Introduction to Google’s Flutter Mark The End of Native App
Since Google released Flutter in 2017, the open-source framework has been taking the world by storm. Within just two years, Flutter grew by 532% with big names such as Alibaba, Tencent, and Google Ads adopting the framework. Flutter offers the advantage of building cross-platform mobile apps, using a single code base, changing the need to use different programming languages and codebases for apps on different operating systems such as iOS and Android.
What’s the driving factor behind Flutter’s success, and will it result in the death of native app development? Mobile engineers at TechAhead, top mobile app development company since 2009, believe that it might be too early to predict that native app development will be a thing of the past but no matter what, it is certain that you can’t ignore Flutter in 2021 and beyond.
Undoubtedly, its ability to deliver what the end-user wants in terms of beautiful design, seamless animation and high performance is why organizations worldwide are adopting Flutter.
Flutter vs Native App Development – A comparison
While Flutter uses Dart as its programming language, Java or Kotlin are the two most commonly used languages for native android development. The majority of native iOS apps are developed using Swift.
For building native apps on Android, developers have access to an extensive array of components, besides the interface builder on Android Studio that allows faster development of apps using native tools. Native iOS apps are built using XCode as the IDE. In comparison, Flutter offers a wide range of widgets for Android and iOS platforms, using which developers can build complex UIs that support Material Components for Android and Cupertino for iOS.
As a relatively new language, Dart does not have as much support for text editors and IDEs as Android Studio. Hence, developers face a steeper learning curve when using Flutter. Even for iOS, the onboarding process is less complicated when developing native apps on Swift than using Flutter. Although Flutter app development for iOS takes longer for a clean build in the initial stages, it speeds up with incremental builds.
Flutter provides Flutter Driver for running tests at the UI, unit and functional level. Moreover, detailed documentation makes it easy to test Flutter apps on simulators, emulators and real devices. For native, Android development developers can access excellent tools for unit, integration, UI and instrumented tests, including documentation. Apple provides XCTest as the native framework for testing apps. However, it lacks features such as data-driven testing, grouping and snapshot tests. Native iOS app development also lacks support for stubbing and requires extensive coding when mocking with protocols.
Google does not provide a dedicated CI/CD platform for native android development, which means developers must rely on third-party CI servers. When developing on Flutter, developers can build, test and deploy apps to Play Store, using Codemagic CI/CD solution. While Apple provides XCode Server for CI/CD, it isn’t scalable for wider teams. As a result, teams must rely on cloud vendors or a combination of solutions
What makes Flutter popular among the developers?
Shorter code development time
The ‘hot reload’ feature in Flutter allows developers to view changes instantly, saving time and effort, thereby speeding up the app development process.
Using a single codebase with Flutter for building Android and iOS apps, makes life easier for developers. Moreover, the portable GPU allows developers to work on different interfaces.
Faster time to market
The Flutter framework works quicker than any other platform as developers can select a 2D based UI and implement it in Flutter without writing specific code.
Enhanced User Experience
The range of amazing plug-ins provides features such as smooth scrolling and rich motion APIs, contributing to a better user experience. Moreover, the use of objects without locks ensures no stutter or hiccups in allocations.
Understanding Flutter Constraints
Since Flutter is not a native platform, there might be a slight delay between releases until Apple and Google tweak and update elements. If an app neglects to implement the updates, it will lag.
iOS left behind
Since Flutter is an Android-first platform, iOS users might find themselves left behind, especially for apps across the extended eco-system (mac, iPad, Apple Watch and Apple TV).
While developers can use widgets for developing the app, it means having to use the right widget set and sometimes rewriting portions of the interface. Additionally, some portions of the app might need restructuring to appear native on each platform.
Flutter works as a layer on top of native OS frameworks and services, which poses a challenge in identifying the cause of a bug – whether it’s the code, system, Flutter framework or third-party interface code. It could lead to significant time spent on debugging issues.
Will Flutter Replace Native App Development?
As it stands currently, Flutter undoubtedly has an upper hand which makes it the preferred technology for cross-platform app development. However, its continued dominance remains uncertain. Every few years, newer and more advanced technologies gain popularity only to find themselves replaced. With Google and Apple pushing newer technologies, including Jetpack Compose on Kotlin, Kotlin Native Common module and Swift UI, one needs to wait and watch whether they will overtake Flutter in future.
Is Flutter good for your Business?
Time to market is significant for any app development. With features such as cool functionalities, ease of integration, and uncompromised quality, any business can benefit from using Flutter for its app development by getting their app released quicker than usual. Enhanced user experience is another factor in favor of using Flutter.
How TechAhead is Delivering Flutter Apps that Appear Native?
TechAhead, being a Google Development Partner, has a dedicated Flutter app development team who can render cross-platform apps that appear native, using a single codebase. Developers at TechAhead have been extensively involved in developing robust Flutter apps for their clients, including both global brands and innovative startups. When you partner with TechAhead for your app development, besides Flutter development experts, you get comprehensive support from a team of Business Analysts, UI/UX Designer, Quality Tester and Product Managers to ensure your app delivers a seamless and superior user experience.