Recently, Flutter app development has become a new easy, and productive way to create applications. Lots of the teams considering it as a possible technology for the next project, which is no surprise, since it has advantages of the native framework while being cross-platform. In this article, we will focus on how Flutter development is different in general and how Flutter mobile development for iOS works in particular.
Now developers are offered a lot of possibilities by the growing number of frameworks. Flutter app development is one of the most recent options that has become available for both Android and iOS engineers. The market is full of well-established technologies as well as new ones. The foundation teams and communities work on their constant improvement and develop new front-end frameworks that make programmers’ work easier and faster. Suddenly, a new big player has arrived and its name is Flutter.
Teams’ choice is usually driven by providing the users with the best possible set of features and flexibility. No wonder, they are glad to seize the opportunity of creating cross-platform apps that look and feel like native ones.
This framework was initially created for the Android operating system. However, the main goal was the support of both major mobile platforms. The same codebase enables smooth performance and eliminates the need to create separate apps for Android and iOS. This is rather beneficial not only for the developers but users, who will have a better experience.
The first stable version, Flutter 1.0, with the support of both iOS and Android was released on the 4th of December, 2018. Flutter app development toolkit includes a lot of features that make it a great cross-platform framework. It is characterized by smooth performance, focused on details and UI, and widely supported by the developers’ community. At the same time, the team was investigating it to support the web. They created a few demos that successfully performed on desktop and mobile browsers. The results of the project have proved that this framework is a great option for web development as well. On the 7th of May, 2019 the Flutter development team released the first technical preview of Flutter for the web. Furthermore, they announced advancing towards the desktop-class app implementation. Thus this framework is making significant changes in the current approaches. It has already opened new ways for mobile app expansion. Today we will focus on Flutter for iOS developers since this is the most curious innovation in this technology and a lot of iOS developers are looking at it as a potential framework for their next big project.
Flutter takes the leading positions quite confidently. In May 2020 the team announced Flutter 1.17 that continues focusing on stability and quality. Since the beginning, the framework is an open project that attracts more and more app engineers which speed up the community contribution. Naturally, Google provides guidance and all necessary documentation for those who decide to leverage Flutter app development. The updates are related to the Material components, iOS widgets as well as App Store iOS SDK requirements. Google constantly works on improving its libraries and ecosystem thus the learning curve can be gradually followed.
Every Flutter app development company is concentrated on being capable of creating native-like applications whereas having all the advantages of hybrid ones. The framework is based on Google’s in-house programming language Dart that enables compilation to the native code of Android and iOS. Therefore, Flutter applications can deliver distinct functionality and meet users’ expectations covering all the requirements that have become standard for mobile application development today. To advance Flutter’s expansion, Dart is constantly upgraded and now features even more cool stuff.
When the iOS developers started to work with this framework, they admitted the fast development process. Hot Reload is a special tool used for building UIs, experimenting, and adding features. The developers can observe the changes on the go that gives the chance to fix the bugs immediately. The framework is capable to rebuild the widgets automatically. The layered structure supports customization that results in flexible and impressive UIs. Consequently, the Flutter app development process is easier and quicker, while more cost-effective.
Moreover, it is able to compete with any highly-rated cross-platform framework. React Native, for example, is one of the biggest competitors which is developing by Facebook and greatly supported by the community. It has been keeping the leading position for several years due to the same advantages: single code base, simplicity of building, testing, and maintaining quick delivery time, and fewer expenses. As for Flutter app development, the framework covers these advantages whereas it does not have any of its flaws so far. It is much younger than React Native, has a promising future that brings new development solutions, and grows in popularity and community approval.
Earlier it might have been emphasized that cross-platform applications could not replace the native ones as long as certain functionality, like iOS gestures were impossible to achieve with hybrid frameworks. Since Flutter for iOS developers appeared, their apps are known for smooth and native-like performance. Cross-platform applications have become a reasonable solution for new-market players and well-known ones.
This framework has been previously known as a tool that is capable of working only with Google products like Chrome and Android. Everything changed when it was introduced as the cross-platform framework. The native-like performance, overall productivity for iOS developers, and other distinctive features are admitted by the experts. In order to provide this, it uses tools that differ from native iOS ones. Let’s try to find more details what Flutter iOS development focuses on.
Initially, the Flutter app development is structured with an absolutely different approach. iOS teams use Objective-C or Swift whereas it is built on Google’s in house programming language Dart. Hence the difference. The iOS apps built with Dart perform the distinct functionality as this programming language is capable to compile to the native iOS code. It uses the special structure that runs the code on the device in the Dart context thus there is no need for communication with native modules. It is characterized by simplicity and accessibility. In brief, its engine owns everything for providing native iOS performance without involving other approaches and meets all the requirements by its own structure. The Flutter development team presents clear guidance and detailed documentation for their community. Google develops this framework openly with its community members and encourages its developers’ feedback and new solution creating.
Most mobile developers have experienced that feeling when waiting takes more than coding. That is all due to required changes, recompiling, deploying to the device and bringing back to the point you make the change. Therefore, the Flutter development team has presented the hot reload option. This tool modifies the overall development process and allows you to manage changes in the shortest time. Productivity increased tremendously as the time needed for changed had decreased to milliseconds. iOS developers and designers enjoy this option as a great solution for their collaboration and idea implementation. It enables overall productivity on a regular basis. Flutter for iOS developers also utilizes own dependency management system and does not depend on third-party tools.
