Flutter is an open source framework by Google used to build beautiful, natively compiled, multi-platform applications from a single codebase. It is an increasingly popular platform leveraged by startups and established app builders alike.
In this blog, we'll take a look at why so many companies are considering Flutter for current and future products by covering the following topics:
- What is Flutter?
- Why are companies adopting Flutter?
- How has Flutter increased in popularity in comparison to React Native?
- What types of businesses are leveraging Flutter today?
What is Flutter?
Flutter is Google's portable UI software development kit (SDK) for crafting natively compiled mobile, web, and desktop applications. It offers a complete environment with a framework, widgets, and tools.
Flutter is open source, free, and powered by Dart, a client-optimized language for fast apps on any platform. Combined, these allow you to develop apps efficiently and quickly. In addition, the architecture and engineering design of Flutter enables building responsive and user-friendly applications. Given its origins within Google, Flutter is trusted by brands worldwide and maintained by a community of global developers.
Flutter’s beta version was first launched on March 13, 2018. In the short time since, Flutter has established a leading position in the market, with approximately 500,000 apps built with Flutter as of May 2022. Further, a recent LinkedIn study found Flutter to be the fastest-growing skill among software engineers.
In fact, Flutter is so popular it’s made a fan out of eBay Senior Developer Larry McKenzie.
“Flutter is fast! Features that took us multiple days to implement can be finished in a single day,” McKenzie said. “Many problems no longer occur. Our team can now focus on creating more polished user experiences and delivering functionality. Flutter is enabling us to exceed expectations!”
The cross-platform capabilities haven’t just made Flutter popular among tech leaders that prioritize speed and efficiency. It’s become a go-to solution for developers as well.
Flutter’s expressive and flexible UI framework offers beautiful and highly-customizable widgets that give developers the creativity to build unique apps. For example, the Flutter package comes with a Flare tool that allows developers to quickly create complex UI elements and interactive animations. In addition, Flutter works on a single graphics engine called Skia that directly renders all of this for each platform, so you can be sure that everything will be displayed exactly as intended.
Developers also love Flutter for its native-like app performance. Apps designed on Flutter are compiled into native code, giving mobile apps optimal performance on iOS and Android.
Furthermore, the performance of a Flutter app is almost indistinguishable from a native one because the Flutter application is compiled directly to the machine code, eliminating any performance errors in the interpretation process.
Why are companies adopting Flutter?
One of the most attractive aspects of Flutter, for mobile app builders specifically, is its ability to reduce development costs. The average cost of developing a mobile application ranges from $40,000 to $150,000, depending on the app’s complexity. This price includes engineering costs, ranging anywhere from $120-150 per hour in the U.S. That salary range can also differ depending on the programming language developers need to know, the complexity of the project, and the engineers’ qualifications. The app complexity naturally increases even more when developing two native apps because you’re writing and maintaining two separate codebases. On the other hand, Flutter helps companies reduce development costs by creating one shared codebase for iOS and Android. In addition, Flutter has a Hot Reload feature that lets developers instantly test code changes without recompiling the code or restarting it.
Companies are choosing to adopt Flutter for a variety of reasons, one of them being Flutter’s entirely customizable framework that uses its own widgets — allowing you to eliminate the entire process of searching for third-party libraries or custom components when building your app. Moreover, Flutter also has excellent productivity factors, including faster operations, faster development time, increased efficiency with the ability to ship with its own widgets, and faster performance – setting the animation standard of 60 FPS.
Furthermore, companies appreciate Flutter’s excellent documentation. The comprehensive guides include videos, demonstrations, and an exhaustive list of widgets in the SDK. Flutter also offers integrated testing features, including unit tests to test a single function, widget tests to test a single widget, and integration tests to test large parts of the app.
Flutter also streamlines the addition of machine learning (ML) directly into your Flutter apps. Firebase_ml_vision 0.9.7 is a Flutter plugin that uses Firebase ML capabilities, including Firebase’s cloud-based ML feature and ML Kit. This standalone library for on-device ML can be used with or without Firebase. It brings Google’s machine-learning expertise to Android and iOS apps in one powerful package. Flutter developers can quickly build ML-based functionalities in the app, including face, speech, and text recognition.
Flutter is gaining adoption among companies of all sizes, and here are just a few examples:
- ClickUp is a powerful productivity tool that lets users plan tasks, manage projects, and simplify their workflow. Simon Leier, a Software Engineer at ClickUp, recently wrote an article that provides a closer look at how the company manages CI/CD for their Flutter app.
