After the launch of Android P, Google released its new Software Development Kit (SDK) naming it Google Flutter. It is a revolutionary product from this search engine giant which is a more advanced version of Android SDK. It can also assist in making cross-platform apps.
One of the interesting things mobile application developers should know about this new SDK is that it will allow them to create mobile applications with just a single process of coding. In addition to this, the use of Dart to write mobile applications makes the syntax look quite similar to that of Java. The code is usually being used in combination of IOS or standard Android toolchains which are again used for specific mobile application platforms. This not only makes it more convenient but also gives better efficiency and performance, hence a better match for the start-ups.
Both Android and iOS are the main platforms for mobile application development. You usually need to create for both of them while writing different code. Hence, cross-platform mobile app development has gained immense popularity in the mobile app development industry. It saves effort and time while creating a mobile app. Different other tools have emerged to make cross-platform mobile app development desirable and possible. There are web-based app development tools such as Adobe’s PhoneGap, Microsoft’s Xamarin, and Facebook’s React Native. Each of these solutions has its pros and cons which stand in the way of successful app development.
Mobile app developers are constantly looking forward to expanding their skill sets and knowledge and learn new methods and technologies in order to help them create high-performing mobile applications. On the other hand, mobile app owners seek to optimize time spent on app development. That is why Flutter has entered the app world. It was announced by Google in February 2018. Previously, Google introduced the alpha version at Google I/O in 2017. Since releasing this latest framework, Google has continued to promote this framework at conferences as they want more and more people to use this.
What exactly is Flutter?
Flutter is a modern app development kit by Google designed to build apps for iOS, Android, and Google Fuchsia, a new platform that is being developed by Google.
What’s been done
Lots of hours have been put into developing the Flutter tool kit before it was ready for the general purpose. The engineers of Google have worked on:
- Major parts of the engine to improve performance
- Support for development on Windows
- Tooling for Android Studio and Visual Studio Code
- Support for more Fire base APIs
- Support for inline video, ads, and charts
- Internationalisation and accessibility
- Good documentation
- Lots of bug fixes
Some other crucial facts about Flutter:
- Free and open-source
- Uses the C++ rendering engine
- Based on the Dart programming language
- Provides its own widgets
- Architecture is based on reactive programming
Since this framework was officially announced, many events related to flutter have sprung up across the globe:
How Flutter succeeds at cross-platform development
This app development kit allows you to create 2D mobile applications. You can use it to develop feature-packed apps, including support for geolocation, cameras, networks, storage, and more. If you need to create a stock platform app or an impressive branded design, a cross-platform mobile app development framework like Flutter is well suited.
Mobile application development in Flutter
Currently, toolkit use cases are few, but they are not quite effective. Google itself has used the Flutter tool kit to create an AdWords app, which helps advertisers and buy ads. The Alibaba app is also created with a toolkit. Alibaba is the largest e-commerce company in China and is similar to Amazon.
There are a few other apps built with the help of Flutter that is not as popular as Alibaba and AdWords. For instance, the official app for the Broadway musical Hamilton. The Hamilton app has special news, daily lotteries, and videos, a trivia game, a merchandise store and many more. AB Rhodes Studios’ topline app (a recording service that captures song ideas) and Coach Yourself (which is a meditation app for the German market) are also built with the help of Flutter.
We see Flutter as a value to the mobile app developer community as well as to owners who seek to streamline the app development process. Although, it would be inappropriate to hide both the pros and cons of this framework.
Pros of using flutter for your mobile app development project:
Flutter has many pros that allow it to attract a large app developer community and many app owners. Let us take a look at all the benefits of the Flutter framework to mobile app coders and the business owners.
1. Hot Reload
One of the best things about flutter is hot reload. App developers can see different changes they make to the application immediately. Changes take just seconds to see, so app development teams can promptly add new features, experiment and fix bugs. Hot reload enables better collaboration between designers and developers when they want to improve how the mobile app looks and check the effect immediately. Although, hot reloading has some limitations.
With basic mobile application development, you will have to wait for a few minutes to see every change you make.
2. Cross-Platform Development
With cross-platform mobile app development, there is no need to create app separately for the two platforms. You can just create an app once, get a codebase, and use that one codebase for other applications on different platforms. In addition to cross-platform app development, Flutter can also give you a start on developing for the Fuchsia platform. Fuchsia is an experimental operating system created by Google. Many think that it is a future replacement for Android.
3. Perfect for an MVP
If you want to show your product to the investors as soon as possible, you can build a flutter mobile application that looks original on both iOS and Android. Thus, your investors will clearly know what your MVP looks like. It’ll take more time and money to create two different apps.
4. Less Code
The programming language of Flutter is dart. The dart is an object-oriented programming language. Flutter resembles Reactive Native, and its programming style is declarative and reactive. There is no need to use a JS bridge in a flutter, which enhances overall performance and app startup time. Dart achieves this AOT (ahead-of-time)compilation. In addition to this, Dart uses JIT (just-in-time) compilation. JIT compilation with flutter improves the development workflow by allowing for a hot reload ability to refresh the UI during the app development without the need for a complete build. Flutter means less code and where there is less code, there are fewer bugs and improved performance. By using Dart, 100% of the code is usually shared between Android and iOS apps.
5. High-Speed Animation
When it comes to animation, Flutter works magic. It makes it very easy and simple to create and integrate animation in mobile apps. According to various studies, the animation loading speed of Android is 60FPS in Flutter.
