Eugene Saturow Head of Flutter

    Flutter Cross-Platform Development: Pros and Cons

    Over the past several years, Flutter has become one of the most popular solutions for mobile app development. Now it competes notably with native solutions and successfully surpasses its competitors among cross-platform frameworks. 

    Surf has >12 years of experience developing both native and cross-platform apps for various industries. Flutter has become one of our and our clients’ favorite solutions.

    Still, no matter how well regarded it is in the eyes of others, you should investigate its strengths and drawbacks. And, of course, compare it with other options before choosing it for your next mobile app. This article is aimed at helping you with that.

    cross-platform frameworks

    Flutter cross-platform development: today and tomorrow

    Flutter is an open-source cross-platform SDK (software development kit). It’s powered by Google’s Dart programming language. This framework is based around widgets — building blocks that apps are built of. They are highly flexible and can be tweaked according to project requirements. The framework also supports integration with many third-party solutions. 

    Among applications built with it are multiple Google projects, including Google Ads and Staida, popular journaling app Reflectly, Nubank neobank app and others.

    This is a highly powerful tool for app building, and it has bright prospects of becoming a flagship solution. Let’s examine the features that distinguish this cross-platform framework from the competitors and why so many businesses and developers have opted for it.

    Curious how exactly Surf’s clients benefit from Flutter?

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    Flutter power for business

    • High app quality at a lower cost

    It typically takes about 8-9 developers to build a native app. Flutter team, in its turn, usually consists of 6 people. On average, you’ll save about 40% of your budget with such apps as opposed to native ones.

    • Easier team management

    You’ll be working with only one team which greatly simplifies communication. The project manager will not need to synchronize two teams which reduces the chance of losing information on the way to them. Besides, you as the main supervisor will communicate easier with the manager and will have to keep less information in your head.

    • High performance = better user experience

    Such apps don’t load the system as much as some native ones do, and show a shorter response time. Furthermore, they currently support up to 120 FPS which eliminates slowdowns and dropped frames. This is all possible because Google is attentive to feedback and seeks to continuously improve its framework.

    Why do developers love the framework?

    • Easy to master

    Dart is an object-oriented language which makes the framework easy to learn. Especially, for those developers who are familiar with other languages of this group like JavaScript, C# and others. Moreover, Dart has a versatile standard library which gives developers a wide choice of features to implement.

    • Reusable codebase

    In a nutshell, once the code is created, it can be used for multiple platforms: both for mobile — iOS and Android — and desktop web applications depending on the task. This incredibly simplifies and speeds up development and provides room for future upscale.

    • Hot Reload

    It allows developers to instantly see interface updates as soon as they make any code changes. No extra actions, no code recompilation, no wasting time waiting for the app to reload. Saving a couple of minutes on a single restart may seem like an insignificant advantage. But in practice, when developing a full-fledged project, it can lead to several months of saved time.

    Find out more about the power of Flutter on practice

    Read case studies

    Various frameworks to compare

    Cordova vs Flutter

    Cordova is an open-source framework that uses standard web technologies: JavaScript, HTML and CSS. Cordova-based app is essentially a set of HTML pages wrapped in a native application ‘shell’. 

    Flutter’s different: each screen of an application is a canvas used for drawing individual elements with the help of widgets. 

    Cordova has now been almost completely replaced by other frameworks that show greater performance and it’s currently used mainly for simple applications.

    React Native vs Flutter

    React Native runs on JavaScript, the 3rd most popular programming language (according to PYPL index). High performance and the abundance of free-to-use third-party components are its key benefits. 

    Just like in Flutter, UI elements of React Native adapt their appearance to the operating system’s style, so an app built with it looks exactly like a native one. In terms of performance, React Native falls behind Flutter because of the specifics of its architecture and the use of Native and JavaScript. It uses more device memory and consumes more battery power.

    Ionic vs Flutter

    Ionic is based on JavaScript, HTML and CSS and supports integrations with a large number of third-party libraries and other open-source frameworks.

    It provides a great selection of pre-built UI components. Ionic is easy to learn for developers already familiar with JavaScript and HTML, and the framework is a perfect fit for building progressive web apps (PWAs). 

    However, Flutter clearly wins in terms of speed and convenience of development, performance, because it has Hot Reload, convenient architecture and better mechanisms for rendering graphics (Skia and Impeller). So Flutter is a better choice for apps that require heavy rendering or very short response time.

    NativeScript vs Flutter

    Another popular open-source framework is NativeScript. It uses JavaScript or other programming languages that support transcompiling into JS. 

    The framework provides direct access to native Android and iOS APIs and runs on the device without WebViews or wrappers. Due to this, developers have to have a decent JavaScript native APIs knowledge. This also results in a lower code reuse rate across platforms compared to other similar frameworks. The performance of NativeScript apps is lower than that of the current top frameworks. Also, any NativeScript code changes require refreshing the whole app as it doesn’t have a feature similar to Hot Reload.

    flutter comparison

    Final word about cross-platform development

    Compared to native technologies, cross-platform solutions make it possible to create apps for both iOS and Android platforms faster, with fewer team members and a smaller budget. Flutter is considered  the best cross-platform framework. It has all the necessary tools for fast-paced work and provides nearly native performance on different devices.