The most prominent mobile platforms utilized by apps developers are Android and iOS. Though they have many similarities in the way of functioning, each was written with an entirely different code. That is why many developers have to opt for one of them as the basis for their creations. But the introduction of multiple platform development (hybrid technologies) and Flutter, in particular, has made a breakthrough in apps writing. With its aid, developers now are able to write applications for one operating system and then successfully compile them for another. Flutter app development has already caused some significant changes in the market.
Since Google acquired this transformative technology, it has become a much-discussed topic in the mobile applications world. However, its usage is not limited only to Google Ads and Google Play. You might have witnessed Flutter apps while shopping on Alibaba or using digital coupons. If you are challenged by hybrid or multiple platform applications, this article will be a valuable source of information.
So what is Flutter?
Simply put, it is a multifaceted toolkit that was specifically designed for building native-looking apps for two eminent platforms (iOS and Android) by implementing the same code. There have been a few attempts in mobile application development targeting devices on these two famous platforms. However, unlike other available open-source engines, this one provides a developer with a whole set of handy controlling features.
Is Google Flutter good enough to switch to?
Its engine is equipped with ready-to-use widgets and tools for writing commands. That makes Flutter not just a usual framework, but an ample Software Development Kit (SDK), which includes testing and integration options. If you are developing or improving a mobile app, your main concerns are visual attractiveness and speed. This SDK helps cross-platform developers achieve those goals effectively. And thanks to reduced code writing, you can minimize the expenses and get a mobile app working smoothly on both platforms. Its multifaceted features significantly broaden the range of targeted devices and stimulate app popularity. That is why Alibaba and Tencent have started employing Flutter in their products. There has been considerable growth in Flutter usage since its release in 2018. NIX Solutions’ team does their part in this revolution, too.
What is use of Flutter?
In apps development, many experts consider moving from a native approach in programming to multiple or hybrid platform technologies. The motivation is simple enough – the more gadgets the app can run on, the higher its attractiveness for users. Among multiple platform toolkits, the two most recognized and employed are React Native and Flutter. A small group of experts tested a demo version of their app to evaluate a native code efficiency versus two cross-platform frameworks. As expected, the native app showed the best performance. Flutter achieved slightly lower results and was followed by React Native.
The former was designed for creating apps that successfully perform on iOS, Android, and Web applications. The latter is not limited to these three platforms. Its range also includes Linux, Windows, and Mac. The astonishing rate of apps published in the Play Store (about fifty thousand) vividly shows Flutter benefits. And the fifth of them has emerged within one month. Among the most trendy framework packages of the SDK are:
- shared preferences,
- path provider,
Now let’s consider some statistic about mobile software developers:
- 60 % work with Windows,
- 27% employ Mac,
- 13% use Linux.
These numbers were presented by the Flutter team in Google, who constantly analyze SDK usage and indicated a significant growth over the last months. They also were glad to inform that among mobile software developers:
- 35% are in the startup business,
- 26% work for enterprises,
- 19% are self-employed specialists,
- 7% are affiliated with design agencies.
Is Flutter the best option compared to previous and already tested frameworks?
As indicated by the recent survey, Flutter takes third place amongst the most appreciated non-web frameworks. It seems that Flutter app development provides faster and more effective solutions for engineers. Thanks to platform specialized widgets, engineers can make apps look and feel great. The multifaceted widgets are customizable and quick, which lets a developer optimize the time and effort spent on building an app. Another admirable feature of Flutter is its appealing and adaptable UI. It helps a lot in creating user-friendly UX and ensures customer satisfaction. Several features distinguish Flutter from other frameworks that support multiple platforms.
- Hot reload
Being already built into the architecture of Flutter, this tool doesn’t need any additional plugins to function. It shows updates in real-time, which allows specialists to fix problematic areas in programming right away. They no longer have to restart the whole procedure and can pick up from where they left. You can see the results of changes at once without tedious delays. Is Google Flutter good for startups limited by smaller budgets? Definitely so. Hot reloading enhances productivity notably and lets different members of the team (engineer, designer, tester, and others) work simultaneously. They can correct errors, choose various options, and see the results of their doings at once.