6. Single Language For Layout And Backend
In the case of native for Android, Kotlin and Java have a different layout used for files. This will give the app developers a reference for various views and then they’ll make relevant changes to various backend files.
In the case of flutter, a single language is used for backend and design. The entire need for widgets and references have been erased which is why Flutter for android mobile app development.
7. Dart is Perfect For Multiple Languages
After the launch of Java 8, there are still many glitches to be taken care of. Coming to Dart, it has a plethora of features for different languages and still maintains the original Java experience. The mobile app development process will be simplified and it’ll be the privilege of the mobile app development company to deliver the best output at a budget-friendly price.
8. Removal Of Repetitive Gradle Build Time
Gradle is one of the best tools for Android app development. There is one in this case, as it is certainly too large making it pretty difficult to deploy mobile apps at high speed. By the way, Flutter also needs Gradle in order to build Android mobile apps. But, this needs only one time. In case of rebuilding the application or any small changes, it can dig up Gradel, making deployment faster and more convenient.
Widgets are essential to the application’s interface and view, regardless of screen size, they should have a natural feel and look. They should also be extensible, fast, and customizable. Everything takes a widget approach in a flutter. It has an extensive capability to create complex custom widgets and a rich set of widgets. In flutter, widgets are not used only for views. They are used for the entire screen and even for the mobile app.
As the documentation of Flutter puts it, it's every widget is an immutable declaration of the part of the user interface. Other frameworks see different controllers, views, layouts, and various other properties. On the other hand, Flutter has a consistent, unified object model called widgets.
A widget can define:
a structural element (like a menu or button)a stylistic element (like a color or font scheme)an aspect of the layout (like padding)
The widgets form a hierarchy based on their creation. Each widget nests inside different properties from its parent and is inherited. There is no separate mobile application object. Instead, the root widget performs this role.
Flutter has a full set of widgets with Cupertino Pack in Material Design of Google and Applino Style. Widget rendering takes place directly in the Scia engine without using the native device builder widgets. Therefore, we get a good user interface experience compared to other frameworks of cross-platform.
And here’s how Flutter interacts with the platform:
All that is required from the platform is a canvas in order to present the widgets so that those devices can appear on the screen and access different events (a timer, touch, etc.) and services (camera, location, etc.).
10. Access to native features
Some platform-specific functions like geolocation and cameras require access to different native features. These functions need to be implemented through various native languages, and the pulsation gives a sense of evolving on the native platform. Flutter also allow you to reuse your existing Swift, Java, and Objective-C code in order to use native features and SDKs on Android and iOS.
11. Official support
Since Flutter is a Google initiative, the framework has a big name behind it. There is a lot of support from the Material Design team and a community of over 1000 mobile app developers who are ready to contribute to the development of this framework.
12. Easy to set up
Flutter is quite easy to set up and you do not need to be worried that your operating system will not be able to handle this framework. Quite the contrary, Flutter does not need a powerful machine.
According to Luigi Rosso (co-founder of 2Dimensions), “I love the friction-free iteration of Flutter. Hot Reload sets me in a feedback loop which keeps me quite focused and in-tune with my work. One of the biggest productivity inhibitors for me are tools that run slower than the mobile app developer. Flutter resets that bar.”
Now Let’s look at some cons of Flutter:
The Flutter framework is relatively young as well as it is still developing and growing. The toolkit has its flaws. Let us look at them.
Flutter caters to mobile applications only and is not supported by web app browsers. When you select the technology-stack you want to work with, this can easily influence the decision. If you want maximum flexibility of the device, then Flutter may not be the right thing you are looking for.
2. Limited libraries
Google supports Flutter and has many supporting libraries. Although, the structure is relatively new. You did not find every functionality you are looking for. In contrast, native mobile applications have everything in their native SDKs, including Twilio, Stripe, and most streaming services such as UStream and Waves. With a flutter, mobile app developers have to build these libraries by themselves, which is time-consuming.
3. Continuous Integration
There are many ready solutions for native iOS and Android mobile apps that allow them to work with CI platforms such as Jenkins and Travis. In addition to this, there are ready flutter solutions for most popular CI platforms such as Circle or Travis. Although, you need to set up a toolkit for this type of platform. Travis can be used in many repositories. The framework also supports the likes of Nevercode and Fastlane. For us, we have implemented a complicated decision using Gitlab CI with Fastlane for Flutter mobile apps.
4. Limited TV support
If you are wondering if mobile apps built with the help of Flutter framework can run on Apple TV or Android TV, then the answer is more No than Yes. Flutter offers practically no support for Apple TV and Android TV.
How much does it cost to build an app with Flutter?
It takes approximately 250 hours in order to develop an average mobile app using Flutter framework that will work on both Android and iOS, however, it takes about 400 hours to create such a mobile app for iOS and about 250 hours to create an average app for the Android platform.
In order to find out how much it costs to create a mobile app with Flutter, you can multiply the total number of hours by the average hourly rate of your mobile app developers. You can easily see that developing for both of these platforms separately requires lots of resources. If you want to create your mobile app promptly and save money, you need to choose cross-platform mobile app development rather than choosing to create two native mobile apps.
Let’s Wrap Up:
Flutter framework was designed by Google’s team to create cross-platform mobile applications with native-like performance and features. It focuses on complex visuals, native performance, and enhanced productivity.
Flutter can also deliver a unified experience with time & effort reduction that you need to spend while mitigating the risk of errors.