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React Native vs Kotlin: What Everything You Need To Know

Lavesh Katariya
Lavesh Katariya
April 6, 2023
Clock icon11 mins read
Calendar iconLast updated April 6, 2023
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Before we dive into a detailed comparison between these two, Let’s have a cursive glance at React Native vs Kotlin:

1. React Native is an open-source UI framework, while Kotlin is a programming language. Although, both are used in multi-platform app development.

2. React Native is developed by Facebook and it has a strong community while Kotlin is developed by JetBrains and has a small and growing community.

3. React Native development is affordable in terms of multi-platform development, while Kotlin is a perfect choice for Android app development. 

4. In terms of popularity, they both are widely praised. React Native is the second most-used framework since 2019, while Kotlin is 4th most popular language since 2018.

5. React Native is used by companies such as Meta, Microsoft, Shopify, Wix, Pinterest, Tesla, and many top-rated companies. Kotlin is used by companies such as Google, Twitter, Reddit, Netflix, Uber, BMW, Coursera, Slack, and Trello, just to name a few.

6. React Native allows developers to develop multiplatform apps using one codebase, while Kotlin is interoperable with Java.

Head to head

Tech stackReact NativeKotlin
Written inJavaScriptKotlin
Developed byFacebookJetBrains
GitHub Stars108k+44.2+
Contributors on GitHub2400+500+
Launch Year20152016
Learning curveEasy to grasp for those who are from a web development backgroundKotlin syntax is very similar to that of Java and Swift
Community supportIt has massive community supportIt is still growing and relatively a young language
Ideal forCross-platform developmentAndroid development

google trendsThe Google trends represent the growing popularity of these two tech stacks over the past few years.

A Brief Overview: React Native & Kotlin

What is React Native?

React Native is a JavaScript-based framework that allows developers to build high-performing apps for iOS and Android platforms. It was developed by Facebook as an extension of its popular ReactJS library. The key feature of React Native is that it provides a bridge to native components that helps developers to create programs using web technologies without writing OS-native code. This approach helps developers to build native-like applications without writing much OS-native language.

Shortly after its launch, it took the application development space by storm, allowing companies to develop native-like applications rapidly. Discord, Wix, and Walmart are some popular examples of React Native

What is Kotlin?

Kotlin is a statically typed, object-oriented, and functional programming language. It was developed by JetBrains in 2011. Since its creation, it has been around us, but it gained massive popularity after Google announced Kotlin as an official language for Android app development in its I/O 2017, with the aim to take Android to the next level. 

Also, Kotlin can be compiled into JavaScript and native code. This means it can also be used for front-end web development and native app development. Therefore, it appears to be another popular choice among developers for cross-platform app development

However, React Native and Kotlin, both can be used in cross-platform development and have their own strength and weakness. Therefore, it is crucial to know the difference between React Native and Kotlin. We will walk you through the advantages and disadvantages of using the two technologies, so you can make an informed decision and select the right tools for your next project.

When to choose React Native?

1. When you want to develop apps using web technology!

The magic of React Native app is that it lets developers create applications using only JavaScript. A developer who excels in web development can also develop mobile apps with the help of React Native.

2. When you want one codebase for all platforms!

With React Native, you can quickly develop cross-platform apps that appear native. Using so, you can tremendously cut the cost of developing separate apps for different platforms. Also, one codebase is easier to manage.

So if a company plans to build an app for cross-platforms, it would not have to hire different developers to develop for each platform. On the contrary, apps developed with OS-native languages require different codebases for each platform which is not only time-consuming but also expensive.

3. When you want to develop an app in less time!

Do you want your app to be developed and published in less time?

React Native incorporate a tremendous amount of pre-built tools to aid in faster app development. With features such as hot reloading, developers can build apps in less time. 

When to choose Kotlin?

1. When you have an enormous amount of Java code, and you want to reduce it!

Code that is shorter and more concise tends to be easier to maintain.

