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Kotlin Multiplatform vs Flutter: What Cross-Platform Developers Should Choose?

Since the popularity of mobile apps is continuously bringing new approaches to development, many new frameworks are getting a foothold and the older ones are quickly evolving to catch up in this race. While Kotlin came as a better alternative to Java for Android development, Flutter actually revolutionized cross-platform app development.

While Kotlin offered a lot of new and powerful features it was only limited to Android app development. Kotlin is mainly a platform-specific language. Now Google even made Kotlin evolve with cross-platform capabilities and so we now have Kotlin Multiplatform, a new framework to make the awesome features of Kotlin language stretch across both iOS and Android platforms. 

Flutter is the other robust cross-platform technology from Google that brought a paradigm-shifting change with several key new features and value additions. Naturally, the comparison between the two is quite obvious. 

Can Kotlin Multiplatform be a true competitor to Flutter? Which one of them is better? Can they together be used in the same project? We would like to focus on all these questions.

What is Kotlin Multiplatform?

Kotlin Multiplatform is the framework that allows leveraging the advanced features and capabilities of Kotlin programming language on app projects across iOS, Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Linux, Web, and also any embedded devices. The principal offering of Kotlin Multiplatform is its focus on incorporating the similar features and user experience that native Android apps developed with Kotlin already enjoy.

Kotlin Multi-Platform advantages 

Obviously, the advantages of Kotlin Multi-Platform to bring Kotlin features and capabilities across other platforms is huge. Here are the key strengths of Kotlin Multiplatform: 

  • Kotlin Multi-Platform allows existing apps to just add a module to make an assessment before committing to fully-fledged development. This is possible because it comes as an SDK.

  • Kotlin syntax is easy and simple and offers a lot of similarities with existing languages such as Swift (iOS) and Java (Android).

  • Kotlin Multi-Platform allows the use of the same codebase, libraries, and business logic across multiple platforms.

  • Kotlin Multi-Platform allows developers to utilize all native UI elements to help build apps with a highly native look and feel. 

  • Thanks to the optimum use of native components, Kotlin apps offer superb performance.

What is Flutter?

Flutter is a robust and feature-rich cross-platform mobile development framework from Google that uses Dart as the coding language. Flutter allows the building of apps with a shared codebase across multiple platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Linux, and Web. The key value proposition of Flutter is that it offers a lot of ready-to-use widgets, better performance because of compiling with machine language, and a strong UI layer for native look and feel.

Key Flutter Advantages 

Flutter has revolutionized the cross-platform app development with several standout features and capabilities. Let’s have a quick look at the key Flutter advantages:

  • Hot Reload features of Flutter will help developers evaluate and preview changes instantly.

  • Flutter allows maximum code reusability across multiple platforms. 

  • Flutter offers robust UI libraries to build dynamic and reactive UIs with a fast-paced and seamless user experience.

  • Flutter using custom widgets and not relying on native components helps to deliver a more seamless user experience. 

  • Flutter is backed by Google and a huge community of developers who are continuously growing in number. 

  • Finally, Flutter is a completely free and open-source technology.

Are Kotlin Multiplatform and Flutter Really Competitors?

According to many experts, the objectives and ambitions of both Flutter and Kotlin actually don’t coincide with each other. Though both use some common components, Kotlin Multi-Platform is more about extracting business logic while Flutter is more about extracting view definitions. Their points of concentration are different but accordingly to many, they work together better. 

Can Kotlin Multiplatform and Flutter Work Together? If Yes, How Can They? 

One of the major problems with Flutter is the difficulty in migrating from Android. In this migration process, well-built apps face difficulties in switching to the Dart language of Flutter and Flutter frontend. This is exactly where Kotlin Multiplatform offers a great solution. 

Since any Android apps are already Kotlin based or interoperable to Kotlin, there is no difficulty in respect to switching to a cross-platform environment. Just because Kotlin is not interoperable with Dart, Flutter has a big disadvantage when an Android app needs to migrate to Flutter.

The Key Problem and the Future

The principal point of discord here is the use of the Dart language. Though both are unleashed by Google, Kotlin and Dart hold two adjacent poles in this contest.

In the future, developers behind these two languages and their respective platforms can consider whether Kotlin can be used in Flutter so that the already-used code of an Android app can easily be reused in a cross-platform development environment. 

At last, Kotlin has a serious advantage as a more mature programming language with a lot of features and a better syntax. Kotlin can help an app to have more expressive and shorter syntax with less boilerplate code. There is no doubt that most of the Android developer community will be happier using Kotlin in Flutter development instead of Dart. This will also help to consolidate the two biggest offerings in the development arena from Google, namely, Kotlin or Kotlin Multiplatform and Flutter. 

Conclusion 

Beyond all these contesting ideas and so-called conflicts, what stands out is the possibility opened by Kotlin Multiplatform to open up Kotlin for other devices and OS platforms. Maybe Kotlin Multi-Platform is just the sign of many major changes that are yet to come. 

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