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Multiplatform Project: iOS and Android

Last Updated 4 October 2018
Sharing Kotlin code between iOS and Android

In this tutorial we will create an iOS and Android application, by making use of Kotlin's code sharing features. For Android we'll be using Kotlin/JVM, while for iOS it will be Kotlin/Native.

We'll learn how to:

Our goal of this tutorial is to demonstrate the ability to share code within Kotlin and the benefits it provides. While what we'll be looking at is a simplified application, what is shown here can be applied to real world applications, independent of their size or complexity.

The application we're going to create will simply show Kotlin Rocks on Android on Android and Kotlin Rocks on iOS <version> on iOS. The idea is to share the code that generates this message.

The common code is "Kotlin Rocks on ${platformName()}", where platformName() is a function that is declared using the expect keyword. The actual implementation will be specific to the platform.

Setting Up the Local Environment

  • We will be using Android Studio for the Android part of the tutorial. It is also possible to use IntelliJ IDEA Community or Ultimate edition.

  • Kotlin plugin 1.3.x or higher should be installed in the IDE. This can be verified via Language & Frameworks | Kotlin Updates section in the Settings (or Preferences) of the IDE.

  • macOS host operating system is required to compile for iOS and macOS devices. We need to have Xcode and the tools installed and configured. Check out the Apple Developer Site for more details.

Note: We'll be using IntelliJ IDEA 2018.3 EAP, Android Studio 3.2, Kotlin 1.3.0, Xcode 10.0, macOS 10.14, Gradle 4.10.2

Creating an Android Project

We'll create a new Android project via Start New Android Project item. If using IntelliJ IDEA, we need to select Android in the left panel of the New Project wizard.

It's important to make sure that the Include Kotlin support checkbox is ticked. For now we can leave the default settings in the next step of the wizard. We then proceed to select the Empty Activity option and click Next, finally pressing Finish.

Note If using pre-release or EAP versions of the Kotlin plugin, the IDE may fail to open the generated project, giving a Gradle import error. This is because the right Maven repository isn't referenced in the build.gradle file, it can be resolved by adding the following entry twice, into each of the repositories { .. } blocks.

maven { url 'https://dl.bintray.com/kotlin/kotlin-eap' }

Kotlin/Native plugin requires a newer version of Gradle, let's patch the gradle/wrapper/gradle-wrapper.properties and use the following distrubutionUrl:


We need to refresh the Gradle Project settings to apply these changes. Click on the Sync Now link or use the Gradle tool window and click the refresh action from the context menu on the root Gradle project.

At this point, we should be able to compile and run the Android application

Creating the Shared Module

The goal of the tutorial is to demonstrate Kotlin code re-use between Android and iOS. Let's start by creating the SharedCode project with the code we will share between platforms. We will create several new files in our project.

Adding Kotlin Sources

The idea is to make every platform show similar text: Kotlin Rocks on Android and Kotlin Rocks on iOS, depending on the platform. We will reuse the way we generate the message. Let's create the main file under SharedCode/src/commonMain/kotlin/common.kt

package org.kotlin.mpp.mobile

expect fun platformName(): String

fun createApplicationScreenMessage() : String {
  return "Kotlin Rocks on ${platformName()}"

That is the common part. The code to generate the final message. It expects the platform to provide the platform name from the expect fun platformName(): String function. We will use the createApplicationScreenMessage from both Android and iOS applications.

Now, we need to create the implementation for Android in the SharedCode/src/androidMain/kotlin/actual.kt:

package org.kotlin.mpp.mobile

actual fun platformName(): String {
  return "Android"

We create a similar file for the iOS target in the SharedCode/src/iosMain/kotlin/actual.kt:

package org.kotlin.mpp.mobile

import platform.UIKit.UIDevice

actual fun platformName(): String {
  return UIDevice.currentDevice.systemName() +
         " " +

Here we can use the UIDevice class from the Apple UIKit Framework, which is not available in Java, it is only usable in Swift and Objective-C. Kotlin/Native compiler comes with a set of pre-imported frameworks, so we can use the UIKit Framework without additional steps. Objective-C and Swift Interop is covered in details in the documentation

Updating Gradle Scripts

The SharedCode project should generate several artifacts for us:

  • JAR file for the Android project, from the androidMain source set
  • Apple framework
    • for iOS device and App Store (arm64 target)
    • for iOS emulator (x86_64 target)

Let's update the Gradle scripts.

