Google I/O 2018 marked the launch of the Flutter Beta 3 version, a mobile app software development kit (SDK) for building beautiful and native mobile UI for iOS and Android. Along with the launch of the 3rd beta version of Flutter, this Google event also announced its new tooling partners and official support from the Material team.
The first beta version of Flutter was released at Mobile World Congress in February. This is the 3rd update in that lineage that showcases continued progress towards completing the 1.0 release.
What Problems of Developers Lead to the Origin of Flutter?
Google I/O 2017 marked the announcement of ‘Flutter’ – an early alpha version of the toolkit. How did it come into existence? Google observed the problems of mobile app developers to compromise between quality and productivity while building a native version of the same app for two different operating systems – iOS and Android.
Those that do not have time and resources to invest in such native app development would rather settle in for cross-platform mobile app development services, which failed to deliver a native-like experience to users.
Google felt the dire need to come up with a new SDK for mobile app development. That was when ‘Flutter’ came into existence. This SDK opens up a new path for developers to build apps with enhanced visuals and delivering native performance.
In the last year, Google developers have put in lots of effort preparing Flutter for production use.
Highlighting Features of Flutter
Google has revamped several parts of SDK, some of which are as mentioned below:
- Re-engineered parts of the engine for improved performance
- Extended support to develop apps on Windows
- Integration of Dart 2, which is a reboot of the Dart language is enabled with a terser syntax for building Flutter UIs
- Published tooling for Android Studio and Visual Studio Code
- Get the visual tree for your UI and know how widgets will look through a powerful widget inspector
- Visual Studio Code is the first-class development tool supporting app development, with a dedicated Flutter extension
- Extended support for GIF, inline videos, charts, graphs, and ads
- Support for integrating ads through Firebase
- Localization support for right-to-left languages for building highly-accessible applications
Using Flutter, mobile app developers can experience high-velocity development through stateful hot reload that enables experimenting with implementation of innovative features in application without the need to rebuild from scratch. GPU-accelerated renderer and ultra-fast compilation to lightning-fast machine code deliver high-end development experiences across platforms and devices.
Designers can use more interactive and flexible design layouts through the use of UI widgets that are customized as per needs and extensive animation libraries.
To take the design, UI, and UX elements of a mobile app to the next level, Flutter worked extensively with the Material Design team. With Material and Flutter teams partnering to deliver extended support for Material Design, it could be said that ‘Flutter is now a first-class toolkit for Material’. Flutter can be used to develop mobile apps with more expressive and aesthetically appealing designs.
How is Flutter Beta 3 Different from its Previous Versions?
Let’s understand the differentiating element of the Flutter beta 3 version concerning three primary areas: fundamentals, ecosystem, and tooling.
Fundamentals of Flutter Beta 3
In an endeavor to allow for enhanced flexibility and customization, certain changes have been made to Material Design widgets as discussed below:
- Addition of BottomAppBar component
- Improved support for Chips
- Addition of InputDecorator
- Support for animated resources (GIF and WebP)
- Allow customization of colors and shapes through Slider
- Enhanced positioning flexibility through FloatingActionButton
An ecosystem of API and Plugins
In addition to plugins launched last year such as Firebase Messaging, Firebase Core, Firebase Analytics, and Realtime Database, some more featured plugins are added in the Beta 3 version of Flutter including Cloud Firestore, Performance Monitoring, and Remote Config. Monetization of Flutter-based applications is possible with support for ads powered by AdMob by Google.
The UI Inspector is redesigned with the ‘Just My Widgets’ feature that filters out the auto-generated widgets. Visual Studio Code along with Android Studio is now the official fully-supported development environment for Flutter. It is possible to enable Flutter through the Flutter extension of Visual Studio Marketplace. The addition of a set of refactorings is yet another change noticed in Android Studio and Visual Studio Code.
With the advanced beta release of Flutter, Google expects to come up with the best mobile app development platform ever for developers to create next-generation apps. Developers are quite excited to see how developers utilize this SDK with the best use of plugins and supporting tools to explore the true potential of mobile app design and development.