What’s New in Kotlin 1.7.0

Kotlin 1.7.0 has been released on 9 June 2022 and with it comes a big list of improvements/new features along the way. In this article, we will have a closer look at the features offered to Kotlin developers working on the JVM. There were many more changes of course, such as in Kotlin/JS or Kotlin/Native. For the full list of changes check out [this page](https://kotlinlang.org/docs/whatsnew17.html).

Kotlin/K2 Compiler


This feature is still experimental.

The new K2 compiler for Kotlin brings a massive performance boost to your project. You can expect a performance boost of factor x2 and more compared to the Kotlin/JVM compiler. That table speaks for itself:

ProjectCurrent Kotlin Compiler PerformanceNew K2 Kotlin Compiler PerformancePerformance Boost
Kotlin2.2 KLOC/s4.8 KLOC/s~x2.2
YouTrack1.8 KLOC/s4.2 KLOC/s~x2.3
IntelliJ IDEA1.8 KLOC/s3.9 KLOC/s~x2.2
Space1.2 KLOC/s2.8 KLOC/s~x2.3


KLOC/s stands for the number of thousands of lines of code that the compiler processes per second.

The compiler is not feature complete and the Kotlin team is working on stabilizing it during the next releases. If you want to enable the K2 compiler for your project, use the following compiler option:


Kotlin/JVM Compiler

The Kotlin team has also worked on performance improvements for the current stable compiler, the Kotlin/JVM compiler. Compared to Kotlin 1.6.0, compilation time has been reduced by 10% on average.

New Underscore Operator

On the language side of Kotlin, we get a new underscore operator, `_`, for type arguments. It can be used to automatically infer the type of a type argument when other types are specified. Look at the code below (especially the main function) and you’ll understand how it works:

abstract class SomeClass<T> {
    abstract fun execute(): T

class SomeImplementation : SomeClass<String>() {
    override fun execute(): String = "Test"

class OtherImplementation : SomeClass<Int>() {
    override fun execute(): Int = 42

object Runner {
    inline fun <reified S: SomeClass<T>, T> run(): T {
        return S::class.java.getDeclaredConstructor().newInstance().execute()

fun main() {
    // T is inferred as String because SomeImplementation derives from SomeClass<String>
    val s = Runner.run<SomeImplementation, _>()
    assert(s == "Test")

    // T is inferred as Int because OtherImplementation derives from SomeClass<Int>
    val n = Runner.run<OtherImplementation, _>()
    assert(n == 42)

Standard Library

Deep Recursive Functions

There was also a nice addition to the Standard Library of Kotlin. The feature is called Deep Recursive Functions. It is useful for cases, where deep recursion is required. It allows you to define a function that keeps its stack on the heap and thus does not throw a StackOverflowError when it calls itself recursively 100’000 times. The Kotlin team recommends using this feature if recursion depth exceeds 1000 calls.

Have a look at this code, which generates a tree consisting of 100’000 nodes:

class Tree(val left: Tree? = null, val right: Tree? = null)
val deepTree = generateSequence(Tree()) { Tree(it) }.take(100_000).last()

And here is an implementation of a function that calculates the depth of the tree using the regular, recursive approach. It will throw a StackOverflowError:

fun depth(t: Tree?): Int =
    if (t == null) 0 else max(depth(t.left), depth(t.right)) + 1
println(depth(deepTree)) // StackOverflowError

In this second example, the same recursion is implemented using DeepRecursiveFunction:

val depth = DeepRecursiveFunction<Tree?, Int> { t ->
    if (t == null) 0 else max(callRecursive(t.left), callRecursive(t.right)) + 1
println(depth(deepTree)) // Ok

This is cool stuff and if you’re interested in more detail, you can find more information here.

New Extension Functions for Java Optionals


This feature is still experimental.

The new Kotlin release brings us new extension functions for the Java Optional type, such as getOrNull(), getOrDefault() and getOrElse(). This comes really handy, as they either return the value inside the Optional if present, or null, the types default value or something else specified by the developer.

Here’s some example code that shows these functions in action:

val presentOptional = Optional.of("I'm here!")

// "I'm here!"

val absentOptional = Optional.empty<String>()

// null

println(absentOptional.getOrDefault("Nobody here!"))  
// "Nobody here!"

println(absentOptional.getOrElse {
    println("Optional was absent!")
    "Default value!"
// "Optional was absent!"
// "Default value!"


Besides massive performance optimizations, the new Kotlin release has also brought some nice feature additions.

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