It has been a long time since Google announced the project ‘sky’ back in the Dart Summit of 2015. Since then, Flutter has been through countless bug fixes and code refinement rituals. Reducing Flutter development time and improving the rendering engine were the major fixes during this period.
Still, Flutter stands strong among other app development toolkits, with one of the top-rated repositories with over 100K stars on GitHub. According to this survey by Statista, it is one of the most favored cross-platform mobile frameworks in 2021.
Now Flutter was already tremendous and polished before its latest release. It worked just fine for building and designing apps on Android, iOS, desktop, i.e., cross-platform. However, it just got better with its latest release on March 3, 2021.
So just like WWDC, Google announced the release of Flutter 2.0 at their Google I/O event, and honestly, it has not disappointed us by any means. Flutter 2.0 is a clear-cut improvement over all the flaws of Flutter 1.0. And as it is with any upgrade, Flutter 2.0 vs. Flutter 1.0 is a hot topic right now.
But what are the key flaws in Flutter 1.0 that led to its second reiteration? And with the latest release, what are the key feature enhancements rolled out with Flutter 2.0?
In today’s episode of ‘Legacy of Flutter’, we will deep dive to explore many exciting insights into Flutter 2.0 and how it’s offering a wide window of new opportunities to software development.
Here’s the list of checkpoints we will touch upon:
Table of Contents
- How Efficient was Flutter 1.0?
- Major Drawbacks of Flutter 1.0
- New Changes in Flutter 2.0
- Flutter 2.0 Specific Improvements in Dart
- Flutter 2.0 vs. Flutter 1.0
- Use Cases with Flutter 2.0
- Our Final Verdict
How Efficient was Flutter 1.0?
Google created Flutter on December 4, 2018, as an open-source UI framework. This software development kit could run on desktops, mobile phones, and many embedded systems. Google eventually incorporated more functionalities on the web as well. However, it only supported iOS and Android apps.
With additional releases and updates, Flutter 1 consisted of:
- Quicker type checks, great speed
- And smaller code size with Dart 2.1
- 2Ds to build vector animations
- Powerful compositing abilities
- A wide array of widgets
- Custom and animated UI of any complexity
- Own rendering engine
What were the Major Drawbacks of Flutter 1.0?
The latest mobile app development trends put great emphasis on usability, performance, appearance, and reliability. As a result, Flutter developers had no choice but to infuse multiple milestones under a single frame with Dart programming language.
Sure, Dart 2.1 comprises of extensive libraries, flexible compilation, concurrency, and is comparatively a lot easier to learn, but developers encountered certain challenges while building an app with Flutter.
Let’s look at the scopes of improvement in Flutter 1.0 that paved the way to the rise of Flutter 2.0.
1. Lack of Third-Party Libraries and Support
Although Flutter is a newcomer in the mobile app development world, developers found it a bit difficult to access free packages and libraries. It didn’t provide an ideal development environment and is constantly improving.
2. Huge File Size
The file sizes of Flutter apps are enormous. Users generally struggle with storage space, and it becomes difficult for them to download or update any app made with Flutter.
3. No iOS-Specific Features
Developing native solutions is not the same with Flutter as it does not provide many iOS-specific elements. Though the Cupertino library clones the Material Design of Android, a lot of features like buttons and text fields are different in Android and iOS.
Enters Flutter 2.0: What are the New Changes?
With the release of Flutter 2, Google has promised a handful of exciting changes making it absolutely ready to go beyond mobile app development. Let’s have a look at some of the broad Flutter 2.0 features that have made a more robust cross-platform app development.
1. Web Support Across Platforms
In its beta version, Flutter 1.0 offered web support. However, it was quite inconvenient for developers to write different codes for different platforms/browsers. Flutter 2.0 provides effective web support for both web and mobile versions. As developers use Dart to build Flutter apps, they can use the same code for different platforms, including IOS, Android, and web on desktop.
Every Flutter developer would agree that this Flutter 2.0 feature solved a significant source of inconvenience that many developers had to face using Flutter 1.0.
