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Android development: Java or Kotlin?

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  • 3 min read

If you’ve ever given a thought about Android app development, you must have come across the wide choice of languages. With Android development being at the forefront of the technological world, the question becomes essential for both newcomers and pros alike.

In this article, we break down the dilemma for you to help you decide which language to choose.


Google announced Kotlin as the official programming language for Android back at Google I/O 2017. Since then, the language has seen a steady rise in its use and for a good reason.

You see, Kotlin brings together the best of both worlds for you. It is a statically typed programming language for Java Virtual Machine (JVM) and JavaScript. It is also both an object-oriented and functional programming language.

All these traits have given Kotlin an identity as a general purpose language. It introduces functional features that help support greater interoperability and intelligibility. It is also compatible with OO or FP styles which allow developers to incorporate elements from both of these.

Another central focus for Kotlin was to allow for multi-language or mixed-language projects. Since it’s compatible with JVM, you get complete interoperability with Java and Objective C. It has better, improved syntax, concise expressions and abstraction.

Using Kotlin with Java also eliminates the need for boilerplate code. This is a massive relief for Android developers.

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Java has been around since the beginning of Android. It has its shortcomings, but they don’t come anywhere close to the benefits.

For someone who’s just beginning with Android development, it is suggested to start with Java first because of the sheer ease of learning this language.

Most of the syntax ‘improvement’ is changes in syntax to make the code shorter. Now while this is not a problem for seasoned developers, for someone new to the scene, the code will be a hieroglyph. Of course, once you’ve nailed Java, you’ll have no problems whatsoever switching to Kotlin.

Developers have mixed opinions about whether or not Java is entirely out of scope for Android. A large number of developers are still sticking to it. Java is a reputable language with a ridiculous amount of libraries and extensions available for use.

So which one should you use?

If you’re starting with Android, we suggest you learn Java first. This will not only help you create a solid understanding of things are done, but you’ll also be able to migrate to Kotlin later on without a hitch.

However, if you’re already a Java developer, android or not, you should start with Kotlin. You’re going to pick up the language at a high pace even if you know just the bare basics of Java.

Also read: 9 reasons why developers tend to choose Linux over Windows

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here:

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