Mobile application development has evolved over the years tremendously, and it is still growing as the world demands. Android and iOS are the two platforms that occupy most of the mobile world.
But, developing two different apps for these platforms is a time-consuming and expensive task. Therefore, the concept of cross-platform app development has gained more focus. There are many tools like PhoneGap, Xamarin, and React Native that made this possible and desirable. But, every solution has advantages, also its disadvantages.
To help with this situation, Google announced Flutter’s arrival into the mobile app development world, in February 2018 at the World Mobile Congress.
Flutter — Uniqueness in development
Flutter is a modern mobile app Software Development Kit developed by Google, with a framework, tools, and widgets, which provides developers an easy way to build attractive and fast mobile apps on both iOS and Android platforms.
Key facts to know about Flutter:
- Free and open source
- Uses C++ rendering engine
- Based on Dart language
- Provides own widgets which are easily customizable
- Reactive programming based architecture
Flutter makes development fast and more dynamic with the feature called Hot reload. This allows the developers to reload the code on the running apps without building the whole app again, which reduces development time. So, the teams can experiment with the UI, fix bugs, add features.
Whereas, you need to wait for the entire project to rebuild to see the results in native app development.
Flutter has a set of widgets. So, it does not depend on any platform. So, we can write just one code base for two apps covering both iOS and Android platforms.
If we have a single app for two platforms, then testing will be less. Quality Assurance will be faster as the developers will write automatic cases only once.
Flutter has a rich set of widgets and enormous capabilities for creating complex custom widgets. Flutter uses widgets as views and screens. Flutter has a full set of widgets in Apple’s Cupertino and Google’s style with Material design. Instead of using Original Equipment Manufacturer widgets, Flutter renders widgets directly in the Skia engine. So, we get a smoother user experience with Flutter compared to other cross-platform tools.
The same app UI on older devices
Flutter Apps looks the same, even on older versions of iOS and Android. Flutter runs on iOS 8 or newer and Android Jelly Bean or newer as well.
Access to native features
Camera, Bluetooth like platform-specific functions need access to native features. So, we need to implement these functions in native languages. Flutter allows us to reuse the existing Objective-C, Swift, and Java codes to access the native features and SDKs on Android and iOS.
Perfect for MVP
We can build a single Flutter mobile app to demonstrate on Android and iOS. So, the clients will have a clear idea of our MVP. Developing two different apps would consume more time and money.
Things to improve
- It does not support web browsers
- Limited Continuous Integration (CI tools) support
- It has impressive libraries but is not so rich as for native development
Developers are always looking for technologies that can help them build high-performing applications. On the other hand, product owners seek to optimize development time. Flutter fills this gap. It focuses on visually attractive UI, high-performance, and productivity. This young toolkit will be the modern gateway for mobile application development.