React Native vs Flutter: what to use when?
Businesses focus on cross-platform development because compatibility between different platforms is very important. This way your app will work consistently across all platforms, no matter what the OS is. Since users have access to so many devices, it would be a good idea to choose cross-platform compatibility when you develop apps, meaning apps that are developed using a single codebase. This way businesses can save money on development costs and cut short time to market. Businesses are always under constant pressure to come up with mobile applications that stay unique and competitive. They need to remain innovative to engage with the customers and give them more value, and perhaps better and personalized offers.
There are so many frameworks that developers use to create apps with cross-platform functionality. This way the software engineers can save time by writing just a single codebase to develop native-looking apps for both Android and iOS, and even other platforms. Two of the most common mobile frameworks are React Native and Flutter and of course many other options too.
In this article, we will be discussing the features of React Native and Flutter, and where you can use what. Do read on to know more.
They can use the framework in their existing projects or build a new one from scratch. So with just React, it is possible to run the applications on multiple platforms. They can create platform-specific versions of components, and with a single codebase, you can operate on multiple platforms. Developers can build mobile apps, and then go further than that to web apps, desktop apps, and even browser extensions.
The framework has been of great help to front-end developers who previously used only web-based technologies to develop robust apps for mobile devices. However, it is also interesting to note here that React Native was initially meant for the iOS platform, and later Facebook followed it up with Android support. The framework went public in 2015 and later became the 2nd biggest project on GitHub.
Advantages of React Native
Have a look at some benefits of using React Native over other alternatives:
Can develop complex mobile apps
Developers enjoy the features of plugging and playing with interface elements and creating complex, advanced, and superior apps. The framework of React Native makes it possible for developers to simplify complex algorithms and convert them into easy-to-use formats.
Complex UI designs
Impressive third-party plugins
React Native has a variety of third-party plugins that developers can use to enhance the app’s performance and functionality.
With Hot Reloading, whatever changes the developer makes with the code can be seen in real-time on the simulator. They don’t have to restart the app; making it a huge time saver. The hot Reloading feature is mainly used for tweaking the UI elements and styles.
When not to use React Native
While you might already be impressed with React Native, it would be good to know more about when using the framework might not be a good idea. If you are looking at better efficiency, then note that React Native might not be as efficient as it claims to be. The native modules take ages to develop, with its long run-debug-fix cycle. This means if you already have a library built with Kotlin or Swift, then it might be more time-consuming with React Native. The tooling of React Native has so many hurdles that might be time-consuming as well. You might have to spend time with configuration, troubleshooting, and so on.
Facebook’s focus on React Native is no longer there, with the company focusing more on the metaverse than on mobile. Combine that with outdated documentation of RN, and you are left with a framework that has been abandoned by Facebook, and developers are still waiting for the new and improved architecture. The framework is not suitable for projects just outside of the average mobile app, you will have to make a lot of effort to make it for you.
When to use React Native
Flutter is another open-source cross-platform app developed by Google in 2015. It lets developers build apps from a single codebase that would look good on any screen be it Android, iOS, Linux, macOS, Fuchsia, Windows, etc. This toolkit lets them build apps with consistent UI and shared business logic.
Advantages of Flutter
Flutter has almost the same benefits as RN, still have a look at some others:
As mentioned with RN, the Hot Reload feature of Flutter also enables the developers to see real-time updates without having to restart the app.
There are both ready-made and customizable widgets in Flutter, making it easier for quick compatibility on different platforms and versions.
Apps built with Flutter functions with almost the same speed as native mobile apps. Apps developed with Flutter have fast animations and better navigation capabilities with lesser performance problems.
When not to use Flutter
While Flutter has several superior features that make it a great cross-platform framework, there are some areas where you might not enjoy the benefit of working with Flutter. The framework might not be a good choice when you have size constraints because Flutter has a larger file size when compared to native applications. Also, Flutter wouldn’t be a good choice when you are developing apps for wearable devices like Apple Watch for instance. It is also not good for Android TV and Smart TV, because Flutter is designed to work with mouse clicks and touchscreens, and not with remote control input. Flutter is not a good option for apps connected via Bluetooth because it cannot directly use the device’s Bluetooth.
When to use Flutter
If you are wondering whether Flutter would be a good choice for your next mobile application, then go through the pros and cons of the framework. It is a great choice for MVP development, especially when the deadline is dangerously close and you have a small budget. Since it is highly adaptable to multiple screen dimensions, you can easily integrate animation and videos into the apps and ensure that it functions without a hitch on all devices.
Looking at both RN and Flutter, it is clear that both have their pros and cons. If you are looking to use Flutter for your next project, do go ahead. Flutter’s advantages like dynamic code writing, high performance, and MVP development make it possible for developers to come up with mobile applications that are less time-consuming or complex.
The author: Sascha Thattil works at Software-Developer-India.com which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT departments.