In 2021, Flutter has become the most popular cross-platform mobile framework overtaking React Native. According to the survey, 42% of developers globally used Flutter. Overall, roughly a third of mobile developers use cross-platform technologies or frameworks; the rest of mobile developers use native tools. So, Flutter's popularity is quite obvious and it’s going to increase further in 2023.
This article will describe Flutter and why you should consider it for mobile app development. We’ll outline Flutter's pros and cons, why you should choose Flutter, and perspectives on the future development of the framework.
• UI framework by Google.
• Open-source and free.
• Officially presented in December 2018.
• Programming language Dart.
• UI elements are rendered with its own graphic engine.
• In 2023, there are over 400,000 Flutter apps.
• Uber, Alibaba, Airbnb, Ebay, Groupon, SpaceX Go, The New York Times.
Why choose Flutter for app development?
Why do business owners choose Flutter for app development and what are the perspectives? Let’s dive into Flutter's benefits deeper.
1. Best for cross-platform app development
The main reason why companies choose cross-platform development is cost-effectiveness and faster development time compared to the native development approach. However, cross-platform apps had been losing significantly in terms of performance and native appearance before Flutter came into play.
With Flutter it became feasible to build apps close to the native ones in terms of performance. So, there is no more need to choose between cost and quality.
2. Outstanding performance
The great performance results of Flutter apps (60 to 120 fps) are achieved through its programming language Dart. It is a client-optimized language that supports Ahead-of-Time (AOT) compilation. It makes Flutter apps faster because the code runs natively on each platform without relying on intermediaries, unlike other cross-platform frameworks which use bridging.
3. Great portability thanks to a single code base
Since Flutter 3 release in May 2022, there are six platforms available from one codebase: Android, iOS, Web, Windows, macOS, and Linux. It means you can use the same code to develop and publish your app on all of these platforms with a slight update.
It allows to reach a greater audience without additional significant expenses and spend less time on development if compared to building apps for each platform separately.
4. Faster time-to-market
Our experience shows that Flutter app development usually takes from 2 to 6 months. A simple Flutter project requires around 2 months; a medium one – 4 months; a complex app development would last around 4-6 months. For example, we developed this job search application in 3 months.
- Single code base allowing to write one code and adapt it for six different platforms;
- Ready-made reusable and customizable widgets and components;
- Hot reload feature that eliminates the need to restart the app after every code tweak.
5. Lower development cost
Another good reason to choose Flutter is budget-friendliness. Even though the final project budget varies, Flutter app generally costs 30% — 40% less than native app.
Read also Flutter app development cost in 2023
6. Hot reload
Hot reload is a Flutter function especially loved by developers and highly appreciated by business owners. Hot reload allows developers to instantly see the changes made to the code with no need to restart the application. It makes this feature a great time-saver and therefore a budget-saver.
Overall, hot reload helps to iterate quickly on code changes, find and eliminate code errors sooner, and allows more experimenting which leads to a better user experience.
7. Pre-built UI widgets
Flutter apps are built with widgets — the core UI building blocks. Flutter provides a wide variety of built-in widgets both stateless (Icon, IconButton, Text) and stateful (Checkbox, Radio, Slider, InkWell, Form).
Flutter designed its widget system as highly flexible and customizable. All elements fit any screen size, they can be reused and mixed which speeds up and simplifies app development. Developers have a full range of expression while quite a large amount of code is reused. Plus, using Flutter widgets is also beneficial because it reduces the possibility of errors and ensures a better user experience.
Worth mentioning, that Flutter also has unique widgets tailored to specific platforms: Cupertino widgets for iOS and Material Design for Android. It lets to design a native UI for each platform with little effort.
8. Ability to create great design
Flutter’s rich libraries of customizable widgets and components allows developers and designers to create mobile apps as unique as possible not limiting their creativity. Plus, the built-in Materials and Cupertino widgets as discussed above provide the opportunities to develop highly native apps in terms of UI and UX design.
So, it is possible to develop Flutter apps with beautiful and modern interfaces that provide smooth user experience. These apps perform well and have minimal opportunities for problems to arise.
9. Ideal for MVP development
All the advantages discussed above make Flutter a perfect tool for MVP development for startups. Firstly, it makes it possible to develop and launch a product fast and cost-effectively. Thus, you can start testing the idea and business model on the real market much faster than it would be feasible with native apps.
Another reason why startups should definitely consider Flutter for MVP development is its outstanding scalability. You can modify your Flutter app and add new features without compromising on quality.
10. Global community
Because Flutter is an open-source framework anyone can take part in its development and success. Numerous Flutter specialists from all over the world share their experience, contribute new documentation, create educational material such as books, courses, and etc.
