These days, developing and maintaining native software for iOS, Android, and other operating systems is expensive and time-consuming. For this reason, more businesses are turning to cross-platform frameworks, especially Flutter.
Ever since it was released back in 2017, Flutter has been gaining in popularity. In 2021, Flutter was crowned as the most popular cross-platform mobile framework used by developers – 42% of them – and for good reasons.
In this post, we’ll explore the differences between Flutter and native technologies (platforms) and discuss why you should choose Flutter for your next project.
What is Flutter?
Before we list all the advantages of Flutter, let’s take a step back and explain what cross-platform frameworks and Flutter actually are.
A cross-platform framework is a set of tools used to develop software for different operating systems from a single codebase. Thanks to cross-platform frameworks, developers can easily code software once and deploy it to run across various operating systems such as Android, iOS, macOS, Windows, and more.
Flutter is an open-source cross-platform framework developed by Google. It facilitates the development of apps for multiple platforms such as Android, iOS, web, and more using one codebase. The framework helps developers create high-quality, high-performance apps that look and perform like native ones.
What about Native Technologies?
Unlike cross-platform frameworks, development using native technologies happens on a specific platform — Android or iOS.
Android supports Kotlin and Java with Android Studio as the development environment. On the other hand, iOS supports Swift and Objective-C with Xcode as the development environment.
Native technologies are known for helping developers create high-performing apps with great UI and UX. However, compared to cross-platform developed apps, apps on native platforms are more complex to work on and require much effort for maintenance. Developers can’t just load security updates, new features, and patches onto the servers.
Advantages of Choosing Flutter over Native Platforms
The cons of native platforms we’ve mentioned briefly in the previous section are pushing businesses towards cross-platform frameworks such as Flutter. If you’re still unsure whether to go with Flutter, take a look at the following advantages.
With Flutter, developers, QAs, designers, and anyone involved in the development process can make quick changes and collaborate more effectively. Typically, developers must write code, wait for it to compile, and then loaded into the devices before seeing any changes.
However, thanks to Flutter’s hot reload feature, developers can see the changes they made almost instantly, without delays, and without losing the current application state. On the other hand, Flutter’s hot restart feature quickly deletes the current app state and rebuilds it to the default one. This allows developers to check for business logic changes faster than native platforms. Ultimately, it results in a smaller time-to-market window.
In addition to the hot reload and hot restart features, Flutter has a library of customizable widgets that allow developers to make beautiful apps of various complexity easily. Google treats widgets as the “fundamental building blocks of Flutter user interfaces.”
Flutter’s widgets are unique, eye-catching, fast, and reliable. They can be customized in the Material or Cupertino style. They can also be further improved with gestures and animations, making the development process even more efficient.
Advanced OS-Level Features
Unlike other cross-platform frameworks, Flutter provides advanced OS-level features such as sensor data collection, Bluetooth, credentials, permission handling, and more. These features are supported by Google and available as ready-to-use plugins.
Even better, if your app relies on an OS-level feature that isn’t available as a plugin, Flutter can use platform channels to establish the communication between platform-native code and Dart (the programming language Flutter uses; also developed by Google). This lets you quickly implement any native operation or feature your app built on top of Flutter needs.
Not Limited to Just Mobile Platforms
As of writing this blog post, Flutter runs on many platforms: Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, web (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge), and Windows. Google is also endorsing Flutter as the primary technology to build Fuchsia apps. Fuschia is Google’s open-source operating system currently used on Google Nest Hub.
Because of this, developers using Flutter have the flexibility to work on one codebase and have it work on a plethora of devices.
First-Party Rendering Engine
The Flutter framework is pretty robust. It wouldn’t be able to do so many things (that aren’t found on other frameworks) without a high-performance rendering engine called Skia.
Thanks to Skia, UI built in Flutter works on almost any platform, meaning that developers no longer have to spend time adjusting it to work on a single platform — simplifying the development process.
Usually, businesses need to pay separately for the development and maintenance of each native app. One time for each platform. If you’re looking to develop a mobile app, you’ll need to pay for a separate iOS and separate Android app, meaning that the costs quickly rack up.
With Flutter, you only need one dev team to develop and maintain your app — no matter the platform. This significantly reduces your costs and saves time on developing, optimizing, and maintaining all those native apps.
Similar to Native Apps
In most cases, Flutter apps perform indistinguishably from native apps. Plus, when it comes to complex UI animations, Flutter performs even better.
Most cross-platform frameworks rely on interpretations or representations of intermediate code. Flutter apps are directly built into machine code. This way, any interpretation process performance bugs are eliminated. Flutter applications are also fully compiled ahead of time.
Good Resources and Community
Flutter is loved by millions of developers and enthusiasts. Many of them gather in one of the many Flutter communities — both online and in-person. Since Flutter is open source, many also contribute to it on GitHub.
Why Should You Try Flutter?
Overall, Flutter is one of, if not the quickest and easiest way to deliver a cross-platform mobile application that looks beautiful and performs even better. Using Flutter is an excellent choice for businesses for many reasons, including:
- Flutter community — which is only growing.
- The framework’s unprecedented quality.
- Ease of integration thanks to such as Google Ads, BMW, Alibaba, and more that are already using Flutter to build amazing apps.
The way Flutter has been growing over the years, it’s probably just a matter of time when Flutter becomes the ultimate cross-platform mobile framework.
If you’re still unsure whether Flutter is the right choice for your next project, the following questions and answers may help you.
Q1: How does Flutter ensure optimal performance?
Q2: How can I shift from native technologies to Flutter?
Developers who want to enter the world of Flutter should start from the framework’s official website, especially the Learn section. If they have experience working with Dart, Java, C++, and are comfortable with OOP concepts — learning Flutter won’t be a problem.
Q3: Can I do the same things in Flutter as in native technologies?
Yes, as in many cases, Flutter apps can perform the same things as native apps do. In some areas, such as complex animation, Flutter performs even better than native apps.
More specifically, both Flutter and native technologies provide the UI components needed to build native-like apps. Both include lots of features and can be integrated with additional plugins. Both can also perform at 60 FPS and 120 FPS, according to acodez.in.