If you are already familiar with application development for smartphones, you may be already aware of different options available to create cross-platform applications.
As we know, there are three major ways to create smartphone applications.
- Native Apps
- Hybrid Apps
- Web Apps
Native apps are the applications developed for a particular device or platform.
We use native tools to develop native applications. For Android, we generally use Java or Kotlin as the programming language to develop the applications.
The iOS applications are generally developed in XCode using programming languages such as Objective C or Swift.
Benefits of Native apps
Native apps have several benefits over Hybrids apps and Web apps.
- Native look and feel – Native apps will have the look and feel of the apps of the platform. Users will be able to quickly familiarize with the application.
- Native apps are faster – As Native apps are developed using the native tools and programming language of a specific platform, they run faster compared to other applications.
- Integrates better with mobile hardware – Interacting with hardware capabilities of the device such as camera, GPS and other sensors are easier in native apps.
- Availability of IDE – XCode for iOS and Android Studio for Android comes with everything you need to build the native apps.
Cons of Native apps
- Expensive – Native app development is more expensive compared to Hybrid apps and web apps. Also, the cost of maintaining and updating Native apps are high.
- It is time-consuming – iOS and Android needs a separate set of codes, which means the developer will have to spend more time developing separate applications for each platform.
Hybrid applications use a single code base to develop applications for different platforms. Hybrid applications target multiple platforms by containing the non-native elements (HTML, CSS, JS etc) in a native container.
Hybrid applications can be developed using various frameworks such as Xamarin, React Native, Cordova, Ionic etc.
Benefits of Hybrid Apps
- Saves time.
- Easier to maintain.
- Less expensive.
Drawbacks of Hybrid Apps
- Slower than native apps.
- Non-native look and feel.
Benefits of Web Apps
- Easier to develop and maintain.
- Easier to add backward compatibility.
- Users don’t need to update the app because the updated code is accessed by the user each time the application is loaded.
Drawbacks of Web Apps
- Difficult to access the hardware features of the device.
- A completely different look and feel from native apps.
- Will not work offline.
Now the question is, under what category can Flutter be placed and what makes Flutter different from existing frameworks in the category?
Flutter comes under Hybrid Apps. Unlike other frameworks such as Xamarin and React Native, features and flexibility of flutter make it an ideal choice for cross-platform development.
Following is a table showing differences between the most popular cross-platform application development frameworks.
|Performance||Best||Close to native||Close to native|
|Community and support||Small community||Good community support||Good community support|
|Code reusability||Less than 90%||Approx. 96%||Approx. 90%|
|Open Source||Yes||Open Source & Paid||Open Source & Paid|
Drawbacks of Flutter
- Still in development.
- Larger application size.
- Uses Dart as the programming language.
What makes flutter different?
As we have already seen, Flutter uses Dart as the programming language. Dart is a strongly typed, object-oriented programming language developed by Google.
Dart supports Just In Time (JIT) compilation which results in faster compilation time and faster app reload (Hot reload). Also, Dart application runs faster at the end user because Dart supports end Ahead Of Time (AOT) compilation.
Just In Time compilation helps in faster application development and Ahead Of Time compilation helps in faster execution of the application.
Flutter applications will have a user interface very much similar to the UI of native applications. This improves the user experience.
Now we have numerous reasons to choose Flutter.