Are you looking for the best cross-platform solutions on the market for 2023? Native technologies are like dinosaurs – nobody wants to burn a budget and develop in old, unfriendly languages. But these days, it’s much easier to decide which cross-platform solution is right for you. Flutter and React Native are two of the most popular platforms, so let’s dive into what makes each unique and learn more about why Flutter and React Native are the best options for your budget and development needs.
What is cross-platform?
A cross-platform solution is a way of using one base code for different platforms. But if we have an application that runs on one system, can it also work on another? Well, that depends. Mobile applications were initially coded in native languages such as Swift or Objective C for iOS and Kotlin or Java for iOS. These languages have different tools for creating user interfaces, such as refreshing the app. Developing apps in native languages is completely fine – not only are they fast, but you’ll have access to any hardware, everything works properly, and you can use 100% full power of the device. But what about cross-platform development – is it effective?
Why use cross-platform if we have unlimited possibilities for natives?
There are many cross-platform solutions, so why do we focus on React Native and Flutter? The graph below illustrates the number of open threads on StackOverflow in these languages. It’s clear that both Flutter and React Native have seen an upturn in popularity in the last few years, with Flutter taking the lead as the most popular technology on this portal.
When clients come to me with questions about creating apps for Android and iOS, I always explain the great benefits of using Flutter! Not only is it around 40% cheaper than other native development methods, but it also offers faster development with equal effectiveness. Here at Codigee, we’re a young, passionate team that loves working with Flutter and is committed to achieving the seemingly impossible.
Are you looking for guaranteed long-term success for your organization? Native technologies are the way to go! But what about Flutter? After all, it is a Google product. Have you heard of Google Cemetery? It’s where you can find all the products killed by Google, but we think it’s a highly unlikely destination for Flutter.
One of the long-term goals of Google is Fuchsia, a „modern open-source operating system that’s simple, secure, updatable, and performant”. Using Fuschia, Google wants to create a new OS for every device, desktop, mobile, headphones and more. Besides Fuchsia, Google also owns Android, used in big Polish banks like Millenium Bank and Credit Agricole, who are highly satisfied with their apps created with Flutter.
Let’s take a closer look at the chart above. You’ll notice a significant decline in native app popularity when Flutter and React Native was released. It’s only a matter of time before cross-platform solutions like Flutter eclipse natives. They’re superior in every way – cheaper, faster, and more developer-friendly. What more could you want?
Find more about Fuchsia here.
Flutter is the better choice, even for a one-platform app
If you plan to implement complex custom solutions, like USB-terminal cameras or GPSs, on a single platform (e.g. Android), native code is your best bet. In Flutter, we can create the so-called „native bridges” that provide us with every API hardware we want to use, making it easier to develop apps faster, simpler, and more effectively. You can create functions for both Android and iOS, and it’s much easier than React Native. Plus, if you ever want to create an app for another platform in the future, Flutter makes that much easier too. Long term, Flutter is much easier to maintain than native apps, so even if you’re focusing on one platform, you’ll ultimately save time and money by sticking with Flutter.
Just one code for both platforms?
In this article, I explored both Flutter and React Native. Flutter uses Dart as the language for programming apps, while both platforms use the Canvas engine to display every widget and function. Furthermore, Flutter is connected to native apps for iOS and Android via a bridge, making it easy to use native hardware from Flutter. As a tip, if you’re using Flutter apps, a double splash screen can appear. To hide it, simply run the native splash screen as a full-color background, with the Flutter animation running on top to leave you with a beautiful splash screen you can be happy with. Lastly, Flutter’s Canvas Engine guarantees excellent performance and a smooth UI. The UI will always be the same regardless of the operating system version due to Flutter’s UI sets. Customizing the UI differently for each platform is possible – it just depends on us!
Both are much easier to maintain than full-native apps, provided we build MVP with better performance faster. We have one code for any platform for mobiles, desktops, and the web. You can read more about this topic in future articles.