First, we add the new project into the settings.gradle file, simply by adding the following line to the end of the file:

include ':SharedCode'

Next, we need to create the SharedCode/build.gradle file with the following content:

apply plugin: 'kotlin-multiplatform'

kotlin {
    targets {
        final def iOSTarget = System.getenv('SDK_NAME')?.startsWith("iphoneos") \
                              ? presets.iosArm64 : presets.iosX64

        fromPreset(iOSTarget, 'iOS') {

        fromPreset(presets.jvm, 'android')

    sourceSets {
        commonMain.dependencies {
            api 'org.jetbrains.kotlin:kotlin-stdlib-common'

        androidMain.dependencies {
            api 'org.jetbrains.kotlin:kotlin-stdlib'

// workaround for https://youtrack.jetbrains.com/issue/KT-27170
configurations {

Multiplatform Gradle Project

The SharedCode/build.gradle file uses the kotlin-multiplatform plugin to implement what we need. In the file, we define several targets common, android, and iOS. Each target has its own platform. The common target contains the Kotlin common code which is included into every platform compilation. It is allowed to have expect declarations. Other targets provide actual implementations for all expect-actions from the common target. The more detailed explanation of the multiplatform projects can be found on the Multiplatform Projects documentation page.

Let's summarize what we have in the table:

name source folder target artifact
common SharedCode/commonMain/kotlin - Kotlin metadata
android SharedCode/androidMain/kotlin JVM 6 .jar file or .class files
iOS SharedCode/iOSMain iOS arm64 or x86_64 Apple framework

Now it is time to refresh the Gradle project again in Android Studio. Click Sync Now on the yellow stripe or use the Gradle tool window and click the Refresh action in the context menu on the root Gradle project. The :SharedCode project should be recognized by the IDE now.

We are ready to use the SharedCode library from our Android and iOS applications.

Using SharedCode from Android

For this tutorial, we want to minimize Android project changes, so we add an ordinary dependency from that project to the SharedCode project. It is also possible to use the kotlin-multiplatform plugin directly in an Android Gradle project, instead of the kotlin-android plugin. For more information, please refer to the Multiplatform Projects documentation.

Let's include the dependency from the SharedCode project to the Android project. We need to patch the app/build.gradle file and include the following line into the dependencies { .. } block:

    implementation project(':SharedCode')

We need to assign the id to the TextView control of our activity to access it from the code. Let's patch the app/src/main/res/layout/activity_main.xml file (the name may be different if we changed it in the new project wizard) and add several more attributes to the <TextView> element:


Next, let's include the following line of code into the MainActivity class from the /app/src/main/java/<package>/MainActivity.kt file, to the end of the onCreate method:

findViewById<TextView>(R.id.main_text).text = createApplicationScreenMessage()

Use the intention from the IDE to include the missing import line:

import org.kotlin.mpp.mobile.createApplicationScreenMessage

into the same file.

Now we have the TextView that will show us the text created by the shared code function createApplicationScreenMessage(). It shows Kotlin Rocks on Android. Let's see how it works.

Running the Android Application

Let's click on the App run configuration to get our project running either on a real Android Device or on the emulator.

Start the Application

And so now we can see the Application running in the Android emulator:

Emulator App

Creating iOS Application

We open Xcode and select Create a new Xcode project option. In the dialog, we choose the iOS target and select the Single View App. Fill the next page with defaults, and use the KotlinIOS (or something else) as the Product Name. Let's select Swift as the language (it is possible to use Objective-C too). We should instruct Xcode to place the project into the native folder under our project, later we will use relative paths in the configuration files.

The created iOS application is ready to run on the iOS emulator or on the iOS device. The device run may require an Apple developer account and to issue a developer certificate. Xcode does its best to guide us through the process.

Let's make sure we can run the application on the iPhone emulator or device.

Setting up Framework Dependency in Xcode

The SharedCode build generates iOS frameworks for use with the Xcode project. All frameworks are in the SharedCode/build/bin folder. It creates a debug and release version for every framework target. The frameworks are in the following paths:


We use the condition in the Gradle script to select the target platform for the framework. It is either iOS arm64 or iOS x86_64 depending in environment variables.

Tuning the Gradle Build Script

We need to supply the right Framework out of those four depending on the selected target in the Xcode project. It depends on the target configuration selected in Xcode. Also, we'd like to make Xcode compile the Framework for us before the build. We need to include the additional task to the end of the SharedCode/build.gradle Gradle file:

task packForXCode(type: Sync) {
    final File frameworkDir = new File(buildDir, "xcode-frameworks")
    final String mode = System.getenv('CONFIGURATION')?.toUpperCase() ?: 'DEBUG'

    inputs.property "mode", mode
    dependsOn kotlin.targets.iOS.compilations.main.linkTaskName("FRAMEWORK", mode)

    from { kotlin.targets.iOS.compilations.main.getBinary("FRAMEWORK", mode).parentFile }
    into frameworkDir

    doLast {
        new File(frameworkDir, 'gradlew').with {
            text = "#!/bin/bash\nexport 'JAVA_HOME=${System.getProperty("java.home")}'\ncd '${rootProject.rootDir}'\n./gradlew \$@\n"

tasks.build.dependsOn packForXCode

Note, the task may not work correctly if you use Gradle older than 4.10. In this tutorial we have already upgraded it to 4.10.2.