This way, Flutter is constantly becoming better based on the real diverse cases and involving the expertise of the global community. Furthermore, Google itself consistently delivers prompt fixes and often updates supporting the framework’s popularity.
Flutter disadvantages are mostly aligned with its youth. So, if Google keeps putting efforts into it, we think that within 5 years these flaws will be improved or completely eliminated.
Challenges with payment systems integration
Although there are already a plenty of third-party libraries available and the number is gradually increasing, it is yet sometimes insufficient for comfortable app development. For example, payment services rarely have SDK for Flutter. The way we deal with this downside is by using native frameworks and SDKs.
Flutter app size
The final size of the downloaded application is larger than native apps. According to the research, Flutter basic app is the second largest after React Native: Java 539KB, Kotlin 550 KB, Flutter 4.7MB, React Native 7 MB.
So, again it shows that compared to other cross-platform app development approaches Flutter is the best choice. Flutter developers are addressing this problem: with every new release the app size is getting less. Furthermore, you can find up-to-date community insights and documentation on reducing the Flutter app size.
Lack of experienced developers
Being released in 2018, Flutter is a relatively young framework. Hence, there are not so many developers with real profound expertise out there and it may be quite difficult to find a team that could deliver a high-quality Flutter mobile app.
Not to get disappointed look for a development company with Flutter projects in its portfolio like SolveIt. It is a massive advantage if your contractor’s specialists also have native development expertise to be able to tackle any Flutter challenges effectively.
Read also Top Flutter development companies
Flutter for app development: when to choose?
Considering Flutter’s pros and cons, Flutter is a good choice for almost any type of mobile app.
Flutter app development services are good-to-go for startups and creating MVPs, as well as for medium and large businesses. However, there are some industries, where developing a highly productive app on Flutter would cost as much as or even more than native development.
When to use Flutter
Flutter is your best choice for app development if you don’t need very complex interaction with native elements or device hardware and you want to minimize cost and development time. So, consider this tool if you want to build: • Healthcare app; • Ecommerce and retail apps; • Travel and booking app; • On-demand app.
Flutter is still no go for complex apps. We recommend developing native apps if these are: • Games; • Apps that require complex interaction with camera; • IoT apps; • Audio and video streaming apps.
What is the future of Flutter?
Speaking about the near future, Flutter demand in 2023 is highly likely to grow further. It is backed up by the surging popularity of the cross-platform development approach and the benefits Flutter gives to both developers and users.
“You can’t be sure that Flutter will never end up on Google Cemetery. However, the demand for cross-platform apps is strong and highly unlikely to decrease. Plus, we see Google’s actions related to Flutter: increasing awareness, growing community, reacting fast to comments and requirements. The market reacts: many companies develop and even switch from other platforms to Flutter. Moreover, Google is developing OS for Android which uses Flutter elements. So, I believe it won’t become a thing of the past, at least within 5 years.”
— Andrey Savich, CTO at SolveIt
Flutter can be an optimal decision for most cases. However, every business and every case is unique. So, you better define your priorities and make an informed decision.
If you need an expert advice whether Flutter is suitable for your future application, contact us. We will help you make the right choice and estimate your project.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Flutter and what is it used for?
Flutter, an open-source framework supported by Google, is widely used by developers to create user interfaces (UI) for applications across different platforms using a single codebase. Initially launched in 2018 with a focus on mobile app development, Flutter has since expanded its capabilities. Today, developers can utilize Flutter to build apps for six major platforms: iOS, Android, web, Windows, MacOS, and Linux.
What are the reasons for choosing Flutter for mobile app development?
Flutter provides a significant advantage in mobile development with its cross-platform capabilities. Developers can write code once and deploy it on both iOS and Android platforms, saving valuable time. Moreover, Flutter's efficiency and versatility allow developers to create visually appealing, high-quality mobile apps. Another good reason to choose Flutter for mobile development is its cost-effectiveness. Flutter app generally costs 30% — 40% less than a native app.
What are Flutter benefits?
Flutter offers businesses the following benefits: cost savings by building one app for Android and iOS, cross-platform development, saving time and resources, faster development with real-time updates, consistent user experience across platforms, fast and smooth performance on various devices, reduced maintenance efforts with a single codebase.
What programming language does Flutter use?
Why is Flutter so popular today?
Flutter is popular for many reasons: it is a free, publicly available, highly efficient, innovative, and scalable framework. It is a cost-effective solution in the long run because of its accessibility and unique features that speed up mobile application development. Flutter allows developers to build high-quality, native-like mobile applications for multiple platforms (iOS and Android) using a single codebase. Also, Flutter offers a rich set of customizable UI widgets, enabling developers to create visually appealing and engaging user interfaces. Flutter is a fast-growing framework with a bright future, which ensures its continued growth and success.
Illustration by Olha Khomich from Ouch.