With mobile apps being used widely for everything from shopping to bill payments and even banking and healthcare, there’s a huge demand for convenience and service without interruption. Users expect their apps to continue performing smoothly regardless of type of device or platform. Businesses too want to increase their digital user base and reach out to as many customers as possible and offer them easy to use apps that work on any type of phone or OS without impacting performance.
As the need for mobile apps increases, app developers are looking for better ways to build high-performance and attractive apps faster. They also want to be able to create cross-platform apps that work as smoothly as native apps thus offering a much better user experience. While there are other languages available, the two most popular with developers for cross-platform mobile app development are Flutter and React Native. So now the question is, which one is better and gives better results? The answer is not easy as both Flutter and React Native have their own pros and cons, and each language has their own set of loyal developers. Let’s explore both the app development languages and evaluate which one is better, or if we even have a clear winner.
Flutter is a relatively newer framework while React Native has been here for many years. Both React Native and Flutter are cross-platform frameworks, with Flutter being a Google product and React Native emerging from a Facebook hackathon. Cross-platform frameworks help developers because there’s no need to maintain two teams and two versions for the same set of apps.
Flutter, released initially by Google in 2017, is still a sort of a mystery to the larger developer community, which has been using React Native and other frameworks for years. A more stable and developer- ready version was released in December 2018.
A new framework on the cross-platform development block, Google released Flutter in May 2017 and is promoting this as the best framework. It issued a stable version on December 04, 2018. Flutter is one of the latest cross-platform frameworks and uses the Dart language, which is also a product of Google and is used for several of Google’s key projects. Developers can use Flutter to create native apps for both IOS and Android platforms pretty quickly and easily because Flutter uses a single code base to build apps and interfaces.
Flutter is an open-source framework that is available freely. It comes equipped with several widgets that allow developers to create visually engaging apps. Developers can create a variety of UI. The best part is that Flutter uses reactive programming which helps in giving users a better UX and reacts to requests faster and smoother, especially in scenarios where there are multiple commands being generated. Flutter is compiled more directly than other native codes and can gain access to APIs and the services of the mobile platform.
The Ups and Downs of Flutter
- Developers can easily view any changes made in the code directly in the app due to the hot reload feature
- This allows developers to write and/or correct the code faster thus shortening the development time of an app
- With Flutter, you can use the same code for both iOS and Android platforms
- Flutter has its own widgets and is not dependent on the platform
- Developers need to write the automatic tests only once as there is only one code base.
- The reactive programming feature of Flutter gives users a smooth app experience and eliminates and lag or loading delay in the app
- Flutter offers developers several design options and widgets to create attractive apps
- Developers can also offer the same UI on all versions of a mobile platform, including older versions of the OS
Easier, Faster Development
- Flutter is a great choice if developers want to build an MVP
- Flutter, as of now, doesn’t have fully developed libraries because the developer community is still small
- Platforms like Travis or Jenkins don’t support Flutter which means developers will have to use custom scripts for automatic building, testing, and launching
Knowing React Native
React Native was created by Facebook based on their React library, and after its launch to the developer community in 2015, it rapidly became the cross-platform development framework of choice.
React Native uses a virtual DOM to work with the UI components of the mobile platform, and does not have numerous widgets like Flutter. But these UI components are adaptive and allow developers to easily render an output suitable for Android or iOS. React Native is also easy to install and is integrated with Expo which means developers can just scan a QR code and run the codes on a phone without having to connect it to a system.
When it comes to performance, Flutter definitely has an edge over React Native simply because the latter consists of multiple languages and native equivalents for UI, which slows it down in comparison to Flutter.
Ups and Downs of React Native
- You can get better performance with React Native by using native control and modules
- It connects to native components of Android as well as iOS and develops codes for native APIs, while using separate threads from UI
- Developers can reuse React Native code for different platforms and save time because these codes are easy to adapt to different environments
- React Native also offers open-source libraries containing pre-developed components
Strength in Numbers
- The React Native developers community is large and highly skilled giving developers the freedom to ask for help and also a chance to contribute to the community
- Being a product of Facebook developers can even use social media to reach out
- Like Flutter, React Native also has a live or hot reloading feature allowing developers to see the impact of any code change in real-time on the application while it’s running
- React Native apps are more stable and reliable because of simplified data binding and lets developers update only specific components
Still an Immature Framework
- Frequent updates require developers to make a lot of changes to incorporate any updates which means having to write extra code
Hard to Learn
- React Native is an open-source framework hence not very secure. Developers have to provide an extra layer of security, especially for financial and banking apps
Similarities Between Flutter and React Native
- Both are cross-platform frameworks
- Both frameworks have an active developer community
- They are open-source frameworks i.e. they are free
- They both have native functionalities, which means faster and easier app development
- Both give users an excellent experience with React Native using UI components and Flutter using widgets
- Both the frameworks support hot reloading
Now for The Differences
- Flutter uses Dart (also developed by Google), which is easy for developers well-versed in Java and C++
- React Native supports an excellent experience through direct communication with the native platforms, while Flutter uses widgets
- React Native allows the use of third-party libraries and readymade components thus reducing the development time
- Flutter uses high-performance widgets to shorten development time
- React Native is a bit slower and heavy due to its architecture
IDE and Coding
- Flutter is a new framework, and requires developers to learn Dart. It is also supported by fewer IDEs