Why Is Flutter a Good Choice for Cross-Platform Projects?

Photo of Bartłomiej Szypelow

Bartłomiej Szypelow

Updated Dec 6, 2023 • 15 min read

As businesses look for faster, cheaper, and simpler ways to get their product to market, an industry leader must craft well-thought out production plans with the right tools at hand.

Multi-platform production might be a crippling bottleneck for start-ups that require synchronous app development. Multiple teams and cross-platform development imply extra expenses – depleting cash reserves and shortening any project’s runway.

It is, therefore, in the best interest of any business owner to find a cross-platform framework that allows a unified team to build a multi-platform product out of a single codebase. Whether for mobile, web, or desktop, businesses will no longer need to assign teams to different platforms for the same job.

Flutter is a tool that can speed up product development and synchronize release schedules to broaden your customer base and, of course, increase your profit margin.

The framework benefits aspiring industry leaders as the constant presence of mobile and desktop technology makes interconnectivity and cross-platform support a necessity for any budding project.

What is Flutter?

Flutter is the open-source framework created by Google for building smooth and scalable cross-platform applications. Its codebase is platform-agnostic and helps developers build high-performance applications with functional and attractive user interfaces that rival Android and iOS native programs.

Simply put, Flutter is Google's portable UI toolkit for crafting beautiful, natively compiled applications for any platform through a single codebase. With Dart language, developers and organizations worldwide use Flutter to release their minimum-viable projects quickly and efficiently.

To achieve this, Flutter uses a library of pre-made widgets and a host of plugins that simplifies and speeds up application development. It implements most of its system in the Dart language. The Dart is a modern and concise object-oriented programming language that an experienced developer could quickly learn to read, remove, and customize their desired widgets.

Aside from being Google's brainchild over the last decade, Flutter offers its users a plethora of competitive advantages, including:

Reason 1: Smooth cross-platform app development

Flutter's popularity has skyrocketed primarily because its framework is platform-agnostic.

The two leading mobile OS platforms are Apple's iOS and Google's Android. Native app projects are primarily written in the language used by the OS. For example, iOS applications use Swift and Objective-C, while native code for Android are Java or Kotlin.

While this allows for a UI that matches the user experience with that of the OS, the nature of developing separate native applications requires organizations to create multiple codebases for each device with its own version of the app.

This, in turn, creates additional costs for hiring developers to build and manage a code base for each platform and extends the timeline for developing multiple builds for the same product.

Having natively coded android and iOS applications will require the business owner to, yet again, employ the use of their employee base – a recurring expense that could have been avoided with a cross-platform framework. While enterprises can afford it, startups or scaleups might not be able to handle the cost.

Another benefit of Flutter’s platform-agnostic nature is that it promotes feature parity amongst applications.

If one platform fails to update its application version in sync with the others, then feature parity is broken, leaving lasting negative implications for your company's reputation.

Flutter comes in as a solution to this problem. Hailed as one of the best cross-platform development frameworks, Flutter introduces one codebase for all platforms through reusable widgets used for more than just mobile app development.

On top of this, Flutter is also one of the most complete SDKs available on the market, as it's usable for more than just mobile applications but also progressive web apps, desktop applications, and so much more.

It’s important to note that Google's goal with the Flutter framework was to promote cross-platform app development in one composable repository, giving its end users immense control over the final product. It’s widget-based technology allows developers to reuse the same lines of code across multiple projects and rapidly refine and evolve the application as seen fit by the organization.

And so long as the editor can support the Dart language, the Flutter framework is also compatible with the vast majority of major editors and IDEs, including Android Studio, IntelliJ IDEAS, and VS Code.

Flutter's focus on offering an excellent user experience in an easy-to-learn package makes collaboration more accessible, no matter who you are or your involved stage in the production process.

What is the business value?

The Cross-Platform support feature of Flutter has two contributions to the business:

Reduced spending

Flutter is known for maximizing the value of each dollar. Optimizing development costs is a concept Google understands, given its extensive experience in introducing new features and launching products.