- Sonos used Flutter in an app that allows users to control their Sonos devices within their homes. The app uses Flutter’s animations and transitions for a fantastic user experience. Sonos is an example of a company integrating Flutter into an existing app, demonstrating that you don’t need to start building from scratch when using Flutter.
- Toyota is leading the charge for embedded Flutter by using it to build systems for their vehicles. In the Flutter Engage keynote, Daniel Hall, Chief Engineer at Toyota, stated why Toyota chose to use Flutter for this project, saying, “Flutter will allow Toyota to build an in-vehicle user experience that lives up to user’s experiences and expectations — including smooth touch mechanics.”
How has Flutter increased in popularity in comparison to React Native?
According to Stack Overflow’s 2022 Developer Survey, 13.62% of professional developers said React Native was their preferred framework, while Flutter clocked in at 12.56%. This is a drastic difference compared to the results from just a few years ago. In 2019, the same survey noted that 10.8% of professional developers preferred React Native while only 3.2% preferred Flutter. This goes to show that Flutter is growing in popularity in the industry. In fact, React Native declined as a cross-platform mobile framework used by software developers worldwide from 42% in 2019 to 38% in 2021, contrasting Flutter’s steady increase.
The main benefit of Flutter over React Native is the lack of platform constraints. The platform UI doesn’t restrain Flutter – it renders everything by itself. This frees you to build the best UX possible without having to compromise. Furthermore, when it comes to performance, Flutter works without using additional APIs. While React Native provides only UI rendering and device access APIs, which means that the framework relies on third-party libraries. While the Flutter framework does all of the work to connect the divide between the device and the codebase.
One final developer benefit in favor of Flutter is that Flutter provides more outstanding Integrated Development Environment (IDE) options than other cross-platform frameworks, giving users everything they need to develop a native app right in the Flutter engine.
What types of businesses are leveraging Flutter today?
Flutter is a flexible framework that makes it an attractive option for a wide variety of mobile apps. Here are just a few examples of businesses that can benefit from Flutter:
- Startups: Flutter is a good choice because it’s free and easy to use. It also has excellent tooling and libraries, so you can create a high-quality app without exhausting a startup’s two most valuable resources: time and money.
- Businesses with limited resources: From slow quarters to the current economic downturn, resource constraints can be a death knell for mobile projects. Flutter cuts down on the work that needs to be done, the people required to complete the work, and the effort required to finish what remains.
- Businesses that need to create an MVP: A Minimum Viable Product is a product with the minimum number of features necessary for viability in a market. Flutter is an ideal solution for creating MVPs because it allows for rapid development without corner-cutting.
These businesses aren’t just making basic apps or converting web pages to mobile. They’re developing a wide range of software that is as diverse in its use cases as it is complex. And in most cases, they’re choosing Flutter because it gives them a competitive advantage. Consider the following examples:
Gaming apps and Flutter
The first type of app that developers should consider using Flutter for are gaming apps. Flutter allows game devs to easily upscale 60 fps (frames per second) gameplay to 120 fps (a 2X performance multiplier) on devices capable of rendering 120Hz video. Flutter also offers game engines like Flame, SpriteWidget, Quill, Feathers, and the flutter_unity_widget. These let Flutter developers build all types of games, from high-performing 3D shooters to lightweight puzzlers, significantly faster than alternatives.
Service-based apps and Flutter
Flutter is a great choice when developing service-based apps like grocery, transport, or food delivery. This is because Flutter has amazing code reusability, platform-specific and customizable widgets, and native-like performance, which enable the creation of exceptional end-products in record time, cost-effectively.
E-commerce apps and Flutter
Flutter for e-commerce app development is gradually becoming the most popular cross-platform framework, with over 10,000 e-commerce applications released using Flutter as of October 2022. Giants like Groupon, eBay, and Alibaba, have built apps with Flutter because it supports rapid deployment, has a user-friendly UI and unified code, and easily integrates with other frameworks. In addition, the source code for the Flutter e-commerce app is also free to use when using Google’s UI toolkit.
Flutter has proven it's a production-ready, high-performance framework for building mobile apps. It's gaining adoption quickly, which means we've only touched the surface on how it will benefit businesses moving forward.
Do more with Flutter and Embrace
Since Flutter hit the scene in 2018, its adoption has exploded among developers worldwide. To support this growing community, we’ve built a Flutter SDK currently in open beta. Like our native Android and iOS SDKs, Flutter SDK users can get the same valuable Embrace data out-of-the-box, including access to key features like crashes, breadcrumbs, errors in Dart code and in Android/iOS, and more.
Get a 360-degree view of your app’s health and performance by trying out our Flutter beta SDK now.