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Why do we need Kotlin Native for cross-platform application development?

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November 23, 2021


November 23, 2021

About Kotlin Multiplatform

Kotlin is a powerful, simple, and versatile language created by Jetbrains. The language allows you to avoid many obstacles that you often face in Java development. It saves a lot of developer’s time, letting them to focus on more creative tasks. 

But what does Kotlin Multiplatform mean? 

It is a software development kit developed by the Google team that allows developers to write code for iOS as well as Android apps simultaneously.

That ultimately eliminates the need to deploy extra workforce who can work with the technologies like Swift, Flutter and React Native to build cross platform applications.

Benefits of Kotlin Multiplatform

  • With Kotlin Multiplatform developers can now use the same code for different platforms. It reduces the time spent on coding and maintaining the application while retaining high flexibility to code modification for functionality changes.  
  • Kotlin native is the part of Kotlin Multiplatform and it is one of three possible targets - Kotlin native, Kotlin JS, and Kotlin JVM. For mobile application development(Android/iOS), Kotlin Native is what we needed to work on.

Kotlin Native

Kotlin native is a technology that compiles Kotlin code to native binaries, which can run without a virtual machine. It is an LLVM based backend for the Kotlin compiler and native implementation of the Kotlin standard library”- Kotlin Documentation

It is specifically designed to allow the compilation for the platform where virtual machines are not possible. For example, embedded devices or iOS.  With a native approach, developers can produce a self-contained program that does not require a virtual machine.

Kotlin native supports following platforms:

Kotlin supports following target platforms, 

  • macOS
  • iOS, watchOS, tvOS
  • Linux
  • Windows(Min GW)
  • Android(NDK)

The full list of supported platforms is here

Kotlin native interoperability

Kotlin native supports two-way interoperability. The compiler creates,

  •  an executable code for multiple platforms
  •  a static or dynamic library with C headers for C/C++ projects, and
  •  an Apple framework for Swift and Objective-C projects.

Additionally, it supports interoperability to use existing libraries directly from static or dynamic C libraries, and C, swift and Objective C frameworks. 

You can include compiled Kotlin code into existing projects written in C, C++, Swift, Objective-C, and other languages with ease. 

How to use IntelliJ IDEA for creating native Kotlin app

The following steps demonstrate how to use IntelliJ IDEA for creating a Kotlin native application. First, you need to install the latest version of IntelliJ IDEA.  

  1. Create a new Kotlin native project in IntelliJ IDEA

To create an IntelliJ IDEA navigate to the File → New → Project, then from the left panel select Kotlin. Here, you need to enter the project name, select the project template as Native Application, and click Next. 


By default, the project will use Gradle with Kotlin DSL as a build system. Apply the default configuration and click on finish. 


It will create the main.kt file by default with the code that prints “Hello, Kotlin Native!” to the standard output. The build.gradle.kts file contains the project settings. 

  1.  Run the application

You can start the application by clicking the Run Next to the run configuration. 


IntelliJ IDEA opens the Run tab and shows the output as shown below.

  1. Updating the application

Here, we will update an application to count the number of letters in your input name. Following are the steps to update your application, 

  • Open the file main.kt in src/<your_app_name> Main/kotlin. The file main.kt includes sample code that prints "Hello, Kotlin native!".  
  • Updated the code as shown in the code snippet below. 
fun main() {
    // Read the input value.
    println("Hello, enter your name:")
    val name = readLine()
   // Eliminate the whitespaces  and Count the letters in the name.
    name?.replace(" ", "")?.let {
        println("Your name contains ${it.length} letters")
    } ?: error("Error while reading input from the terminal: the value can't be null.")


Enter the name and see the output,


Advantages of Kotlin native

Here is the list of advantages of using Kotlin native 

  1. It is easy to develop GUI, sensors, notifications, and everything unique and specified to each device in the native language without restriction.
  2. Enable you to share code easily as compared to the other cross-platform tools. 
  3. Thus, it helps you in cross-platform application development.

Summing Up

In this article, we have discussed what is Kotlin native, what platforms it supports, its interoperability features, how to create Kotlin native applications using IntelliJ IDEA, and its advantages. 

From the discussion, we can conclude that Kotlin native is a modern type-safe language for cross-platform application development. 

Are you planning to build a cross-platform application with Kotlin? Try DhiWise - The world’s first ProCode platform for web and mobile application development.”

Its Android(Kotlin) app Builder provides everything that helps you to build scalable, customizable and maintainable applications with ease.

Explore more about DhiWise Android Builder, and sign up today to start building your next app!

Enjoy coding!


Frequently asked questions

Frequently asked questions

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