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Google Pushes Kotlin Over Java for Android Development

Google “officially declared Kotlin the go-to language for Android development last week at its Google I/O developer conference,” reports Mike Melanson’s “This Week in Programming” column, “and the company is backing that up with a couple of initiatives around making it easier (and free) to learn the language now used by a majority of Android developers.”

Google teamed up with Udacity to offer Developing Android Apps with Kotlin , a free, self-paced online course on how to build Android apps with Jetpack and Kotlin, meant for people who have programming experience and are comfortable with Kotlin basics. Google also announced “Kotlin/Everywhere, a series of community-driven events focussing on the potential of Kotlin on all platforms,” which it is putting on in conjunction with JetBrains.

Of course, this leaves the question that has been asked many times before — why Kotlin? — and IT consultant Kristen Carter offers a take on how Android app development became Kotlin-first. Carter offers some business angles, such as the 2010 lawsuit against Google by Oracle, which predates Kotlin by just a year, and she speculates may have been the impetus behind the language’s development as “Google has always wanted to get away from the [Java] ecosystem.” At the same time, Carter offers some language-specific reasoning too, such as the comparably succinct nature of Kotlin, the absence of Java’s NullPointerExceptions, and the ease with which Java developers could transition to Kotlin. Carter ends her piece by posing the possibility that Oracle “knows the significance of Java in android app development” and could “ship Java with a few upgrades in its next version to take on Kotlin.”

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