When developing mobile apps, there are multitudes of development tools to utilize. App development for different platforms—also known as cross-platform development—opens up the possibilities of success for it. It presents a wider audience who can become potential users.
For cross-platform mobile app development, two frameworks worth considering are Flutter and Xamarin.
What is Flutter?
Flutter is a Software Development Kit or SDK, that’s open-sourced and available to the public for free. Its goal is to create apps that look like they are native apps. Flutter was released in 2015 by Google on the Android platform under the name ‘Sky’. However, it received a new name and was officially released as Flutter in 2018.
Some of its best features include:
- Wide platform support
- Large collection of tools to use
- Contains a library and widgets for development
Major companies such as Google, eBay, BMW, Realtor.com, The New York Times, and Groupon use Flutter in their systems.
Flutter’s Strengths & Weaknesses
A strength of Flutter is its high-performance speed. Additionally, it has a hot load feature, which means updates can be made and seen within seconds of being changed. Having a high compatibility rate due to its use of widgets is popular among developers as well.
On the other hand, Flutter can’t construct completely native apps because of its reliance on widgets. The few years since its release is a weakness. Most development tools are updated and fixed over time, which means Flutter is somewhat limited in how issues are fixed. Google is constantly updating its programs, including Flutter, and that makes it a little harder to maintain an app’s code.
What is Xamarin?
Xamarin, like Flutter, is open-sourced, free, and cross-platform compatible. However, it was released four years prior to Flutter, in 2011. Then, in 2016, Microsoft purchased Xamarin.
Some features of Xamarin are:
- Ability to access the features of native platforms
- Implements XAML to design dynamic mobile apps utilizing the C# language
- Libraries are available to help work with architectural patterns
Pinterest, UPS, the American Cancer Society, Fox Sports, Alaska Airlines, and other big companies use Xamarin.
Xamarin’s Strengths & Weaknesses
Under Microsoft, Xamarin and its developers have access to an extensive support system. Codesharing, high-performance speeds, and smooth user experiences are other strengths Xamarin has. Its weaknesses include an expensive price for commercial use, a small community of developers, overhead, and occasional lagging.
Flutter is more affordable while commercial licenses under Xamarin can be expensive.
- Learning Curve
Both have libraries that contain guidelines, but Flutter is easier to learn because of its use of widgets.
- Ease of Use
Xamarin has a wider selection of development tools to choose from compared to Flutter.
- User Experience
Being around longer, apps built using Xamarin tend to have better UIs.
Flutter and Xamarin share about as many similarities as they do differences. What prevents one from receiving higher marks than the other is how each is used to create mobile apps. Each development project is different and should be built with tools that can support what it could be in the future.