Cross-platform app development tools or frameworks help a business scale or diversify, without having to worry about additional reinforcements. Flutter app development is one such cross-platform toolkit that facilitates the development of apps for multiple platforms.
Introduced by Google in 2017, Flutter is one of the top choices of contemporary app developers. It has gained so much popularity and momentum in the last few years, that it stands on equal footing with its rivals, the ones that have dominated the tech world for so long.
Let’s get a basic understanding of the Flutter framework and then look at some of its benefits for app development.
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What is Flutter App Development?
Flutter is a cross-platform, portable UI toolkit that facilitates Android and iOS app development from a single code base. Flutter uses a modern, reactive framework to build cross-platform apps and give users a native –app like experience.
It is a free and open-source toolkit and supports multiple platforms Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, and Mac.
The Flutter app development process is cost-efficient and performance-oriented. It uses Dart as its programming language, which is a simple object-oriented programming language. Additionally, Flutter app development highly relies on widgets for beautiful UI that looks and feels native.
A combination of different widgets drives the entire app UI. Each of the widgets defines a specific app element. It can be a structural element including a button or menu, a design or stylistic element like a color scheme, a layout element, etc. Additionally, Flutter offers its pre-built widgets which look native either to Android (Material Design) or iOS apps (Cupertino), with the flexibility of creating custom widgets.
Here’s an image that shows a Flutter app on mobile platforms and web:
Flutter is loved by millions for being a reliable and powerful mobile SDK, and high performing. In 2020, Flutter SDK ranked among the top 10 software repo on GitHub. Moreover, approximately 50k Flutter apps were published in the Play Store, with nearly 10k uploaded, in the same year.
Flutter is used by many tech behemoths like Google, eBay, BMW, Groupon or Alibaba Group, etc.
But why should one go for Flutter app development and not a native app, when the former also gives the look and feels like the latter? Let’s see.
Flutter and Native: Differences and Suitability
We already know from above what Flutter is and its approach to app development. Therefore, let’s look at native apps.
Unlike cross-platform frameworks or tools, native app development is operating system or platform-specific, either iOS or Android. They are coded in languages that are supported by the device’s OS vendor.
Through native apps, a user can fully access the device’s features like the camera, microphone, GPS, etc., and these apps are available on Google Play Store and App Store for installation.
While these apps give a satisfactory user experience, they are costly affairs for a business. The development and support services of native apps demand significant investments. This is majorly because two separate development teams are required for each platform.
Differences Between Flutter and Native Apps:
Flutter being a cross-platform tool facilitates faster development time than native apps. This is because of code reusability.
Flutter requires less maintenance and support time, effort, and costs due to a single codebase and hot reloading feature, used for multi-platform apps. On the other hand, native apps demand high maintenance and support investments as separate dev teams are required for each app.
Flutter apps facilitate faster time-to-market than native apps.
While these were some of the key differences between Flutter and native apps, a business needs to choose between them based on its project requirements.
While native apps should be built when the application is heavily platform hardware-dependent or need to perform long-running tasks or compute data with complex algorithms, Flutter apps are more suitable for simple native apps with modern cloud service and real-time databases.
Flutter is also suitable for apps that need to quickly reach the market and wider audience.
In fact, as per a Statista survey, Flutter was the most popular cross-platform mobile framework used by global developers in 2021. In fact, 42% of the surveyed software developers used Flutter for app development.
That’s not it. Flutter apps have other benefits too which we are going to learn in the next section of this blog.
Benefits of Building a Flutter App
As per the Stack Overflow survey for 2022, 68% of developers picked Flutter as their preferred framework.
And this comes as no surprise. Flutter offers ease of development whilst prioritizing performance.
Some other Flutter app development advantages are:
1. Engine updates for both platforms with Flutter 3.7
Google recently released the Flutter 3.7 version which comes with enhanced features and new possibilities. The updated version includes the ability to share resources across platforms, a rendering system called an Impeller, and a faster global selection tool, among other things.