So if you have a large amount of code written in Java and want to reduce the code weight, Kotlin can help you with that. Kotlin is designed to seamlessly integrate with Java, allowing it to call Java code and coexist with existing Java code. This makes Kotlin a powerful option for optimizing and simplifying Java projects.

When comparing Java and Kotlin code programs, Kotlin stands out as a language that requires fewer lines of code to achieve the same functionality that might take more lines of code to write in Java. This is due to Kotlin’s streamlined syntax, which eliminates unnecessary keywords and makes it easier for developers to write and read code. 

Look at the below programs which are written in Java and Kotlin: 

Hello world program in Kotlin

fun main(args : Array<String>) {
println("Hello, World!")
}

Hello world program in Java

class HelloWorld {
public static void main(String[] args) {
System.out.println("Hello, World!");
}
}

Assuming your current app is developed using Java and you want to scale it. Needless to say, Java is almost everywhere. Kotlin takes Java development to the next level by providing developers with an option to migrate from Java to Kotlin smoothly. Thus, making code appears more concise and streamlined.

2. When you are developing the app for the Android platform only! 

Google has designated Kotlin as their top pick for developing Android apps, with its capacity for Java interoperability serving as a compelling rationale for selecting Kotlin.

By transitioning to Kotlin, you not only trim down the amount of code needed but also expand previous Java-made programs at a quicker pace. When analyzing these advantages in tandem, Kotlin stands out as the optimal selection for developing Android apps rather than utilizing React Native.

3. When you have an experienced team of Android developers! 

Kotlin for Android development would be a great choice because the team already possesses expertise and experience in Android development. They would be able to build cutting-edge applications by leveraging the latest Kotlin features.

Key Features of React Native

  • Hot reloading: This is a critical feature that distinguishes React Native from other frameworks. Hot reload reflects the changes in components made through coding without affecting the entire app state. In other words, the changes made in the code can be observed instantly, even without refreshing the full page. Thus, reducing the development time substantially and making development fast.
  • Reusability: Building multiplatform apps using one code is the biggest advantage of using React Native. The reusability of code in various platforms is what distinguishes it and adds to its growing popularity.
  • React native bridge: React native bridge allows communication between the JavaScript side and the native side.
  • Testing is easy: Testing React-powered apps is relatively fairly easy. Tools such as expo can be used to test your app without opening it in Xcode and Android Studio.

Key Features of Kotlin

  • Lazy loading: Kotlin features lazy loading, which refers to a practice of delaying the loading of resources that are not calledIt greatly contributes to application loading time, which results in faster app loading.
  • Convert Java code to Kotlin: The interoperability with Java refers to a method that allows a Java code to get converted into Kotlin. You can easily make your code look shorter by converting to Kotlin.
  • Full control over Native elements: It is an Ideal programming language for Android app development: Kotlin offers best-in-class, also a native language of the Android platform, that gives you full control over native components over React Native or other cross-platform app development stacks.

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    Pros and Cons of React Native

    ProsCons
    Cross-platform development: write once, and use it everywhereApps built with native are not fast as native apps
    Reusable code and a great number of ready-to-use componentsUpgrading issues
    Live reloadLack of modules
    Rich and fluid user-interface 
    Cost-efficient 
    A great community 

    React Native: Pros

    1. Write once and use it everywhere: One of the significant advantages it offers over Kotlin is that the same code can be shared across various platforms. This means eliminating the need for separate teams of developers for different platforms. 
    2. Ready-to-use components: React Native offers faster development compared to traditional languages for the reason that it includes a rich library of pre-built tools to help developers use them multiple times without developing from scratch. 
    3. Live Reload: This feature significantly adds to the development speed by enabling developers to see changes instantly without reloading the whole app.
    4. Cost-efficient: The code can be reused across various platforms, thus greatly reducing the overall cost of development. Also, React Native code requires less maintenance as the same code sharing between two platforms reduces the maintenance cost as compared to that of maintaining separate code for two platforms. 
    5. Great community: When it comes to choosing a language for any kind of tech development, we can’t ignore the benefits of the developer community. The community acts as a support system. So when you are stuck, you can seek assistance for other developers across the globe.

