Development | 12 min read
Flutter App Development: Cross-Platform Capabilities and Comparison With React Native
What is the right tool for mobile app development? No one will answer this question immediately. There are tons of existing frameworks and libraries. However, some tools may fit the majority of projects due to their capabilities.
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Statista states that there will be approximately 7 billion mobile users by 2021. It means that the popularity of mobile apps and mobile devices is undisputable. And the task of mobile app developers is to create high-performance and eye-catching apps.
One of the additional tools to build such apps is the Flutter framework. It is one of the main competitors to React Native framework that we have written about recently, and we are going to compare them. Also, you will find the advantages of Flutter and examples of apps made with Flutter. Stay tuned!
What Is Flutter Framework?
Flutter is a free and open-source tool for mobile UI development. It was created and released by Google in 2017. Flutter is a cross-platform framework, and it allows developers to build a mobile app with one codebase. It means that they will use one language for the development of iOS and Android apps.
The development of Flutter-based apps requires the knowledge of Dart programming language. Google created this language in 2011, and it is not as popular as Java language. However, it rapidly gains momentum.
The Purpose Of Flutter Framework
You already know that cross-platform mobile app development is the principal purpose of the Flutter framework. But what is Flutter app development exactly? The tool consists of two crucial components:
SDK. It’s a software development kit that includes developers’ required instruments to build a cross-platform app (for example, instruments that compile code in native machine code).
Framework. Flutter contains a wide range of functional UI elements (buttons, sliders, etc.) that can be customized according to the app style and individual preferences.
Why Is Flutter Good For App Development?
You cannot be confident that Flutter is good until you figure out what advantages Flutter has. We want to focus on a few strong reasons why you should use Flutter for mobile app development.
High performance. Apps that use Flutter work rather fast. Its high performance is achieved due to its engine and application of a new programming language (Dart). Flutter makes it possible to solve applied tasks quickly, especially UI-related ones.
Quick animations. The Flutter-based mobile application has few unnecessary components, and it contributes to more stable animations even on 60 fps frequency.
App size. As it is noted above, apps built using Flutter contain few intermediate components due to Dart language particularities. So it directly impacts the final size of the app, and the compilation process goes much faster.
Typed language. Although Dart is a rather new programming language, it becomes more popular from year to year. A typed programming language allows developers to write more structured programming code, and it means that Flutter can be used to create more complicated apps.
Uniformity of user interface. UI components of Flutter are well-thought-out, and it makes all apps look good in all operating systems. That is, developers don’t need to waste time for UI modification on each platform. Besides, the cost of design will be lower since one design is created for two applications.
Different platforms support. Apart from iOS and Android, Google has provided web support for Flutter. Also, there are rumors that support for ChromeOS, macOS, and Windows will be available shortly. Besides, Google is working on Google Fuchsia — a new operating system built with Flutter.
Detailed documentation. Google has made up a comprehensive guide on how to use Flutter with examples of its functionality. Developers can start learning new technologies quickly.
Build An MVP With Flutter
By the way, Flutter is an excellent tool to create your MVP. A minimum viable product can be very important, especially if you don’t want to lose your money and make sure that your app idea has great potential.
First of all, Flutter contributes to cheaper development since one app is created for two platforms. The maintenance of two apps also becomes more comfortable.
Then, one developer is enough to build an MVP. But remember that you need a skilled Flutter app development company that will provide you with reliable services.
Finally, the difference between native and cross-platform apps created with Flutter won’t be noticeable. And widgets in Flutter can be customized, so your app will have an original user interface.
Flutter Vs. React Native: Which One Is Better
Recently we have presented an article about cross-platform React Native framework to the public (you find a link at the beginning of this article). The article contains the benefits of RN and reasons to use it for your project. However, Flutter is breathing down React Native’s neck, and its capabilities grow. React Native vs. Flutter — which one wins? Let’s compare them.
Flutter uses Dart language that is young and not so popular yet. It is typed and straightforward, but it takes time for developers to learn a new language.
Setup and installation. Both frameworks require some time and skills to set them up. React Native can be installed using an npm package manager, but the process will be faster if developers already have Node.js installed. As for Flutter, it is required to download and unzip it, then add a folder to the PATH variable manually.
Actually, the installation and setup of both frameworks take roughly the same time, but if Node.js is installed, the React Native installation process will be faster.