Traditionally, the Apple team providers the Xcode Server for native iOS applications. In addition, developers can integrate Fastlane and Jenkins as well as other CI/CD systems. This framework offers Codemagic CI/CD approach instead. It was developed by Nevercode with the purpose of no configuration. That means that Codemagic immediately defines, constructs, tests, and packages the mobile apps.
The UI building is a long decision-making process. However, it can be eased with the help of already created solutions. Apple supports UIKit to create powerful and fast interfaces. Whereas Flutter iOS development applies its own approach where the widgets are used instead of UIView classes. Being immutable and lightweight, the widget can differ by their lifespan and are applied for building the complex UIs as a tree of widget instances. Flutter app development provides the design system guidance by the Material Components library that is flexible for both Android and iOS. In addition, the Cupertino widgets are also can be leveraged for Flutter iOS development.
The testing of native and cross-platform applications will differ as well. The XCTest is a special native tool with numerous features provided by Apple. However, the most cross-platform frameworks are known and chosen for the simplicity of testing, there will not be an exception here. Google team provides Flutter Driver to implement the tests as well as detailed documentation on it. Testing includes unit, UI, widget, and functional levels. It can check separate processes and run on various devices like real devices, emulators, and simulators.
Finally, this independent framework does not need to run code on a certain platform, its code is running directly on the device in the Dart context. The developers do not depend on iOS or Android APIs as in native applications. This type of apps is accommodated in the native ViewController as views, however, they acquire no direct access to it. The successful interaction comes from platform channels that enable data exchange and communication. Their main function is to unite Dart code and the ViewController as well as an iOS framework for certain tasks. When you are interested in direct interaction, you have the ready options for utilizing plugins. They are available through the Dependency Management System which is called Hub. It enables numerous tasks connected to navigation, network request, API interactions, and the usage of the third-party platform SDKs. Those plugins can meet the needs of iOS or Android and in most cases correspond to both of them. Having such distinctive features, Flutter for iOS development has a number of advantages that we will be described next.
Flutter app development has a lot of pros for both the engineering and business sides of any project. One of the rather huge pleasant surprises is that Google is working on making it a fully-fledged web and desktop framework for macOS and Windows. Thus, what started as a mobile app will be relatively easily turned into a web platform or desktop app by the same team.
In general, having such distinctive features, Flutter app development has a number of advantages that we will be described next.
Flutter mobile development has opened the door to making new marketing approaches. The framework is accessible and free for use to any iOS developer. It is user-friendly and completely open to the community. Google provides users with a lot of diverse options and support. Therefore, open collaboration is a strong foundation for future achievements.
This is really beneficial for companies and developers that need to deal with one codebase for both platforms. Flutter mobile app development does not rely on a specific platform as it includes its own design and widgets. It is one option for two tasks that can be also differentiated if it is needed.
It is clear that building one codebase will preserve development time and resources. However, there is another thing that needs to be emphasized here. Developers admitted that a hot reload is a super valuable tool. It helps to manage the changes thus they are capable of adding, fixing, and testing in a shorter time.
Developing one codebase simplifies testing as it can be tested at once for both platforms. It is also possible to divide it after adding specific features. Moreover, the Google team provides clear and up-to-date documentation on each feature, and Flutter Driver will help to check your applications.
Flutter mobile app development results in wonderfully designed apps. The open collection of widgets enables structural, interactive, and visual implementation. All of them are categorized and easily accessible on the official website as well as have clear guidance. The Flutter developer is capable to work on creating new or customizing the existing widgets.
If you consider this framework relatively new and not that mature, Google might surprise you here. The company makes continuous improvements and encourages new opportunities. You can easily find all documentation, recent updates, and the strongly supported community.
It is specially related to market strategies. On the one hand, Flutter mobile development increases productivity and improves performance. On the other hand, it simplifies the delivery process and decreases time and costs. Therefore, it will be a great solution for startups, MVPs, and big companies that look for flexible approaches.
Those who leverage Flutter leave positive feedback. They acknowledge the surprising simplicity of the development process and impressive final results. A lot of companies have already seized the opportunities of this approach. It is a great decision for different businesses and organizations. You should check a few app examples that have gained success for their owners like AppTree, Google Ads, Xianyu, Hamilton Musical, JD Finance, etc. AppTree maintains the business platform for numerous companies, including McDonald’s. Flutter development services are used for making Google Ads that are often chosen for advertising campaigns. Xianyu is a cross-platform app of the online marketing company Alibaba. Hamilton Musical is created for one of the known and loved Broadway shows that includes a lot of entertainment. The financial technology company JD Finance has also chosen Flutter app development for the mobility solution. We can conclude that it is the workable approach of different business domains that are looking for the realization of their goals.
We hope that this article helped you to clarify important details of Flutter application development in general and its new ideas for creating iOS apps in particular. Being a relatively new market player, it has already proved the popularity and gained reliable market positions. Both companies and developers enjoy the development process and final product.
This article about Flutter development for creating iOS applications is also published here.