Native vs. cross-platform development is an age-long debate. Entrepreneurs prefer native apps for their apparent advantages. They have access to the device’s features, offer a seamless interface, and better user experience.
That said, advancements in technology have made cross-platform apps just as tempting as native apps. Emerging frameworks allow faster development and a native-like experience with hybrid apps. Plus, they are more cost-effective than native apps.
Flutter framework is one such advancement that makes hybrid app development worth the investment.
Here we’ll discuss Flutter app development, understanding the framework, and its pros and cons for Android and iOS apps.
What is Flutter Development Framework?
Google started on Flutter framework back in 2015, before officially launching in 2018. Since then, it has gained tremendous recognition for its contribution to the cross-platform market.
As an open-source framework with an extensive community, Flutter is ideal for developing high-performing Android and iOS apps. It utilizes Dart programming language and comes integrated with Objective C, Swift, and Java for iOS and Android, respectively.
Plus, developers can reuse a single codebase for multiple platforms, which reduces development time and overall cost of the app.
Other Flutter features include its flutter engine, design-specific widgets, and foundation library. Additionally, with its ‘hot reload’ functionality, developers can observe the changes applied to the code in real-time, without losing the existing application.
Pros and Cons for iOS and Android Development
There are several cross-platform development frameworks in the market, including React Native, Angular, and Xamarin. But when you put Flutter vs. Ionic or against React Native and other options, Flutter offers several advantages and disadvantages that you need to consider when choosing your framework.
That said, here a few Flutter programming pros and cons for Android and iOS apps to help you determine if it’s the right choice for you:
Pros of Flutter Framework
Ease of Use
One of the factors that make Flutter app development ideal for Android or iOS apps is its mild learning curve, ease of use, and growing community.
The Flutter programming language, Dart, is easy to learn, simple, and capable, with a similar syntax as Java or C++. It is an object-oriented language that supports all types of typing styles, making it convenient for junior developers.
Additionally, given that Google created the Flutter framework, it also offers well-structured and detailed documentation that makes the tool straightforward and easy to understand. From written documents to video tutorials and practical exercises, there is plenty of resources available to learn the basics.
That said, the framework is also easy to set up and operate. It can work with low-cost operating systems as well as high-functioning systems. Meaning, not only is a strong background in programming unnecessary, but neither is robust equipment for its proper functioning.
Single Code, Multiple Platforms
As a cross-platform framework, one of the Flutter benefits is its reusable code. Meaning, developers can use Flutter development for iOS and Android apps at the same time.
It saves the effort and time it takes to develop a single app for multiple platforms separately. They only need to code once and, instead of repeating the process, they can reuse it for iOS or Android.
That means less coding, faster development, and quicker launch time. Plus, with access to multiple platforms, you can create more excellent business opportunities.
On a side note, Flutter app development is also expected to work for the experimental Fuchsia platform by Google that is rumored to be a replacement for Android.
Perfect for MVP Development
MVP or minimum viable product is a functional prototype of your app, carrying the bare minimum features for its core function and design. It allows you to validate your idea, gain customer feedback, and demonstrate the purpose of your app, its benefits, and more.
Plus, the cost of developing an MVP is less than launching a fully-functional app. Meaning, it helps you save your time and effort on a product that might not be successful.
One of the Flutter benefits is that it is ideal for developing an MVP mobile app.
If you want a functional mobile app to gain investors for your idea, then Flutter app development allows you to build an MVP that offers native-like performance on both platforms. Best of all, it is much more cost-effective than building separate apps for Android and iOS.
Several of Flutter features speed up app development. But it is the ‘hot reload’ function that makes the framework one of the best for cross-platform development.
It allows developers to test the code in real-time. They can see all the alterations they make instantly. Meaning, the team can experiment and upgrade new features, fix errors, remove bugs, and much more in just a few seconds.
Furthermore, it is what makes Flutter a UI design tool. Developers and designers can collaborate to ensure the app looks and functions smoothly.
Access to Native Features
One significant advantage that native apps have over hybrid apps is access to the device’s features, like a camera or GPS. Apps need platform-specific languages in their codebase to use these features.
It was a challenge in cross-platform app development until the emergence of frameworks like Flutter, React Native, and Xamarin. Flutter app development, in particular, allows developers to reuse Java, Swift, and Objective-C code to tap into native device features and SDKs on both Android and iOS platforms.
All Flutter features combined allow for faster development. It’s ‘hot reload’ function will enable developers to view all changes instantly, allowing them to fix issues, upgrade features, and more in real-time.
Additionally, with a reusable codebase, they only need to write the code once and use it again over multiple platforms. It saves time and effort in coding the one application for Android and iOS, separately.
Cons for Flutter Framework
With Google backing it up and its abundance of libraries, the framework is an ideal choice for cross-platform app development. But it has its limitations!
As a relatively new development architecture, Flutter may not always offer the functionality and feature you need.
Conversely, native apps come with their native SDKs such as Twilio, Stripe, and streaming services like UStream and WoWza. Flutter app developers would need to build these libraries from scratch, which would increase development time.
Dart Programming Language
Plus, while it is easy to learn and understand, Flutter programming language is not something developers would come across, or opt for, in their professional journey. That said, it can also be challenging finding individuals with the required expertise.
Large File Size
Mobile phones have finite storage space. Meaning, developers make a conscious effort to minimize the size of apps they create, avoiding animations, compressing images, and more. Flutter framework, however, throws a wrench in their plans.
The minimum app possible with Flutter is 4MB. Because it utilizes built-in widgets as opposed to platform widgets, developers cannot decrease the size, bringing it closer to native Java 539KB or Kotlin 550KB.
However, it should be known that other frameworks share a similar problem. For example, Xamarin’s release version has a size of 16MB, whereas React Native offers 7MB.
So, Why Choose Flutter?
Despite its many advantages, Flutter is still a new framework with several limitations. Then it begs the question, why should you consider it for your app idea?
Flutter is ideal when you have an app idea but aren’t sure of its market value. You can leverage the framework for its fast development, reusable code, and cross-platform compatibility to create an MVP and validate your idea.
You can test it out in both Android and iOS markets, present your idea to investors, and gain consumer feedback without a hefty initial investment.
Thus, if you want a shorter time to market your app, have plans to target multiple platforms, and want to validate your idea, then consider Flutter for Android or iOS app development.
So, are you ready to launch your app? If you need a little help with your decision, consult with our Flutter app developers to gain expert insight!