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Software Development

Cross-Platform Application Development: Flutter vs React Native

Joe Mitchell
Chief Marketing Officer

There are many ways you can approach software development, and there are even more tools to help you build the product of your dreams. All of them have their own benefits but also shortcomings. In this article, we will look at Flutter and React Native – two cross-platform frameworks, and try to identify which one of them would work best in your scenario. 

What is cross-platform development 

Cross-platform development is an approach to software development that utilises frameworks, programming languages, and other tools that allow the creation of solutions for multiple platforms at a time. For example, if you have an app that needs to go live on Android and iOS, you can choose to write just one code that will be applicable to both. 

Cross-platform vs native development 

Each approach has its fans and its haters. There are benefits to native app development, such as the ability to incorporate all unique features of the platform and maximise user experience. At the same time though, native development is complex, taking much longer and costing more too.. Essentially, each platform (such as Android) needs its own project team that will be building the solution. So if you have three platforms that your app will be running on, it will cost you three times as much to build this app with native development than it would with a cross-platform approach.

If that doesn’t put you off, think of all the cross-team coordination you’ll have to endure to align the features, the design, and other little tweaks. Your clients need to have similar experiences across all their devices, and arranging that can be as challenging as creating the solution. Also, there are many more steps with QA testing, bug fixes, future updates, and regular maintenance when you’re going the native route. 

When you look at all of the challenges that come with native development, it becomes apparent that unless you can guarantee a killer difference in performance, it makes much more sense to go with cross-platform development. 

Benefits of Flutter 

The Flutter framework was developed by Google a few years ago and has rapidly grown in popularity. Part of its success can be attributed to being created by a tech giant, but mostly it became a techie’s favourite thanks to its optimised approach to software development. Flutter lets you use the same codebase across platforms, reducing the time it takes to build multiple apps. Flutter utilised the Dart programming language which is flexible and modern and empowers developers to create a near-native experience for the app’s end users. 

The key benefits of Flutter are:

  1. High performance 
  2. Customisability
  3. Cross-platform support 
  4. Hot reload and restart features 
  5. Consistent UI across platforms 
  6. Downsides of Flutter 

Flutter is a very good software development framework, but it’s not ideal. Firstly, it’s relatively young, so there are not so many resources available, just like the size of the community and the ecosystem around it are relatively small too. Some developers also report that it’s not doing well with larger apps. 

Benefits of React Native 

React Native was created by another tech giant – Facebook. Just like its predecessor React, React Native helps you build apps that consist of several reusable components, similar to Flutter. It also creates a seemingly native feel for app users. The framework uses JavaScript, so its performance can be slowed down. 

The key benefits of React Native are:

  1. Cross-platform support 
  2. Mature and vast community 
  3. Hot reload and restart features 
  4. Reusable code 
  5. Leveraging of native APIs
  6. Downsides of React Native

As we’ve mentioned earlier, apps built on React Native can suffer from performance issues. Additionally, the framework doesn’t have official support for desktop apps which is an issue for critical apps. 

Flutter vs Native React: what is better for your product development

Picking the best framework is a tricky task. Both are capable of creating enterprise apps and their creators, Google and Facebook, utilise them heavily for internal software development. 

Both have their pros and cons. For example, although Native React uses JavaScript which is much older than Dart, and you would expect it to perform better across all boards, it’s actually not doing so well when it comes to complex apps. In turn, Flutter is excelling and is reaching top performance. 

If you’re choosing a cross-platform framework for your software development, it’s best to look at your current situation and specific needs. Analyse the projected growth for the app, brainstorm functionality you might need down the line, and assess what specialists you’ll be able to hire for the project. All these factors should be considered when making a final decision. Both technologies are good, but which one of them is the best one will depend on your individual case. If you have the time, test both and see which one is more suitable and feels better. 

If you’re not sure what to pick, reach out to the Emphasoft team. We work with both Flutter and React Native, and we’ll be happy to offer advice, consultancy, and even help you out with hiring for the project. 

Read next: 
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Microservices Architecture for Startups
7 Types of Software Development


Scale faster with quality tech expertise

If you’re not sure what to pick, reach out to the Emphasoft team. We work with both Flutter and React Native, and we’ll be happy to offer advice, consultancy, and even help you out with hiring for the project. 

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