Given that knowledge, Flutter's convenience and budget-friendliness make sense. It's even been shown that developing apps for multiple platforms at once via Flutter has halved the price of development.

How? Flutter includes less code for development. Considered to be a simple and convenient platform, Flutter provides its users with beautiful widgets that offer the same level of performance in less code than native applications would require.

Code reusability is another prominent feature of Flutter. It allows developers to create engaging, feature-rich applications with cross-platform friendly UI components that can use up to over ninety percent of the code to save time, effort, and app development budget.

This was the same experience Crowd Source had when they worked with Flutter. Experiencing a 50% reduction in code size and a 100% increase in development speed, Crowdsource was able to recreate their Android App across all platforms to expand the app beyond Android and the web to include iOS.

Quicker time to launch

As separate apps take longer to develop, time to market has become a struggling factor for many budding businesses. One might argue that you could instead do away with cross-platform support and focus on launching your product in one operating system, but that would just narrow your customer base and lose you revenue.

One of Flutter’s key features is its fast testing mechanics. The hot reload feature makes the app development process much quicker as it removes the need to supply the app to see every change you need to make in the code. Doing so gives you more opportunities to experiment with code and bug fixing.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, for example, was able to launch its application, helping veterans acclimate back into their civilian life 30% faster than expected with the help of Flutter. The STAIR app is a tool that veterans use to reduce anxiety by suggesting activities that Veterans could do whenever they start to feel stressed or overwhelmed.

Having a single codebase and capitalizing on its testing features with hot reload all helped to decrease development time.

Are you not convinced yet? Check out Reflectly's results as well.

Despite only having two engineers at Reflectly, the team delivered an iOS and Android App in just two and a half months, cutting down on their initial five-month timeline by 50%. They highlighted the use of Flutter's widgets to speed up development. As it turned out, their users loved the intuitive and straightforward design, and they continue to experience double-digit growth every month.

In the realm of cross-platform development, Flutter apps emerge as a game-changer for businesses seeking swift time-to-market advantages.

Flutter's rapid testing mechanics play a pivotal role in expediting the development lifecycle. The hot reload feature, a cornerstone of Flutter's efficiency, eliminates the need for time-consuming app recompilation, allowing developers to witness instant changes in the code.

This not only accelerates the debugging process but also empowers developers to experiment freely, fostering innovation and agility. Real-world case studies underscore the substantial time savings achieved by businesses adopting Flutter for their cross-platform app development.

Reason 2: Performance

The second reason many companies opt for Flutter is its speed and performance. So long as you follow their best practices (as highlighted heavily in their documentation), you have absolutely nothing to worry about.

How fast is Flutter?

Recent findings from inVerita have shown just how fast the Flutter engine can be compared to other cross-platform frameworks and even native development languages.

According to inVerita, Flutter compiled 95% faster for the Gauss-Legendre and Borwein Algoroth CPU-intensive tests for iOS and Android. Collecting as quickly as native development languages like Swift and Objective-C, Flutter presents a legitimate alternative for native apps. Not all cross-platform apps are slow; Flutter beats out Swift in certain areas.

There are three ways Flutter achieves faster performance:

  • Flutter's DevTools

  • Skia

  • The Dart language

Flutter's DevTools provide profiling, display code coverage, and everyone's favorite performance overlay. Flutter's performance overlay displays statistics for frames rendered and their millisecond increments. Ideally, each frame is created and displayed within 1/60th of a second to display 60 frames per second.

When this standard is not met, your application appears jittery and janky.

To attain this standard, Flutter uses the Skia rendering engine, Google's own 2D graphics library that serves as the primary graphics engine for Google Chrome, ChromeOS, Android, Flutter, and many other products.

The Skia engine employs reactive programming where UI elements are automatically updated in reaction to changes in state.

All this is made possible with the Dart Language. Client-optimized for fast-performing apps, Dart uses Ahead of Time compiling to create fast, almost native apps in Flutter without using a javascript bridge to slow them down.

What is the business value?

Flutter aims for each application to perform at least 60 frames per second, or 120 fps, on devices capable of 120Hz and over. In doing so, the framework avoids stuttering and renders a smooth UI for your users.

