Did you know that there are 2.9 million apps on Play Store and 2.57 million apps on the App Store? Shocked? Well, people spend 90% of their mobile time using apps. This craze for mobile apps has led to the launch of more and more apps on a daily basis. Developers are expected to build eye-catching, simple-to-use, secure, friction-less (and the list never ends) apps within a shorter time span and the minimum investment to remain competitive in this digital world. And to their rescue comes today’s hottest cross-platform app development toolkit - Flutter. Before deep-diving into what’s and how’s, let’s know some interesting facts about Flutter:
- Even though Flutter was released in May 2017, there are already more than 3000 flutter apps on Play Store.
- 200+ million users already use apps made using Flutter.
- Flutter has gained recognition in Github’s 100 most valuable repositories.
Interesting, right? Let’s now know more about what exactly Flutter is, what makes it so amazing, what’s holding the developer’s back, and what’s the best strategy for its adoption?
Flutter: Natively compiled apps for mobile, web, and desktop
Today, a majority of eyeballs are around cross-platform development tool-kits. Why? Cross-platform app development refers to the building and launching of mobile apps on multiple operating systems using a single codebase, which wasn’t possible with a native-app platform. Flutter is one of the most incredible cross-platform frameworks.
Flutter is an open-source, cross-platform app development framework created by the industry behemoth, Google. This platform allows designing, developing, and publishing native-looking applications for not only mobile but also web and desktop from a single code base.
Unlocking the ‘good’ things about Flutter
Fast Development: Amongst developers, Flutter is more like a synonym for faster & more dynamic mobile app development as one can make changes in the code and see them straight away in the app. This feature is addressed as Hot reload which usually takes a few milliseconds and helps teams in adding features, fix bugs and experiment faster.
A customizable kit of widgets: Any object in Flutter can be considered as a widget, be it a button, padding or a font. Widgets can be combined together to create layouts and you can customize them as per your need i.e. from current building blocks to the lowest level. All the Widgets in Flutter are organized in trees which makes it easier to render them.
Expressive and Flexible UI: Flutter provides you with the feature that makes your new app will look exactly the same on every platform including old versions of Android and iOS systems. It costs you nothing for supporting older devices. Flutter runs on Android Jelly Bean or newer and on iOS 8 or newer alike.
Demystifying the ‘not-so-good’ things about Flutter
Limited libraries: Developers aren’t very sure about the usage of Flutter for iOS as it’s developed by Google. It certainly works well for building apps on the Android platform and the process is quite fast but it’s not quite compatible with Apple devices and has limited libraries that can only be implemented to Android.
Lack of third-party services: In automating software development for programmers and relieving the need to code everything from scratch, third-party libraries play a vital role as they are mostly open-source, very easily available, and pre-tested.
Require continuous integration support: CI platforms like Travis and Jenkins still don’t support flutter widely. Hence, in order to automate building, testing, and deployment, your development team will have to use and maintain custom scripts.
Dart language has to be learned: Dart is a very beneficial language with a fast and object-oriented nature. But its paradigm is known to lesser programmers which is quite an issue to be addressed. They still aren’t very compatible with working with it as much as they are with other programming languages.
Some of the apps built using this framework
1) Dream11 (Fantasy Sports)
It is a fantasy sports platform originated from India that allows users to play fantasy sports such as cricket, hockey, football, kabaddi, and basketball. It entered the ‘Unicorn Club’ in April 2019 and became the first-ever Indian gaming to do so. Users can create a virtual team of real-life players to earn points on the basis of the performance in real matches.
2) Google Ads (Business)
It is an online advertising platform where advertisers pay for displaying their services in the form of brief advertisements, service offerings, product listings, etc for generating mobile application installs to the users on the web. The whole process happens within the Google ad network.
3) HuYu (Online Shopping)
It is a mobile app that rewards you when you connect your data. For scanning your shopping receipts, answering surveys, and sharing data about yourself, you’re awarded HuYu points. It’s an easy way of making money as you spend it. HuYu is an easy, fair, and simple way of making your data work for you.
4) Alibaba (eCommerce)
It is a multinational conglomerate holding company specializing in e-commerce, retail, Internet, and technology. This company is headquartered in Hangzhou, China. Alibaba owns and operates a wide array of businesses across the globe in numerous sectors.
5) PostMuse (Photo & Video)
You can add text and emojis on your photos using PostMuse. It a free app that offers weekly designs along with tons of fonts, emojis, and example designs. PostMuse offers story templates, stock photos, free images, fonts, and great typography.
6) Hamilton Musical (Entertainment)
This application is based on Hamilton-themed content and includes digital stickers, a merchandise store that offers exclusive items, a "#HamCam" allowing users to take themed photos using Augmented Reality (AR). It’s the Official App that allows Fans’ to access all things about Hamilton: An American Musical.
7) Hookle (Social)
Hookle is a smart and easy tool using which one can share posts, manage multiple social media accounts and monitor their business's social media presence all in one go. You can customize posts per social media channel and can easily manage it all effortlessly with Hookle, designed for small business use.
8) Reflectly (Lifestyle)
It is a personal journal that helps you to deal with negative thoughts, make positivity louder and teach you about the science of well-being. It helps you to reduce stress, get perspective, develop gratitude and learn to apply empathy and kindness to every aspect of your life.
9) Realtor.com (Real Estate)
It is basically a real estate listings website that was launched in 1995. This company is operated by the News Corporation subsidiary Move, Inc. and based in Santa Clara, California. It got relaunched in 1996 and since then it’s claimed to become the largest website in the United States for real estate listings and was valued at $2.5 billion in 2016.
Knowing the right strategy for Flutter adoption
If someone is planning to build an app, all the pros and cons associated with the Flutter app development must be seen. After reviewing all the features, benefits, and restrictions faced by Flutter, we can easily make the right strategy for adopting it. A fully concrete strategy can be made by checking your system requirements i.e. the compatible windows needed for Flutter, downloading the Flutter SDK, and installing an editor by using any IDE. Android Studio, Visual Studio, and IntelliJ are the recommended ones.
It is yet to be discovered that whether Flutter will end up winning mobile app developers over or not. But in case you already are using Flutter or have made your mind of using it, it’s suggested automate the building, testing, and distribution of the app by having a dedicated CI/CD tool for Flutter in place.