In recent years, Flutter has gained a tremendous reputation as a cross-platform development framework and even challenged the dominance of widely popular and seasoned frameworks such as React Native. As of now, Flutter is only regarded as a cross-platform technology. But we should not forget how Flutter can play an equally impressive role in developing native iOS and Android apps.
Since Flutter is a framework created and maintained by Google, native Android app development is naturally supported by Flutter. But what about native iOS app development with Flutter? Flutter has already proved itself to be the most efficient technology for iOS app projects.
Here we will explain the value propositions of Flutter for iOS app projects. But before that, let’s start with some basics.
What is Flutter?
Flutter was built as a free and open-source UI development framework and software development kit by Google for speeding up and simplifying the app development process. Flutter offers many features and capabilities that were earlier non-existent with other cross-platform development frameworks. Apart from using a single codebase for developing both native iOS and Android apps, Flutter offers a robust widget library to help develop user interfaces of both native iOS and Android apps.
The following are some of the core value propositions that made Flutter popular for cross-platform, native iOS, and native Android app projects.
- Code re-usability for iOS, Android, web, and desktop app projects.
- A robust repository of widgets for building native UIs across the platforms.
- Out-of-the-box support for Google Firebase back-end.
- Better and enhanced documentation.
- Support for multiple Integrated Development Environments (IDEs).
- Out-of-the-box testing and bug fixing tools.
Why use Flutter for developing native iOS apps?
Though Flutter is widely known for its cross-platform development capabilities, the framework is also widely known for developing native iOS & Android apps with robust performance, seamless user experience, and engaging look and feel. Instead of using traditional technologies such as Swift or Objective C, developers now can also use Flutter for iOS app projects.
Some of the key reasons why Flutter is used for iOS app projects include the following.
The simplicity of the Dart programming language
iOS developers generally use Objective-C or Swift language, and these languages are widely used across the vast majority of iOS app projects. But iOS apps can also be developed by using Dart programming language as it can easily compile the code with the native iOS code.
It is particularly a good approach if you want to create an iOS app version of your good old Android app. Dart is also known for simple syntax, which can reduce coding errors and bugs besides keeping the app footprint lower.
Instant Evaluation with Hot Reload
It is common for mobile app developers to harbor a feeling that the wait time for the coding changes to reflect is often longer than the coding time. This is common with iPhone app developers as well. The entire effort, from code changes to recompiling to deployment in the device environments, takes a lot of time.
Now with the Hot Reload feature of Flutter, iOS developers can make this process faster, and complete code often changes in real-time. The Hot Reload feature reflects the coding changes in real-time so that developers can see the effects without reloading the app.
Frequent Iterations in the app project
Generally, native iOS apps rely on the Xcode server for continuous iterations, integrations, and development. As additional choices, they can also opt for Continuous Integration (CI) and Continuous Development (CD) tools such as Fastlane and Jenkins. Flutter framework provides a Codemagic CI/CD tool that requires zero configuration saving a lot of development time and effort.
Engaging iOS interfaces
Apple iOS provides out-of-the-box UI design and development tools through UI Kit for developing fast-paced and robust user interfaces. Flutter for iOS development projects offers a different approach by using native UI widgets for iOS apps. Compared to the traditional UI building blocks, the widgets are more lightweight and offer a highly modular development approach accommodating frequent changes and value additions. Flutter offers a rich reserve of Cupertino widgets to shape the look and feel of native iOS apps.
Out of the box testing support
We all know that Flutter provides out-of-the-box testing support with various testing tools. But there are certain differences between native and cross-platform apps in regard to testing. Regardless of these differences, Flutter makes testing much easier with a straightforward approach.
With the help of Flutter Driver, Flutter does not just carry out testing but also ensures creating detailed documentation for app testing. Most importantly, Flutter is capable of running the testing tools across different real devices, emulators, and simulators.
Single-threading instead of multi-threading
When iOS developers need to segregate the UI code from its background, the traditional iOS languages like Objective C offer multi-threading as the choice. But there have been several instances where this approach was proved to be largely ineffective. In contrast, Dart, the programming language of Flutter, uses a single-threaded approach.
This approach benefits the iOS apps with more ease in handling sequential tasks through async or await. The same approach is also effective in handling asynchronous tasks as well. For more complicated and multilayered iOS app projects, this single-threaded approach of Flutter proves to be more effective.
To Sum It Up
While as the leading cross-platform development framework, Flutter will continue to thrive, for iOS app projects, the effectiveness of the framework has just started to grab attention. Flutter is equally a great technology for both cross-platform and native app development projects.