Let's switch back to the Android Studio and execute the build target of the SharedCode project from the Gradle tool window. The task looks for environment variables set by the Xcode build and copies the right variant of the framework into the SharedCode/build/xcode-frameworks folder. We then include the framework from that folder into the build

Setting up Xcode

We add the SharedCode framework to the Xcode project. For that let's click on the root node of the project navigator and select the target settings. Next, we click on the + in the Embedded Binaries section, click Add Other… button in the dialog to choose the framework from the disk. We can point to the following folder:


We will then see something similar to this: Xcode General Screen

We need to disable the Bitcode feature in the project too. Kotlin/Native produces the fully native binaries, not the LLVM bitcode, so we need to navigate to the Build Settings tab, pick the All sub-tab below, and type bitcode into the search field. Select No for the Enable Bitcode option.

Xcode Build Settings

Now we need to explain to Xcode, where to look for frameworks. We need to add the relative path $(SRCROOT)/../../SharedCode/build/xcode-frameworks into the Search Paths | Framework Search Paths section. Open the Build Settings tab again, pick the All sub-tab below, and type the Framework Search Paths into the search field to easily find the option. Xcode will then show the substituted path in the UI for it.

Xcode Build Settings

The final step is to make Xcode call our Gradle build to prepare the SharedCode framework before each run. We open the Build Phases tab and click + to add the New Run Script Phase and add the following code into it:

cd "$SRCROOT/../../SharedCode/build/xcode-frameworks"
./gradlew :SharedCode:packForXCode

Note, here we use the $SRCROOT/../.. as the path to the root of our Gradle project. It can depend on the way the Xcode project was created created. Also, we use the generated SharedCode/build/xcode-frameworks/gradlew script, the packForXCode task generates it. We assumed that the Gradle build is executed at least once, before opening the Xcode project on a fresh machine

Xcode Build Phases

We should drag the created build phase to the top of the list

Xcode Build Phases

We are now ready to start coding the iOS application and to use the Kotlin code from it

Calling Kotlin Code from Swift

Remember, our goal is to show the text message on the screen. As we see, our iOS application does not draw anything on the screen. Let's make it show the UILabel with the text message. We need to replace the contents of the ViewController.swift file with the following code:

import UIKit
import SharedCode

class ViewController: UIViewController {
    override func viewDidLoad() {
        let label = UILabel(frame: CGRect(x: 0, y: 0, width: 300, height: 21))
        label.center = CGPoint(x: 160, y: 285)
        label.textAlignment = .center
        label.font = label.font.withSize(25)
        label.text = CommonKt.createApplicationScreenMessage()

We use the import SharedCode to import our Framework, which we compiled with Kotlin/Native from Kotlin code. Next, we call the Kotlin function from it as CommonKt.createApplicationScreenMessage(). Follow the Kotlin/Native as an Apple Framework tutorial for more details on the Kotlin/Native to Swift (or Objective-C) interop.

Right now, we are ready to start the application in the emulator or on an iOS device.

Running the iOS Application

Let's click the Run button in Xcode, and we'll see our application running

Emulator App


In the tutorial we:

  • created an Android application in Android Studio
  • created an iOS application in Xcode
  • added Kotlin multiplatform sub-project
    • with shared Kotlin code
    • compiled it to Android Jar
    • compiled it to iOS Framework
  • put it all together and re-used Kotlin code

We may find the whole sources from that tutorial on GitHub.

Next Steps

This is only the beginning and a small example of Kotlin code sharing between iOS and Android (and other platforms) with Kotlin, Kotlin/Native and Kotlin multiplatform projects. The same approach works for real applications, independent of their size or complexity.

Kotlin/Native interop with Swift and Objective-C is covered in the documentation article. Also, the same topic is covered in the Kotlin/Native as an Apple Framework tutorial.

The multiplatform projects and multiplatform libraries are discussed in the documentation too.

Sharing code between platforms is a powerful technique, but it may be hard to accomplish without rich APIs that we have in Android, JVM, or iOS platforms. Multiplatform libraries can be used to fix that. They bring rich APIs directly in the common Kotlin code. There are several examples of such libraries:

Looking for more APIs? It is easy to create a multiplatform library and share it!