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Enhance Native App Development: Migrate to Kotlin and Swift

Enhance Native App Development: Migrate to Kotlin and Swift

Published on: 12 Jan 2024 7 min read

The dynamics of mobile app development make it crucial to stay relevant and competitive. The choice of programming languages is among the aspects any software company for mobile apps needs to consider with the greatest care. This is particularly true in the realm of native app development, where performance, user experience, and platform-specific capabilities are paramount. In this article, we will delve into the process of migrating from old Java and Objective-C to new Kotlin and Swift.

Enhance Native App Development: Migrate to Kotlin and Swift

The Significance of Native App Development

iOS/Android native app development involves the usage of platform-specific languages and tools to create applications for a particular platform. It allows companies to unlock the full potential of their platforms and ensure smooth operation and seamless user experience.

Enhance Native App Development: Migrate to Kotlin and Swift

Native App Benefits

  • Performance 

Native app optimization for a particular platform accelerates load times and makes interactions smoother. Utilizing a platform-specific language and independence on third-party software is really what makes the difference and gives native apps a formidable advantage over hybrid or cross-platform solutions. 

  • User Experience 

Native apps provide a consistent, intuitive look and feel to enhance user satisfaction and engagement. Every native platform has its design guidelines, and following them results in a unified UI/UX process. Consistency and familiarity make an application easy to interact and engage with, and they increase customer satisfaction. 

  • Access to Platform Features 

Native app developers have unlimited access to many platform-specific features, such as camera, GPS, storage, notifications, Augmented Reality, etc. By leveraging their full capabilities, such Android/iOS applications will boast functionalities that will inevitably outperform any hybrid or cross-platform solution.

  • Security 

Native apps ensure data protection by leveraging all built-in iOS and Android security features, such as encryption and authentication. Their efficiency means that companies can easily prevent data breaches and unauthorized access.

Migration from Java to Kotlin

Java has been the go-to language for Android app development for many years. However, the introduction of Kotlin in 2017 revolutionized the Android development landscape. Kotlin is the officially supported language by Google that offers multiple upgrades over Java, making it the preferred choice for modern native Android app development.

Enhance Native App Development: Migrate to Kotlin and Swift

Key Benefits of Kotlin

  • Conciseness 

Kotlin reduces boilerplate code, making it more uncomplicated, concise, and readable. Less code also means fewer bugs to fix and frees resources, while the code readability dramatically accelerates application development. 

  • Safety 

Kotlin includes null safety features that reduce the risk of crashes due to null pointer exceptions. This is particularly useful when operating sizeable codebases and APIs.   

  • Interoperability

Kotlin seamlessly integrates with existing Java codebases and allows for a gradual migration. Such compatibility and access to Java frameworks and libraries means that developers can use both languages during migration.  

  • Functional Programming 

Kotlin supports functional programming paradigms and enables developers to write cleaner and easy-to-maintain code.

Migration Strategies: How to Migrate from Java to Kotlin the Scalefocus Way

At Scalefocus, the process starts by enabling Kotlin in the project. Next, we convert Java files to Kotlin and take care of null values from the Java code. We also need to address dependencies and use Kotlin ones whenever available. Then, it is time for step-by-step refactoring of Java classes to Kotlin and test case checks. Finally, we monitor performance as the differences between Kotlin and Java might challenge developers, and some elements need refactoring to comply with Kotlin standards and code optimizations.

The Scalefocus team has adopted the step-by-step approach. That means that we refrain from making wholesale changes to the project. The interoperability between Kotlin and Java immensely facilitates the process. We can change one Java class at a time without rewriting the whole project. If the codebase is modularized, there are no drawbacks in writing every new module in Kotlin.

Transition from Objective-C to Swift

Before the introduction of Swift by Apple in 2014, Objective-C had been the primary language for iOS app development. However, Swift changed many things by providing development teams with a truly innovative, efficient, and user-friendly language.

