Cross platform app development tools are both rare and amazing. They make so much sense that after working on them, the other platform specific tools look almost silly to developers. Meta was the first giant company to recognize the importance of having a common code base and to have native app development.
Although Google joined the party later, just two years after React Native’s release, Android’s parent company launched their own version of cross platform mobile app developing tool called Flutter.
Apart from being rivals, what’s common between both platforms is that they are both open source. Programming languages and app or website building tools have to be open source for mass adoption. While both frameworks use different programming languages, the core purpose remains the same which is to have cross platform development of apps catered to different platforms.
What is Cross Platform Development?
Cross platform development essentially means developing apps that work on multiple operating systems. This is a very complex task that only a few frameworks and tools have managed to complete. This helps developers in maintaining uniformity across platforms.
The way it happens is that platforms like React Native, Flutter and Appcelerator keep the fundamental aspects of coding like view, text and image common between the platforms. The UI elements of apps on either platform respond to the calls made through these common codes. This way the same code base can facilitate apps on two different platforms.
React Native VS Flutter in 2023
Despite serving the same purpose, both Flutter and React Native are very different in the way they approach mobile app development. They belong to different lineages of technologies. Let us take a look at what the two tools are all about.
Flutter – Introduction
It has features like automated testing, developer tooling and all the other essentials that developers need to build top quality apps. It has unparalleled support from a giant tech company like Google and a user base of Android which makes it a popular product by default. Some of Flutter’s prestigious testimonies include Toyota, ebay, GroupOn, AliBaba etc.
React Native – Introduction
React comes from Meta, another technology giant. React uses the same native platform UI. The native platform APIs are shared between apps across different platforms.
Apart from Meta’s own group of apps, React Native powers some popular apps like Microsoft, Skype, Playstation, Pinterest, Tesla, etc. It has a wealth of resources and user analytics from Meta at its disposal which acts as a massive advantage over Flutter or any other similar technology.
Flutter uses a programming language called Dart which is again developed by Google. It is not really a popular programming language and apart from projects on Flutter, developers are not too keen on using it anywhere else. It is also difficult to find solutions for any coding related issues from anywhere other than Flutter’s own support and community.
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User interface plays a big part in gaining or losing popularity for a tool. A great utilitarian tool can go unnoticed because of having poor user interface while tools with limited functionality can become instantly popular because of fluid user experience.
Flutter uses a set of proprietary components which are built-in with the platform itself. These UI components are interactive widgets that are visually intuitive and structurally very interactive. These widgets perform all the modern day animations, transitions and motions that modern apps demand. There is a whole library of widgets that you can discover on its official website.
React Native on the other hand uses components that are based on Android and iOS. The purpose is to help developers stay closer to the native design languages of both Android and iOS. It also offers a range of external UI kits that help developers come up with intuitive apps that offer great native user experience for both Android and iOS.
Flutter uses its own programming language and does not use an intermediary layer to interact with the native components to initiate interactions. Because of this, the speed of response from the device components is quite fast.
Flutter uses fewer resources from external sources. The default documentation is in a format that is easy to comprehend and it is better streamlined than that of many of its peers.
React Native is however very much dependent on external dev kits from other sources. However there are some really powerful tools available as resources on the internet.
Flutter comes from Google and hence has a greater popularity. Google among its technological products has the whole ecosystem going for them. The applications developed from Flutter have a user base of Android that becomes a default beneficiary. Flutter however is the newer one between the two.
React Native comes from Meta which is also a huge outlet but has no prior experience of developing programming languages, mobile operating systems or even frameworks to develop them. Because of having the first mover’s advantage in the world of cross platform app development, React has gained a lot of popularity over the last few years.
Flutter being the newer one among the two it evidently has a smaller developer community. Google does everything in its capacity to facilitate developers through its range of annual events and continuous online support.
React Native being the older one and being one of the first few big cross platform app development frameworks has a bigger community. This keeps growing as more developers result in more products and vice versa.
Jobs & Future
Being a newer platform works adversely for Flutter in this case. It becomes difficult to convince developers to migrate from one technology to the other. Because of that, the share of developers that Flutter has is relatively lower compared to React Native.
React Native has a bigger user base which it established very quickly after its launch in 2015. Developers offering React Native app development service tend to have great loyalty towards a platform that helps them build their careers. Because of that React Native has managed to not only maintain but also increase a share in the user base.
Heads on, there is not much that can separate the two amazing platforms. With two absolutely giant companies backing these platforms, the future looks very bright for both of them. What also looks very likely is the fierce nature of race that is going to take place between the two platforms and its users.
Flutter is more than making up for the lost time. With its branding, unparalleled support from Google, and existing set of developers, it is growing faster than anyone would imagine.
The Flutter plugin for Android Studio offers code help that makes the whole process of programming the application a lot easier. These are only a few of the many perks of having a Google product on your computer.
This makes the decisions for developers rather easy. For instance, if developers have been working on other platforms to develop apps, it is easy for them to migrate to React Native since most other mobile app development tools use the same programming language.
Being based on Dart, it becomes difficult for Flutter to have the same migration as developers would have to learn the programming language from scratch to make the switch. The race is on and it is very likely that with Google’s support and Android’s user base, Flutter is going to generate some serious numbers. But as things stand, it is React Native that seems to be a clear winner on all fronts.