly without touching the code.

Reuse of Logic: With this Kotlin Multi-Platform feature, developers have the privilege of sharing logic and libraries within the UI layers. Developers can increase code efficiency by reusing the multiplatform logic in common and platform-specific code.

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Pros of Using Kotlin

  • Interoperable with Java
  • Cross-platform support
  • Easy to maintain
  • Less buggy programing language
  • Easy to learn
  • Highly reliable
  • Safe and Consistent

Cons of Using Kotlin

  • Slow in Compilation
  • Limited Resources
  • Smaller development community

Flutter vs Kotlin: A Detailed Comparison

Popularity

Flutter and Kotlin are both popular in mobile app development. Plenty of reasons are there making Flutter shine as it is one of the leading cross-platform frameworks. However, Kotlin features and functionalities are also not lagging behind.

GitHub Popularity
Based on GitHub’s popularity, Flutter has 148K stars and 24.1K forks, while Kotlin has 43.4K stars and 5.4K forks.

Stackoverflow Popularity
The 2022 survey of developers, according to Stackoverflow, states that Flutter is used by 12.56% of professional developers.

Stackoverflow Popularity

Flutter has remained the most loved technology with 68.03%.

loved technology

Kotlin is used by 9.22% of professional developers, and the average paying salary of Kotlin developers is $69,318.

Average Paying

Google Trends Popularity

Google Trends Popularity

The Google Trends graph shows the data of the last 5 years’ comparison of Flutter and Kotlin technology. Blue represents Flutter, and red represents Kotlin. You can see a rise in both technologies.

Learning Curve

In the battle of Flutter vs Kotlin, Flutter uses Dart programming language which means developers have to learn from scratch before developing a project in Dart.

On the contrary, Kotlin syntax is straightforward and easy. It is interoperable with Java. The syntax of Kotlin shows many similarities with the existing languages such as Java and Swift for Android and iOS respectively.

However, the Kotlin Multiplatform has limited resources to learn in comparison to Flutter. If developers are familiar with Kotlin, then they can learn Kotlin Multi-Platform easily.

Performance

When we compare performance, Flutter goes over the edge. Flutter’s Hot Reloading feature enables ease during app development to make changes at the backend and simultaneously view the front end. It allows experts to immediately decide whether the changes made in logic are suitable with other elements or not.

Kotlin is particularly used to develop Android applications and deliver excellent performance. It allows developers to write codes in platform-specific formats, which makes Kotlin one of the most robust and advanced platforms for cross-platform apps.

Kotlin provides access to native features and components like Bluetooth, camera, etc.

So both deliver amazing performance, and it usually relies on the features and functionality involved in app development.

User Experience

One of the major roles of a cross-platform is to offer a native-like user experience. For that, UI plays a crucial role. Flutter is a widget-oriented cross-platform framework that has innumerable customization options and offers a unified user experience across every platform.

Flutter is a UI toolkit that takes care of every UI aspect to deliver a native experience. It is great for mobile app development to build a functional and scalable Android and iOS application using a single codebase.

On the other hand, Kotlin gives the liberty to create apps with a user interface. It allows developers to build a native app in a hassle-free way without imposing any restrictions. Kotlin also allows developers to use native features or write platform-specific code whenever it’s necessary.

Integration of Third-Party Libraries and Tools

Flutter provides easy integration of third-party UI development tools. Different tools Flutter allows for integration are Android Studio, Visual Studio Code, Adobe Plugins & many more. Developers need to look for third-party libraries and tools to design and develop an app.

Kotlin Multiplatform is capable of building native-like cross-platform apps as it operates within the native platform ecosystem. Developers can use tools and libraries including Jetpack Compose and SwiftUI.

Here Kotlin developers don’t need to look for third-party libraries and tools to bridge a connection with the native environment. So, companies who want to build a native-like app can hire Kotlin developers for rapid app development.

Scope in Backend Development

Flutter has powerful backend features and does an excellent job for the backend. It uses Firebase for effective BaaS(Backend as a Service) that offers backend support for real-time data requests.

On the other hand, Kotlin Multi-Platform allows developers to write the backend code directly without any hassle. So Kotlin allows better customization.

Development Cost

We are comparing pricing in terms of app development with either Kotlin or Flutter. Both platforms are open-source and free to use.

Flutter offers you a rapid way to develop MVP (Minimal Viable Product). It reduces the app development cost and time as you can make Android and iOS apps using a single codebase at the same time.

Kotlin is largely employed for developing Android applications. So building a fully-fledged mobile application for iOS requires an extra cost to hire someone to build the same version. It depends on your project requirements.

Platform Support

Flutter renders support for Android, iOS, and web applications. It lacks support on tvOS, CarOS, and WatchOS.

However, in the case of Kotlin Multiplatform, there is no such limitation. It can enable you to develop an application for different devices beyond mobile and web.

Businesses prefer Kotlin Multiplatform when they want to launch their app idea on every platform and device.