Poor performance is the number one reason users never return to an app. 70% of mobile app users (techjury) will abandon an app if it takes too long to load. A one-second response delay will increase your bounce rate by 7% (Forbes), and nearly 50% of applications (AppsFlyer) are uninstalled after the first month of download.

After a bad mobile experience on one business application, statistics have shown that 40% of users will jump ship in favor of a competitor.

This means that after what would have been a successful customer acquisition process, you would have lost a paying user simply due to poor app performance.

From rapid app loading to buttery smooth frames, Flutter comes in to improve the overall performance of your application, retain customers, and generate higher ROI.

Reason 3: Popularity

All this has helped Flutter rise to the top of app-making popularity, as over two million developers have used Flutter in the last three years. It was created by Google in 2015 and officially launched in 2018. Since then, the Flutter app development has quickly became the toolkit of choice for many developers, surpassing React Native to become the number one mobile app development framework.

Statista's research has shown that since its release, Flutter's usage rate amongst software developers has only increased from 30% in 2019 to 42% in 2021, taking the top spot away from React Native for the first time in 3 years.

At the moment, There are over 500,000 Flutter-based applications on the Play Store alone. With over 11 billion app downloads across operating systems, Flutter applications now constitutes 3.55% of the world's mobile apps and 8.33% of the new apps involved.

The more notable examples include Toyota, BMW, eBay, and Alibaba. Even Broadway-favourite Hamilton has gotten in on the Flutter action.

The next step for Flutter is to aim for the market majority. Given the great success Flutter experienced, one can only assume the tremendous amount of detail and care that Google has taken to develop the framework and address some of Flutter's more problematic issues, such as application size and the lack of third-party resources.

This, of course, will come with time.

Well, that's what we're explaining in this article: it provides cross-platform support, allows the use of a single codebase for Android and iOS applications, and reduces the production time while delivering application performance rivaling that of native mobile apps with even more complex features.

Perhaps a large reason why Flutter is so popular is Google's support. Google poured time, effort, and millions into developing the framework. Their continuous investment is a great sign for Flutter developers as this means that the company is likely to support the SDK for years to come.

It is interesting to point out that many of Flutter's advantages were present in other cross-platform frameworks, namely React Native and Codename One.

In comparison to Codename One, Flutter caters better to beginner developers looking for alternatives to ReactNative, Cordova, and NativeScript. A look into Codename One’s documents tells us that they cater mainly to Java and Kotlin devs. The interlap between these two is minimal as only few people are willing to learn Java or Kotlin since it appears highly technical, monolithic, and verbose to the beginner.

Not to mention the fact that Flutter is a more refined project with detailed documents lying about, then you’ll see why Flutter is the better option for beginners in comparison to Codename oNe.

As for Flutter’s comparison to React Native, Flutter especially shines in its ease of use brought about by Google's persistence for feature parity and cross-functionality. When an iOS or Android system update occurs, a Flutter app will remain the same. React Native, however, is notorious for depending on native elements in iOs and Android. When OS updates occur, problems may quickly appear in the app.

As Flutter relies on its own set of custom widgets to be rendered and managed by the framework’s graphics engine, it doesn’t share the same problem.

What is the business value?

Business logic dictates that whatever continues to increase in popularity should be continuously developed. The same could be said with Flutter.

A business should take solace in knowing that Flutter continues to receive support. It means that Google won't leave the project hanging anytime soon.

In this scenario, Dart and Flutter will play an even more significant role in the native application market and it's going to be very tough for other, now-smaller frameworks to make a compelling argument against the juggernaut that Flutter, the Dart Language, and Google will soon become in computer ecosystems.

Develop a cross-platform app with Flutter

The above points provide insight into Flutter's growing popularity and the businesses’ decision to switch onto this framework. Building an app in Flutter can be smooth, seamless, and cost-effective. Aa Flutter decreases the amount of coding, the overall cost is lower than when building separate native apps, where the code needs to be written twice. Besides the costs, apps built in Flutter perform similarly to native apps.

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Bartłomiej Szypelow

Senior Flutter Developer
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