2. First-Ever Desktop Support
Though Flutter started as a mobile app designing toolkit for iOS and Android, developers felt the need for desktop support. And well, Flutter 2.0 allows desktop support in its beta version with the latest launch.
You can switch to the beta channel and check it in the beta repository. The code will make it into the main repository after all the errors and glitches have been sorted out. A rushed and unpolished code is the last thing that a developer wants to have on the main repository.
3. Sound Null Safety for Dart
It’s frustrating to constantly have your app crashed because of some data-based errors as null error crashes. However beautiful the design may be, crashing apps get the lowest ratings on Google Play and Apple AppStore.
To address this issue, the new version consists of Sound Null Safety measures in the Dart language. While opting into null safety, there are by-default non-nullable data types in your code; that means, unless and until you clearly declare that they can, the variables can’t consist null. And thankfully, as of now, 93% of the top-500 renowned packages on the pub.dev are already in support of null safety.
4. System Integrated Context Menu
Flutter 1.0 lacked an in-built context menu which led to an undesirable lag while receiving touch input data. Well! Not anymore! The new release has added a built-in context menu and other Flutter 2.0 features like text selection. All in all, these additional features empower users to use a high-precision pointing device.
5. Integration of Google Ads in Your Apps
Advertisements are the primary way of monetizing your apps. Google advertisements are the best choice for developers as they fit right into the entire Google Play Services ecosystem. And now, it’s more than easier to bake Google Ads right into your Flutter apps. Flutter 2.0 provides a Google Mobile Ads SDK for Flutter developers with support for adaptive banner formats.
Moreover, Flutter 2.0 comes with a new payment plugin built in partnership with Google Pay and its team. The in-app purchases plugin has also been revamped along with a suitable matching codelab as well.
These updated Flutter 2.0 features can be used to smooth your apps’ integration and monetization process across all platforms.
6. Memory Allocation Tools
The release has added many new memory management tools to the DevTools that assist the developer in understanding how memory is allocated to the apps. Besides that, they have also added support for third-party tool extensions. Dart has also been updated with memory padding features while dealing with packed structs. This is a remarkable improvement with Flutter 2.0 since memory management is a common issue with mobile apps.
Considering all these improvements, this is the prime time you should migrate your mobile app to Flutter 2.0.
Flutter 2.0 Specific Improvements in Dart
Dart language is used for Flutter development and app building. With the new Flutter 2.0 release, Dart has been updated to support native interoperability, handle arrays, and packed structs in FFI (meaning, when structures are defined, the compiler can add padding to the structs). Type aliases feature or typedef has been added to Dart. This allows one to provide aliases to existing types. Moreover, Dart improves on its readability as well. These changes might be regarded as work in progress, besides the null safety feature.
1. Improvements in iOS Development
Searching for a library in iOS has been simplified in Flutter 2.0. Back in Flutter 1.0, one had to look up all the libraries which was an ordeal. Flutter 2.0 has introduced an iOS search bar that allows a developer to quickly lookup for a particular library. This minor update declutters the Flutter development process and makes it easier for developers to work on quick cold fixes.
Besides these increment facelift features, Flutter 2.0 also adds tools that precompile shades and reduce first-run garbage on iOS apps.
2. Cross-Compatibility and Flexibility
The process of cross-compatibility across platforms is robust with the new Flutter 2.0. Now you can write the same code for both your Android as well as iOS platforms. This may be the most significant improvement over Flutter 1.0 since back then. One had to write different codes for every other platform. As of now, no app framework can reuse the old UI codebase besides Flutter 2.0.
3. Code Reusability
Code reusability adds to the efficiency in Flutter development. However, this is not the only efficiency benefit that you benefit from with Flutter 2.0. Reducing the development time adds to the efficiency of the entire development process, and that is what precisely Flutter 2.0 has brought to the table with the reload feature.
