Category: Blog, Business, Development, Flutter

What is Flutter and How Can It Benefit Your Business?

Wondering what is Flutter and could you use this cross-platform framework to create your next app? In this blog post we dive deep into the specs and features Flutter brings to the table and determine which businesses it will suit the most.

What is Flutter App Development

So, you want to build a mobile app. Perhaps, you’ve even settled for cross-platform development over natively compiled applications – great call! You may even lean towards React Native as it seems to be the best for your users. And yet everyone on the internet seems to be pushing Flutter apps these days.

Well, in a penny-wise market, businesses need quality without excessive cost. Flutter app development delivers. With one codebase for Android, iOS, and web, it saves on multiple platform costs. And if native apps are draining your wallet? Switching to Flutter can cut those maintenance bills.

In this article, you will find out:

  • What is Flutter and how does it work? – From the basics to the nitty-gritty
  • How can Flutter improve cross-platform app development?
  • Which companies can benefit most from choosing Flutter?

Flutter vs. React Native

In all fairness – both Flutter and React Native are solid cross-platform frameworks for front-end development. Both are great for mobile applications. Both will give you access to iOS and Android apps. Both offer solid app performance and modern solutions.

Yet, each has its own benefits to bring to the table. In this article, we’re going to focus on Flutter apps, but if you want to learn more about React Native and other frameworks, some of these posts might come in handy:

And now, it’s about time we’ve clarified once and for all: what is Flutter and if it’s the right choice for your business and tech needs.

What is Flutter?

Flutter is an open-source UI (user interface) framework developed by Google for building natively compiled mobile, web, and desktop applications from a single codebase. It allows you to create beautiful and highly performant digital products with rich customizable widgets. 

If you want some background, here are some key facts about Flutter:

  • Flutter originated from Google and serves as the foundational technology for many of Google’s renowned products, such as Google Pay and Google Earth. 
  • Flutter was officially launched as an open-source project in May 2017, making it accessible to a broader community of developers. In December 2018, Flutter reached its first stable release.
  • The framework initially targeted mobile platforms, particularly iOS and Android devices. It was created as an alternative to existing cross-platform development frameworks. Eventually, Flutter became more popular than its major competitor, React Native.
  • As Flutter continues to gain popularity, its ecosystem flourishes. The abundance of packages, libraries, and tools continues to expand, providing developers with a rich pool of resources. This allows for faster app development by leveraging existing solutions.
  • Flutter fosters a vibrant and collaborative community where developers can freely share knowledge, contributing to its continuous growth and enhancement.
  • At Google I/O 2024, Google announced Flutter 3.22 and Dart 3.4 with some exciting updates. Enhanced performance for web apps through WebAssembly support, improved graphics with theImpeller rendering engine Android release, Google AI integrations, and updated monetization options via the new version of Google Mobile Ads SDK. Plus, developers get new experimental programming language features like macros and advanced profiling and debugging capabilities in DevTools that now support extensions, allowing developers to customize their development experience. For more information, check out the Flutter 3.22 umbrella blog post and the Flutter 3.22 technical blog post.
facts about what is Flutter

How does Flutter work?

Now is probably the right time to say that Flutter is not a programming language. Instead, it’s a platform agnostic SDK (software development kit) for cross-platform app development. It’s also often referred to as the Flutter framework.

What is an SDK?

An SDK is like a ready-made kit for building apps. It’s one package you install, and it has all the tools you need, like a tool for turning code into an app, finding mistakes, and sometimes even a set of pre-made parts. It’s made to work with specific devices and systems. Developers use SDKs to add app features like ads and notifications easily.

Flutter Software Development Kit SDK

What are the architectural layers in Flutter SDK?

Flutter SDK is fully-fledged, providing a complete toolset for building apps. It has its own rendering engine for graphics, pre-built pieces called widgets to drop into your app, and tools for testing how everything works together. Let’s dive into its main parts and how they all work. 

