Making choices is hard. It’s a window that opens other windows of choice. We understand this inherently and strive to make the best of choices based on the options before us, in this case choosing between Flutter or React Native.
This article aims to help you weigh these two options with facts and help you choose which platform would be great for your application and business.
Why Were Cross Platform Toolkits Created?
Building mobile applications is an uphill task. You have to create and maintain two teams for the Android and iOS versions of your app.
This difficulty in the mobile application space necessitated a shift in development which introduced cross-platform development toolkits.
Attempts by several companies to build toolkits in order to mitigate this problem proved abortive, but the launch of React Native in 2015 by Facebook Inc., brought some ray of hope.
Google in 2017, responded to Facebook’s react native by launching Flutter.
Since then, these two tool kits have stood tall as the most used cross-platform toolkits for mobile and web application development.
What is Flutter?
Flutter is basically a cross-platform UI toolkit developed by Google that aims to enable developers to create natively compiled code for mobile, web, desktop, and embedded systems from a single codebase.
Advantages of building with Flutter
Flutter is backed by big names:
As stated before, Flutter is developed and actively maintained by Google. And since the launch of this toolkit, big companies such as Groupon, Alibaba, CapitalOne, Tencent have hopped on the trend and built their apps with the toolkit.
Google also built their Google ads mobile with Flutter. Therefore, Flutter is going nowhere any time soon. There’s job security in this space.
Well suited for startups and MVP:
Flutter has proven to be a tool to build prototypes of mobile application ideas and proof of concept.
Therefore, startups with smaller budgets maintain two mobile app teams(Android and iOS) to build out their apps.
Flutter is open source and rich in the documentation. Since the launch of Flutter in 2015, it has enjoyed great contributions from Engineers and software developers from around the world, building and molding it to achieve its potential.
Flutter’s documentation is crisp and well detailed, and answers every question a newbie could have about the platform. This is a good feat for a software tool that is just new on the block.
Examples of Flutter communities:
- Flutter Community: This is a medium publication and community, publishing articles and tutorials on Flutter.
- Flutter Awesome: This platform creates daily content on Flutter libraries, tools, templates, advice, and best practices.
- It’s all widgets!: Everything in Flutter is a widget. This community shares beautiful widgets and apps built with Flutter for inspiration.
Freedom of Development tool:
There’s no need to get stuck with Android studio, to develop your Android apps as Flutter that can be built with both Android studio and Vs code.
It’s an open secret in the mobile development world that an android studio is heavy software that is resource hungry and requires high machine specs to be able to use it.
Here, Vs code comes to the rescue as you now have the option to use it to develop your mobile apps.
Vs code is more system resource compatible and ranks really high as one of the best plugins for software development.
Maximum productivity and performance:
Flutter performance is similar to that of Native apps. Tools such as Hot-reload make Flutter a breeze to work with as you get the results of your development updates on your code in real-time.
Creating beautiful user interfaces on Flutter is a breeze and can be done in a quick time.
Flutter Developers are well paid:
According to data presented by Glassdoor and ZipRecruiter, the average salary of Flutter developers is about $83,000.
Also, Flutter is best positioned for freelancing as small businesses seek to build their apps using this toolkit.
Disadvantages of Flutter
We have looked at the advantages of the Flutter toolkit that places it on the edge, now let’s consider some of the shortcomings of this toolkit.
Large App size:
Does size matter? For mobile apps it does. You can find out more here. Apps built with Flutter tend to be larger than normal. Why this is the case is a topic for another day.
Users usually consider size when installing apps on their mobile phones and tend to stay away from apps with large sizes. Therefore the large size of Flutter apps is a disadvantage here.
The disparity in Looks and each platform:
Google and Apple have guidelines for developing apps for their platforms.
Despite Flutter’s ability to create beautiful user interfaces, being able to tweak your app’s design to meet each platform-specific requirement can become a pain for developers. Also, Flutter is known to have some issues with iOS as Apple does not fully support Flutter.
Flutter is built with the Dart programming language. This could add some steepness to the learning curve in developing the app as Dart is a relatively new programming language and does not have widespread resources for learning.
However, if you have experience with programming languages such as Java, C#, and other object-oriented programming languages, picking it up would be relatively easy.
What is React Native?
React Native is a cross-platform toolkit developed by Facebook to enable the build for mobile applications without compromising on performance.
React Native was launched in 2015 and has since grown to be one of the most popular cross-platform toolkits alongside Flutter.
Advantages of building React Native
Mobile App smart performance:
React native architecture makes use of GPU(Graphics Processing Unit) and performs well on the mobile environment. In some cases, it’s found to be super fast.
Fast Build time:
Fast reload is one of the features that stands out in React native. Here changes made to the code base are seen in real-time except for occasions where the changes made are enormous.
This helps the developers save a lot of time in building apps for this platform.
React Native is open source:
React Native is an open-source tool and enjoys good contributions from engineers, developers, and designers from all over the world.
The community here is also mature with good resources to learn the tool.
Demand for React Native:
There are about 4,000 React Native jobs posted on Indeed and about 6,000 on ZipRecruiter with an average salary of about $100,000.
Disadvantages of developing for React Native
React native at this point is still under development and lacks some features such as security robustness. Here if you are building an app for the financial and banking field, then React native is the best option for you because of its tremendous security issues.
Drawbacks from programming Language:
React Native takes time to initialize and gives difficulty in memory management. Therefore, React Native is not suitable for apps that require high computations.
You can read here, the issues Airbnb encountered with React Native.
What should I choose Flutter or React Native?
Image credit: Statista
Both React Native and Flutter are great cross-platform tools for software development, especially with mobile applications.
However, a lot of companies are gravitating towards Flutter. As seen from the screenshot above, Flutter is slightly overtaking React native.
This shift could be attributed to the following reasons:
- Flutter uses ARM and x86 native libraries for code compilation which makes it’s code compile to natively, while React Native does not compile natively.
- Widgets on Flutter are easily customizable whereas React NAtive takes god effort to customize it’s widget for both Android and iOS.
- Google continues to make tremendous efforts to improve Flutter’s SDK as well as in marketing the framework together with the enthusiastic Flutter community.
- Flutter is beyond Android and iOS and considerably making an inroad into the web space. It’s only a matter of time before it gains stability in space.
We expect these two platforms to continue growing in features, capabilities, and user base in the future. However, the decision of the best platform for your project is completely up to you, but I hope this article has helped in making this decision a little less daunting.