Android app developers are painfully aware that it takes a lot of time to modify and sideload the app in the testing device. Hot reload allows you to skip over this tedious process and view the effects of the new changes in the code on the fly. This is truly a blessing for Android Flutter developers.
Wait! There’s More to Flutter 2.0 Improvements
Flutter has improved way more than we could have imagined! Here are some more added features in Flutter app development you must consider for your next project:
- Add-to-App for creating numerous Flutter instances
- Updated Flutter extension for Visual Code Studio
- Flutter DevTools (from DevTools) to debug Flutter apps
- Multiple packages and plugins performance improvements
- Automated cleaning of deprecated APIs in the codebase by Flutter Fix
- New Flutter plugin features for IntelliJ Family of IDEs
- Upgraded DartPad supporting Flutter 2.0
Areas of Improvements in Numbers:
- Total issues closed – 24,541
- Total PRs merged from 765 contributors – 17,063
Such glaring figures clearly indicate how Flutter is the best choice for startups as well as SMEs and megacorps.
Flutter 2.0 vs. Flutter 1.0: A Step-by-Step Comparison
Now that you have read so far, you might have got an idea of the vast array of differences between these two Flutter versions. And to help you more on this, we’re drawing a clear line by putting each version to one side.
|Point of Feature||Flutter 1||Flutter 2|
|Web Support||Only in beta version||On both web and mobile|
|Sound Null Safety||Major null error crashes, hence low-quality apps||Updated Dart language with sound null safety, hence early detection of errors|
|In-Built Context Menu||Didn’t have an in-built context menu. Developers needed to wait for the lag to manage the touch input||Have an in-built context menu offering multiple features like pivot points, a high precision pointing device, text selection, etc.|
|Add to App||Developers needed to write different codes for different platforms||Developers can reuse the same code for different platforms|
|Desktop Support||Didn’t have desktop support||Developers can switch to the beta channel and access the desktop support|
|Autocomplete and ScaffoldMessenger Widgets||Couldn’t load ads efficiently||It has an effective Ads SDK. Developers can use this plugin and build apps with new formats|
|iOS Search Bar UI||Unsupportive libraries on iOS. Developers had to go through a complicated process to search one||With increasing feedback, Google incorporated iOS Search Bar UI in Flutter 2.0|
Moreover, Google has recently introduced Flutter 2.5, promising a new horizon of advanced features. Needless to say, it’s only getting better!
Arising Partners/Use Cases with Flutter 2.0
Toyota and Flutter
Toyota will be using Flutter to empower the infotainment systems of its next-gen vehicles. Such a notable announcement has brought immense credibility to Flutter development. It will also form a greater and larger community to discuss solutions in the latest technologies.
Ubuntu and Flutter
During the Flutter 2.0 release announcement, it all came to us as a great surprise that Canonical, the creator of Ubuntu, has been a prominent contributor to Flutter. That means Flutter will be the default framework for future Ubuntu apps. They also converted the Ubuntu installer into Flutter.
Microsoft and Flutter
Microsoft has been a constant partner of Flutter. It decided to extend its high-end Windows support and contribute foldable Android devices. The apps will provide new design patterns to these devices to expand and design content properly.
Apart from such ground-breaking collaborations, here are some renowned companies using Flutter:
- Yandex Go
And most importantly, Google itself.
Our Final Verdict
The Flutter app development has been showing a bright future right from its inception to being driven by Google and partnering with Samsung, Toyota, and so on. Flutter 2.0, along with the updated Dart 2.13, seems promising with the potential to dominate the cross-platform development business. Moreover, with the desktop support contributions from Canonical, its feature-rich set of tools is bound to get better and more polished with future releases.
As a matter of fact, there are more than 150,00 Flutter apps in the Play Store. So, it goes without saying that you must leverage all these features and improvements to provide a great experience to users and showcase your brand in style.
Do you need to focus on captivating customers through intuitive apps? Hire dedicated Flutter app developers from Radixweb who would be happy to discuss your vision and make a trailblazing app out of it. Tell me, what’s holding you back from leveling up your business with Flutter 2.0?