Google has announced the final pre-release version of its Flutter cross-platform mobile app toolkit. This release addresses a key developer concern: The lack of native UI components on iOS.
“Flutter Release Preview 2 [is] our last major milestone before Flutter 1.0,” the Flutter team writes in a post to the Google Developers Blog. “This release continues the work of completing core scenarios and improving quality, beginning with our initial beta release in February through to the availability of our first Release Preview earlier this summer. The team is now fully focused on completing our 1.0 release.”
Flutter lets developers create Android and iOS apps simultaneously using the Dart programming language. Google released the first Flutter beta back in February, and it followed that up with a release preview in June and an update to the Dart language in August.
As yet another way to target multiple platforms, Flutter has raised some questions. This is particularly true for those who feel that web apps are the best way forward from a single code base perspective. But as I noted in Flutter, PWAs, and Xamarin, Oh My! (Premium), all of these solutions are complementary means to an end. And developers should simply choose the technologies that make the most sense for their needs.
For Flutter Release Preview 2, Google is focusing on what it calls “pixel-perfect iOS apps.” This addresses the only major developer concern with Flutter, which to date has used Google’s Android-based Material Design for its user interface elements.
“While we designed Flutter with highly brand-driven, tailored experiences in mind, we heard feedback from some of you who wanted to build applications that closely follow the Apple interface guidelines,” the Flutter team admits. “So in this release, we’ve greatly expanded our support for the ‘Cupertino’ themed controls in Flutter, with an extensive library of widgets and classes that make it easier than ever to build with iOS in mind.”
Flutter Release Preview 2 also adds support for background Dart code execution, a 30 percent reduction in app package sizes, and other new features.
Furthermore, to measure the success of this toolkit, even while in pre-release status, Google notes that Flutter is now among the top 50 most-active software repositories on GitHub. Flutter has surpassed Xamarin in popularity on Stack Overflow as well.
And developers are already using Flutter to build apps that run on both Android and iOS. Some popular examples out in the wild include Alibaba, Google Ads, and Tencent. And a Flutter app called Xianyu is used by over 50 million customers in China, Google says.