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  • 25 Sep 2023

Java or Kotlin: Making the Right Choice for Android App Development

Android app development has come a long way since its inception. The Android operating system, which powers billions of devices worldwide, has evolved, and so have the tools and programming languages used to create applications for it. In the realm of Android app development, two programming languages have emerged as the most popular choices: Java and Kotlin. Choosing between these two languages is a crucial decision for developers and businesses alike. Let's go through the pros and cons of both Java and Kotlin to help you make an informed decision on which language to use for your Android app development projects.

Also Read: The Most Popular Framework for Mobile App Development

Importance of choosing the right programming language

Choosing the right programming language is a critical decision for any software development project, and its importance cannot be overstated. Here are some key reasons why selecting the appropriate programming language is vital:

Compatibility with Project Requirements

Different programming languages are suited for different types of projects. For example, web development, mobile app development, data analysis, and artificial intelligence require different languages. Selecting a language that aligns with your project's specific requirements ensures efficient development and optimal performance.

Productivity and Efficiency

Some programming languages are designed to be more productive and efficient for certain tasks. Choosing a language that developers are proficient in and that offers the necessary libraries and tools can significantly boost productivity and reduce development time.


The scalability of a programming language is crucial for projects that are expected to grow. Languages like Java and Go are known for their scalability, making them suitable for both small and large-scale applications.


Performance considerations are critical, especially for applications that require high-speed processing or real-time capabilities. Low-level languages like C and C++ are known for their superior performance, while languages like JavaScript and Python may have performance limitations in certain scenarios.


Some programming languages have security features built into their design, while others may be more susceptible to vulnerabilities. Choosing a language with a good security track record and features like memory safety can help protect your application from cyber threats.

Cost and Licensing

Licensing costs can vary significantly between programming languages and frameworks. Some are open source, while others may require licensing fees. Assessing the cost implications of your language choice is essential, especially for budget-constrained projects.

Platform Compatibility

Ensure that the programming language you choose is compatible with your target platforms. If you plan to develop multiple operating systems or devices, cross-platform languages like Java or JavaScript may be preferable.


The long-term maintainability of your codebase should be considered. Some languages have better tools and practices for code organization and documentation, making it easier to maintain and extend the software over time.

Future Proofing

Consider the future prospects of the programming language. Languages that are actively maintained and have a roadmap for future development are more likely to remain relevant and receive updates and security patches.

Java: The Old Reliable

Java has been the traditional language for Android app development for years. Here are some key points to consider when using Java:

Advantages of using Java for Android Development

Cross-Platform Compatibility

Java is platform-independent, which means Android applications developed in Java can run on various Android devices without modification. This cross-platform compatibility reduces development effort and ensures wider reach.

Rich Ecosystem

Java has a vast and mature ecosystem of libraries, frameworks, and tools that simplify Android app development. The Android SDK itself is primarily built using Java, making it the official language for Android development.

Strong Community Support

Java enjoys a massive developer community. This means that you can find extensive resources, tutorials, and forums to help you with any challenges you encounter during Android development.


Java is known for its performance, and it offers several optimization techniques, such as Just-In-Time (JIT) compilation, which can make Android apps run efficiently.


Java's security features, like bytecode verification and sandboxing, help protect Android apps from various security threats, making it a suitable choice for developing secure applications.


Java is an object-oriented programming (OOP) language, which aligns well with Android's component-based architecture. OOP promotes code reuse, modularity, and maintainability.

Backward Compatibility

Android supports older versions, and Java allows developers to write code that's backward-compatible with older Android OS versions, ensuring a wider user base.

Disadvantages of using Java for Android Development:

Slower Execution

While Java is known for its performance, it's not as fast as natively compiled languages like C or C++. This might lead to slightly slower execution speed in certain scenarios, although this difference is often negligible for most Android applications.

Memory Consumption

Java applications tend to consume more memory compared to applications written in languages like C or C++. This can be a concern on devices with limited resources.

Boilerplate Code

Java requires developers to write a significant amount of boilerplate code, which can be time-consuming and increase the chances of introducing errors.

Garbage Collection Overhead

Java's automatic memory management (garbage collection) can introduce some overhead, potentially affecting real-time or resource-intensive applications.

Learning Curve

For developers who are new to Java, there may be a learning curve associated with understanding Java's syntax and concepts, especially if they come from backgrounds in other programming languages.

Less Control

Java abstracts many low-level details, which can be advantageous in terms of simplifying development but may limit the developer's control over certain aspects of the application.

Large APK Sizes

Java applications tend to result in larger APK (Android Package) file sizes due to the inclusion of the Java Runtime Environment (JRE) libraries, potentially affecting download and storage requirements.

It's worth noting that while Java has been the primary language for Android development for many years, there are now alternative languages and frameworks like Kotlin that have gained popularity due to their modern features and improved developer experience. Developers should consider their project requirements and preferences when choosing a language for Android app development.

Kotlin: The New Kid on the Block

Kotlin, introduced by JetBrains, was officially supported by Google as an Android development language in 2017. It has rapidly gained popularity among developers.