  • Embedder

The embedder layer utilizes a platform-specific language (such as Kotlin or Swift) to enable Flutter apps to run seamlessly on various operating systems. It acts as a bridge between the native code of the target platform, and the Flutter engine, ensuring compatibility and smooth execution.

  • Engine

Flutter’s heart is the Flutter engine, which is mainly written in C++. It’s like the backstage crew of a theater, handling all the groundwork for every Flutter app. Every time something changes, it draws all the visual elements of your app on the screen. It’s also the powerhouse that runs all of Flutter’s basic features, like creating graphics, arranging text, managing files and network activity, supporting accessibility, allowing add-ons, and running compiled Dart code – the language Flutter apps are written in.

  • Framework

Within Flutter, the term “framework” usually refers to the collection of tools, libraries, and functionalities that Flutter provides to developers. This includes things like #widgets, which are the pre-made elements you can use and combine to build your app. It’s within this layer that the magic of reactive programming paradigm happens, meaning  yourr app can easily update in response to changes, such as a chat message appearing.

Further enriching the framework are the Material and Cupertino widget libraries. Think of them as themed toolkits: Material caters to Google-style designs, while Cupertino is tailored to Apple-inspired aesthetics. They enable the utilization of the basic components from the widget layer to craft an application that seamlessly blends into the Android or iOS environment.

In essence, the Flutter framework is engineered to streamline the process of crafting user interfaces that dynamically respond to events, such as user interactions, and maintain a uniform appearance across various platforms.

Below is an overview of Flutter’s architectural overview illustrated in the graphics. You can see how Flutter is built in general and how its design relates to your application.

Flutter architectural overview

What programming language does Flutter use?

Flutter apps are written in the Dart language and extensively leverage its capabilities. 

Dart programming language explained

Dart is a simple yet powerful language similar to Java or C++, making it a familiar territory for Java programmers. It’s statically typed and soundly null-safe, making the code less prone to bugs. Because of its unique transpilation capability, Dart doesn’t need an extra translation layer (like a bridge) to talk to the device, unlike some other frameworks (such as React Native). 

It is a vital ingredient that gives Flutter its unique flavor. Let’s see how.

  • Dart supports both Ahead-of-Time (AOT) and Just-in-Time (JIT) compilation methods. In simpler terms, it can either prepare the code in advance (AOT), which makes programs load quicker, or it can prepare the code as it runs (JIT), allowing the widely praised by developers hot-reload feature. Flutter cleverly uses JIT during the app development for faster testing and prototyping  and switches to AOT when the app is ready to launch for the best performance.
  • Dart does not require XML files. Unlike Android development, where layout (appearance) and code are separated into XML and Java or Kotlin code, respectively. When it comes to Flutter, the layout is created using the widgets in the Dart.
  • Dart can talk directly to the device it runs on without the need for an intermediate bridge. Some other tools, like React Native, use a ‘bridge’ to connect the JavaScript code  with the device’s own widgets. These bridges usually slow things down and make debugging trickier. Dart’s direct approach makes Flutter faster and more efficient than some of its rivals.

What are Flutter widgets?

In Flutter, widgets are the fundamental building blocks and the primary means of constructing user interfaces. Widgets define the application’s appearance, factoring in their current state and configuration.

Everything in Flutter, from simple buttons and text fields to complex layouts and animations, is represented as a widget. Naturally, there are numerous widgets to choose from. We can categorize them into 14 groups, each serving distinct roles within a Flutter application.