This point specifically talks about a brand-new Impeller rendering engine that has been made available for iOS application development. As a result, all existing Flutter applications will be able to generate with Impeller on iOS, with some API coverage gaps. This might enable users to notice a visual difference in the rendering between Impeller and Skia.
The Android Impeller is also in the line to be released next and is currently prepared for the preview.
2. Flutter’s hot reload feature
Flutter comes with an in-built feature of hot reload that doesn’t require any additional plugins to work. This feature allows developers to track changes in the code made on emulators, simulators, and hardware or view code updates in real-time, without having to restart or reload the entire app.
The official website further states that this feature helps developers explore and experiment, develop UIs, add features, and fix bugs (if any).
3. High-performance and faster development
Flutter is known for its high performance. It is claimed to offer a constant 60 frames per second (or 120 fps performance on devices capable of 120Hz updates). This is the rate at which the latest technology screens display a clear picture.
Further, the speed of a Flutter app is relatively higher because of the direct code compilation sans any bridges that tend to slow down performance. On top of it, Flutter 3 came with an algorithm that is capable of predicting the complexity of the picture rendering. This information facilitates the optimization of memory usage without causing any harm to the app’s performance.
Additionally, Flutter facilitates faster high-quality app development through its hot reload and hot restart features. The company claims that programming with this tool is so easy and convenient that no prior programming knowledge is needed: “Experience with object-oriented languages is helpful, but even non-programmers have made Flutter apps!”
Flutter comes with extensive community support. There isn’t any shortage of guides or other helpful materials that give tips to optimize the tool. Additionally, there is a large number of communities that actively discuss and discourse current issues and way-outs. This facilitates problem-solving (if any) and hence, faster development.
4. Cross-platform development
With a single codebase that is compatible with both iOS and Android, Flutter facilitates cross-platform app development. Through the code reusability functionality, a business can target not only mobile platforms but also web, desktop, and more. This reduces development time, and costs and fastens the time-to-market for the app.
Further, cross-platform development ensures that the multiple unusual interactions in the UI, in case the app has them, are as consistent as possible between different platforms and across various devices. With native controls, this is a bit tricky as one may not always be able to configure their behavior to make every minute detail match between platforms.
Anyway the ease and benefit of only having to design and implement the UI once, when the design is standard instead of unusual, cannot be ignored.
5. Customizable widgets and flexibility
Flutter offers a plethora of inbuilt widgets to create visually pleasing and user-oriented apps. The widgets are easy to use with UI elements created and can also be saved for future purposes and references.
Along with in-build or ready-made widgets like Material Design and Cupertino, the developer can also customize the widgets to meet business requirements.
With 1000+ inbuilt plugins, Flutter allows developers to create the UI without having to use different objects, as the case is with other approaches. A developer can combine widgets to create layouts and choose to make use of widgets on any level of customization. This helps in reducing the UI development time and efforts whilst enhancing the UI building flexibility and limits.
6. Rich set of libraries and tool
Flutter comes with a wide range of modern tools and libraries. It uses the Skia Graphics Library. This is a graphics library that is fast and mature along with being open source.
Along with all these functional benefits, Flutter is backed and used by the robust tech company, Google. This ensures that all the bugs will be fixed immediately. Additionally, the product will keep evolving far into the future. Additionally, with recent updates, a lot of new features and functionalities have been introduced that further enhance the utility and usability of Flutter.
Now that we have looked at the multiple benefits that are offered by Flutter, let’s also look at its suitability through use cases.
Use Cases for Flutter App Development
Flutter app development comes with a great number of benefits for developers and businesses, alike. However, it has its use case scenarios where its features and functionalities are optimized to give maximum results.
The use cases for the Flutter toolkit are:
For a native app that utilizes modern cloud services and displays data from the local database
An MVP needs to be developed that includes responsive widgets and mobile features that are demanded
If a business wants to build a single code with both front-end and back-end functionality
If the business wants to fasten the time-to-market for the app and reach a wider audience quickly
Now let’s look at some of the success stories of Flutter app development.
