A few weeks ago I hopped on the train down to chat with Tim Sneath at Google’s Pancras Square offices. Tim has recently joined Google as the Product Manager of Flutter, having previously been at Microsoft.
Flutter is a cross-platform mobile application development framework. After a brief visit to their wonderful restaurant, we got down to business chatting about Flutter.
Pocketworks generally builds native apps, which means we build every app twice.
The good thing about this is that we’re always able to build a quality user experience without limitation; we’re using the latest tools as intended by Apple and Google.
The negative is that we have to do everything twice. UI, network code, data access code, unit tests and manual tests. These are all done twice for any consumer app that needs to reach users on both iOS and Android.
This is why we often take a look at cross-platform frameworks like Flutter, Xamarin, React Native and Cordova. We don’t really want our clients to have to pay almost double to be on two platforms.
Instead, it runs a virtual machine inside a native app. This virtual machine runs the Flutter stack, which has it’s own UI libraries for rendering screens. It has its own inbuilt graphics engine running at 60fps. This is kind of cool, risky and controversial. I was thinking “how can Google sustain this? How can it create an experience that matches native apps as they claim?
In order to create a native-like experience, the Flutter team have had to rebuild the native widgets using their own graphics engine. They explained how they would, at times, have film Apple animations and play them back in slow-motion – just so they can get the animations right. Sounds like Google are pretty serious about recreating the experience.
We previewed an app on the store and it certainly looked pretty slick. It felt good.
If you’re a business interested in experimenting with this new cross-platform technology, feel free to talk to us about creating something. If your project is reasonably high-profile, you’ll have an opportunity to gain some joint PR with Google. At this point, we’re very interested in trying the framework. Please get in touch if you’re interested in trying Flutter and potentially reducing the required investment by using this cross-platform technology.