Support for Testing

Flutter is an extremely powerful framework and its immense support for unit testing, integration testing, end-to-end testing, etc. makes the testing process much easier. Its documented support is also a plus point. Flutter also works on Firebase which is an efficient BaaS tool. Developers can integrate quickly with iOS and Android platforms.

However, with Kotlin you don’t need to integrate. Kotlin Multi-Platform allows developers to work using their native framework. They can quickly test without having to learn a new framework or language.

Time to market

Flutter is simple to set up. The hot reload feature allows for faster trials and modification, which makes it simple for developers to view changes in real time. A detailed collection of widgets, completely customizable design, and layered architecture allow developers to provide a native-like user experience faster.

Whereas, Kotlin has considerably more to offer. Experienced professionals widely use it to build specialized mobile apps. Its compact syntax and reusability of code benefit rapid app development and shorter app-to-market times.

Both platforms significantly save app development time by leveraging a single codebase to create apps for several platforms. But the speed of coding differs according to the complexities involved in the program.

Documentation and Community

Flutter offers extensive documentation for users amongst all popular frameworks. Compared to it, Kotlin multi-platform is still new and in an experimental state. It has decent ready documentation and works continuously to improve.

The community of Flutter is expanding in the market. On the other hand, Kotin is also gaining popularity as Google is changing to become more Kotlin-centric.

Flutter vs Kotlin: A Quick Comparison

Factors Flutter Kotlin
Developed By Google JetBrains
Initial Release 2017 2011
Language Dart Kotlin
Status Relatively new compared to Kotlin Mature and stable language
Supported Platforms Android, iOS, Web, Google Fuchsia, 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.
Hot Reload Supported Not Supported
UI Design Great experience & customization Full customization
Performance Native performance on all platforms Slower compilation but overall unified experience across all platforms
Learning Curve Must have to learn Dart programming to build an app Easy learning curve as it is similar to Java
Integration Android & iOS platforms Multiplatform
App Size Bigger Small compared to Flutter
Backend development To ensure efficient backend opportunities, Flutter partners with Firebase Kotlin enables programmers to create backend code
Cost Open-source & free Open-source & free
Testing Support No Yes
Popular Apps Google Ads, eBay, BMW Evernote, Google, Pinterest, Trello

Flutter or Kotlin: When to Use Which One?

When to Use Flutter?

Flutter is an ideal choice for developing MVP and prototyping apps where time and resources are limited. Perfect for startups when you need to evaluate your new business model ASAP. Here your Flutter app development cost will also be lower as compared to native development for two platforms.

Flutter apps are cost-effective and don’t take much time to develop, which is why you should choose flutter for mobile app development. It works great for online stores, FinTech apps, and business apps where user engagement is the key to success, and you have budget restraints and tight deadlines.

When to Use Kotlin?

Kotlin is a good choice for developing cross-platform apps regardless of the size and complexities. The strength of Kotlin is due to Java compatibility, where developers can use it in their existing applications or develop code in Kotlin.

Kotlin is ideal when you want a fast and lightweight application, a commercial product for end-users and when there is no need for a cross-platform environment. The app design needs to be minimal, with few pop-ups and forms to work correctly is where Kotlin works best.

Bottom Line

Kotlin and Flutter are capable platforms for developing cross-platform apps. Both have their own pros and cons and provide the best performance and save your development time and cost significantly. In the market, Flutter is more popular than Kotlin. But Kotlin is preferred to develop Android apps. If we consider developing cross-platform apps, both deliver native experience using a single code base.

Choose Flutter if you want to launch an app quickly and don’t need a highly upgraded UI. However, nothing beats Kotlin if you want a customized user interface with rich business logic.

Although, when choosing which technology/platform to develop an app majorly depends on the requirement and other essential factors. If you need clarification about what to choose between Flutter vs. Kotlin, contact us.

Guru TechnoLabs offers you the best mobile app development services to help you develop an application that meets your business demands. We have experience developing several apps for different industries, so we understand your requirements well and provide you with a reliable solution.

Frequently Asked Questions

With the cross-platform application, you can leverage the benefit of reaching a broader audience. These apps can be developed on a variety of platforms and work smoothly together. It allows businesses to target their audiences on different platforms instead of just one.

Google supports both Flutter and Kotlin, so there is no best choice between them. Flutter is a framework used for particular issues, while Kotlin is a programming language. In Flutter, there are several inbuilt functions to develop an entire application, and programming languages do not have any restrictions for app development.

Yes! Kotlin is Google’s preferred language for Android app development. It is a concise programming language that eliminates common code errors and easily integrates into existing apps.

The top applications using Kotlin are Pinterest, Evernote, Uber, Trello, Coursera, and many more.

The top examples of Flutter applications are Dream11, eBay, Supernova, Toyota, Google Pay, and many more.

Ravi Makhija
Ravi Makhija

Ravi Makhija is an entrepreneur, an IT professional, tech geek, founder & CEO at Guru TechnoLabs - Globally Trusted Web & Mobile App Development Company. He loves writing about new technologies and the latest trends in the IT field.