To be or not to be? Flutter vs React Native is the quandary that developers face when starting their app project and selecting the appropriate technology. This article will help you decide on your app development project by comparing and contrasting the two tools. In the end, we will also learn how ZEGOCLOUD can set you free from the boundaries of either selecting Flutter or React Native for your RTC app development.
Flutter vs. React Native cross-platform app development
First, let’s clarify what we mean by ‘cross-platform development.’ As the term suggests, multiplatform development is creating a single application – specifically a mobile app – that operates seamlessly across several operating systems. Developers can produce and distribute mobile assets compatible with Android and iOS without recoding them separately for each platform by sharing the source code of cross-platform programs.
One-third of mobile developers employ cross-platform technologies, with the remainder relying on native tools. Flutter and React Native are the most powerful and most used. According to Statista’s 2021 developer poll, 42% of software engineers choose Flutter as their primary cross-platform mobile framework, and 38% use React Native.
As a result, one must thoroughly study the capabilities, benefits, and drawbacks of Flutter vs. React Native.
What is Flutter?
Flutter is a Google open-source framework for creating attractive, natively built, multi-platform apps from a single codebase. Google team launched it in 2017 and advertised several advantages over native app development. Flutter has indeed become a benchmark for application development.
Flutter is based on the Dart programming language developed by Google in 2011 as an open-source, general-purpose, object-oriented programming language with C-style syntax. The development process is speedy due to its unique structural features, making it appropriate for producing quick prototypes, MVPs, and sophisticated apps and games.
Many famous apps use Flutter, such as Alibaba, Google ads, and Hookle.
Evolution of Flutter
Google has upgraded Flutter, releasing two new versions to developers.
- Flutter 2.0 was released in December 2020, and it had several unique new features:
- Add to App; developers may add Flutter screens to existing Java, Swift, or Objective C apps.
- Developers may use NestedScrollView to construct scrollable lists within other scrollable lists.
- Developers might construct sliders that automatically adjust to the user’s screen size.
- WebView allows you to incorporate online information into your Flutter project without writing additional code.
- Include desktop app support for macOS and Linux,
- completely integrates Flutter with Firebase
- offers native development support for Apple Silicon.
- Adds a new text editing controller for mobile devices that optimizes text input
- Improved support for right-to-left languages
Advantages of Flutter
One characteristic that distinguishes Flutter from other frameworks is the Dart programming language. It compiles applications into native machine code rather than by a virtual machine at runtime. As a result, performance improves, and development times shorten. It also enhances user experiences and promotes app adoption. The major pros are:
- lower development costs, leading to more flexibility and adoption; no license fees or related charges
- simple implementation with a single codebase to create apps for Android, iOS, web, and desktop
- Quicker app development owing to Flutter’s hot reload feature; you can make changes to your code and see the effects in real-time without restarting your app.
- Thanks to their excellent material design, flutter widgets provide programs with a slick, modern look.
- A headless testing framework allows you to test your app on devices that do not have a UI, which is perfect for automated app testing.
- Flutter’s support for internationalization allows you to reach a worldwide audience by developing an app in various languages.
Disadvantages of Flutter
Regardless of its multiple benefits, Flutter is not perfect. Several drawbacks can affect the nature of your project. The most relevant ones are the following:
- Dependence on the platform, since Google might abandon the Flutter project one day, even if this is a remote chance.
- Platform dependency implies Ecosystem Scarcity, which is somewhat constrained due to Flutter’s relative infancy and the specialized nature of Flutter’s language choice.
- Apps must incorporate the framework’s engine and widgets, resulting in heavy apps; due to tight footprint limits.
- Flutter might feel somewhat constraining to developers who are used to constructing applications from the various available frameworks and libraries; they may sometimes require custom scripts while testing and implementing changes since it does not natively support all CI/CD (continuous integration and deployment) technologies.
What’s React Native?
Popular apps made with React Native are Instagram, Tesla, Facebook, Pinterest, and many others.
Evolution of React Native
The leading mobile OS suppliers, Apple and Google, never partnered to create a single platform for app creation. Meta (previously Facebook) has provided the finest solution by tackling the most confusing difficulties faced by native app developers.
In 2015, Meta released the first stable version of React Native, where developers had to modify the code just once and supply it to the various play stores after compilation. For these reasons, millions of developers have utilized React Native to quickly and economically create applications that provide distinctive user experiences.
There have been several new versions, with features constantly improving and addressing key structural error types accessed via arrows and tabs. At the beginning of 2021, Meta made many changes, including support for react-navigation, react-viro, react-native-auth0 auto-linking, and C++ turboModules.
