Considering the costs and maintenance difficulties of native apps in the IOS and Android platforms, Flutter’s unique cross-platform network has been steadily sought after by many industries due to its on-field and development versatility, as well as its pleasant end-user performance.
With differences in the maintenance of its coding structure, development timeline, general use, costs, and other components of its functionality against native apps, the mobile developers of Surf, who have been making great strides in the development of cross-platform applications, have collated this quick analysis of how Flutter stands out from the previous conventions that the native technology has solidified in the technological industry.
Flutter: An Overview
To give you a little background, a cross-platform system or framework is essentially a process, or rather, a method used to develop applications that will be compatible and suitable for use in both the IOS and Android platforms. Although this might seem convenient in the most superficial sense, the significant consequence of cross-platform development is the risk of inconsistencies in the interface’s performance and relatively slower animations upon use.
Flutter is an example of such, and it operates with a programming language known as “Dart” on top of having only a single-coded base. It was developed in 2018 by Google, and throughout these years, it has proved to be convenient, efficient, and easy to use in developing the overall user interface of a program while also challenging the preconceptions of cross-platform frameworks with finesse.
A Look into Native Technologies
Native technologies, on the one hand, are developmental methods that aim to design programs specific to a particular platform – either IOS or Android, but never both. Such apps are usually created using a programming language supported by either operating system, i.e., Android only supports Kotlin, Java, and Android Studio, while IOS supports Swift, Objective-C, and Xcode.
For the most part, the use of native technologies does not come with significant problems, and the users can utilize various integrated sophisticated features by installing native apps through either Google Play or App Store. However, the development and maintenance of native apps require significant investments due to the specificity of each platform – making something affordable like Flutter an attractive choice with hi-tech businesses.
Flutter vs. Native App: Dissecting the Development Process
With the added convenience of Flutter to only create a single code suitable for both the Android and IOS platforms, while also being user-friendly for even amateur developers to handle the ins and outs of the program entirely, the cost and timeline of app development are significantly reduced. Although the quality of the interface is still a priority over development speed, Surf experts claim that development could be around 20-50% with Flutter.
In terms of how each app performs on actual practice, it was found by the Surf team that native applications were less CPU-hungry than the Flutter app, averaging at a value of around 50% less consumption. In contrast, React Native performed worse than the Flutter app itself. The same scenario is likewise observable when it comes to the applications’ memory usage. It was apparent that the native apps were more efficient in their use, while the Flutter app consumed more than twice what was utilized by the former. React Native, however, consistently performed worse than Flutter.
In maintaining an application code after its release to the public, the load is heavily burdened by the fact that native apps utilize two different codebases that need to be monitored, updated, revised, and polished individually – making the maintenance process more tedious and expensive. Apart from the serious effort required to maintain two different codebases, creating updates and bug resolution also needs to happen separately, along with the added concern of an even more challenging maintenance process as the application handles more operating systems.
On the one hand, Flutter removes all the risk and effort that is innate in native development due to its single codebase – making its overall maintenance effortless, simple, and quick. With the Hot Reloading function of Flutter, the resolution of issues is likewise made even faster.
Kotlin Native vs. Flutter: Integration Depth over Convenience
Kotlin provides additional safety features and fast third-party integration opportunities for Android, but Flutter performs this aspect even better Despite that, developers who might not be familiar with “Dart” might struggle in seeing the convenience that Flutter offers ultimately. Furthermore, there are also limitations in Flutter’s engine when integrating native modules via the default Xcode language in Android. Nevertheless, Flutter’s documentation comes with manual instructions to help resolve such issues and successfully incorporate them in both the IOS and Android platforms.
Swift for IOS vs. Flutter: Versatility over Simplicity
Swift is renowned for its outstanding frameworks and documentation process, and it could be traced back to the straightforward integration that it offers. However, this likewise comes with a poorer integration when it comes to third-party plug-ins, whereas Flutter is not only able to suit multiple platforms but also offers a faster coding process that is undoubtedly unquestionable when it comes to convenience.
