Android and Flutter are the two-top-notch preferences of entrepreneurs when they wish to develop an application for the business. Android apps developed using Flutter are a better version of itself and compliment each other. Both Android and Flutter have been developed by Google. Single handedly it has been managing native and cross platform mobile application development for Android apps.
Actually Android application development was started at Android Inc but was bought by Google in 2005. The Flutter project started at Google and the first Flutter SDK was released in 2017.
In the current times, companies are looking for options to develop apps within a short time and limited budget. Native apps development for Android and iOS requires two different technology stacks and two different teams which ultimately results in a higher cost of the project. This was the main reason why enterprises started looking for cross platform solutions. Flutter has recently garnered a lot of attention in the market. Around 2 million users and half a billion developers love the Flutter experience.
In this blog, we will briefly compare Flutter with native Android development and why Android developers should start paying attention to Flutter in 2019!
Flutter Vs Native Android Development
Native Android apps developed with Android studio are great in features. However, initially apps developed with cross platform solutions could be easily recognized and it always felt that certain platform specific features are missing. Things have changed since the release of Flutter 1.0. Now, there is no way to know that the apps are built with Flutter.
Now, we will compare Flutter with Native Android development on the following parameters:
The technical architecture of Flutter and Android is completely different although they both are being developed at Google. Flutter makes use of Dart as programming language and native Android development uses Java or Kotlin.
When it comes to IDE, Android Studio can be used for native Android development as well as Flutter. But Flutter code can also be written in lightweight editors such as Sublime Text, Atom or VIM, or in an IDE like IntelliJ Idea.
We all know that native apps built with Java/Kotlin are slick and fast as all the components are developed natively. Flutter uses Dart framework and mostly doesn’t need the bridge to communicate with the native modules.
In short, Flutter has everything that is required for native app development in the Flutter engine itself.
When you develop native apps, Android coders have to use Android Studio and the native build and platform tools provided by it. The Android Studio has all SDK tools embedded within the IDE. These tools also require emulators or Android Virtual devices to run apps. Everytime a developer makes changes, he has to rebuild the app or third party dependencies in some cases to see the changes in the emulator or on device.
On the contrary, Flutter has the hot reload option wherein if the developer makes any changes, they reflect in the emulator or devices instantly. If the app grows in size, the developers will have to adopt new techniques to effectively use this feature. Thus we can say that the developer’s productivity is increased by ten-folds if they opt for Flutter app development for Android applications. To give this a percentage value, developers can have increase in productivity & decrease in time consumption by almost 30%
Front end developers spend most of their time building the UI.
The native UI components provided by Google to build the UI are powerful and well documented. UI can also be built using the interface builder in Android studio. With this feature, UI can be created faster using native development tools.
In this case, Flutter UI engine is different. The Flutter apps run on its rendering engine and framework. Flutter puts to use the concept of widgets that can be used to build complex UIs. In short, Flutter UI can be considered a tree of stateless or stateful widgets. The flutter layout and widgets are pixel perfect too.
The native Android tools have amazing support for testing. Testing of native apps can be easily done from Android Studio itself or from command line using Gradle. Android testing has been exclusively mentioned in the documentation which you can refer to for different levels of Android testing.
Flutter provides the developers with a solid testing framework that enables them to write tests at unit, functional and UI level. Want to run UI tests as fast as unit tests? Flutter has got you covered with its widget testing feature! The integration tests in Flutter run in a separate process and can be run on real devices or emulators.
Here are all the reasons Android app developers should pay attention to Flutter in 2019!
Absence of Highly Repetitive Gradle Build Time
Gradle is unarguably one of the most important tools in Android app development but also the reality is that build time is huge and it becomes a hindrance when you want fast development cycles.
For complete impact of Flutter on Android app development, Gradle is required but not as much as native apps. A Flutter build also requires Gradle build at the beginning of development for the first time, but it is not required again in the case of complete app restart. Although Android studio has successfully reduced the Gradle build time, the load time that comes with Flutter programming language beats the native load time.
Same Language for Backend and Layout
Native Android comes with a separate layout and Java/Kotlin files that make the developers get references for views and then change them to backend files.
On the contrary, Flutter needs only a single language for designing and backend while its reactive framework eliminates the need for references to widgets. This is one of the major reasons to create apps with Flutter!
Dart has Taken Best Features of Multiple Languages
Even after the launch of 8th version in Java, it still has scope for improvement. Whereas Dart has very strategically taken some of the best features of multiple languages without compromising on much needed sense of Java familiarity. It makes the whole development process effortless for flutter developers and makes it a profitable option for businesses who choose to invest in Flutter app development.
High Animation Speed
The flutter team has oversimplified and optimized the animation patterns to be used in mobile applications. The fact that flutter operating system has enabled loading of animation at a speed of 60FPS says everything.
This is one of the solid reasons for android app designers to focus on flutter.
Predictions on Cross Platform Development
Cross platform app development is expected to reach its peak in the coming years. Some experts have already predicted that Flutter is the future of mobile app development.
Whether you want to pay attention to Flutter or not is a personal choice, but we can say with some confidence that Flutter has entered the cross platform development race and how! It is here to stay and make a mark in the industry.
Let’s Wrap Up Here!
Flutter is trending in the market since Google announced its first stable release at Flutter live. The features of Flutter have raised quite a few eyebrows and questions too.
Will businesses choose Flutter as their first choice for developing apps?
Is it the beginning of the end of native development?
Will Dart completely replace Java and Kotlin?
Is it time that native developers start learning Dart?
Let’s not make any assumptions and wait for time to tell us! But it is for sure that Flutter has created quite a stir in the mobile application development industry since its release. The flexibility and ease of integration is something developers have been waiting for since long. It looks like the native quality will allow Flutter to rule the market and looks worth an investment in current times. This might be a wake up call for native Android developers that they need to brush up their skills or they might end up losing their place in the market.
Principal Mobile App Developer