Facebook and the community then released React Native 0.66 in October 2021, supporting Android 12 and iOS 15 with many enhancements and bug fixes. The most recent React Native 0.69 enhancements include the following:
- Improved compatibility with M1 users and C++ 17
- New configuration file.xcode.env
- The most recent status bar API
- iOS debug menu hotkeys
Advantages of React Native
React Native’s API is more robust and dependable than its competitors. Aside from that, the framework strongly emphasizes resolving any underlying difficulties. The following are the significant advantages when adopting React Native:
- Platform maturity, as seen by the React Native team and Meta’s consistent advancements with reliable upgrades and more efficient features.
- Steady mobile app growth since framework components understand how to promote an app on a popular platform.
- Hot and live reloading allows React Native app developers to see their changes in real-time, reducing app waiting time and allowing for a quick refresh.
- The substantial development community because it is an open-source, free platform that anybody can use and be a part of community-driven technology.
- Pre-made solutions and a thriving library aid in building mobile apps
- Developer total control over the creation of the project
Furthermore, because there is no downtime with React Native, developers may transition between platforms as needed. Although there are several benefits to adopting React Native, it comes with challenges and may not be the best answer in every circumstance.
Disadvantages of React Native
Among the downsides of React Native, we find:
- Too many new advances and upgrades at a quick speed may be taxing for the developers, who do not have enough time to respond to the changes.
- For the same reason, React Native has amassed many resource libraries and repositories. Many of these are obsolete and thus might waste your time and work.
- Challenges to determining the UI since it provides the most fundamental ones. The rest will have to be designed and customized by you.
As you may understand, React Native offers benefits and drawbacks, and it’s up to the business organization to decide what is best for their enterprise. If your website and mobile apps have the same target audience, React Native applications will be more beneficial. It will also reduce the app development cost.
Flutter or React Native: a comparison.
React Native and Flutter are excellent solutions for designing cross-platform applications. Nevertheless, as we have seen, they have numerous peculiarities that set them apart. Flutter and React Native has several benefits and limits in terms of functionalities. So a React Native vs Flutter comparison will help us assess what to choose.
2. Building a Developer’s team
When it comes to recruiting developers nowadays, they are almost certainly familiar with React Native. More quantity does not automatically imply lesser pay; according to Glassdoor, the average yearly salary of a React Native developer is somewhat more than that of a Flutter developer.
3. Flutter vs React Native Structure
4. Installation and Development
Although Flutter is one of the quickest cross-platform frameworks for app development, installation time is slower than in React Native.
Because Flutter does not employ program bridges, you must download the whole binary for the platform from its GitHub source. Additionally, it is necessary to include separate code files for Android and iOS platforms when an app needs complex UI components. As a result, the Flutter installation process takes longer and involves more steps. On the other hand, Flutter offers access to many third-party UI frameworks with ready-to-use components, accelerating the development time and making it more manageable. Thus, when it comes to the development process and UI ease, Flutter takes the lead in Flutter vs. React Native match.
Vice versa, you may choose React Native based on installation issues. The node package manager quickly and easily installs React Native.
5. Flutter vs. React Native Documentation
Flutter is a newer framework that prioritizes extensive documentation with well-planned how-to videos and resources. Because it is primarily reliant on third-party libraries, React Native documentation is hardly updated. Although the documentation for React Native is not very outstanding, many developers find it more user-friendly.
Overall, both documentation guides are excellent.
6. Quality and Performance
The key factors to consider when assessing performances are speed and app size.
Flutter has a minor performance advantage over React Native, and the apps load somewhat faster. Dart language and BLoC architecture provide decent performance by default, with a smoothness setting of 60 frames per second contributing to the app’s speed. On the other hand, Flutter generates enormous file sizes.
Regarding quality assurance and testing, it’s impossible to pick a clear winner. Flutter incorporates numerous Google testing and integration features while providing fewer third-party testing tools. React Native, on the other hand, allows you to circumvent such constraints by utilizing different third-party testing tools such as Detox or Jest.
7. Device Compatibility
In this case, we have a clear winner, Flutter.
Flutter apps are compatible with iOS 11 and, React Native apps. For Android, Flutter requires Android 4.1 or above, while React Native requires Android 6.0 or higher.
Flutter vs. React Native: a wrap-up.
Flutter and React Native are good frameworks for developing cross-platform mobile apps. These two technologies profit from enormous success and long-term trust.
Flutter’s popularity has evolved in recent years. React Native was famous in 2018, but Flutter currently has the upper hand. However, because of the many widgets and components, as well as the Dart language, many users prefer to avoid Flutter.
Flutter’s complexity is both a hindrance and a benefit because it is more powerful and versatile. Your decision will be influenced by who you are, what you want to do, and the resources available to you. For something simple but with a more limited range, React Native may be the way to go, but if you’re ready to invest time and effort in achieving pixel-perfect design, Flutter is the way to go.
Choose Flutter, for example, if you want to save time advertising an app that requires a lot of customization or specific tasks. Choose React Native if your project requires 3D rendering, cross-platform support, or code reuse for a web application.
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