    React Native: Cons

    1. Performance is lower than native apps: React native apps are impressively fast, but still, native apps are faster in terms of performance. React Native apps comprise a bridge called “React Native bridge” between the UI thread and the JavaScript function as a bottleneck.
    2. Upgrading can be painful sometimes: Upgrading from one version to the latest version can be a tedious task. Even a small mistake can cause a delay in upgrading to the latest version providing users with plenty of new features and tools to improve application performance.
    3. Lack of custom modules: Since it appears to be a perfect language for Native app development with a great number of modules to build a variety of components, still, it lacks some custom modules that you might be forced to create components from scratch.

    Pros and Cons of Kotlin

    ProsCons
    Java is almost everywhere; Kotlin is interoperable with JavaIt’s still a new language. Therefore support resources are limited
    Interoperability with Java for web app developmentSlower compilation than Java
    More concise coding 
    Google-recommended programming language for Android mobile app development 

    Kotlin: Pros

    • Concise coding: As compared to Java, Kotlin syntax is more concise, reducing the significant amount of boilerplate code needed to declare variables, classes, and methods. 
    • Recommended by Google: Google strongly recommends to use Kotlin for Android development; many new APIs, such as Android FTX, JetPack compose, etc., are built around Kotlin. 
    • Functional programming: It is a functional programming language that features modularity and reusability, concurrency and parallelism, concise coding, etc., making it a great choice for modern app development.

    Kotlin: Cons

    • It is still a young language: While Kotlin has gained significant popularity and adoption in recent years, it is still a relatively new programming language compared to others, like Java. As a result, the resources and community of developers available to support and assist with Kotlin development may be more limited compared to other languages. This can sometimes make it challenging for developers to get help or find answers when facing problems or challenges during app development with Kotlin.
    • A bit slower than Java: Even though it is considered an enhanced version of Java, it is comparatively slower than Java in terms of the speed of applications in the Android ecosystem.
    • Resources are limited: Though it has been reaching a new height with the passing years, it has yet to achieve the milestone of a list of matured programming languages. So when you are in trouble with your app, you may find it difficult to get assistance from the developers’ community as they are limited in number.

Top Companies Using React Native

Top Companies Using React Native

Top Companies Using Kotlin

Top Companies Using Kotlin

Which one is better? React Native or Kotlin?

The selection of the right development stack depends upon many factors, such as operating system, cost, app features, and so on. For example, when you want to develop a universal app for all platforms, in this case, React Native is arguably a great choice over Kotlin.

But!

Apps developed using React Native are not truly native and cannot excel the native apps developed using OS-native languages such as Java, C, C++, and Kotlin.

On the other hand, you can develop more complex apps in terms of GUI and layout for the Android platform with Kotlin since you have more access to its native APIs.

Summing up…

In this article, you have walked through React Native vs. Kotlin – both languages are very popular for cross-platform app development and are also supported by big, established names in the market. Speaking of both, React Native is a well-established tech stack supported by Facebook and a strong community of developers.

On the other hand, Kotlin is prominently used in Android app development and has strong support from Google. Also, it has gained traction in multiplatform app development as there are very valid and good reasons to go with Kotlin, not to mention that it is powerful and is able to utilize native components.

To summarise, the tech stack for your mobile app development may be finalized after your needs are clear.

Have you decided on the cross-platform stack for your next project?

What is your requirement?

Do you want a native app or a hybrid app for your business?

Feel free to contact us for more information. Brilworks is one of the top-rated react native development companies with having experienced team of react native developers that offers both hybrid and native app solutions at affordable cost and round-the-clock support.

Lavesh Katariya

Lavesh Katariya

With more than 8 years of experience in the MERN stack, I have honed my skills as a proficient developer, specializing in building robust and scalable web applications. From crafting efficient RESTful APIs to implementing seamless user interfaces, I deeply understand MongoDB, Express.js, React.js, and Node.js. My passion for clean code and innovative problem-solving allows me to deliver high-quality solutions that exceed client expectations.

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