Kotlin Begins Its Takeover Of Android
Written by Mike James   
Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Google made Kotlin its lead language for Android development back in May of this year (2017) and it has been interesting to watch for signs of its take up or outright rejection. Now we have the first signs that Android programmers are voting with their feet and moving steadily to Kotlin. 

kotlinAndroid

Java is a powerful language to beat, but Kotlin isn't the opposition. It isn't trying to make you forsake Java and strike out on a new course. It really is, as the cliche puts it, "a better Java". But Java itself is getting better all the time and with Java 9 on the scene it is possible that Kotlin will fall by the wayside as programmers prefer the security of a mature language to putting all their risk into a new basket.

Since May I have been looking out for Kotlin to change its position in the measures of which programming languages are popular but there have been no signs of any shakeup. Now we have a survey by Realm, a provider of an in-app mobile database. The database provides anonymous usage statistics including which language is being used.

There are many interesting things in the Realm Report, but the one that interested me was the rise in the use of Kotlin for Android development:

kotlinJavaed

The black bar is when Kotlin was announced at Google I/O. You can see before this that Kotlin's share was steady, but afterwards it begins to increase to a 20% stake.

As the report states:

Kotlin rising It’s clear: Java (on Android) is dying. There aren’t simply more Kotlin builders: they’re also switching their apps to Kotlin. In fact, 20% of apps built with Java before Google I/O are now being built in Kotlin. Kotlin may even change how Java is used on the server, too. In short, Android developers without Kotlin skills are at risk of being seen as dinosaurs very soon.

I think I agree, but as Kotlin works with Java and is actually easier to use in most cases, I don't think this is a huge problem. Indeed ,the speed of the adoption of Kotlin is mostly due to how easy and low risk it is. The report suggests that Kotlin will overtake Java in December of 2018 but I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't sooner. Apple's Swift took over from Objective C in just 14 months. 

  • Mike James is the author of The Programmer's Guide To Kotlin (I/O Press) some chapters of whcih are already published on I Programmer.

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More Information

Realm Report

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 18 October 2017 )