  1. Accessibility Widgets: for enhancing the app’s accessibility, making it more user-friendly.
  1. Animation and Motion Widgets: for bringing dynamic elements to the app by incorporating animations into other widgets.
  1. Assets, Images, and Icons Widgets: for managing visual assets such as images and icons.
  1. Async Widgets: for enabling async operations within the Flutter application.
  1. Basic Widgets:  fundamental widgets necessary for any Flutter application development.
  1. Cupertino Widgets: iOS style widgets.
  1. Input Widgets: for handling user input in the Flutter application.
  1. Interaction Models Widgets: for managing touch events and navigation between different views in the app.
  1. Layout Widgets: for assisting in arranging other widgets on the screen as needed.
  1. Material Components Widgets: these primarily adhere to Google’s material design guidelines.
  1. Painting and Effects Widgets: for applying visual modifications to their children without altering their layout or shape.
  1. Scrolling Widgets: providing scrolling functionality to other non-scrollable widgets by default.
  1. Styling Widgets: managing the app’s theme, responsiveness, and sizing.
  1. Text Widgets: displaying text.
Flutter widgets groups

Apart from categories, we can divide widgets into two main types:

StatelessWidget: An immutable widget that does not change its internal state once created. It represents UI components that don’t require any dynamic updates. These stateless widgets are typically used for static elements, such as text labels, buttons, icons, or images. StatelessWidget widgets are defined by implementing the widget’s build method, which returns a widget tree representing the UI component’s structure.

StatefulWidget: A mutable widget that can change its internal state over time. It represents UI components that require dynamic updates or handle user interactions. StatefulWidget widgets consist of two classes: the widget class itself, which is immutable, and a corresponding state class that holds the mutable state. The state class is responsible for updating the widget in response to changes. The build method of the StatefulWidget is called whenever the widget needs to be rebuilt due to a state change.

stateless widgets and stateful widgets

How do Flutter widgets help in mobile app development?

Flutter provides a rich collection of pre-built widgets that cover a wide range of UI components, layouts, animations, gestures, and more. These highly customizable widgets allow developers to adjust their properties and styles to achieve the desired look and behavior.

Additionally, Flutter enables developers to create custom widgets by combining existing widgets or by subclassing StatelessWidget or StatefulWidget to suit specific UI requirements.

The widget-based architecture of Flutter contributes to its flexibility, reusability, and ease of building complex user interfaces. It allows developers to create visually appealing and interactive applications by composing and arranging widgets to form a coherent and cohesive user experience.

Do you want to go beyond widgets? You can also read about Practical Fragment Shaders in Flutter.

How well is Flutter supported?

Flutter benefits from a robust support ecosystem consisting of the active Flutter community, Google’s ongoing commitment, comprehensive documentation, frequent updates (typically one major version release per quarter), third-party packages, developer tools, and community events. This ecosystem empowers developers with the necessary resources and assistance to thrive in their mobile app development projects.

Community Support: Flutter has a large community of developers who are ready to assist each other. The community regularly uses sites like Stack Overflow, GitHub, and others to discuss, ask questions and share resolutions for various problems. The Flutter community also contributes to the Flutter plugin ecosystem, creating and maintaining packages that extend Flutter’s capabilities.

Flutter GitHub Repository: Google developers and the community are actively maintaining Flutter. The GitHub repository allows developers to submit issues, contribute to the project, and see upcoming features and changes. Google’s commitment to the project is clear from the frequent updates and fixes provided.

Google’s Involvement: The company actively supports Flutter’s development and maintenance, utilizing it in their own applications like Google Pay and Google Earth. They regularly update Flutter with new features, improvements, bug fixes, and enhancements, ensuring its quality and empowering developers.

Official Documentation: Google provides comprehensive documentation, which includes many samples, example codes, videos, and detailed API docs. These resources help developers understand the framework.

Events and Meetups: Google and Flutter communities organize events and meetups worldwide, like Flutter Engage, to discuss Flutter’s updates, the roadmap and to engage with the developer community.

Training and Tutorials: Besides official documentation, there are many training courses, tutorials, and articles available online. Websites like YouTube, Udemy, Coursera, and many others provide detailed Flutter courses that can benefit beginners and advanced Flutter developers.

Packages and DevTools: Flutter thrives on community-contributed packages, enhancing its stable support functionalities for networking, databases, and more. pub.dev hosts a wide collection of packages for easy integration. Flutter DevTools provide debugging, profiling, and performance analysis features, optimizing app development with insights on UI rendering, widget trees, network requests, and memory usage. The DevTools support extensions, allowing developers to customize their tools to suit the needs of any project.

