Kotlin is a great fit for developing Android applications, bringing all of the advantages of a modern language to the Android platform without introducing any new restrictions:
- Compatibility: Kotlin is fully compatible with JDK 6, ensuring that Kotlin applications can run on older Android devices with no issues. The Kotlin tooling is fully supported in Android Studio and compatible with the Android build system.
- Performance: A Kotlin application runs as fast as an equivalent Java one, thanks to very similar bytecode structure. With Kotlin's support for inline functions, code using lambdas often runs even faster than the same code written in Java.
- Interoperability: Kotlin is 100% interoperable with Java, allowing to use all existing Android libraries in a Kotlin application. This includes annotation processing, so databinding and Dagger work too.
- Footprint: Kotlin has a very compact runtime library, which can be further reduced through the use of ProGuard. In a real application, the Kotlin runtime adds only a few hundred methods and less than 100K to the size of the .apk file.
- Compilation Time: Kotlin supports efficient incremental compilation, so while there's some additional overhead for clean builds, incremental builds are usually as fast or faster than with Java.
- Learning Curve: For a Java developer, getting started with Kotlin is very easy. The automated Java to Kotlin converter included in the Kotlin plugin helps with the first steps. Kotlin Koans offer a guide through the key features of the language with a series of interactive exercises.
Kotlin for Android Case Studies
Kotlin has been successfully adopted by major companies, and a few of them have shared their experiences:
Tools for Android Development
The Kotlin team offers a set of tools for Android development that goes beyond the standard language features:
- Kotlin Android Extensions is a compiler extension that allows you to get rid of findViewById() calls in your code and to replace them with synthetic compiler-generated properties.
- Anko is a library providing a set of Kotlin-friendly wrappers around the Android APIs, as well as a DSL that lets your replace your layout .xml files with Kotlin code.