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Flutter: Comparison with Native, React Native and Ionic

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Google has recently released a development framework called Flutter for cross platform mobile application development. The framework uses Dart  programming language.

If you are looking to build an app for both Android and iOS, then you have the following options to choose from:

1. Native App: Use Objective C / Swift for iOS and Java and Kotlin for android. You will have full access to all the latest features as they are released. But, on the downside you will have to have separate code base for both applications.
2. Hybrid App: Ionic and cordova use this technology to build native apps which are actually web apps (built using html/css/javascript) but they function with the help of a  webview inside a native app.
3. Compiled App: Same code base (javascript/dart) is used and part of it is compiled to native code. Flutter, React Native and a few others implement this.

In this blog, we will be comparing Flutter with Native, React Native and Ionic only.

Programming Language

Native:

iOS-ObjectiveC/Swift Android-Java/Kotlin

Flutter:

Dart

React Native
Javascript / Typescript

Ionic

HTML / CSS / Typescript

 

UI Components

 

angularjs

Native: All components are built-in.
Flutter: A lot of built-in components are present, but they are not adaptive. Flutter makes use of material design for its user interface. If you want to differentiate between platforms you have to do it manually.
React Native: Comes with some pre-built components, but more advanced components have to be built manually.
Ionic: Many built-in components are adaptive, implying that they will be displayed differently on iOS and Android depending on the device used for running the app.

Code Reusability

angularjs

Native: Separate code base for both platforms.
Flutter: A lot of built-in components, which can only be used if you use material design. In that case, same code can be reused for both platforms.
React Native: Although same code will be reused but for UI you have to develop on each platform separately.
Ionic: Same code is used for both platforms.

Third Party Libraries

angularjs

Native: Best ecosystem of third party libraries and widgets available.
Flutter: Flutter is still relatively new and therefore, not many libraries are available right now. This may change soon as the popularity increases.
React Native: React Native is very popular among developers and thus there are tons of libraries available out there which you can use in your apps.
Ionic: Ionic has a large number of open source libraries available, since it uses html and CSS. You can use most javascript libraries available for web development in your apps as well.

Popularity

angularjs

Native: Native app development is still the most popular and optimized solution for building mobile apps contemporarily.
Flutter: It is gaining popularity, and has the potential to compete with Ionic and React Native in future but as for now it is still a new technology and developers may think twice before adopting it as their primary technology for mobile app development.
React Native: React Native has gained a lot of traction in recent years and is probably the second most used framework for mobile app development right now. Also you will find great deal of help online since there is a vast open source community using React Native.
Ionic: Ionic is also being widely used and also has a large open source community like React Native.

Performance

angularjs

Native: Best possible performance available.
Flutter: Code is compiled to ARM C/C++ library which is consumed by native code. This leads to better performance.
React Native: Optimizations done by Facebook make React Native’s performance better than many of its alternatives. However, JavaScript code is not compiled to native code only.

Ionic: It runs on a web browser and therefore, has poor performance when compared to other technologies. Although, considering the latest devices that are available these days, ionic’s performance can be ignored depending on the kind of application being built.

Real-World Consumption

angularjs

Native: Most widely used around the world.
Flutter: Flutter has launched recently and thus not many apps are using it currently. This may certainly not be the case in coming years.
React Native: React Native is being used by a lot of companies including Facebook and its popularity is on the rise.
Ionic: Ionic is also very popular, probably not as popular as React Native, but there are still many apps that are using this technology especially for small size applications where fast pace development is required and performance is not important.

Productivity

angularjs

Native: You should not expect too many blockers while doing native mobile app development however, the fact that you have to build 2 apps makes this a hassle filled process as compared to other cross platform technologies.
Flutter: Initially, you may find this to be less productive until you get used to the environment, language and documentation. But once you do, the productivity will increase and it may turn out to be better than competitors.
React Native: Highly productive until you need to perform complex tasks which include third party libraries. People have reported that this can cause delays for developers and can decrease overall productivity.
Ionic: You can develop apps using Ionic at a very fast pace. Experience in web app  development experience comes in handy here.

Conclusion

Flutter is steadily gaining popularity and promises to be a great solution for your cross platform mobile application development needs. With Google behind it, it has the potential of being the best at what it does out there.

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