- Minimal code
One of the gains that make this SDK a helpful tool for a developer is its native code. Owing to such features as JIT and AOT compilation, the framework increases functionality. Less code writing saves time and allows releasing of product in a short period of time with fewer expenses. Unlike native mobile development, the Flutter app needs only one code for successful functioning on different platforms. Using a single code approach has made Flutter extremely popular among mobile app developers. The statistic shows that its usage rate is increasing with each month.
- Access to Native Features
What is use of Flutter when it concerns retrieving native features? Dart allows SDK to exploit the operating system as the basis for building an interface. Third-party integration combined with platform API can reclaim the native languages of the gadget with admirable ease. Flutter, thus, integrates services into the very framework, giving a developer total control over the system. Which in its turn, enables the manipulation of the device’s native features. Dart is not that difficult to learn and employs sophisticated compilation procedures. As we mentioned above, it compiles into a native codebase directly without any other additional means. That ensures a speedy startup because fewer resources are consumed to execute the code. Such an approach allows processing several threads and complex animations, avoiding much load on the device. In other words, Flutter handles complicated algorithms and rich graphics more rapidly and efficiently.
Another great feature that enhances the speed and efficiency is that developers engraved multifunctional widgets into Flutter. Benefits of having customizable and ready-to-go widgets are numerous. Owing to the object-oriented language, any entity in Flutter performs as an independent widget. Therefore, instead of using views and controllers, it represents a unified object model. The abundant widget feature allows building custom app design if you feel a need for such a tool. In case you prefer to work with ready-to-go UI elements they are also available in the framework.
- Fast Development
Besides all the features discussed above, apps built with the help of SDK are effective and less time-consuming. The creation of an app that smoothly runs on both platforms can lessen the testing stage as well. Thanks to a single code approach, you need to write an automatic test one time only. It significantly shortens the Quality Assurance process likewise. Is Flutter the best choice when timing and workload are crucial elements for the project? Definitely, it is. Developers constantly search for new ways to enrich their skills and knowledge in order to be able to create high-performing applications. In contrast to them, those who own apps and want to improve them, crave for optimization of the development time as well as the cost. Having considered both needs, Google team answered by creating their Flutter kit.
- Official support
Being Google’s free and open-source toolkit, Flutter gets enormous support from its owner. A whole team of highly qualified professionals who work in tight liaison with a community of developers improve the framework and provide assistance. According to the statement of Google’s officials, more corporations and firms have started Flutter app development. More businesses are choosing to switch to the new kit because it facilitates rendering highly-branded experiences on multiple platforms. In Flutter Spring Update 2020 developers informed that they switched to a branching model and released a beta version that would be stabilized by applying critical fixes. They also confirmed fast growth in usage not only by developers but enterprises and companies as well.
Pros of Flutter
The great interest that developers community take in Flutter can be explained by several features that are much appreciated by engineers, designers, and product owners. First of all, it has been constructed with public usage in mind. That is why its set-up process is straightforward and easy. It perfectly works even on low-end equipment, so developers do not need the most powerful operating system to employ it. Is Google Flutter good for assembling 2D mobile apps? Yes, with this toolkit, you can build up a full-featured app.
This built-in option functions in a way that enables developers to see every change they made in real-time. Once you have corrected an error or replaced one set of commands with another, you don’t have to restart the whole process, just pick it up from where you left. It reduces time and workload significantly because there are no delays and uncertain results. Moreover, it facilitates good teamwork for designers, engineers, and testers because they can react right away and make necessary adjustments.
This toolkit has giant support from its owner, so a developer can always reach out for resources to the Material Design team. Google constantly offers useful information on its product and updates users of every notable improvement. Furthermore, there is a considerable community of devoted developers who are keenly interested in advancing the existing model. Another attractive feature that is worth mentioning is the fact that the framework supports about 24 languages.
