Founder @SoluteLabs, Traveller, Photographer, Passionate about new Startups and Tech
As the new decade dawns upon us, a slew of technologies has been making a lot of noise to grab the developers’ attention. While native app development is going strong, the trade winds are now blowing towards going cross-platform.
Adobe PhoneGap, React Native, Xamarin and Ionic are all leaving no stone unturned to be the undefeated champion of cross-platform development. Still, Google’s Flutter is all set to take them all on at once.
There are a tonne of resources available online to learn about Flutter, and you can start with this step by step flutter guide.
With reduced code development time, increased time-to-market speed, near-native performance, and a bevy of advantages under its hood, Flutter is set to dominate the market this decade.
Before we take a look at trends making the Flutter race ahead in 2020, let us do a quick recap of what Flutter is, for those who have been living under a rock.
What is Flutter?
Flutter is a software development kit powered by Google that can be used to build applications that run on Android, iOS, web, and desktop (still under development) using a single codebase.
Flutter uses the Dart programming language and compiles it Ahead of Time (AOT) into native code that goes on different machines.
In the words of Google:
So what makes Flutter an exciting technology that has our developers going gaga over it? Here are six trends that drive our point home.
1. MCommerce apps built using Flutter
Mobile Commerce or MCommerce, as it is known, consists of selling to a savvy customer who is on the move, and who accesses eCommerce while being unplugged.
Companies have been betting big on the mCommerce market, with mobile e-commerce spending in the U.S crossing a whopping $41.2 billion in mid-2019 itself!!
And Flutter developers have not been left behind. There is a bevy of mCommerce apps built using Flutter out there on the market, the most prominent of them being Alibaba’s Xianyu app.
This mCommerce app is also a “re-commerce app,” meaning it is primarily geared towards selling used goods. Apart from offering C2C trading, the app also offers services such as recycling, donating, and renting out products.
With 20 million active users and a mammoth 1,4 billion items on the platform, Xianyu (translated Idle fish) is going from strength to strength. In February 2020 alone, the app had a record 2 million downloads.
These statistics show that Flutter is the ideal technology to build a mCommerce app that can scale.
2. Flutter for Web apps
A web app uses web technology and a web browser to perform tasks over the internet. Want a good example of a Web app? This blog post was initially written in Google Docs, and the entire G Suite, including Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Calendar, are all examples of a web app.
Since Flutter is relatively new, we could not find a lot of applications that are entirely powered by Flutter for Web. We did, however, find a small web application called Neibre that was built using Flutter.
Neibre is a technology platform that aims to connect local businesses to people in their vicinity. Once you log in to the platform and become a Neibre, you can provide services such as Loans, Insurance, and even a property consultation service.
3. Flutter for Embedded Technology
Embedded systems have become an integral part of our lives over the past decade, not just with smartphones and tablets, but also with wearable technology like Smartwatches and the Internet of Things (IoT).
The global embedded systems market is set to grow from $86.5 Billion in 2020 to $116.2 billion by 2025. Wearables and IoT are the leaders in the areas inviting investments, and Flutter is making inroads as a framework of choice.
Flutter now runs directly on devices like the Raspberry Pi, and there are even APIs that can be embedded for Flutter freely available over the internet. This allows Raspberry Pi’s powered by Flutter to be used on car screens, home appliances like smart fridges, and beyond.
A good example of Flutter running on an embedded platform is the Smart Display system on Google Home. Some of the Google-built features for the Smart Display system are run exclusively on Flutter, with the aim of extending the entire system UI by the end of the year.
4. Flutter for Desktop
As we write this blog post, Flutter for desktop is still in its nascent stage, but the future looks promising. Tim Sneath, a Product Manager at Google, did give us some interesting insights in this blog post.
If you are using the latest build of Flutter, there is now an option to compile a Flutter application to a Windows executable. Flutter developers have added support for mouse and keyboard input, at the framework level, along with scroll wheel support.
Flutter can now create a standalone executable file that can be run on a computer, even if it doesn’t have Flutter installed. This is an exciting development for all the Windows and Linux developers out there.
There has also been a push towards Flutter developers being able to do anything that a native Windows app can do, by giving Flutter access to the native operating system’s capabilities. Microsoft has also recently shown interest in creating Flutter apps for the Surface Duo, so a possibility that the two companies will collaborate in the future looks highly likely.
5. Add Flutter to existing apps
If you have an app written for Android or iOS and would like to add new functionalities using Flutter, it is now possible! Companies such as Groupon have been using Flutter to develop modules over an existing app with resounding success.
There are two methods of integrating Flutter into an existing app, one using submodules and the other using flutter attach. Depending on the complexity, either one of these approaches works well in expanding your app’s capabilities.
The best part is that features that make Flutter such a hit among developers such as Hot Reload and Hot Restart can also be used for a module built over a native Android or iOS app.
As you can see from the above points, Flutter is at an exciting stage, and we can’t wait to get our hands on the new features when Google releases them later this year.
We do hope some of these points gave you a new-found appreciation for Flutter. Happy coding.