In Nairobi for the Flutter Forward developer event, Google’s Tim Sneath revealed what’s next for the Flutter cross-platform UI toolkit and its Dart programming language.
“The first release of Flutter provided a UI toolkit for building mobile apps on Android and iOS, but with Flutter 3, we expanded production support to include Windows, macOS, Linux, and the web, while also enabling embedded platforms to use Flutter,” he explains in a new post to the Flutter blog. “Building on that, this week we shipped our latest stable release, Flutter 3.7, which adds a broad set of new features including a new rendering engine on iOS, enhanced support for Material 3 and iOS-style widgets, revamped support for internationalization, background processing improvements, and updates to developer tooling.”
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But looking to the future, Sneath previewed what he called the next wave of Flutter investments: breakthrough graphics performance, seamless integration for web and mobile, early support for new and emerging architectures, and a continued focus on developer experience.
On the graphics performance front, Flutter’s next-generation graphics engine, called Impeller, takes advantage of native graphics primitives like Metal and Vulkan. And it makes effective use of concurrency, distributing single-frame workloads across threads, delivering dramatically improved performance in some cases. Up next is 3D support, including the ability to import models made with Blender.
On the web, Google is previewing a new feature called element embedding that lets Flutter content be added to any standard web <div> tag. When embedded like this, Flutter becomes just another web component, integrating with the website document object model (DOM) and enabling the use of CSS selectors and transformations to style the parent Flutter object. Sneath showed a proof-of-concept demo that displayed a simple Flutter app embedded in an HTML web page.
Google is also working on a new way of integrating with native OS libraries. On iOS, Flutter will support Swift and Objective-C libraries, in addition to C libraries, in the future. And on Android, Flutter will use the Java Native Interface (JNI) to bridge to Jetpack libraries written in Kotlin.
As for the developer experience, Google is working on some major new Dart language features, including support for records and patterns. And Dart 3, which is under development, removes long-deprecated features to modernize the language. And a news toolkit for Flutter will help news publishers and other content providers to reach mobile users without having to design an app from scratch.