The smartphone has become an extension of us, and the small device is used not only to connect to the world but also to manage time, learn new things, search for information, shop, book hotels, or play games.
However, in getting this high level of multitasking, you need the right tools, which in the context of mobile devices are called applications. People are increasingly willing to use such mobile solutions, and the number of apps downloaded (in billions) has doubled since 2016!
The trend is clearly visible, although it has slowed down in recent years. However, this does not mean that interest in apps is dying out, but rather that the market is becoming more competitive, users are becoming more demanding, and existing apps continue to evolve.
In this context, it is worth looking at another chart from the third quarter of last year, which shows the number of mobile apps available in the most popular stores.
This is the great advantage of Google Play, the app store for Android. On the other hand, developers of apps must pay attention to iOS users, as they also represent a huge force and a large percentage of the target audience.
And that brings us to hybrid development, which is about creating mobile apps that can run on both iPhones and Android phones without re-writing them from the source for each system.
To make this possible, however, you need the proper set of tools. Fortunately, the answer to this challenge is KMM (Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile), which allows developers to write code once, compile it into native binaries for each target platform, and run the application on multiple devices.
And while KMM is still a developing technology, its engaged community and growing interest make it worthwhile.
The role of KMM in hybrid development
To better understand the role of KMM in hybrid development, it is first necessary to look at the concept of business logic – the set of principles and rules that guide a particular development area.
Business logic is a key component of any mobile application because it determines how the application will respond to various user actions, how it will process data, and how it will perform the operations necessary to meet business objectives. Importantly, it must remain consistent regardless of the use scenario.
What does that mean in reality? A consistent mobile application will work and behave the same way on different devices. In hybrid development, designers can be more efficient because they can focus on writing a single set of instructions that will make the mobile application work on all platforms. With KMM, these instructions – the business logic – are written once and can then be used on both Android and iOS. This eliminates the need to write and test separate code for each platform, which is time-consuming and increases the risk of bugs.
KMM also ensures that business logic is consistent but also secure and efficient because it is a language that supports these aspects. As a result, applications are faster to develop, easier to maintain, and more adaptable to changing business or technology needs.
KMM acts a bit like a universal translator, providing communication between different languages. Developers write business logic in one language, and KMM translates that code so that both Android and iOS understand it – code written in Kotlin is compiled into native libraries for Android and iOS, allowing the same code base to be used seamlessly across both operating systems.
From an app author’s perspective, it simply pays off – both in time and money.
Some specific examples will best illustrate this.
- Instead of hiring separate teams of developers to focus on Android and iOS, which is costly and time-consuming, a single group can support KMM.
- Unified code for both platforms means that any changes, updates, or bug fixes can be made to both systems simultaneously.
- Unified rules and processes mean that users of both systems get the same experience and functionality at the same time.
- Faster time to market and a consistent user experience across devices can help build a stronger brand and competitive position.
In the intro section, we mentioned that the mobile application market has become more competitive, and users are more aware of their requirements, so time, performance, or better access are key ingredients in developing mobile applications to make a mark in such a changing and demanding field.
The tools available in KMM
The above list of advantages already shows the strong position of KMM in the arsenal of programmers. Still, it is worth mentioning a few more, including the available tools that make work even more efficient. Of course, the list is long, but below, we have listed the ones that can most improve the quality of work.
- Android Studio – is the official IDE (Integrated Development Environment) for Android, which also supports KMM development. Android Studio supports Kotlin Multiplatform Projects, which allows quick management of shared and native code for the Android platform.
- IntelliJ IDEA – is a powerful IDE environment from JetBrains, the creators of Kotlin. IntelliJ IDEA offers KMM support, allowing developers to create, test, and debug standard Kotlin code in a single environment.
- Kotlin Multiplatform Libraries – Kotlin multiplatform libraries provide common code that can be used across platforms. This allows developers to use off-the-shelf solutions, accelerating application development.
Libraries are a great place to start because you can find solutions that will significantly improve the efficiency of your work and speed up the entire process. Increased productivity or ease of integration makes it much easier to create more advanced and future-proof applications.
How KMM enables the simultaneous development on iOS and Android
In the introduction, we showed a graph showing the far greater popularity of Android apps among users. However, iPhone owners represent a large percentage of users that cannot be ignored, so more and more developers are looking for solutions that allow them to create quality apps for both systems.
And while the percentage share of individual users in the global market has remained more or less constant, is it worth asking yourself whether giving up 27% of the market is the right business move?
We know from our customers’ experience it is not. Moreover, many applications, such as mobile banking, need to work well on both systems, so you simply cannot neglect either platform. And with KMM, both versions can be developed in parallel because the technology allows features to be designed and tested on both platforms simultaneously. This will enable teams to allocate resources equally across both platforms, monitor progress, and adjust priorities as needed.
In practice, if a feature is critical and needs to be implemented quickly, developers can focus on it for both Android and iOS at the same time, ensuring balanced development. And the shared code ensures that any changes made to the business logic are automatically reflected on Android and iOS. This guarantees that the application is consistently built for both platforms.
As a result, mobile apps can be quickly updated and maintained according to the newest industry standards. Whether the user is on an Android or iOS device, the apps are always up-to-date. It also means that every user gets the same experience, making feedback more meaningful.
Examples of using KMM in hybrid development
Kotlin Multiplatform Mobile (KMM) is a relatively new technology, but it has already gained recognition among mobile application developers. Examples of real-world applications of KMM best confirm these words.
- Netflix – the largest platform for streaming movies and series that probably needs no introduction.
- Memrise – an application for learning languages.
- Quizlet – an educational app that helps you learn anything.
- Cash App – an application for managing finances and mobile payments.
- Careem – is a taxi ordering app similar to Uber, but mainly aimed at the Middle East and North Africa market.
Other interesting examples with a detailed explanation of how KMM allowed to build a useful application can be found on the official site – here.
The popularity of technology among big brands is not surprising, especially in this age of creeping crisis that affects every industry. And KMM offers significant savings, both in time and money, so you can save on ongoing costs and get a working product to market faster.
In addition, it improves security because a consistent code base is easier to manage and monitor, meaning that any bugs or problems are detected and fixed centrally.
And then, of course, there is development – shared business logic allows for better collection and analysis of data from both platforms, which can provide insights into user behavior and help optimize the product. Finally, bringing innovations and features to market faster can give a company a competitive advantage.
KMM and hybrid development
Is KMM a game-changer? Not necessarily, but it does offer a number of improvements that allow developers to work more quickly, accurately, and efficiently. These benefits are reflected in a more consistent user experience, as apps maintain functional and visual consistency across devices.
In addition, a unified code base allows for better use of data and analytics, which can lead to more accurate business decisions and further product optimization to stay competitive in the current dynamic market reality.
One thing is certain – hybrid development, with KMM as one of the critical tools, has a promising future. As companies strive for greater efficiency and shorter time-to-market, tools like KMM will play an increasingly important role. KMM has a good chance of conquering this market because, as a relatively new (and continuously improving) solution, it already has a lot to offer.
We can expect KMM to continue to evolve and provide even better support for developers, including more advanced tools for debugging, testing, and deploying applications.
However, there are other solutions on the market, and whether it is worth using should depend on your individual business goals, needs, requirements, or capabilities. Our company can help you make the best choice – contact us and benefit from our knowledge and experience.