Advantages of Using Kotlin for Android Development 

Concise and Readable Code

Kotlin's concise syntax allows developers to write cleaner and more readable code compared to Java. It reduces boilerplate code, making the codebase easier to maintain.

Interoperability with Java

Kotlin is fully interoperable with Java, meaning you can use existing Java libraries and frameworks seamlessly in your Kotlin-based Android project. This allows for a smooth transition for developers familiar with Java.

Null Safety

Kotlin introduces a type system that helps prevent null pointer exceptions, a common source of crashes in Android apps. This feature is especially valuable for robust and stable app development.

Extension Functions

Kotlin allows developers to add new functions to existing classes without modifying their source code, making it easier to work with third-party libraries and APIs.

Functional Programming Support

Kotlin supports functional programming constructs, such as lambdas and higher-order functions, which can simplify complex operations and improve code maintainability.


Kotlin provides built-in support for coroutines, which simplifies asynchronous programming by allowing developers to write asynchronous code in a more sequential and structured manner.

Strong Community Support

Kotlin has a growing and active community of developers, which means there are plenty of resources, libraries, and tools available to support Android app development.


Kotlin is well-supported by Android Studio and offers a smooth development experience with features like auto-completion, error checking, and code navigation.

Disadvantages of Using Kotlin for Android Development 

Learning Curve

While Kotlin is designed to be more concise and readable than Java, there is still a learning curve for developers transitioning from Java to Kotlin. This can slow down the development process initially.

Increased Method Count

Kotlin's standard library may result in a slightly larger method count compared to Java, which can impact the size of the APK. However, this impact is generally minimal.

Limited Adoption in Legacy Projects

In some cases, legacy Android projects may still be primarily written in Java, making it challenging to introduce Kotlin without a significant rewrite.

Compile Times

Kotlin compilation can sometimes be slower than Java, especially in larger projects. However, this performance gap is narrowing with each new Kotlin release.

Limited Tutorials/Resources

While Kotlin's popularity is growing, there may be fewer tutorials and resources available compared to Java, particularly for niche or specialized topics.

Some Considerations When Choosing Between Java and Kotlin

When choosing between Java and Kotlin for a software development project, there are several key points to consider. Both languages have their strengths and weaknesses, so your decision should be based on your specific project requirements, team expertise, and long-term goals. Here are some factors to keep in mind:

Project Requirements

Consider the nature of your project. Is it a mobile app, web application, backend service, or something else? Some platforms or frameworks may favor one language over the other.

Development Speed

Kotlin is often praised for its conciseness and reduced boilerplate code compared to Java. It can lead to faster development and fewer bugs.

Language Features

Kotlin offers modern language features such as type inference, lambda expressions, and extension functions that can make code more expressive and easier to read.


Kotlin is fully interoperable with Java, which means you can gradually migrate your codebase from Java to Kotlin if needed. This can be crucial if you have existing Java code.

Community and Ecosystem

Java has been around for a long time and has a massive community and ecosystem. You'll find extensive libraries, frameworks, and resources for Java development. Kotlin's ecosystem is growing but not as extensive as Java's.

Learning Curve

If your team is already proficient in Java, transitioning to Kotlin may require some training and adjustment. Consider the learning curve for your developers.

Tooling and IDE Support

Both languages have strong support in popular Integrated Development Environments (IDEs) like IntelliJ IDEA and Android Studio. Make sure your preferred development environment supports your chosen language.

Platform Compatibility

Kotlin is officially supported for Android app development, which makes it a natural choice for Android projects. However, Java can also be used for Android development.


Java has a longer history and has been heavily optimized over the years, so it may have a slight performance advantage in some cases. However, Kotlin's performance is generally on par with Java.

Community Trends

Research current industry trends and job demand for both languages. This can influence your decision, especially if you're concerned about finding skilled developers or the long-term viability of your project.


Consider the long-term maintainability of your codebase. Kotlin's concise syntax can lead to more readable and maintainable code.

Project Size

For smaller projects, the language choice may have less impact. However, for large and complex projects, language features, developer productivity, and maintainability become more critical.

Corporate Backing

Kotlin is officially endorsed by JetBrains and is the preferred language for Android app development. Java is supported by Oracle. Consider the backing and support available for each language.

Cost of Transition

If you're transitioning from Java to Kotlin or vice versa, consider the cost and effort involved in rewriting or adapting existing code.

Team Preference

Gather input from your development team. Their familiarity and preferences can play a significant role in the decision-making process.


Both Java and Kotlin have their merits and are viable options for Android app development. Java is a reliable and mature language with a vast ecosystem, while Kotlin offers modern features, conciseness, and improved safety. Ultimately, the choice between Java and Kotlin depends on your specific project needs and the development team's familiarity with the languages. Regardless of your choice, what's most important is delivering a high-quality Android app that meets your users' needs and expectations. Whether you go with the old reliable Java or the new kid on the block Kotlin, both languages have the potential to help you create successful Android applications. If you need a Java or Kotlin expert, we are just a click away. Hire an experienced developer today for as little as $8 per hour remotely.


Written by Harsh Abrol
A seasoned software developer and technology enthusiast who has over 10 years of experience in the field

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