Recruiting Flutter Developers
As of this writing, Flutter developers are relatively scarce in the industry, mainly due to the general lack of Flutter projects over the world. Despite the excellent features that the app ultimately puts forward, it is not easy to create a team of Flutter developers who could efficiently handle the program with finesse and certainty.
This can be attributed to the thought that learning Dart and working on a few projects is sufficient to handle a full-pledged Flutter-based project. After all, to ensure that a developer is qualified to handle the process, apart from adequate knowledge of Dart and Flutter’s interface, they should be familiar with the limitations and attributes of mobile development, whether it comes to the Android platform or IOS.
Costs and Team Compositions
In general, native development would unquestionably cost more due to the separate developments necessary for each platform included in its supported operating systems – two codes would have to be created, and each one would have varying functionalities that should be managed separately. With that in mind, a native development team would likewise be comprised of more developers and professionals, with the general structure being as such:
- 1-2 QA Engineers
- 3 IOS Developers
- 3 Android Developers
- 1 Designer.
On the one hand, a Flutter team would generally be comprised of only:
- 1 QA Engineer
- 4 Flutter Developers
- 1 Designer
Overall, Flutter would generally produce savings of up to 45.6% in development, 70.5% in QA, and 33.3% in design. In terms of the budget, the savings could range from 15 to 50%, depending on the project at hand.
Flutter vs. Native App: Case to Case Basis
Using Flutter for development would mainly depend on the scale of the programs’ goals – making Flutter’s use nowadays more relevant for the average to large businesses like Alibaba, Airbnb, and Uber. Native development apps, on the one hand, are more specialized to create programs focused and specific on a particular niche – maximizing the advanced yet extremely specific features that it could offer.
For example, Flutter can be used when using advanced OS plugins with a simple logic function, material design, Skia rendering engines, flexible user interfaces, and reactive apps with massive data integration. On the other hand, native apps are commonly used for AR/VR functionalities, advanced interfaces, AI-triggered apps, gaming apps, GPS-centric, travel apps, IoT apps that can connect with TV and wallets, and animation-rich applications.
Choosing Native Technologies
There are still certain arguments that stand when it comes to using the less efficient and more expensive native apps. The usual instance is its use in creating advanced applications that integrate sophisticated features such as those with flawless speeds, niche MVP app, strong OS-embedded connections, regular updates for each OS version, and reactive apps with extensive integration. This should generally be avoided, however, if the team either wants or needs to reduce their costs and timeframe, in addition to cases where compatibility issues are prominent, quick deployment is a must, the development team is less skilled, or in apps where there are fewer in-app payment functions.
Flutter is generally recommended for retail apps, banks, franchisees, and huge organizations that need greater maintenance convenience and lower costs overall. This is particularly recommended by the Surf team for banking applications as its source code is compiled and integrated into the native code itself – making it impossible to retrieve through reading. In addition to that, Flutter-based programs can likewise incorporate the security features of various banking platforms such as Touch ID, Face ID, and fingerprint scanner – an additional integrated security feature.
However, it should likewise be noted that Flutter is not necessarily suitable for applications that require native and specific features, along with those with universally accepted MVP, MVVM, and MVC architectures, and those without a functional user interface.
In comparing the functionality of the Flutter program with IOS and Android-native apps, the following points are essentially its substance: the use of either is on a purely case-to-case basis, Flutter provides vast benefits for development costs and speed, MVP application can be created faster and around 30% cheaper, and native apps are more suited for specific programs that integrated advanced features.
Overall, nowadays’ conditions would inevitably make Flutter more attractive for companies to expand their online and digital platforms, according to the Surf Team.
Head of Flutter Department at Surf at the moment, Android Tech Lead in the past. End-to-end mobile app development for fintech, foodtech and e-commerce for Android & iOS. Can tell you everything about Dart, Flutter and best practices of mobile app development.