Flutter stable support system

What businesses should use Flutter?

Flutter provides an array of benefits that, in our experience, make it a versatile tool for any business. Regardless of your company’s size, industry, or stage of maturity, what truly matters is the vision for your application. Here, you can find a selection of top-notch applications developed using Flutter, showcasing a rich diversity of products. As you’ll notice, the potential for creating with Flutter is expansive and tailored to suit unique business needs.

Here is what Flutter will help you achieve:

  • Slash your development expenses
  • One code, many platforms (Android, iOS, web, desktop, embedded)
  • Reach more with a leaner team
  • Say goodbye to high maintenance bills

Certainly, there are situations where Flutter may not be the perfect fit. For instance, if your business primarily serves a customer base that strongly favors a particular operating system, it could be more cost-effective and quicker to develop a native mobile application instead.

Moreover, Flutter may not be the most optimal choice for solutions that significantly depend on unique platform functionalities. The more platform-specific functions that need individual development, the less advantageous Flutter might become.

What is Flutter used for?

Flutter’s primary use is to develop apps that work cross-platform (on iOS and Android and o). However, you can use Flutter to also create apps for other platforms, such as the web, desktop, and embedded devices. Flutter allows developers to write a single codebase that can be deployed to multiple platforms, reducing development time and effort. It provides a rich set of UI components, excellent performance, and a hot-reload feature for fast iteration and development.

Flutter can also be a good solution during the development of: 

  • Cross-platform mobile apps
  • Single-page or multi-page web apps
  • Desktop apps 
  • Progressive web apps (PWAs)
  • 2D games
  • Prototypes and MVP 
  • IoT and embedded systems
What's Flutter for? How can you use Flutter?

Why should you consider Flutter for app development?

Flutter application development revolutionizes the application development process by providing a robust SDK (Software Development Kit) and comprehensive tools that deliver a wide range of benefits.

Single codebase, limitless reach

Being cross-platform, Flutter allows you to build a product using the same codebase for multiple platforms. But it goes beyond simple iOS and Android apps, reaching web development and more.

As such, Flutter officially supports seven different platforms (and even more unofficially), making it an absolute champion among other frameworks:

  • Android
  • iOS
  • Web
  • Linux
  • macOS
  • Windows
  • Embedded

Industry versatility

You don’t really need to worry about a specific industry if you’re considering Flutter for your next app development project – it’s pretty universal.

After several years on the market, Flutter has come out of early development and has introduced stable versions for all leading platforms.

Its maturity and stability is confirmed by a growing number of implementations in serious industries such as banking, finance and e-commerce.

The most obvious benefit is also the most important one: Flutter allows you to address web and mobile app development at the same time. But, of course, there’s more to Flutter applications that this.

Read also: Flutter App Development and Agile Processes – It’s a Match!

Unparalleled User Interface

Flutter is a modern framework that renders widgets and utilizes basic building blocks to provide an outstanding UI optimized for the end-user.

Simply put: it’s beautiful.

Lower development costs

As a rule of thumb, cross-platform apps are instantly cheaper than native ones.

Read also: Native and cross-platform app development: all you need to know as an entrepreneur

But Flutter takes this price-quality ratio to the next level, as it allows you to build apps for several platforms simultaneously while maintaining native-like performance.

At the same time, you’ll be saving time and money not only on the application development process, but also all the related QA testing.

Speed of app development

Not only is it cheaper to build cross-platform apps with Flutter, it is also faster.

A single Flutter team working on a single source code can develop and update applications for several platforms.

This significantly increases the efficiency of the team, simplifies the application development management and reduces the number of specialists needed to achieve business goals.

The same is true about testing.

As a result, with Flutter, you can have two native-like mobile apps in a shorter amount of time.

