Any platform which conducts commerce of products or services online needs to be hyper-accessible. To be accessible, the platform needs to be available for all devices. Along with a website, this means mobile applications.
For a user, it means searching for an app on an app store and installing it. However, from a business standpoint, it is a path laden with tricky choices, with different outcomes.
The question arises, whether to develop the app natively or by using a cross-platform solution? If, it is crucial to have top-notch performance and scores of features, along with a hefty budget, native app development (iOS, Android), is the answer. However, if it is desirable to develop the app with better cost-efficiency and less time-to-market, with a tad bit less performance, then cross-platform is the choice.
Flutter, React-Native, Xamarin, Adobe PhoneGap, etc. are the cross-platform solutions available in the market. Again, the dilemma plagues a decision-maker, which one of the above is best for you? From our experience, we’d say it is Flutter.
1) Backed by Google: Flutter is a project fully supported by Google, which builds confidence in it. Microsoft’s Xamarin and Facebook’s React-Native are in the same league too. If these three organizations are investing in cross-platform solutions, then at least it gives away the direction in which app-development is heading.
2) High productivity: Stateful-hot-reload, makes it possible to quickly reload the apps while in development. This feature is only available in Flutter and React-Native. Compared to all other app development methods, this gives a boost to the productivity of the developers. It also makes designers happy because they can see their changes instantly while the developers are developing the app.
3) Fast Development: With the use of Dart, a new language that is easy to use whether a developer is comfortable with static language or a dynamic one. It was chosen carefully and has made things effortless with powerful features like AOT and JIT. No need for XML, XIB, etc. Dart is capable of making a lag-free UI on its own.
4) Smooth UI: Flutter uses a 2D rendering engine called Skia, which has the speed of C++ under the hood. The result is that transitions and animations occur at a 60-120 fps lag-free pace. UI components feel rich, smooth, and their portrayal is flawless. This is better than others as it doesn’t use wrappers (Xamarin), or JS bridges (React-Native) to render the UI.
5) Third-party plugins: It is easy to extend Flutter with third-party plugins to add additional UI components or to add features currently absent from the built-in classes. The features range from video/ audio and augmented reality, to machine learning and monetization.
6) Access to native features: On different platforms, some features like camera or geolocation can only be accessed using their specific programming language. Flutter allows the developer to use/ reuse, platform-specific languages like Swift for iOS, and Java or Kotlin for Android to access certain features optimally.
7) Testing support: Testing and QA for Flutter apps is a breeze, as the codebase is a lot less than in native or other cross-platform solutions. Along with that, Continuous Integration (CI) services make the process of testing easier due to automated testing. When pushing new code, these services help to prevent the introduction of bugs.
8) Open source and community support: Unlike many others, the entire Flutter project is open-source, it contains the programming language Dart, Material Design, Cupertino widgets, and much more. This allows a developer to study and get to know it on a deeper level, which may ultimately help them while developing apps. The community support of Flutter is active and grows continuously. Along, with fellow developers, people involved in the project themselves, try to help others and as a result, the project evolves rapidly.
9) Documentation: Flutter has extensive documentation, which is greatly praised by its users. Along with that, soon, more sample code snippets will be added. Also, learning widgets will be made easier through API references. Overall, the users are pretty satisfied with the quality and content of the documentation.
10) Strong future: Google had covertly started working on a project name Fuchsia some time ago. It is an Operating System that can run on almost all platforms ranging from embedded systems, TVs and tablets to smartphones, and PCs. It is great news that Google has decided to work on an OS which can run on any platform. Now, guess how will the apps, and the UI of this OS be developed? By using Flutter and Dart. No app development tool has this much potential brewing up. So, it definitely will be a good idea to invest in Flutter early on, rather than realizing the obvious too late.
Flutter is a UI toolkit, which has been developed carefully to include things which make it simple, yet incredibly powerful. It has attempted and has certainly gotten the closest to achieving cross-platform development. However, it is new and thus, its popularity in the industry is relatively low. It despite that, is rapidly growing and catching up to the rest of them. Soon, it may be the dominant one amongst all the cross-platform solutions in the market.
The choice to compete in the market with Flutter should be made carefully though. All the requirements must be checked for availability in Flutter before simply committing to it. If it fulfills them all, the process is bound to be satisfactory.