Putting Your Best Foot Forward
What is the use of Flutter when you meet a potential investor? It can be a great help to demonstrate that an app can smoothly perform on the two most widespread platforms. Such a showcase makes the app more attractive and heightens your chances to persuade money-bags to invest in the project.
Adaptable and ready-to-go widgets are united in trees, which is very convenient when it comes to interpreting commands. Because of the native code, any entity in Flutter performs as an independent widget. Therefore instead of using views and controllers, it represents an integrated object model. You can use them either for the entire screen or the app. The abundant widgets allow building a custom app design if you feel a need for such a tool. In case you prefer to work with ready-to-go UI elements, they are also available in the framework.
Ease of Use
We pointed out previously that the installation and implementation are easy enough. If you are a novice in app development, there are two crucial Flutter benefits that make it appealing. First, the toolkit does not require a powerful machine to run effectively and do the job. Quite the opposite. And second, in terms of coding skills, there are abundant online resources (courses, workshops, labs) provided by major app developing corporations including Google.
One Code for Two Platforms
If you own an app and are going to advance it, this powerful kit can offer a few interesting solutions. Thanks to its distinguishing features, namely, unique coding language and its own set of widgets, your app will have a beautiful interface covering both platforms. In case you wish to diversify its design, it is also achievable because the toolkit is customizable and can retrieve native features as well.
Cons of Flutter
In the world of program development, ready-to-use libraries are the source of automation. Without them, further software development becomes impossible. The ability to use readymade packages stipulates an application’s progress in the long-term perspective. Libraries and packages provide free of charge and already tested solutions so that a developer doesn’t have to start coding everything anew. Is Flutter the best alternative in terms of contributed content? Unfortunately, it is still a new technology, and like every new-born, it lacks content pretested in other environments. On the other hand, its source of free packages improves day in day out, updating the set of tools as well.
Large File Sizes
The next disadvantage that can’t be discounted is the ample file size of an app produced with the use of this SDK. Compactness makes a big difference when it comes to storing apps. Exceedingly large file size could cause inconvenience for users with older devices. If they are forced to choose between an app and their favorite files (photos, videos, music), the decision is highly predictable. When such a situation arises, users prefer to switch to an alternative app that does not require much space on their device. As Flutter is yet a mobile-only toolkit, the file size is an essential issue for most users.
As Flutter is a relatively new mobile development kit, its community is less than those of other frameworks. Like with the availability of libraries and free packages, there is not much expertise when it comes to program coding in Dart. The latter is yet not as popular as previous program languages, whose communities prevail in number and experience. Therefore most likely, a developer will need to learn Flutter’s indigenous language before starting building an app. It will affect the cost of development.
In what circumstances is it better to use Flutter?
Before switching to Google’s toolkit from the existing one, you should consider all advantages and disadvantages of that decision. Is it applicable to any mobile app at hand? Here are some cases when it is worthy to reconsider if it will be a win.
- Instant and Progressive Web Apps
They ought to be small in file size; however, with this toolkit, compactness is hardly achievable. Even after optimization, the app’s files exceed the native ones. The excess might vary within a range of 20 Mb. We should keep in mind that Google sets a limit of 10 Mb.
- Apps that connect to other devices’ hardware through Bluetooth
If you are planning to employ Flutter for building an app with such features, you may choose one of the following options. Either build these features individually for two platforms and afterward adjoin them to the app through channels. Or build them for both, with the help of the Bluetooth plugin.
Are you dealing with promising startups, and there is an urgent need to present a product to a potential investor? When timing is essential, using Flutter might be a good way out. You will be able to showcase an app on Android and iOS, which will save your time and finances.
Struggling with a hybrid technology? Looking for a partner to share the challenges? Reach out to NIX Solutions, and our team of experts will take care of your project no matter how complex it is.