As the mobile application market is getting increasingly competitive, many startups and developers are focusing their efforts on building a cross-platform app.
Currently, there are more than 6.3 billion smartphone users worldwide, according to the data shared by BuildFire and nearly seven million apps available across iOS and Android platforms. So, it is only natural that mobile app developers are looking for simpler, faster, and cheaper ways to get their products to the market.
In 2020, global revenue from mobile apps increased to over 318 billion U.S. dollars. And the number is expected to rise, mobile apps are projected to generate more than 613 billion U.S. dollars by 2025.
This shows that having effective development is the need of the hour. It contributes to a more efficient and effective workflow and saves a lot of time and money.
That is why flutter is taking the mobile development world by storm. Its fast development cycle and reactive programming are just a couple of good reasons why developers are turning their eyes to Flutter.
Where it all began: Flutter History
The open-source Flutter is a portable UI toolkit that’s created by Google in 2018. It is built on Dart — an object-oriented programming language that’s easy to learn and provides a powerful set of features that were missing in the previous cross-platform development tools.
Flutter cross-platform application development is a huge buzz creator because of its proficiency and efficaciousness. Dart and Flutter is a deadly combo as it provides a fast, reactive development experience unlike any other platform.
Unlike other platforms, Flutter is known for creating beautiful native experiences for iOS and Android out of just a single code base. While its engine is primarily written in C/C++, the backbone of all its graphics capabilities is Skia Library.
Moreover, it is a dynamic platform that easily integrates with other platforms and helps in creating immersive experiences.
One of the most exciting developments in Flutter’s future is the integration of Fuchsia OS, another app development platform of Google. Hence, developers will have even more opportunities to create apps that work on different devices and platforms in the future.
Why use Flutter for building cross-building apps
Flutter is one of the best multi-platform app development frameworks according to the specific needs of cross-platform apps, where developers need to code only once.
The apps that are built using Flutter function as one native app on both Apple and Android devices. And these apps could be compiled for each respective platform before they are published, and do not require a runtime module or a browser.
Flutter allows developers to create web apps for browsers, as well as native programs for Windows, Linux, and macOS. Google itself uses Flutter for several modules of Google Assistant and for the user interface of the Google Home hub. Some well-known e-commerce service providers such as eBay, Groupon, and Alibaba Group also use Flutter to create mobile and web apps.
The flutter Principle: Built-in-Widgets
Flutter is a widget-based technology that allows you to apply object-oriented programming to any element. Making it the perfect choice for anyone looking to create truly unique user interfaces.
One of the many benefits of using Flutter is that you can modify or customize widgets as per your need. In addition, it provides UI widgets that meet key web application design requirements, ensuring that your app looks polished and professional.
There are two types of widgets in Flutter:
- Stateless widgets: These are immutable, meaning their properties, such as background and height, cannot change once a widget has been created.
- Stateful widgets: These are mutable, meaning they can change. This creates room for user interactivity. Stateful widgets can be used to save state and responses to user interactions.
The trend of popularity
2020 was a strange year for Flutter as it reached the highest peak of popularity on Google Trends – (a tool created by Google to show how popular specific keywords are) for the 2020 year.
According to the Stack Overflow survey called “Most Loved, Dreaded, and Wanted Other Frameworks, Libraries, and Tools” Flutter got 3rd place in “Loved” and 4th place in “Wanted”. And if we talk about the popularity — Flutter was considered as the best hybrid app framework in 2020.
Since its release, it has been able to attract a large community of developers because of its open-source framework. This community is highly active when it comes to publishing usable code examples and supporting developers in creating new, innovative, beautiful cross-platform apps.
Numerous companies are choosing Flutter as the leading language to develop exceptional apps in record time.
Is Flutter good for your business?
It’s true that every programming language has its own advantages and disadvantages. But, in most cases, the advantages of Flutter, compared to similar technologies, clearly outweigh its disadvantages.
Pros of Flutter app development
Flutter has many advantages over its competitors. It offers a range of benefits that make it stand out from other programming languages.
- Single codebase, Multiple platforms– Developers can write code once and deploy it across different platforms is one of the biggest advantages. It reduces the overall time of development, creates less possible errors and helps save money due to faster time to market.
- Expressive Widgets– Flutter comes with a comprehensive library full of variety of widgets. These widgets are fast, and you can easily customize them in accordance with clients’ specific requirements. They can be incorporated into multiple platforms if you want to make highly portable and responsive mobile apps.
- Rich libraries- Flutter uses Skia Graphics Library, a fast and open-source graphics library which redraws the UI every time a view changes and creates fast and smooth app experiences for the users.