Flutter App Development: Success Stories
Flutter for app development has helped many big brands achieve their business goals.
Following are the success stories of Flutter for app development:
This automobile gaint build an embedded Flutter app to build the next-gen infotainment systems for their vehicles. The automobile company cited some reasons behind their trust in Flutter for app development.
These reasons include the high performance delivered by the framework even in a constrained environment, the satisfactory user experience offered by Flutter, the cross-platform nature, and faster iteration cycles.
2. AWS Amplify
This product was launched in 2021 and was made widely available by Amazon to allow developers to use AWS services with their Flutter apps. The Amplify team aims to simplify the integration of AWS services into Flutter applications across different platforms.
Amplify Flutter libraries were entirely rewritten in Dart with the release of its v1.0.0, an updated version. The team is continuously working on providing Flutter developers with powerful tools for building robust multi-platform apps.
Furthermore, the ability to easily integrate with Amazon AWS services might prove to be a significant selling point for businesses considering Flutter.
It is one of the largest eCommerce websites that decided to build its mobile app using Flutter. The rationale behind choosing Flutter over other cross-platform tools was its appealing design and development features as well as the ease of development with Flutter.
The requirements of this giant are met by the Flutter app. Big transactions across different platforms were handled well in real-time, and the app gave a high performance and productivity even at the time of around 50 million users.
4. SNCF Connect
Flutter is the foundation of SNCF Connect, the official app for SNCF railways in France. It is used by hundreds of users every day to view travel information and book tickets.
The mobile app development team was thrilled to bring down four separate development teams to just one unified team working with a single codebase. This enhanced the developer experience and gave a smooth working app to users.
How Flutter App Development benefits Businesses And Developers
Flutter app development is gaining popularity as it has something to offer to every seeker, whether it is a developer, business, entrepreneur, or user.
Let’s look at the advantages it offers to businesses and developers:
The cross-platform nature of Flutter allows businesses to target a wider audience quickly, by building a single codebase for apps for each dominant platform, iOS and Android. This saves tremendous amounts of business resources and time and enhances productivity. It additionally facilitates easy maintenance and modification for apps for each platform.
Furthermore, the hot reload feature facilitates a faster and simpler development process. Additionally, both Flutter and Dart are open-source and free for usage and offer extensive documentation and community support. This allows the team to solve any issues that they may encounter instantly. This, in turn, streamlines and eases the development cycle.
Flutter is a highly economical yet performant mobile SDK toolkit for businesses to explore.
Flutter gives a smooth programming experience to development teams. The code reusability is a big bonus. Then features like hot reload save developers a lot of time and additional effort.
Furthermore, since widgets form a part of the application instead of the platform, compatibility issues on different OS versions are less or none. This in turn lessens the testing time and requirements.
It is also believed that Flutter is a simple language to learn and has an extensive community for support and growth.
These were some of the fruits that Flutter comes bearing for its users.
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Q1. How much does Flutter app development cost?
The cost of any mobile app development depends upon multiple factors. The size of the app, complexity, features, functionalities added, etc., usually determine the costs of an app.
The average costs for a Flutter app are between $15k-$150k.
Q2. Why should I choose Flutter for app development?
Flutter app development offers a lot of benefits: 1. High productivity 2. Excellent performance 3. Faster and simple development 4. Open-source, large community, and Google’s support 5. Internationalization and accessibility
These were some of the advantages that come with Flutter app development.
Q3. What is the difference between native and flutter?
Native apps are specific to a certain device or platform and run directly on the OS of these devices. These devices or platforms include – iOS by Apple and Android by Google.
Flutter apps on the other hand are cross-platform apps. These types of apps can be coded in any language and can make use of any framework. The code eventually gets compiled for each OS the app is intended to run on, using platforms like Flutter, Xamarin, React Native, etc.
To know more about mobile apps and their development, read through our ultimate guide on mobile app development. And to specifically read about the differences between Native and Flutter apps, read through our informative comparison blog.