You can also read how to launch a Mobile app product MVP in another article in Codigee’s blog here.
Are cross-platforms two times less costly?
It’s a common misconception that we have to use different hardware features for each platform, which would lead to double the costs. However, we can often write a simple user interface and sort out the application logic and server communication, which is typically the same for all platforms resulting in half the cost.
To sum up, the cost depends on the application. In most cases, it’s as much as 40% cheaper. Plus, if you need to use a lot of hardware and implement UI separately for each platform, you don’t need to hire different developers, making it a win-win!
Why is Flutter and React Native development faster than native development?
1. Hot Reload / Fast Refresh
Flutter and React Native have some perfect tools, including Hot Reload (In RN – Fast Refresh). Developers have to constantly test their work to build applications from scratch, which can be very time-consuming. Luckily, with Hot Reload, developers can see the effects of their development immediately, saving a huge amount of time that can be used to develop new features and refactoring codes.
2. Up to 50% less testing of UI parts.
Apart from hardware features, we have to test UI and Logic on a single platform. Testing hardware such as a camera should always be done independently to save time with quality assurance.
3. Scalable, fast and modern MVP
At Codigee, we can develop the first working prototype in just 2 weeks. MVP takes up to 2 months, depending on the complexity. Cross-platform solutions are perfect for MVPs; you can create it quickly for two platforms instead of burning through your budget by developing it separately for each. It’s a better choice to develop more features with cross-platform and save money for marketing.
Do they have any cons? Yes, the size is a little bit bigger; the size has increased by ~50MB. But is that really a lot these days?
Comparison: Flutter vs React Native in 2023
|What is it?||A Canvas Engine (UI toolkit) to build native apps for mobile, web, and desktop from one codebase||A frame for building native apps with React.js|
|Official release||December 2018, Google I/O||March 2015, F8 Conference|
|Stars on Github|
150k in February 2023
108k in February 2023
|UI difference||Flutter doesn’t depend on the OS version, because it has its own “UI toolkit”. To save time, we can use one of the Flutter widgets, or we can use both Cupertino and Materials to achieve a native effect. We can adjust the UI to iOS Cupertino (imitating Apple’s iOS design), or Android Materials (Android Material design), but often the client doesn’t need it. It’s much faster than aligning one UI for two platforms. Also, we don’t need to worry about maintenance because with all OS versions Flutter will render the same UI. This means that the Flutter app will look pretty much the same as Android/iOS if you want to, without problems depending on OS version (updates, etc.).||React Native uses native components, so if they change with the OS version, then the mobile operating system will update your UI too. It is a little bit more complicated to maintain than Flutter.|
|Time-to-market||Flutter depends on its widgets (UI toolkit) so it’s much faster than native development, and React Native, and is easier to maintain.||Depends on native components, which is why it requires separate adjustment/optimization for each platform. This takes more time than Flutter.|
Flutter vs ReactNative
|– Younger, more friendly, and adapted to new developer design patterns|
– Really good optimization
A fast-growing community, and popularity (still increasing)
– Flutter is relatively easy to start, has great documentation and support
– Easier to maintain
– Native bridges work perfectly fine (we use any hardware that we want very easily)
In fact, Flutter is well on its way to becoming the second most popular open-source project on all of GitHub this year, second only to VS Code. Stay ahead of the game and start exploring Flutter today. BTW. We have used VS Code to develop Apps in Flutter 🙂.
As a developer and co-founder of Codigee, I have worked with plenty of start-up CEOs, and none of them has ever regretted choosing Flutter. We’ve developed many applications here at Codigee for live-streaming videos, e-commerce, and Bluetooth connection for external devices. Each of our apps has been incredibly successful, so much so that we’ve even built an entire banking app from scratch and now support two out of the five biggest banks in Poland! All in all, I am confident that Flutter is the future and that it’s only a matter of time before it becomes bigger, more popular, and surpasses native languages.