- Fast testing with hot reload- The hot reload feature makes the app development much easier. With the help of this feature, developers don’t have to reload the app to see every single change they make in the code. They can easily make changes in the app in real time, and fix bugs on the go. Flutter mobile app developers can also use some other popular DevTools — like code formatter, widget inspector, that also makes the process of development and debugging more efficient.
- Community support- Flutter has surpassed React Native in terms of GitHub stars. More developers are embracing Flutter over React Native. In addition, the number of questions that were asked in 2020 about Flutter on Stack Overflow surpassed the number of questions asked on React Native. This shows that developers are eager to learn more about Flutter.
Impressive apps built with Flutter Framework
As a feature-rich and novel SDK, Flutter aided in the creation of many modern applications, and streamlined the mobile application development process for everyone.
- Google Ads- It is only natural for Google to use their framework for app development, and one of the premier examples of Flutter apps is the Google Ads app. This is a mobile application that lets users manage campaigns directly from their smartphone. The user interface is clean, functional, and modern. You’re not restricted to your workplace and can track ad output from any location. The app includes campaign statistics, the ability to update bids and budgets in real-time, live alerts, keyword editing, and the ability to contact a Google expert. It’s both intuitive and aesthetically pleasing.
- Alibaba- Alibaba is one of the largest eCommerce markets in the world. In 2017, they set out to build an app to support their top stores and Flutter won React Native by being quick to learn, and the hot reload feature. They used this cross-platform app to create a beautiful app experience for iOS and Android on their Xianyu app, which has now crossed 50M+ downloads!
- BMW- BMW created the My BMW app using the Flutter framework. The BMW Development team created an Android and iOS app with a single codebase using Flutter. This dynamic flutter mobile app has been launched in 40 countries worldwide & BMW plans to expand it. It possesses a user-friendly and intuitive design. My BMW allows users to remotely check the status of the car, location, 3D view, unlocked doors and many more. Cloudification of the My BMW app also made it quite interactive. While developing this app, some stages were automated by Microsoft’s cloud platform MS Azure; which allowed developers to eliminate potential errors or roll out new functions without requiring users to download a new version of the app. Currently, the company possesses the second-largest Flutter development team after Google.
- Dream11- A lot of people use Dream11 fantasy sports app to manage their own digital sports squads. There are tons of Daily fantasy leagues available on the app like cricket, football, basketball etc and users compete for different rewards. Flutter Framework was used to create the app’s interactive user interface and seamless background updates. Dream11, with over 100 million members, is one of the most rapidly expanding game platforms in India and beyond.
- NYT app- The NYT app is the second most popular app in the App Store in the ‘Magazines & Newspapers’ category. It allows users to shape their news feed according to their interests and provides so-called ‘Morning and Evening Briefings’ with popular stories shaping the world today along with daily podcasts. To increase user engagement the app experiments with innovative formats of storytelling using augmented reality and delivers news headlines to a connected smartwatch. The credit goes to Flutter cross-platform technology, that the single code base is used across a majority of platforms: iOS, Android, Mac, Windows and web.
Cons of Flutter App Development
No technology is flawless.
While Flutter has its strengths, it also has a few drawbacks, such as:
- Large file size of the widgets- Flutter apps are quite heavy to start and take longer to download because flutter leverages built-in widgets rather than platform widgets, which takes up more space on a smartphone.
- Limited plugins/packages- Over time the impact will be lessened as the community will build more plugins and packages for Flutter. As of now, there are more than 26K packages available to facilitate the creation of Flutter apps, and the number is continuously growing.
- Lack of third-party libraries- Access to third-party libraries helps reduce development time and costs, as many developers rely heavily on third-party resources. Flutter is still relatively young compared to React Native, so third-party libraries still have fewer resources than those available for other development tools. For instance, you cannot develop watchOS or tvOS, or Apple CarPlay applications using Flutter.
The future with Flutter in 2023 and beyond
If you are launching your startup app, Flutter is the best platform to choose as it allows you to develop user-friendly apps across multiple platforms in a cost-effective way. Unlike other platforms, Flutter makes the app development process flexible and creates high quality apps with a smooth UI for their users.
With its stateful hot reload feature, it increases developer’s productivity and allows them to create beautiful experiences.
The latest integration of Fuchsia OS, AI and machine learning technologies, desktop apps, AR and VR and PWAs, app development has made Flutter more versatile and flexible.
By following best practices such as using the BLoC pattern, using responsive design, and optimizing for performance, developers can take advantage of Flutter’s capabilities to build stunning and engaging user experiences.