Simple scalability

Scalability is one of the main benefits of the framework. A single Flutter team can efficiently use the same code to build a version of your application for any supported additional platform at any time in the future.

That makes it much easier to grow your business, expand, and conquer new markets than with native technology. It also significantly increases the business value of your Flutter app.

Future-oriented solution

It won’t be too much of a stretch to say that the biggest benefit of choosing Flutter is Google, the company behind the framework. They have shown many times that there’s a lot of incentives  to invest in this technology further.

This support allows us to rely on the increasing capabilities of Flutter applications and the consecutive business benefits in the forseeable future.

Read also: Pros and Cons of Flutter App Development

Flutter in Droids On Roids

Flutter is one of those solutions we had an interest in from its very beginning, and as we learned, we saw ever growing potential in it. With 16 Flutter experts on board and having developed dozens of apps with this framework, we can confidently say it’s the best way to create cross-platform solutions from a single code base.

Our portfolio includes long-term projects such as NTFY – Nice To Fit You, a mobile commerce application for one of the largest dietary caterers in Poland. We have also already done multiple web projects with Flutter, which very few companies have experience with yet. Moreover, our team hosts the Fluttered Meetup where we share our expertise with the Flutter community.

Our clients are very happy with our Flutter App Development services as we prioritize transparency, honesty, and expertise. They trust us because we are open and straightforward in our communication, ensuring that they are fully aware of the progress and challenges throughout the development process. With our deep understanding of Flutter and its capabilities, we know how to navigate the development journey and deliver exceptional results. Here are some of our clients’ reviews:

Droids On Roids guided us in building the best product in its category. The NTFY app won 1st place in the Mobile Trends Awards’ Foodtech category!

What’s more, our Flutter app has a huge impact on our business:

  • 250% higher user return rate vs web
  • 50% higher conversion rate vs web
  • 70% of all orders are made through the app

Numbers don’t lie. With the power of Flutter, we’ve created a top-notch app.

artur zasztowt

Artur Zasztowt
NTFY, R&D Director

For businesses striving to evolve, Flutter is an ideal solution. It simplifies further app development and reduces costs compared to maintaining two native apps. Thanks to Flutter and the expertise of Droids On Roids, we stayed within our budget and met our deadlines for developing the Greenr app.

gabrielle bourret sicotte e1693223718805

Gabrielle Bourret-Sicotte
Greenr Technologies, Co-Founder

With Flutter, leveraged by experts at Droids On Roids, we save time and money without compromising on the quality of our mobile product. What’s more, everything about Droids On Roids is extraordinary. They give feedback where it is needed, but they focus on designing the solution that’s in your head, not theirs.

reed zupancic

Reed Zupancic
Storeroom Logix, Vice President of Development

Summary – why is everyone talking about Flutter?

Even though Google’s framework has been around for a few years now, the question ‘what is Flutter?’ keeps popping up. No wonder, since Flutter’s fame beats even React Native. But why is it getting so much attention? It’s Flutter’s ability to streamline application development across multiple platforms with a single codebase.

Everyone is talking about Flutter because it delivers fast performance, vibrant user interfaces, and quick time to market for apps. Its unique approach to design and efficiency is revolutionizing the way developers, and enterprises think about mobile application development.

So, if you’re a Product or App Owner looking for the best solution to build your next app, remember that it doesn’t hurt to at least consider Flutter, as it could give you great results. And even if it turns out that another framework is better for your project, why not revisit Flutter in the future for your other app? Tell us about your idea!

About the authors

Inez Bartosińska

Inez Bartosińska

Content Marketing Specialist

A Content Marketing Specialist with a rich background of over four years in IT and tech-related topics. She has a knack for turning complex industry jargon into relatable stories. Collaborating with our team of developers, business analysts, scrum masters, and designers, she ensures our technical insights are understandable for everyone. Outside of the office, she's a globetrotter with a passion for discovering new cultures and experiences.

Michał Dembny

Michał Dembny

Flutter Developer & Flutter Team Leader