UI components. React Native has a more extensive library of UI components than Flutter has. However, RN supports many third-party libraries, unlike Flutter. If we discard third-party libraries and take native ones only, Flutter provides many more available native libraries. Besides, non-native libraries of React Native may contain bugs or incompatibilities sometimes that impacts the performance of the framework.
Performance. Flutter shows that its performance is much faster than React Native may boast about. Flutter framework doesn’t use native components of other platforms, and it compiles Dart code into native ARM code that is processed by the controller. And it makes Flutter-based apps work faster.
Note: By the way, do you remember the Hot Reload feature that React Native has? Flutter features it too. This feature allows developers to reload apps with all saved changes and speed up the development.
Community. Although React Native is an older and more popular framework yet, Flutter’s community is already bigger. Many developers switch to Flutter due to the performance and reliability of native libraries. Moreover, Google added a video guide to Flutter’s official website containing instructions on how to switch to Flutter when using React Native.
What About Cons Of Flutter?
Based on the previous section, we can single out the following drawbacks of Flutter:
Limited libraries. Flutter is a young framework, and it can be difficult for developers to find necessary libraries sometimes. However, its native libraries function correctly, and they are bug-free.
Additional skills are required. Although the community of Flutter numbers more developers, not everybody is ready to learn a new language (Dart) and start using a new tool when a good old React Native is available. But it is a matter of time, you know.
Apps Built With Flutter
We don’t want to make unsubstantiated claims when we talk about the growing popularity of Flutter app development services, so we want to list six top apps created with Flutter. But there are more of them.
Google Products (Stadia, Google Ads)
If Google created the Flutter framework, it must first set an example and use Flutter in Google products.
Google Stadia, a streaming platform for gamers, was built with the help of Flutter SDK, and it is available on iOS and Android. Developers decided to use Flutter on the prototyping stage to increase app performance.
Google Ads app needs no introduction. It allows users to view campaign stats, get real-time notifications, alerts, add/edit keywords, etc.
The Watermaniac app was one of the first apps built with Flutter, even when it was available as a beta version. The main goal of the app is to help people keep track of their daily water intake. Users get a notification when they need to take a few sips of water to avoid dehydration.
Flutter made this app lightweight. Besides, the framework allows developers to maintain the app faster and more efficiently.
SpaceX GO! app is an unofficial app that keeps all users updated on what is going on in SpaceX corporation. You can check launch tracking and relevant details, view the ships catalog, find general company details, etc. It is an open-source project, its source code is available on GitHub, and all developers may contribute to modify the app and make it better.
It is the example of an app that was built using React Native first, and then it was recreated with Flutter. Reflectly is an app that represents a diary where you can write down all your thoughts. Its capabilities include artificial intelligence that helps users deal with their emotions, suppress negative thoughts, and increase positive emotions. It is a kind of personal therapist.
Hamilton app is an exciting app that was dedicated to a famous Broadway musical. Users can find a lottery there, sing karaoke, read exclusive news, watch videos, etc. Also, you can buy a merch and stickers right in the app. Developers selected Flutter framework to create one app for two platforms faster and at a higher level of quality.
Groupon is an app that helps users find shop deals, discounts, coupons. The app is created for everyone who wants to save up to 70% on various products. Today it is one of the most popular eCommerce apps in the United States. As for app development, Flutter was used to modify an app and make a good-looking UI on iOS and Android platforms.
What Is The Future Of Flutter?
Flutter is a promising cross-platform app development framework that can also be used for web development, and macOS support will be available soon. It helps speed up the development process, and it can be an excellent option for a mobile MVP. But the suitability of Flutter use must be elaborated in each particular case.
What kind of apps can you build with Flutter? You can create almost any type of application, but if the one requires integrations with a large number of third-party SDKs, Flutter won’t be the best player in the match. It is better to choose a native app development.
Hire Flutter App Developers
Summing up, we would like you to draw some conclusions from our article. The Flutter framework can be the right tool to choose if you want to save your budget and launch a product faster. The only thing you need is to hire a software development company that can provide you with Flutter app developers. Cadabra Studio is one of them.
We think that the most crucial characteristic of each developer is the ability to learn something new. That is why we always encourage our specialists to gain new skills and learn new development technologies. Do you need a mobile or web app for your business? Then get in touch with us, you will get qualified assistance — that’s our mission.