Enhance Native App Development: Migrate to Kotlin and Swift

Swift Benefits 

  • Performance

Swift outperforms Objective-C in terms of speed and memory usage. Indeed, Swift boasts lightning-fast algorithm calculation metrics and language operations. This enables developers to employ generics and high-order functions to achieve clean, reusable code and accelerate time-to-market. Swift also supports dynamic libraries to avoid the clogging commonly related to static memory.

  • Easy Coding and Maintenance

Swift is concise even for complex solutions, which inevitably improves and accelerates the development process and increases code reusability.  Unlike Objective-C developers, Swift experts do not have to manually synchronize method names and comments between files.

Instead, they can invest resources in app logic construction and code quality enhancements.

  • Interoperability 

Swift is fully interoperable with Objective-C, which facilitates and smoothens the transition. It also provides an immersive experience that enables developers to detect and rectify problems while coding, as loops in the code are visible in the timeline window.

  • Safety 

Swift incorporates safety features and reduces the likelihood of runtime errors. The massively improved type system and error management capabilities have boosted security, and the rapid feedback loops and error-tracking functionalities have facilitated software fault identification.  

Migrating Strategies: How to Migrate from Objective-C to Swift the Scalefocus Way

Some developers use xCode converters like Swiftify. This simplifies the process of translating the syntax from Objective-C to Swift. Interoperability enables effortless integration of the converted code into the Objective-C project. This way, you can use Swiftify to explore its extensive functionality one piece at a time. Then, you can integrate it back into your Objective-C project without rewriting the entire app in Swift. Swiftify also provides an Advanced Project Converter, allowing developers to convert whole projects via intuitive desktop UI.

Scalefocus mainly utilizes the step-by-step method for such migrations. Objective-C and Swift can work together and be present in the same project, so we can take a “piece of code”, being a function, class, module, or subproject and rewrite that in Swift. This way, developers have much more control over what and how it translates, which boosts stability and performance short and long term.

Our team has extensive experience in helping companies migrate from Objective-C to Swift. A recent project that showcased our expertise involved a global provider of end-to-end payment solutions. All their products had been developed when Objective-C was the most popular language. However, with Swift emerging as a trendy upgrade, we migrated them step by step, and now their apps are built and operating on Swift.

Another major project where we successfully utilized the same approach involved a major telecom provider. Similarly, their Apple App Store products had been partially written on Objective-C but currently include 0% Objective-C code (excluding 3rd party libraries).

Scalefocus’ Mobile Expertise – A Conclusion

Mobile app developers have no choice but to follow the latest trends and migrate from Java and Objective-C to Kotlin and Swift. This will enable them to innovate and build apps with brilliant performance and flawless user experience.

Scalefocus and its mobile team have a formidable track record that boasts projects with companies of different regions, sizes, and backgrounds. Our mobile expertise goes beyond native mobile app development and features hybrid mobile app development, app modernization, consultancy, and UX design.

The list of industry verticals Scalefocus’ mobile team has been involved with includes healthcare and life science, financial services, energy and utilities, telecommunications, gaming, etc. Our end-to-end mobile app development, support, and maintenance services have provided exactly what our partners need to meet their customers’ requirements – seamless mobile experiences and a broad range of world-class functionalities.

Interested in collaboration with Scalefocus, but you would like more details about our mobile expertise? Then, head over to our blog and learn about our full implementation capabilities in mobile app development.

You can also check our signature projects, starting with the award-winning mobile app and device that help blind and visually impaired people lead more independent lives. Developed from scratch, this groundbreaking solution enables them to socialize, do daily chores, and spend more time in the open. Paired with a lightweight, compact, and easy-to-use device, the mobile application is rightfully among the innovations that make us particularly proud.

Finally, you could simply contact us and discuss your own projects, the challenges you are experiencing, and the ways our experts can assist you.

We look forward to hearing from you!

About the Author:

Krasimir Kunchev

Krasimir Kunchev

Senior Content Writer

Kras is a true musical force-turned-copywriter. What can we say? Multitalented people do exist, and we got them! He’s been on stage since the mid-nineties when punk rock was alive and kicking. Fittingly, he started his writing career as a rock journalist and later learned his chops in advertising.

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