What Kotlin Multiplatform means for cross-platform app development

Learn about Kotlin Multiplatform for cross-platform app development — and how it compares with Flutter, React Native, and .NET MAUI.

5 min. read - June 25, 2024

By José Carneiro

By José Carneiro

In the world of app development, creating seamless user experiences across multiple platforms has always been a challenge. Traditionally, developers had to write code for each platform individually or make significant compromises to reuse code. However, Kotlin Multiplatform (KMP) is set to change this landscape.

Kotlin, Google’s official programming language for Android app development since 2017, now offers a robust and promising alternative to other cross-platform frameworks such as Flutter, React Native, and .NET MAUI (previously Xamarin). Google recently announced that Kotlin Multiplatform, developed by JetBrains, now extends support to Android, enabling code sharing across mobile, web, server, and desktop platforms.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the impact of Kotlin Multiplatform on cross-platform app development. We’ll also explore how developers can make informed choices between Kotlin Multiplatform, Flutter, React Native, and .NET MAUI, highlighting the unique strengths and considerations of each framework.

Building new cross-platform apps with Kotlin Multiplatform

The most important attribute of Kotlin Multiplatform is its ability to combine native development with the sharing of business logic between different platforms. This allows companies and developers to save time and resources by reducing code duplication and simplifying maintenance.

With KMP, developers can build cross-platform applications that share the same code between Android and iOS — and implement logic such as networking, analytics, and data models, among others. Development teams can still build designs specifically for each platform.

Kotlin Multiplatform Architecture (Source: Android Developers)

However, designers and developers can also use Kotlin Multiplatform with JetBrains’ Compose Multiplatform, a Kotlin-based declarative UI framework. Compose Multiplatform allows apps to share visual elements such as components and screens.

Kotlin Multiplatform is especially good for apps needing deep integration with hardware and the Android platform. Plus, using Kotlin and Jetpack Compose makes UI development faster and easier with Live Edit, Compose UI preview in Android Studio, and user-friendly Kotlin APIs.

Using Kotlin Multiplatform with existing apps

Another advantage of Kotlin Multiplatform is that it can be integrated with existing Android and iOS projects, allowing for a gradual adoption of this technology. This gives developers the versatility to use both native and multiplatform development technologies without the need to rewrite existing code from scratch.

JetBrains announced that several large companies across various sectors are adopting KMP, including Netflix, McDonald’s, Quizlet, and Forbes. The company boasts that developers can share over 80 percent of app logic across iOS and Android multi-platform projects. This allows teams to publish updates on both platforms simultaneously and maintain the flexibility to adjust or withhold features for specific platforms when necessary.

How to choose a cross-platform framework for your app

Choosing between Kotlin Multiplatform, Flutter, React Native, .NET Maui, and other app development frameworks depends on various factors, including:

  • Developer and team skillset: Engineers often choose based on their individual expertise or knowledge across the whole development team.

  • Project requirements: The specific needs of the project can guide the choice, such as performance. requirements, UX/UI complexity, or unique platform-specific features.

  • Community and support: The availability of community support, open-source and commercial libraries, and developer tools can be a deciding factor.

  • Company and app ecosystem: An application’s integration with existing systems and technologies within an organization also plays a critical role.

By considering these factors, developers can choose the cross-platform app development framework that best aligns with their project’s requirements and their team’s capabilities. Here are some reasons why developers choose specific frameworks:

When to choose Kotlin Multiplatform

Kotlin Multiplatform is ideal for projects where you need to share business logic across multiple platforms but want to maintain platform-specific UI components. It reduces code duplication and simplifies maintenance for complex logic shared across mobile, desktop, web, and server environments. With KMP, developers can focus on using platform-specific APIs to build their UI, while reusing a single codebase for core functionality. It’s also a great choice when you already have a native app (Android or iOS only) and want to reuse the business logic while only doing the UI work for the other platform. And as previously mentioned, you can adopt it gradually while retaining native code as you make the transition.

When to choose Flutter

Flutter is an open-source UI toolkit by Google for building natively compiled applications for mobile, web, and desktop from a single codebase using the Dart programming language. Flutter development is best for projects requiring a unified codebase for both business logic and UI across all platforms. Flutter allows for highly customizable and consistent UI designs across platforms because it uses its own rendering engine. It has a stateful hot-reload feature that ensures a consistent user experience and allows for rapid development. Flutter is perfect for creating visually rich and consistent apps on Android, iOS, web, and desktop.

When to choose React Native

React Native, developed by Facebook, allows developers to build mobile applications using JavaScript and React. It leverages native components instead of web components, ensuring better performance and a closer-to-native feel. Its popularity among web developers means it has extensive community support, including numerous libraries and plugins. It offers near-native performance, though it may require optimization for complex and high-performance applications.

When to choose .NET Maui

.NET MAUI, the evolution of Xamarin.Forms by Microsoft, is a cross-platform framework for creating native mobile and desktop applications using C# and .NET. Development with .NET MAUI is best for integrating with the broader .NET ecosystem. It also offers strong support for enterprise-level applications, leveraging tools and services provided by Microsoft. .NET Maui’s single project structure also helps when targeting multiple platforms and simplifies project management.

Need help with your cross-platform app development project?

ArcTouch has been building cross-platform apps since the dawn of the App Store. Contact us to learn how cross-platform development can help accelerate your product roadmap and save you money.

Subscribe for more insights

Get our newsletter in your inbox.

By subscribing you agree to our privacy policy.

Email icon.

Contact us.

Let's build something lovable. Together.

We help companies of all sizes build lovable apps, websites, and connected experiences.